Members of the Board of Trustees
Andrew K. Gordon, Partner, Duane Morris LLC and Board President
Mr. Gordon is a partner at Duane Morris LLP, one of country's leading law firms, with four offices in California and over 700 lawyers throughout the country. Specializing in the areas of commercial and insurance litigation, environmental law and labor and employment law with a focus on complex multi-party trials, he has been one of the lead trial attorneys in a number of significant complex insurance coverage matters in several western states and has been lead defense counsel in many other coverage cases which have resulted in favorable settlements before trial.
Mr. Gordon's commercial litigation experience includes director and officer liability, unfair competition claims, unfair lending practices, misappropriation of trade secrets, partnership disputes, obtaining and enforcing judgments against foreign entities, real estate nondisclosures, and various other business torts. He counsels employers on employment issues and has litigated cases involving discrimination, disability and harassment issues, wrongful termination, trade secret violations, and wage and hour disputes.
Mr. Gordon is listed in Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business, 2006-2009 editions, and has been named as one of California's Super Lawyers through a peer review process. He earned his B.A. at Amherst College and a J.D. at the University of San Francisco School of Law. He has been a Board member of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Marin; President of Mill Valley Tennis Club; President of Bear Creek Association; and a Board member of the Giants Community Fund. He is married and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and two children who have attended local public schools.
Carlota del Portillo, Former Dean, Mission Campus, San Francisco City College
Dr. Portillo is a longtime community leader and advocate for the Latino community and low income students of the San Francisco Bay Area. She has been dean and administrator at San Francisco City College for over 30 years and retired this year. A former president of the San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education, Dr. Portillo serves or has served on many boards and commissions, including the Library Commission, Golden Gate National Park Conservancy Board of Directors, Fire Commission, Civil Service Commission, Human Rights Commission, Catholic Charities, and Latino Educators for Today and Tomorrow, among others. Selected awards include the CRLA Jessie de la Cruz Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Riley Center Leadership Award, the Latino Democratic Club President's Medallion and the Centro Legal de la Raza Award.
Mark Kushner, Non-voting Board Member
Mark Kushner is one of the country's leading charter experts as a charter school founder, former state charter commissioner, and instructor on charter schools at Stanford University. In 1995, he founded and led Leadership High School in San Francisco, one of the pioneering charter high schools dedicated to equity and excellence. In 2001, Mr. Kushner next founded, and led as CEO, Leadership Public Schools (LPS), a prominent charter management organization dedicated to serving low-income students in California. LPS is now ably led by the former chief academic officer of Oakland Unified School District and Mr. Kushner serves on the board. In 2008 he joined K12 Inc., the country's leading provider of online courses.
A former high school English teacher, coach, school administrator, and attorney, Mr. Kushner also serves on the board of trustees of San Francisco University High School and the Town School for Boys. Selected honors include the Harvard Club of San Francisco's Secondary School Educator of the Year, and the Hart Vision Award, the highest award given to charter school educators in California.
Mr. Kushner earned a B.A. from Wesleyan University, a J.D. from University of San Francisco and an Ed.M from Harvard University. He also completed graduate work in literature at The Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Oxford University. He is married to Dr. Mimi Winsberg and has two children.
Aden Bliss, Chief Financial Officer of Blue Shield of California Foundation
Aden Bliss is the chief financial officer of Blue Shield of California Foundation. He is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the Foundation’s business and financial operations. He has extensive experience in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, and has worked in the financial services, healthcare, and education sectors.
Before joining the Foundation, Mr. Bliss was chief financial officer at New Leaders, a national nonprofit organization that recruits, trains, and develops transformational school principals around the country. Prior to joining New Leaders, Mr. Bliss was the director of finance at WestEd, a large nonprofit research, development, and service organization. Earlier in his career, Mr. Bliss was an associate at Broadlane and an analyst at Banc of America Securities.
Mr. Bliss has served on the board of directors for several nonprofit organizations, and is currently on the board of trustees for Flex Public Schools.
Mr. Bliss received his Bachelor of Science degree from Stanford University and Master of Business Administration from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. A native of Eugene, Oregon, Mr. Bliss lives in San Francisco with his wife and daughter.
Catherine Walcott, Director of Strategic Initiatives at WestEd and Board Secretary
Catherine Walcott is WestEd's Director of Strategic Initiatives, and works with federal, state, and district policymakers to address educational challenges through evidence-based approaches. WestEd is a federally-funded regional think tank focused on education.
Ms. Walcott directs WestEd's Fast Response Applied R&D Unit, which focuses on getting evidence-based information and unbiased analyses about current education issues and trends to policymakers and practitioners served by the Regional Educational Laboratory West and nationally. As a result of Walcott's leadership, the regional lab has published dozens of studies that help inform regional policymakers about pressing educational issues, such as district improvement, teacher demand, postsecondary access, and re-enrolling dropouts. The lab has also hosted numerous events to bridge research, practice, and policy on a host of topics in the western region.
She also serves as the agency liaison to the state of California, functioning as a key point of contact with the California State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, and other state agencies.
Before joining WestEd, Walcott was a Senior Policy Advisor for the U.S. Department of Education, where she developed legislative proposals and policy guidelines related to school reform, particularly standards and assessment issues. She provided leadership on issues such as policy guidance for state reform plans, guidance for the development of state assessment systems, and peer reviews of numerous types of state plans (e.g., plans for standards-based improvement, assessment systems, technology plans).
Walcott also serves as an advisor to the No Child Left Behind Alert newsletter and is a board member of Partners in School Innovation and the Russian Hill Preschool. She received a BA in psychology from Stanford University and an MA in public policy from Harvard University.
Noreen Yumi Romero, Parent Member
Noreen Yumi Romero is the first parent member of the Flex Public Schools' Board of Trustees. She brings her experience as a Flex parent to her fiduciary duty as a full-time board member, voting on various deliberations related to the overall health of the organization.
Born in San Jose and raised in Gilroy, Ms. Romero is an entrepreneur. For more than a decade, she and her husband, Blair, have run their own business in Morgan Hill. She has two girls in charter schools: Hayley, a seventh grader at Silicon Valley Flex Academy, and Morgan, a fifth grader at Charter School of Morgan Hill. Ms. Romero's dedication to local schools began seven years ago when Hayley started at Charter School of Morgan Hill. As a parent-volunteer, she often assisted teachers, coordinated activities for parents, helped with the book fair, and participated in many other volunteer activities.
Even before Silicon Valley Flex Academy opened its doors, Ms. Romero generously took on the role of Volunteer Coordinator and provided daily support within the school. Just some of her activities included carpool direction, office support, meal service, event planning, and classroom support.