LACOE Experts

LACOE’s versatile team of experts bring a wealth of experience and knowledge in a variety of educational and academic topics. To schedule an interview or to connect with any of our specialists, contact the Public Affairs and Communications team at

Homeless Education

Coordinator, Homeless Education Program

Area of Expertise: Homeless Education /  School Counseling / Trauma-Informed Practice / Community Resource Building / Restorative Practices / Child Welfare and Attendance

Jennifer Kottke began her education career as a classroom teacher in 1997. She taught upper-grade students in neighborhoods with high-density populations and high rates of poverty, homelessness and violence. In 2001, Kottke became involved in homeless education through a Friday Night program where she helped provide meals, crafts and parent education for families experiencing homelessness within her school district. She then took on increasing responsibilities on the school site and district-wide in the implementation of McKinney-Vento rights and services. 

Kottke served as her school district’s Homeless Education liaison and administrator of its Family Resource Center until she joined LACOE in 2015.  She coordinated LACOE’s Foster Youth Services and later resumed work on Homeless Education in 2019. She currently serves as Homeless Education coordinator, supporting 80 districts and over 300 charter schools as they serve students experiencing homelessness. 


Director, Student Support Services

Area of Expertise: Foster Youth / At-Promise Youth

Rachelle Touzard is director in the Division of Student Support Services at LACOE. Dr. Touzard brings over 18 years of experience in developing, planning and organizing programs in alternative education systems and student support services as a licensed therapist, school counselor and administrator.

Throughout her career, she has championed innovative countywide initiatives including educational data sharing, regional learning networks and service coordination for students in foster care and incarcerated youth. Her expertise includes school-based mental health service models, alternative education and juvenile justice, at-promise youth, foster care, trauma responsive schools, social emotional learning and school counseling program development. She employs a collaborative, solution-focused, systems change leadership framework to maximize outcomes for students and school communities.


Director, Division of Student Programs

Area of Expertise: Curriculum and Instruction / Education for At-Promise Youth, School Reform and Transformation / Educational Equity and Access / Globalization and the Need for 21st Century Skills - Implications for Policy Education in STEM and PBL 

Diana Velasquez is a director in the Educational Programs at LACOE. She was born in Bogota, Colombia and moved to the United Sates with her family in 1978. Dr. Velasquez is a distinguished educational leader who has dedicated more than 23 years to ensuring the social, emotional and academic success of all students. She has also coached, inspired and mentored many educators who are now serving as instructional leaders. Her success in teaching has earned her many awards, including the LACOE Teacher of the Year, LA County Bilingual Directors Association Outstanding Teacher and LACOE Division of Student Programs Central Office Administrator of the Year.

Dr. Velasquez led the initiative and was the founding principal of the award-winning Road to Success Academy  (RTSA) model of instruction launched in 2010. The curriculum uses a project-based approach that engages students in thematic, interdisciplinary learning framed by essential questions. This learning experience empowers students to make positive choices and behavioral changes. The RTSA has been a model for instruction in the state for at-promise youth. The model has been studied for its promising practices by Harvard University and UCLA. Dr. Velasquez has also been a guest speaker for UCLA, USC and Harvard University.


Program Director, FYSCP Technical Assistance Program

Area of Expertise: Education for Foster Youth, Justice-Involved Youth and Students Experiencing Homelessness / Trauma-Informed Practice

Dr. Michelle Lustig is director for LACOE’s Foster Youth Technical Assistance Program, which ensures all Foster Youth Services Coordinating Programs (FYSCP) statewide have the supports they need. Previously, Dr. Lustig served as director of FYSCP and Homeless Education with the San Diego County Office of Education for over 14 years. In this role, she created nationally recognized programs that support and increase school stability and academic outcomes for students in foster care. Under her leadership, a model interagency database was developed to allow secure access to health and education data for justice-involved youth. She also led the creation of a countywide cost sharing transportation agreement that ensures students in foster care are able to remain in their school of origin.  

