Who We Are
The PLI Leadership Team includes Director, Nancy Parachini and two Faculty Co-Directors, Robert Cooper and John Rogers. In addition, there are ten PLI faculty members, a program coordinator, and a student affairs officer.
Nancy Parachini is Director of the University of California, Los Angeles, Principal Leadership Institute and the Principals’ Center. She specializes in teacher development, language acquisition, and bilingual education. Dr. Parachini has 25 years of experience as an instructional leader within the Los Angeles Unified School District, serving in many roles including principal, evaluator, and professional development specialist. She also served as a Fellow at the University of Pittsburg’s Institute for Learning, a Program Evaluator for the UCLA School Management Program, and in 1997 earned her doctorate in Education from UCLA. Dr. Parachini is passionate about preparing social justice educators to transform the conditions of urban public schools. In PLI, she teaches Education 498A,B,C Field Experience.
Robert Cooper is Faculty Co-Director of the Principal Leadership Institute and Associate Professor in the Urban Schooling division at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education. He specializes in the politics of education, and the implementation and replication of equity-minded reform. Dr. Cooper has served as a Sloan Public Policy Fellow at Brandeis University, a CORO Public Affairs Fellow, and in 1996 earned his Ph.D. in Education from UCLA. He is driven by a passion to encourage poor and minority youth to view themselves as lifelong learners. In PLI, he teaches Education 443, Social and Political Context of Urban Schools.
John Rogers is Faculty Co-Director of the Principal Leadership Institute and Associate Professor in the Urban Schooling division at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education. He studies strategies for engaging urban youth, community members, and educators in equity-focused school reform. Dr. Rogers earned his Ph.D. from Stanford University and draws extensively on the work of John Dewey to explore the meaning of and possibilities for democratic education today. In PLI, he teaches Education 440C, Democracy, Democratic Leadership, and Public Accountability.
Stuart Biegel has been a faculty member of the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies since 1985 and of the UCLA School of Law since 1989. Biegel has taught at both the elementary and secondary level and from 1993-95 served as the Director of Teacher Education at UCLA. He also served as special counsel for the California Department of Education from 1988-1996, and was the federal court monitor for the San Francisco school desegregation case. Biegel is the author of the national casebook, Education and the Law (third edition, 2012) and is a recognized expert in the fields of Education Law and Technology Law, having completed major works of scholarship in both areas. In PLI, he teaches Education 296G&H, Law and Educational Practice.
Mr. Cazares has more than 40 years experience as an educator and leader within the Los Angeles Unified School District. He has served as a teacher, principal, Assistant Superintendent, and Chief of Staff to the Superintendent of Schools. In PLI, Mr. Cazares teaches Education 498A,B,C, Field Experience.
Chuck Flores, Ed.D., the Principal of the New Open World Academy, a K-12 span school located on the campus of the Robert F. Kennedy Community School in Koreatown, has been an educator for over thirty years. He has served as a Teacher, Bilingual Coordinator, Dean of Students, Assistant Principal, and Coordinator of Operations for Local District 4 (LAUSD).
A native of Southern California, Dr. Flores was born and raised in the city of San Fernando, and is a product of the Los Angeles Unified School District.
A graduate of the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California, Dr. Flores earned his Ed.D. in K-12 Leadership in Urban School Settings. His dissertation, Preparing Leaders for the Challenges of the Urban School, looks at the work of principals in urban schools, and the support they receive from their districts to build teacher capacity as instructional leaders. Dr. Flores also has a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Studies from California State University, Northridge; a Master’s Degree in American Studies from Pepperdine University; and a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from California State University, Northridge.
Dr. Flores first started with the Principals’ Leadership Institute as a guest lecturer in the summer of 2007, before joining the staff as an instructor in School Management and Operations. He has also taught in the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Administrative Academy, working with newly appointed administrators on school management, operations, and safety.
Dr. Flores believes that education is the true path by which Social Justice will be fully realized, and one whereby Equity and Access for all students will one day be attainable.
Megan Franke is a Professor in the Urban Schooling division at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. Dr. Franke's work focuses on understanding and supporting teacher learning through professional development, particularly within elementary mathematics. As a part of Center X, she works with UCLA’s Teacher Education Program, Principal Leadership Institute, the California Subject Matter Projects, university researchers, community administrators and teachers to create and study the development of learning opportunities for students in Los Angeles’ lowest performing schools. In PLI, she teaches Education 448A, Principles of Leadership.
Louis M. Gomez is Professor and MacArthur Chair in Digital Media and Learning at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies. He is also a Senior Fellow at The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. His scholarship focuses on understanding how to catalyze organizational change in schools and other institutions that aim to improve the life chances of learners. Among his recent publications are:
Bryk, A. S., Gomez, L. M., & Grunow, A. (2011). Getting ideas into action: Building networked improvement communities in education. In Frontiers in Sociology of Education, (Ed.) Maureen Hallinan. New York, NY: Springer Publishing.
