Leadership Team


Concepción Rivas

Chief Executive Officer

website_headshot_photo_rivas_connie_2Concepción Rivas has worked for PUC Schools for over twelve years. Her passion for education is deeply rooted in both her personal narrative which includes being among the first in her family to graduate from college along with her own critical consciousness related to social justice. The various capacities in public school settings in which she has served span eighteen years and have all positively influenced and continuously reaffirmed her commitment to education reform in service of students, families, and communities. She has worked closely with students, parents, teachers, administrators, professors, social workers, policy makers, and public figures to continuously engage in the dialogue related to education reform. She is a champion for students and a zealous advocate for special education, quality teaching and learning, inclusivity, data driven practices, cultural competence, social-emotional learning and development, home-to-school partnerships, service learning and college and career education in support of all students. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from California State University, Northridge and later received a Master of Science in Special Education from National University. She is dedicated to ensuring that schools serve as a vehicle for all students to find their purpose, voice, identity, and develop the cognitive and non-cognitive skills to self-actualize in order to uplift themselves, their family, and their communities now and forever.

Veronica Alonzo

Chief Academic Officer

Ms. Alonzo has been an educator for nearly 20 years. She graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor’s of Science in Marine Biology with a Minor in Biological Anthropology and went on to earn a teaching credential from Alliant International University. She has been an educator at PUC for 17 years. She started as a science teacher at PUC CALS Early College High School and became the Instructional Leader at that school in 2011, where she served in that role for seven years. In 2018, she became the Instructional Leader at PUC Lakeview Charter High School and in 2019, became the Deputy Superintendent of PUC Schools. Shortly thereafter, she became Chief Academic Officer for the schools.

Parinaz Banks

Director of Language and Literacy

Parinaz Banks began her career in education as an intern for Senator Edward Kennedy’s Education Policy Office in Washington D.C. It was there she realized she wanted to make a direct impact in the classroom, so she moved to the Mississippi Delta as a Teach for America corps member and taught 6th grade English Language Arts. After serving in the corps, she continued teaching ELA for several years before transitioning to roles in school administration and leadership. Under her instructional leadership as an Assistant Principal, Parinaz led the ELA & Humanities departments and created and implemented a school-wide literacy intervention program, which resulted in her school being named as a top five Bay Area school for low-income Latino students in ELA for three consecutive years.

Parinaz has previously worked as an Assistant Principal, Instructional Coach, and District Office School Support Manager. She holds a Master of Science in Education with an emphasis on Teaching, Learning, and Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania. In her current role as Director of Language & Literacy, Parinaz works collaboratively with school site leaders, teachers, and the PUC Schools Academic Team on the implementation of academic initiatives related to multilingual learners and content instruction for ELA and English courses. Parinaz is deeply passionate about empowering multilingual learners with explicit language instruction and integrated language support to better prepare all students for college readiness and beyond.

Zenzontl Kuauhtzin

Director of Student & Parent Engagement & Advocacy

Mr. Kuauhtzin has worked in the field of education for the last 22 years in a variety of positions. He has earned two bachelor’s degrees from California State University, a multiple subject professional clear credential from UCLA, and a Master’s of School Administration and a Tier 1 Admin Credential from Loyola Marymount University. He began as a history teacher in LAUSD and he taught for nine years before becoming an assistant principal at Academia Semillas Del Pueblo. He became the Principal at PUC Excel Charter Academy in 2011 and served in that role for five years. In June 2016, he became the Director of Parent Engagement & Advocacy, which evolved into the role of Director of Student & Parent Engagement & Advocacy.

Christopher Moggia, Ed.D.