She has over 30 years of experience in child welfare, research and education. Dr. Lustig has served as professor at the USC School of Social Work and CSU San Marcos School of Education. She has worked for The Child and Adolescent Services Research Center, San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency, Child Welfare Services and Casey Family Programs.

Links to relevant stories ( Data Milestone for Foster Care section)


Coordinator, Foster Youth Services Technical Assistance Program

Area of Expertise: Trauma-Informed Practice / Foster Youth Support / Education Legislation / School Counseling

Kimberly Faulkner-Camacho is an educator with over 17 years of experience as a school counselor, dean and administrator. She has worked with diverse student populations, including students in foster care and justice-involved youth.  

She is coordinator for LACOE’s Foster Youth Services Coordinating Program and the state's Foster Youth Services Technical Assistance Program. She collaborates with educators and child welfare staff from districts, schools and county offices of education throughout the state to build their capacity in educational legislation for youth in foster care. In addition, she develops curricula and creates professional development to support them with training and implementing trauma-informed practices in schools.


Career Technical Education

Area of Expertise: Special Education (students with emotional disturbance) / School Psychology / Creating Cultures of Care

Reina Flores-Hansen began her educational career in 1992 with Rowland Unified School District working as a school guidance technician, RSP Teacher and swim coach. In 1997, she moved on to Hacienda La Puente Unified School District to continue in school counseling. During the summer of 2000, Flores-Hansen started her administrative career with Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District. Since that time, she has supported student achievement serving as a counselor, adjunct professor, secondary administrator, district assistant director and coordinator.

She has led the ongoing drive for student achievement in skills that allow students to be life-long learners from preschool to graduation and beyond. Her work with different school districts has highlighted the critical role of CTE in providing opportunities and options through education, technical training and apprenticeship experience. She joined LACOE’s CTE Unit in January, 2021.

Links to relevant stories:

Current CTE Newsletter May/June 2021

Parent Education and Consultation Program

Program Manager, Parent Education

Area of Expertise: Parent and Family Engagement & Partnerships

Jael Ovalle currently manages the Parent Education and Consultation Program (PFECP) of the Los Angeles County Office of Education. She led this initiative to restructure family engagement at LACOE to guide systems to develop positive, academic-focused relationships with parents and families. Jael works to translate the extensive body of research on collaborating with parents and families into actions, policies, programming and practices in different school environments, particularly for justice-impacted youth. Through this program, parents and families in Los Angeles County have access to classes, workshops, town hall and consultation meetings, and many other learning opportunities.

Ovalle has participated in extensive training on Dr. Joyce Epstein’s Typology for Parental Engagement by the Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships, Dr. Karen Mapp’s Dual Capacity Building Framework; asset-based and liberatory approaches to family partnerships. The PFECP model for family engagement is regularly highlighted at national conferences. Additionally in 2018 LACOE’s PFECP was presented at an educational conference that included 1,300 participants representing more than 30 countries. The presentation showcased Ms. Ovalle’s work with LACOE families and its applications in cross-disciplinary interests shaped by different cultures, languages, geography and politics. 

LACOE’s work with parents and families continues to evolve to meet the changing needs and interests of parents and families as they support their students’ school experience in Los Angeles County. 


Director, Charter School Office

Area of Expertise: Charter Schools 

 Ciccarelli is an accomplished educator with more than 20 years of experience with a focus on special education and at-promise youth. He has worked within a wide range of educational settings, including large public school districts, large and small conversion and start-ups, and dependent and independent charter schools. He has also worked as principal of a small private school that specialized in serving students with disabilities. Ciccarelli has been a SELPA coordinator as well as a coordinator with LACOE's Charter School Office (CSO) before serving as CSO Director.

Ciccarelli began his career as an educator, teaching middle school science, Special Education and agriculture. Before joining LACOE, he served as administrator at Charter High School for the Arts Multimedia and Performance in Van Nuys and also worked at Granada Hills Charter High School and Soledad Enrichment Action. 


