The Endorsement Panel
The Education Matters Community Endorsement Panel is composed of community leaders, parents, local high school graduates and district educators, representing a diverse cross-section of West Contra Costa County.
The panelists all have one thing in common: they care deeply about our students and excellent public schools.
While all the panelists are involved in community organizations, schools and education institutions, they will act as individuals during the endorsement process with Education Matters. Individuals will not represent the views of their organizations. Professional affiliations are listed for identification purposes only.
Katherine Acosta-Verprauskus: The beloved principal of Montalvin Manor Elementary came to the United States from Peru at the age of 10 and became the first college graduate in her family. A member of the leadership council of GO Public Schools-West Contra Costa, Katherine started her teaching career as a special education teacher at Lincoln Elementary in Richmond. She and her husband, Eric, also a WCCUSD principal, live in Richmond with their young son.
Alex Beltran: A dedicated parent leader at Ford Elementary, Alex is committed to empowering parents to improve public education for all students in West Contra Costa. Alex has led efforts to create parent networks across multiple school sites. He is a small business owner who lives with his family in Richmond.
Mialisa Bonta: Mialisa is a veteran education, literacy and youth development advocate who has spent over 20 years in nonprofit and philanthropic work. Currently the founder and CEO of Literacy Lab, and previously the executive director of Bring Me A Book, her work has brought family supports, literacy and technology resources, and training to thousands of kindergarteners and their families throughout West Contra Costa County and the Bay Area. Mialisa is the mother of three school-aged children.
Daniela Felix: Daniela graduated from Leadership Public Schools: Richmond, where she was class president. She has been an education advocate in our community as both a parent engagement leader and student outreach coordinator. As a senior at UC Berkeley, Daniela is majoring in legal studies and education. She plans to become a teacher in West Contra Costa.
Alicia Harrison: Alicia is a lifelong resident of West County and a teacher at Wilson Elementary School in Richmond, where she teaches fifth grade and serves on the school’s instructional leadership team. A tireless advocate for students and families, she is currently part of an instructional leadership development program. Alicia’s daughter is a second grader at Wilson.
Valerie Jameson: Valerie is a San Pablo resident committed to social justice and educational equity. Currently the Education Coordinator for RYSE, she is a graduate of Middle College High School and founding member of the WCCUSD Youth Commission. Valerie graduated from UC Berkeley where she was actively involved in recruiting and retaining first generation students of color.
Sarah La Due: A resident of El Cerrito, Sarah is an English teacher and department chair at Korematsu Middle School. Before becoming a teacher, Sarah worked as a public affairs director, research analyst and campaign manager for Democratic candidates and progressive causes nationwide.
Stephanie Medley: As Youth Justice Director at RYSE, Stephanie is a leader in youth justice advocacy and training, as well as restorative justice practices and youth reentry services. A graduate of Pinole Valley High School, Stephanie completed her law degree and has experience as a housing advocate for low-income residents, as a law clerk for the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office.
Tana Monteiro: Longtime parent organizer and community liaison, Tana coordinates the wellness program at YES Nature to Neighborhoods in Richmond and advocates for community health and safety through West Contra Costa County. She is also the co-chair of the School and Neighborhood Action Team for Healthy Richmond. Tana has lived in Richmond and San Pablo, where she is raising four boys who attend local public schools.
Scottie Smith: A longtime community advocate, Scottie has spent decades working to improve the lives of low-income residents and communities of color with a particular focus on the students of West Contra Costa Unified School District. A resident of Richmond, she is a co-founder of The BlackBoard of West Contra Costa and has been active in efforts to improve public education by bringing community voices to the decision-making process.
Ben Steinberg: As a parent leader, Ben has been actively involved in campaigns to increase fiscal transparency and oversight in WCCUSD as a co-founder of Parents for Better Education. Passionate about serving the community and improving public education for all students, Ben is a father with a background in local community development and international microfinance.
Miriam Wong: Founder and executive director of the Latina Center, Miriam is a leader in improving the health and wellness of Latina women and families in West Contra Costa County. A strong advocate of boosting student achievement and addressing issues of bullying, Miriam is the co-chair of the School and Neighborhood Action Team for Healthy Richmond.
Julie Wright: Julie is a former public school teacher who taught freshman English to English Language Learners in Alameda Unified School District. She also has experience in communications and national foundation work focused on education. She is now the executive director of the Chamberlin Family Foundation and Education Matters, where she has focused over the past five years on education philanthropy and advocacy in West Contra Costa.