Director of Digital Learning and Assessments

Dr. Moggia began his career in education as an elementary school teacher at Ninety Ninth Street Accelerated School in Watts.  He became involved early in teacher professional development as the lead teacher trainer for the Advanced English Mastery Program where he designed software programs and offered Saturday computer classes for teachers.  After graduating from the UCLA Educational Leadership program he served as an adjunct faculty member for UCLA GSE&IS, the University of San Diego, and Pacific Oaks College teaching courses in leadership, technology, and sociolinguistics.  He developed a dozen courses for teachers that were offered online via UCLA Extension in his role as Director of Online Teacher Education, which enrolled over 30,000 California educators through a partnership with the California Teachers Association.  Chris has served as the Senior Director of IT for Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, as Director of Data Integration for a charter management organization, as a consultant to Hawthorne USD, and as a an Assessment Coordinator for the Manhattan Beach Unified School District.  He has a keen interest in information systems, student assessment, and the effective use of technology in classrooms.  He currently serves as the Executive Director for the School Data Leadership Association, a 501(c)3 professional association.

Meredith McOlvin, Ed.D.

Director of Inclusion and Special Education

website_headshot_photo_mcolvin_meredithDr. McOlvin is the Director of Inclusion and Special Education for PUC Schools. In this role, she oversees the special education departments in all PUC schools and helps to support teachers and leaders in developing effective special education practice that promotes inclusion. She also manages the PUC Special Education Support Team. Dr. McOlvin is an active member of LAUSD’s Charter Operated Programs SELPA (Option 3) and maintains collaborative relationships with LAUSD and local charter agencies. Throughout her career, she has held a multitude of roles in special education from paraprofessional, to vocational tech lead, wrap-around care provision, and special education teacher, and special education teacher support provider. Dr. McOlvin worked in a residential school setting in New York, in traditional district and community day schools in Philadelphia, as well as in charter schools in Los Angeles. This cumulative experience has inspired the need for life-long learning to best support systems that provide access to quality education for students with diverse needs. Dr. McOlvin holds a B.S. in English and Education from Villanova University, an M.Ed in Special Education from Chestnut Hill College, and she gained her doctorate in the Educational Leadership Program at UCLA in June of 2018.

Gerard Montero, M.Ed.

Director of Compliance


Gerard Montero was born and raised in the Northeast San Fernando Valley and entered the field of public education at Montague Elementary School over three decades ago. His experience in the charter arena began 20 years ago when Mr. Montero served as a key member of the teacher leadership team during Montague’s conversion to charter status in 1995 and served on the governance board for over 10 years.  Deeply committed to excellence in public education and the success of all children Mr. Montero, began as a teaching assistant and then became a teacher. After several years in the classroom, Mr. Montero became Bilingual Coordinator and eventually became Executive Director.  Mr. Montero earned his B.A. teaching credential and M.A. in Educational Administration at California State University Northridge.

During 2011 and 2013 Mr. Montero served on PUC’s governance board.   In 2013 he joined the PUC family as Compliance Coordinator.  During that year Mr. Montero followed his dream to start a charter that would represent his core values of excellence, commitment, and love of learning.  In 2014, PUC Community Charter Elementary became the first and only PUC elementary in the Northeast San Fernando Valley and currently serves over 300 students from Kindergarten through Fifth grade.

Mr. Montero, is also a proud PUC parent.  In June 2016, his son graduated from Community Charter Early College High School.

Miguel Saenz

Director of Operations

Mr. Saenz has worked for PUC Schools for the past 16 years. He started out as an office manager for PUC Excel Charter Academy and worked at the school for five years before transferring to PUC CALS Early College High School, where he became the Operations/Project Manager. In July 2016, he became the Site-Based Operations Manager, supporting both the middle and high school grade levels for PUC CALS. In October 2018, he became the Senior Operations Manager for PUC’s Los Angeles-area schools. In July 2020, he became the Director of Operations, a role he proudly serves today.

Christine Sartiaguda

Director of Clinical Counseling

website_headshot_photo_sartiaguda_christineChristine Sartiaguda is Director of Clinical Counseling at PUC and founder of the Clinical Counseling Program. She has over 17 years of clinical experience. Christine is a Licensed Marital and Family Therapist and Registered Art Therapist who clinically supervises Marital and Family Therapy Trainees/Interns as well as Art Therapy Interns. Having graduated with honors with a Bachelors in Psychology, Christine continued on to graduate with honors with her Masters in Marital and Family Therapy specializing in Art Therapy, both degrees from Loyola Marymount University.