Expanded Learning Program Manager, Expanded Learning Technical Assistance Unit

Area of Expertise: Compassionate Systems Leadership / Afterschool and K-12 Expanded Learning Programs / ASES and 21st CCLC funded K-12 Expanded Learning Technical Assistance (Grants Administration, Professional Development, Program Quality and Design, Social Emotional Learning, Youth Development, etc.) / Los Angeles County Schools:  Rising to the Challenge of COVID-19 A Planning Framework for the 2020-21 School Year (Instruction: Expanded Learning specific)

Michelle R. Perrenoud is a program manager in the Division of Student Support Services at LACOE.  Currently Dr. Perrenoud manages the Expanded Learning Technical Assistant Unit, where she and her team provide professional development, consulting and coaching to the districts and agencies, funded with ASES, 21st CCLC and/or ASSETs grants, providing Expanded Learning programs for students in the K-12 Education System across LA County.  She directs and provides technical assistance and capacity building support to over 180 grantees and nearly 1,350 K-12 programs in the areas of leadership, systems thinking, professional development, program design, continuous quality improvement and grant management/compliance. 

Dr. Perrenoud is a published author, serves as a guest lecturer, board member, conference presenter, and is a member of the California Department of Education (CDE) System of Support for Expanded Learning (SSEL) and statewide design committees including Research, Policy, Quality, Inclusion, Equity, Workforce and Older Youth.  Dr. Perrenoud specializes in supporting district administrators, paraprofessionals and practitioners launching new or revitalizing existing K-12 state and federally funded programs providing academic and enrichment opportunities for students attending high poverty and low-performing schools. 

Early Learning

oordinator III, Early Learning

Area of Expertise: Preschool through 3rd grade Curriculum & Instruction, Dual Language Learners, and Universal Prekindergarten Initiative 

Jacqueline Lopez is an Early Learning Coordinator in LACOE’s Head Start and Early Learning Division. Jackie has navigated both the early childhood education and TK-12 systems for the past 31 years as she has worked in both preschool and elementary programs. She has a thorough understanding of the key elements that support the alignment of preschool through third grade curriculum, instruction and assessment. In her current role, she serves as the California Preschool Instructional Network (CPIN) Regional Lead, as well as supports the planning and implementation of other initiatives, such as Quality Start Los Angeles Dual Language Learner and the Universal Prekindergarten Initiatives. Through a variety of professional development offerings, she supports teachers and administrators in building knowledge and skills necessary to implement high quality early learning environments and developmentally appropriate practices.  She has provided professional development and coaching within various programs in the Los Angeles County Office of Education since 2001, including Head Start, Migrant Education, CPIN as well as the Early Childhood Education Professional Learning Communities (ECEPLC) project, which provided support to preschool – kindergarten teachers and administrators during the initial years of TK implementation in the state of California.  As part of LACOE’s ECEPLC team, she earned the Golden Bell Award in 2016. Her passion for early learning continues to grow as she now supports California in building a bridge between the early learning and TK-12 system through the Universal Prekindergarten initiative. She participates in several local and statewide committees where she shares her knowledge and expertise, such as the Curriculum and Instruction Steering on Early Learning: A Committee of the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association. 

Early Learning

Executive Director of Head Start and Early Learning Division

Area of Expertise: Early Childhood Education, Public Policy

Luis Bautista is Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Office of Education Head Start and Early Learning Division (HSEL), the state’s largest Head Start grantee, which contracts with 16 delegate agencies—both school districts and private nonprofits—to serve 10,000 children and families each year. LACOE HSEL offers a comprehensive prenatal-to-five education program by partnering with families, communities, and providers to give children and families the skills to succeed in school and life. 

Bautista has more than 25 years’ experience in education, including the past 15 in Head Start. As Executive Director, he is responsible for administering early learning programs—including Head Start, Early Head Start, California State Preschool Program, General Child Care and Development Program, Quality Start Los Angeles, Inclusive Early Education Expansion Program, California Preschool Instructional Network, and Universal Prekindergarten/Transitional Kindergarten planning and capacity building—with a combined annual budget of more than $200 million.