Gomez, L., Sherin, M., Griesdorn, J., & Finn, L. (2008) Creating Social Relationships: The Role of Technology in Pre-Service Teacher Preparation. Journal of Teacher Education. 59, 117-131
JoAnn Isken is currently the Associate Director of Academic Programs at UCLA. She recently retired as the Assistant Superintendent of Instruction at the Lennox School District. Since 1976, JoAnn has served in several education position first as a classroom teacher, then as a Reading Specialist, a Trainer of Teachers, a Principal at Jefferson and Moffett Elementary Schools, both receiving the California Distinguished School Award. She was a State Approved External Evaluator for the State of California. Additionally, she has been an Instructor in graduate programs at UCLA and Pepperdine Universities and is currently teaching Transformational Leadership at Loyola Marymount University. She is a co-author of Developing Novice Teachers as Change Agents by Sheila Lane, Nancy Lacefield Paracini, and JoAnn Isken published by the Teacher Education Quarterly in 2003. In PLI, she co-teaches D 441A: Leadership of Core Practices: Instruction and Student Behavior.
Georgia Lazo has twenty five years of experience in education including teaching, counseling, instructional coaching and administration. She has taught at the elementary, secondary and adult school levels. She is the Founding Principal of the UCLA Community School, a unique partnership between LAUSD and UCLA. This one of its kind Pilot school is part of Chancellor Block's initiative toward civic engagement and is a model of praxis. Ms. Lazo is currently Director of Instruction in LAUSD and supports a network of Pilot high schools in South Los Angeles and Huntington Park. Her areas of interest include autonomous schools and equity and access to college for underrepresented minority students. She is also interested in work which challenges deficit thinking and that challenges the school to prison pipeline. Ms. Lazo earned her BA in English from the University of California, Irvine and her MA in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University. She is also a graduate of the UCLA Principal Leadership Institute and there earned an MA in Urban School Leadership. In PLI, Georgia co-teaches ED 440C, Democracy, Democratic Leadership, and Public Accountability with Professor John Rogers.
Dee Dee Lonon is a PLI faculty member with more than 30 years experience as an educator and leader within the Los Angeles Unified School District. She holds a Master's Degree in Educational Administration from Pepperdine University and has served as a principal, curriculum coordinator, and bilingual teacher, and in other educational roles. Ms. Lonon teaches Education 470A, School Management and Operations as well as Education 498A,B,C, Field Experience.
Tonikiaa Orange has worked in education for over 15 years. Her experience and interest lie in evaluation and culturally linguistic and responsive pedagogy. She has participated in the evaluation of projects such as the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards, the Pittsburgh Public Schools’ Restructuring Initiative and the Ford Foundation’s Devolution Initiative. She served as Program Manager in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction for Chicago Public schools where she managed a new k-12 curriculum for the district. Most recently, she served as the principal for Culture and Language Academy of Success Charter School (CLAS) in Los Angeles. She is currently a consultant for the Center for Culturally Linguistic and Responsive Teaching (CCLRT) where she provides professional development and coaching to teachers and school leaders across the country.
Dr. Orange received a MA from Teachers College, Columbia University in Politics and Education, an Ed.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in Administrative and Policy Studies and was a Lilly Endowment Evaluation Fellow. Also, Dr. Orange has a MA from UCLA in Urban School Leadership and is a graduate of the UCLA Principal Leadership Institute. Dr. Orange co-teachers PLI 420A, Theories of Curriculum and Instruction with Dr. Long as well as 498 A,B,C Field Experience.
Merle Price is a School Relations Liaison in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. Mr. Price has more than 40 years experience as an educator and leader within the Los Angeles Unified School District where he served as teacher, principal, Local District Superintendent, and Deputy Superintendent, Instructional Services. He is experienced in charter school reform, converted an LAUSD high school to a charter school and oversaw the LAUSD Charter School Office as Deputy Superintendent. Mr. Price is a leader in mathematics and science education and is a member of the leadership team for the National Science Foundation grant, System Wide Change for Leaders and Educators (SCALE), at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, which targets reform of mathematics and science education in urban school districts. In PLI, Mr. Price co-teaches ED 411A: Principal as Researcher and ED 441A: Leadership of Core Practices: Instruction and Student Behavior.
Karen Hunter Quartz is the Director of Research at UCLA’s Center X, and Director of Research and Development at the UCLA Community School, a K-12 public school in Local District 4 of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Her interests and scholarship focus on the career development and retention of urban educators, the use of research to improve practice, and the creation of small democratic schools. Dr. Quartz earned her Ph.D. in Education from UCLA in 1994 and has served as a researcher at the University of California, San Diego and UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education and Access. In PLI, she teaches Education 411A, Principal as Researcher.
Sidney Thompson is Senior Fellow in the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies and within Center X where he serves as an advisor on a number of education initiatives. From 1956 to 1997, Dr. Thompson served a long and distinguished career within the Los Angeles Unified School District. His many roles included teacher, principal and Superintendent. He is a member of several boards and also served as a Lieutenant in the United States Navy. In PLI, Dr. Thompson volunteers his time leading information sessions and recruiting for new applicants.
Marisela Díaz-Vásquez is the Student Affairs Officer/Credential Analyst for the Principal Leadership Institute. As part of the Office of Student Services, Marisela is responsible for graduate admissions, graduate student services, Preliminary Administrative Services Credential processing, and miscellaneous administrative assistance to students, faculty, and staff. Ms. Díaz-Vásquez earned her Bachelor of Science in Public Administration with a Concentration in Administrative Management from California State University, Dominguez Hills.
Nataly Birch is the Principal Leadership Institute Program Coordinator. She works closely with the PLI director, faculty, and fieldwork supervisors to support the logistics, implementation and planning all PLI related events. She provides administrative, analytical, and organization support for PLI. Nataly received her B.S. in Business from the University of California, Berkeley.