Prior to coming to PUC, Christine worked at G.L.A.S.S., a non-profit agency helping at-risk youth in foster care. In her position as Director of Training, Program Director of a Day Program, Senior Therapist and Group Home Therapist, Christine was able to demonstrate her versatility, leadership and clinical expertise. In addition to having worked in residential care, Christine has worked at psychiatric hospitals as an Art Therapist, co-facilitating groups for mentally ill adult patients as well as out-patient clinics and schools as a marital and family therapist. Christine has also been an associate professor at Phillips Graduate Institute and has been a guest speaker at graduate classes at Loyola Marymount University and CSUN.

In her current position as Director of Clinical Counseling, Christine over sees the Clinical Counseling Program, Psychological Testing Services, contracted clinical services to outside agencies and all other clinical services within PUC as well as provides direct counseling services and individual and group supervision to the clinical counseling trainees/interns. She is committed to providing optimal clinical services to the students and families at PUC.

Sarah Seinfeld, Ed.D.

Director of Teaching and Learning

Sarah SeinfeldSarah Seinfeld is currently the Director of Teaching and Learning for PUC Schools.  In this position, she oversees the implementation of the PUC Teacher Development System by conducting classroom observations, working with schools on strategic professional development design, and facilitating trainings for administrators, teacher, and support staff.  She also manages the Alumni Teach Project, an in-house teacher residency program for alumni and community members who are working to become teachers.  Dr. Seinfeld received her multiple subject, general science teaching credentials and M.S. in Urban Education at LMU; she earned her doctorate through the Educational Leadership Program at UCLA.   She is completing her 13th year at PUC Schools and has served in several roles, middle school science teacher, Dean of Instruction, and Assistant Principal, before stepping into her current role.  Dr. Seinfeld is also a part-time lecturer in LMU’s School of Education and currently working on a collaborative book on the topic of new teacher development. She is passionate about teacher well-being and believes teacher support is the foundation for positive, high-achieving school communities.

Northeast Los Angeles Schools

Gloria Gasca, Ed.D

Principal, PUC Excel Charter Academy

website_headshot_photo_gasca_gloriaDr. Gasca graduated from Georgetown University in May 2003, with a double major in Government and Psychology. Gloria was born and raised in Los Angeles and takes pride to live in a community that strives for their excellence. Dr. Gasca was inspired to pursue a career in education during her time as a Research Assistant for Georgetown University/NIH’s sponsored grant entitled DESARROLLO (Developing Educational Supports And Reading Resources Of Limited English and Literacy Of parents).  The passion for education was also reinforced during her time as a Coro Fellow where she realized the strengths, and discrepancies of our educational system.  She has continued her commitment to education through her time with PUC Schools.  She began teaching with PUC Schools at PUC Milagro Charter School during the 2006 school year. She has developed through PUC and has grown in her leadership.  She is a current principal at PUC Excel and was an integral part at securing the charter renewal for another 5 years.  She constantly seeks local partnerships with non-profits to improve the opportunities that her students have to grow in their leadership. Gloria received her masters degree in educational psychology and teaching credential at Pepperdine University and received her Administrative Credential along with certificates in special education and charter school leadership from Loyola Marymount University.   She earned her doctoral degree from Loyola Marymount University in Education Leadership for Social Justice.