Links to relevant stories:


Project Director, Community Health and Safe Schools

Area of Expertise: Pandemic Response, School Health 

Susan Chaides is a project director in the Division of Student Support Services at LACOE. She was the 2018 California School Nurse Administrator of the Year, 2017 Association of LACOE Student Support Services Administrator of the Year and is a Fellow in the Johnson & Johnson School Health Leadership Program.

She has worked as a school nurse, health educator, health services coordinator, alternative education principal and school health consultant. Currently, Chaides manages the Community Health and Safe Schools Unit at LACOE where she provides professional development and consultation to schools, community agencies and parents. She oversees, develops and provides trainings in the areas of school health, mental health, school safety, emergency preparedness and Section 504. She is the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) Director, serving on the California School Nurses Organization State Board and the NASN Board of Directors.  


Links to relevant stories:


Project Director, Community Health and Safe Schools

Area of Expertise: Counseling, Student Mental Health and Wellness, Human Trafficking, Violence Prevention

Jewel Forbes is a project director for LACOE’s Community Health and Safe Schools in Student Support Services. Serving as the lead for school counseling and mental health, Forbes was awarded the 2019 County Administrator of the Year. She has worked in the education setting with a focus on student services for over 20 years. In her current role, Forbes provides training, technical assistance and support to the county’s 80 school districts while serving as LACOE liaison with county and state organizations.

She is co-chair of the Network Against Hate Crime Commission and serves as the lead for the Human Trafficking Youth Prevention Education (HTYPE) grant. She currently serves on advisory committees for the Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council, Office of Violence Prevention, Trauma Prevention Initiative, Los Angeles vs. Hate campaign, Office of Youth Diversion and Development, and Southern California Crossroads Annual Gang Prevention and Intervention Conference. Prior to joining LACOE, Forbes served as director of health, human, homeless and student support services; mental health and crisis coordinator; high school administrator; Child Welfare and Attendance counselor; student support coordinator and social worker with the LA County Department of Children and Family Services.

Links to relevant stories:


Coordinator, Nutrition and Wellness

Area of Expertise: School-based interventions to improve the health and well-being of students, staff and school communities with focus on Local School Wellness Policy / Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model

Maryam Shayegh is a registered dietitian, health and wellness advocate and educator. She works as a Nutrition and Wellness Coordinator for LACOE, where she provides technical assistance, support and capacity building to improve the implementation of nutrition and wellness promotion strategies and programs. 

Shayegh has been appointed as a consultant member of the Child Nutrition Advisory Council, which provides proactive leadership to enhance health and nutrition education for California's youth.


Arts & STEAM Coordinator, Center for Distance and Online Learning

Area of Expertise: Arts Education / Arts Integration / STEAM Education

Jeannine Flores is LACOE’s Arts & STEAM Coordinator in the Center for Distance and Online Learning, a division of Curriculum and Instructional Services. She has been in education for 23 years, is an alumna of California State University, Long Beach and Concordia University, Irvine. Prior to her position at LACOE, Flores was the VAPA Coordinator for the Santa Clara County Office of Education where she oversaw Artspiration and supported STEAM. Currently, she serves as chair-elect for Create CA and Regional Arts lead for California State Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA) Arts Initiative for Region 11.  

Jeannine brings a wealth of knowledge around discrete arts and arts integration curriculum, professional development, standards-based instruction, community arts partnerships and arts advocacy leadership. Her background as a music educator in Orange County established strong roots and connections to all disciplines. Flores was named Teacher of the Year in 2005 and was awarded the ACSA Region 7 Doris Prince Scholarship in 2019.