Peter Markovics

Principal, PUC eCALS

Peter Markovics has spent his entire career working in the field of youth development. Born and raised in Albany, New York, Peter studied history at Boston College and education at the City College of New York in New York City as well as education administration at the College of Saint Rose in Albany. Prior to joining PUC eCALS, Peter worked for thirteen years in a variety of educational capacities in New York City. He began as a youth activity specialist in an after-school program in Brooklyn and used this entry point into the field of education to proceed to work with a host of non-profit organizations in numerous roles, including ones as a youth mentor and truancy prevention counselor, amongst others. Peter then used the experience that he gained in these roles to pursue a career as a teacher in the New York City Department of Education. His certification was in the field of special education services but he also taught ELA, history and science at three different schools in New York over the span of ten years. Through his work in the classroom, Peter gained an understanding of the powerful impact that a positive and nurturing school culture can have on students. Now with PUC eCALS, Peter is working to utilize this experience and knowledge to help eCALS continue to build upon its supportive and progressive environment and help students reach success during and after their time in high school.

Sascha Robinett

Principal, PUC Milagro Charter School

website_headshot_photo_robinett_saschaSascha Robinett is the founding principal of Milagro Charter School, providing students with both a bilingual and arts integrated education. Prior to starting the school she worked for a national arts-integrated school reform initiative, Different Ways of Knowing, designing and facilitating professional development workshops and creating school programs in arts integration, literacy, teacher leadership, standards-based instruction, and data-driven decision making and receiving intense training from professional artists and arts educators in visual arts, drama, dance, and music. During her classroom teaching experience – in grades three through twelve – she worked with the Amory Center for the Arts in Pasadena to create and implement an arts-integrated sixth grade curriculum program and wrote a school-wide grant (Arts In The Schools) to bring music education from kindergarten through sixth grade to her school. She holds both a clear multiple subject/CLAD credential and a preliminary administration credential. She received her B.A. in Sociology from University of California, Santa Barbara and her M.A. in Educational Leadership from California State University, Los Angeles.

Antonio Sanchez

Principal, PUC CALS Charter Middle School

Antonio Sanchez is a lifelong educator. He has had the pleasure of working in service of our communities as a teacher’s assistant, tutor, coach, teacher, and English Learner Coordinator for over 20+ years in the northeast San Fernando Valley and the last 5 years as a Director and Principal in the northeast Los Angeles area.  He is the oldest of four siblings, the proud son of immigrant parents, and the first to go to college in his extended family. Mr. Sanchez completed his undergraduate studies at UC Santa Barbara with a major in History and he received a Master’s degree in School Administration from Cal State Northridge. Thus, it is through personal and professional experiences that he has come to value and know how important it is for our students to receive a well-rounded quality education.

Mr. Sanchez believes that education is the great equalizer and that all students have the capacity to be successful and become active participants in shaping this world. He sees the potential in each child for greatness and knows that it is our duty to nurture and grow that potential. He believes that as educators, we are charged with safeguarding the dreams of our students and guiding them towards making them a reality. Ultimately, he became an educator in hopes of affording our students the same opportunities he received from his own educational experiences.

Anthony Ventura

Principal, PUC CALS Early College High School

Biography coming soon.

Northeast San Fernando Valley School Principals

Jorge Beas

Principal, PUC Lakeview Charter High School

Mr. BeasJorge Beas is the Principal of PUC Lakeview Charter High School, where he previously served as the Assistant Principal for several years. Prior to joining LCHS, Jorge served as the Assistant Principal at PUC Nueva Esperanza Charter Academy. Originally from Lennox California , Jorge graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in History of Public Policy. After graduating from UCSB, Jorge joined Teach for America and was assigned to teach Middle School just a few blocks from where he grew up. Jorge taught Middle School English, History, and PE. After receiving his Master’s in Urban Education and Leadership from Loyola Marymount University, Jorge decided to seek his administrative credential at LMU as well. Jorge joined PUC after completing his administrative credential.

Jennifer Dobson

Principal, PUC Triumph Charter High School

Jennifer Dobson is the Principal of PUC Triumph Charter High School, where she previously was the Assistant Principal for four years. Prior to joining PUC, Jennifer was the District Secondary Math Coach in San Jose Unified School District where she designed curriculum units for teachers in grades 6-12 to support the transition to Common Core State Standards. Before moving to California, Ms. Dobson taught high school students in Shenyang, China mathematics and English. Jennifer started her teaching career in Clarkston, Michigan, teaching middle school mathematics for over ten years. Jennifer graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Elementary Education and a Masters of Curriculum and Teaching from Michigan State University.

Mariesa Earl

Principal, PUC Triumph Charter Academy

Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, Mariesa Earl’s love for teaching and developing adolescents began in high school where she taught tap, jazz, ballet, hip-hop and gymnastics to kids ages 6 – 17. This side job peaked her interest in pursuing a career in Education as she grew to love working with children. Mariesa made her way to Northern California to attend Menlo College where she played soccer and basketball, and majored in Business management, with a concentration in Sports Management, in hopes to one day open her own dance studio. After graduating from Menlo College, Mariesa moved to Southern California to pursue a career in dance.

After receiving her teaching credential from California State University Northridge (CSUN), Mariesa entered her first-year teaching, as a math teacher, at Triumph Charter Academy in 2007. As a founding teacher, and over the next six years, Ms. Earl increased student achievement in mathematics, and in her last year at TCA, increased math proficiency to 98%. After being a classroom teacher for six years, Ms. Earl joined the PUC Instructional Team as a Math Coach for the next four years. During this time Mariesa received her Master’s in Educational Leadership and Administrative Credential from CSUN. In 2018, Mariesa came full circle, and transitioned into a new role as the Instructional Leader for PUC Triumph Charter Academy where she began her educational career. In 2019, Ms. Earl became the Principal of TCA, and is honored and excited to lead the community of Sylmar, and plans on continuing growth in student achievement and preparing students for college and career readiness.

Claudio Estrada

Principal, PUC Community Charter Middle School

Mr. EstradaClaudio Estrada, Jr. was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley to Mexican descent parents. As a First-Generation American, he was instilled with his parent’s hard work ethic and drive to pursue the American Dream. After graduating from high school, he completed a yearlong studied abroad program in French language and history in Paris, France and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science with a minor in education at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB.) As an undergraduate student, he worked part-time at an elementary school in Montecito, CA as a special education teaching assistant. During this time, he had the chance to explore the different local school systems through the lenses of many of ethnic studies courses and volunteer projects with the neighboring schools. He soon realized the large discrepancy in the education system that largely divided the allocations of resources and opportunities clearly defined by a zip code. His drive for social justice lead to him to apply the highly coveted Teach For America (TFA) program and was admitted after graduation.

After many successful years as a middle school English teacher, Mr. Estrada went on to complete a Master of Arts in Education Policy and Administration at Loyola Marymount University. Today, he brings his narrative as a Mexican- American/First-Generation American, first college graduate in his family, and strong personal ties to the community into his inclusive learning community. As a school leader, he brings an array of elements of high expectations, individualized attention and care to the development of the whole child. He is not reluctant to hold the mirror up to his students so they can truly identify their true potential and fulfill our collective lifelong goal to uplift our communities. He is honored and privileged to collaborate with a team of multitalented educators and families of the thriving community of Lakeview Terrace as the principal of PUC Community Charter Middle School.

Monique Hernandez, Ed.D.

Principal, PUC Community Charter Early College High School

Dr. HernandezDr. Monique Hernandez grew up in the San Fernando Valley. She attended Notre Dame High School located in Sherman Oaks, CA. After graduating from high school, she had her heart set on becoming a lawyer. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and minored in Pre-Law and International Relations. During that time, she traveled around the world to study other countries’ government structures and nation-wide education systems. Through these experiences and many conversations with family, she decided to change her career trajectory from law school to education. After graduating from college, she pursued a Master’s in Education from the University of Southern California and started teaching History at a charter high school located in South Los Angeles. After many years of teaching and inspired by her students, she decided to pursue her Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership with a concentration in Teacher Education in Multicultural Settings from the Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California. As she earned her doctorate, she transitioned into administration as a Dean of Students for a parochial high school. She joined PUC Community Charter Early College High School as their Assistant Principal and is now honored to serve as their Principal.