Links to relevant stories:

EdSource: Too many California schools fail to provide mandated arts education; let's fix that

Op-Ed on California Arts Standards,public%20schools%20for%2019%20years

Soundtrap Education Summit: Putting the Arts in STEAM to Empower Student Voice video

First Steps into STEAM podcast


History-Social Science Coordinator, Curriculum and Instructional Services

Area of Expertise: Civic Learning Professional Development / Resource Support for Social Studies Instruction and Civic Education for K-12 Schools

Dr. Michelle Herczog, History-Social Science coordinator for LACOE, is responsible for providing professional development, resources and support for K-12 social studies educators throughout LA County’s 80 school districts. She currently serves on the Power of Democracy Steering Committee led by California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye and completed service on the California Task Force on K-12 Civic Learning led by the Chief Justice and former California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

Dr. Herczog has also served as vice-chair of the California Instructional Quality Commission for the California State Board of Education, president of the National Council for the Social Studies and president of the California Council for the Social Studies. As a member of the Social Studies Assessment, Curriculum and Instruction Committee of the Council of Chief State School Officers, she helped develop the College, Career and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards published by the National Council for the Social Studies. She has authored numerous social studies curriculum materials, reports and resources, and actively advocates for effective social studies education at local, state and national levels.


Coordinator, Career Technical Education

Area of Expertise: Career Technical Education (CTE) / Historical Barriers Affecting Education and Career Opportunities for Students of Color 

Dr. Gina Newton is LACOE’s Career Technical Education (CTE) coordinator. In addition to providing technical assistance to teachers, counselors, administrators and districts, she leads CTE-based professional development workshops, symposiums and webinars. Through collaborative relationships with industry partners, Newton offers career opportunities for students of Los Angeles County through high school and into college and career.


Newton has nearly 20 years of experience in education, serving as a business teacher, yearbook and FBLA advisors, administrator and adjunct professor. She has served students in traditional, early college and higher education. Newton is a noted researcher, historian, lecturer and public speaker who is passionate about exploring historically significant diversity and equity issues affecting current education systems and student achievement.


Links to relevant stories:

LACOE CTE Symposium 2019

CTE Middle School Symposium

Career Technical Education Unit - Education Center West



Google Play:
Apple Podcasts:


Coordinator, STEM Program, Curriculum and Instructional Services

Area of Expertise: STEM Education / Next Generation Science Standards / Common Core Math / Computer Science Education / STEM/STEAM Initiatives

Anthony Quan is the STEM Coordinator within LACOE’s Curriculum and Instructional Services Division. He serves on several statewide and regional capacities supporting Science, Math and Computer Science Education in California. He was a 2006 LA County Teacher of the Year and most recently was president of the Southern California Association of Science Specialists. He also has had roles as a professor in higher institutes of education and as an informal science specialist and serves on several statewide committees.


Links to relevant stories:


Coordinator, Reading/Language Arts, Curriculum and Instructional Services

Area of Expertise: K-12 Reading / Writing / Listening and Speaking / Integrated ELD / Culturally Responsive Teaching

Leslie Zoroya is LACOE’s coordinator for Reading/Language Arts in Curriculum and Instructional Services. She provides literacy professional development and technical assistance to LA County’s 80 school districts in both online and in-person formats. She is a member of the California State Curriculum and Instruction Steering Committee subcommittee for Language Arts, was the lead author of the 2008 Reading/Language Arts Adoption Toolkit and has led many Distinguished Schools, Gold Ribbon and Program Quality Review teams. Zoroya was selected by the CDE to be a content review expert for the 2015 English Language Arts/English Language Development Primary Adoption and is a member of the California State Literacy Plan Committee.


She spent five years working on a special literacy project in the LACOE juvenile court schools, implementing reading intervention programs at 17 probation camps and starting dorm, school and classroom libraries for students. She wrote curriculum, coached teachers and monitored three new literacy based programs in the division. Zoroya coordinates the LA County Spelling Bee competition, which she began 15 years ago and has grown to a well-known and beloved annual countywide event. She has produced a District Spelling Bee toolkit to help school and district Bee coordinators plan and host Spelling Bees. She also began the Literacy Lifts Annual Conference and established the Beth Dalton Memorial Literacy Award. Zoroya cohosts the Leading Literacy podcast and facilitates the How to Be An Antiracist statewide book club.


Coordinator, Instructional Technology Outreach

Area of Expertise: AI in Education | Educational Technology | Coding/Computer Science Education | Media Literacy Education | Online Education

Scott has worked in K-12 education for 30 years and in higher education for 20 years. He has taught at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Scott currently works as an Instructional Technology Outreach Coordinator at the Los Angeles County Office of Education. Scott also works (part-time) as the Academic Program Director of National University’s Master of Science in Designing Instructional and Educational Technology (MSDIET).  He's earned the Time Warner National Teacher and the Classroom of the Future Foundation’s Innovative Educator Awards. He received his M.A. in Educational Technology from SDSU. Scott is currently a doctoral candidate in UCLA’s Educational Leadership Program.


Coordinator, Instructional Technology Outreach

Area of Expertise: EdTech | Instructional Technology Integration | AI

Christopher Hoang is an educator with over 15 years of experience as a teacher and school administrator. As a school administrator, he was tasked with technology integration within the classroom and supporting teachers in developing engaging lessons with the use of technology.

He is a coordinator with LACOE's Instructional Technology Outreach. He provides professional development in the uses of educational technology in the classroom. Additionally, he collaborates with educators in successfully implementing the use of technology in the classrooms.


Assistant Director, Business Advisory Services

Area of Expertise: AB1200 Fiscal Oversight / School District Organization / External Business Support / School Finance (short and long-term financing for districts)

Octavio Castelo serves as LACOE’s director of Business Advisory Services. He is responsible for the fiscal oversight and monitoring of all 80 school districts in LA County and oversees a myriad of financial management and consulting services specific to school districts. Under the authorization of the LA County Superintendent of Schools, Castelo serves as fiscal advisor to a large school district where he collaboratively works with the district’s board of education, executive cabinet and personnel on fiscal matters and business operations.

Castelo serves as secretary to the LA County Committee on School District Organization, which studies and recommends the organization and reorganizations of school districts, changes in school district boundaries and the number of trustees and the manner by which they are elected. He was recognized as the 2018 Business Services Administrator of the Year by the Association of LA County School Administrators and has served on and chaired numerous statewide committees.


Director, Division of Accountability, Support and Monitoring

Area of Expertise: Assessment / Accountability / LCAP 

Dina Wilson is director of LACOE’s Division of Accountability, Support and Monitoring. She has served previously in LACOE's Charter School Office, first as coordinator and then as director. She brings a diverse background in public education, including 20 years as a science teacher, high school principal and director of Interventions and mental health services within LA County school districts. She is currently a member of the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association's Curriculum and Instructional Services Committee (CISC) and serves as co-chair of the CISC Accountability Subcommittee.

Wilson’s division provides technical assistance to LEAs within the Statewide System of Support structure. She oversees the LCAP and State and Federal programs, Assessment & Accountability, Career Technical Education, Migrant Education, Williams Instructional Materials and the Center for District Capacity Building. 

Educational Technology and Technology Support

Educational Technology and Technology Support

Area of Expertise: Technology

Johan Madrigal has over 33 years of experience in public education – most recently as the Director of Technology Learning and Support Services for the Los Angeles County Office of Education. He has served as Director of Network Engineering and Telecommunications during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. He also previously held the position of Manager of Personal Computing Services, which oversees the LACOE Help Desk call center team and the first-tier user support team. 

Mr. Madrigal is currently responsible for the technology standards adopted by LACOE. His teams include the technical end-user support team that provides technical assistance to our staff, teachers, and students and the Help Desk team that provides online and over-the-phone technical support. He also oversees the Instructional Technology Outreach team that provides technical training, workshops, professional development, Digital Library Services, and Digital Media Services with CalironiaStreaming. Additionally, he manages the technical Project Management Office responsible for the organization's standardization and implementation of all technical projects. 

Mr. Madrigal can be reached for information on general technology topics and technology initiatives the organization undertakes.