Omar Urquieta

Principal, PUC Inspire Charter Academy

Omar Urquieta is the Principal of PUC Inspire Charter Academy.  This is his 2nd year leading at PUC Inspire where his focus is in creating a community school centered around the idea of Belonging through Safety, Wellness, and Academics.  He has served 23 years in public education and is very proud to be the Principal at PUC Inspire.

Omar Urquieta began his career at Pacoima Charter School in 1998 after graduating from UCLA.  He taught K-5 grade before being promoted to being a curriculum coordinator.  In 2006, he attended UCLA’s Principal’s Leadership Institute, where he gained his Master’s in Education and Administration Credential through the lens of Social Justice and the creation of Equity in schools.  In 2015, he pursued another leadership opportunity joining LA Alliance at a 6-12 Complex in South Los Angeles for 4 years.  In 2019, he decided to return to Pacoima, where he has worked for hte past 22 years and lead at PUC Inspire.

Omar Urquieta holds a B.A. in History from UCLA and a M.A. of Education with an emphasis on School Leadership from UCLA and is a very proud Bruin.

Max Valadez

Principal, PUC Lakeview Charter Academy

Max Valadez was born and raised in Pacoima, California. He assisted Pacoima Elementary School, Maclay Junior High School, and graduated from San Fernando High School. He has been in education after he graduated from high school for over 20 years. He started as a teacher’s assistant and a librarian for an elementary school and became a 5th grade teacher. He started working for PUC Community Charter Early College High School as a 9th grade integrated science teacher in 2005. Max then moved to work as an 8th grade science teacher for PUC Community Charter Middle School. Then served as a college counselor at PUC CCECHS. After PUC CCECHS, he became the assistant principal for PUC CCMS for 5 years. He came to PUC Triumph Charter Academy as the Dean of Students in February, 2014. In April 2014, he became the interim principal for the remainder of the 2013-2014 school year and became the principal until 2017.  In 2018, he became the PUC Schools Parent Coordinator and the Behavior Intervention Specialist.  In July 2020, he became the principal of PUC Lakeview Charter Academy.


Jocelyn Velez

Principal, PUC Community Charter Elementary School

Ms. VelezJocelyn M. Velez was raised in the Northeast San Fernando Valley and at a young age had aspirations to become an educator.  While a student at San Fernando High School, she worked at a local middle school helping students improve their reading skills and grow their reading levels. Ms. Velez studied at the University of California Riverside where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies and later received a Master’s of Arts in Education from Pepperdine University. While a student at Pepperdine University, she was introduced to the charter school movement and she spent her time working at a charter elementary school. Ms. Velez’s love for teaching prompted her to pursue a Multiple Subjects Credential and a Single Subject Credential in English Language Arts allowing her the opportunity to teach at the elementary, middle school, and high school level. She began her teaching career as a 7th grade English teacher at PUC Lakeview Charter Academy and went on to teach 9th grade at PUC Lakeview Charter High School where she later served as the Assistant Principal. Her love of learning and commitment to her students pushed her to attend Loyola Marymount University where she received a Master’s Degree in School Administration. Ms. Velez is deeply connected to her community and she has grounded herself in the belief that all students will succeed when provided with the right tools; she has dedicated herself to providing equal opportunities to her students. She is honored to continue her work in the community she grew up in as the principal of PUC Community Charter Elementary.

Monica Wagner

Principal, PUC Nueva Esperanza Charter Academy

Mrs. Wagner attended and graduated from Occidental College. In her time there, she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Politics, Masters of Arts in Teaching as well as completed her teaching credential. She has worked with PUC for the past 9 years. Beginning her time at PUC NECA as a History and English teacher, she has also worked at PUC LCA as an English teacher and PUC LCHS as an Administrator. For the 2019-2020 school year, she returned to PUC NECA as Principal. This is her fourth year as principal and feels extremely grateful to work with such a caring staff and such wonderful families.