Click on a name to skip to an individual bio:
- Ronald Andrade
- Gina Baleria
- Jack Ballard
- Wissem Bennani
- Hope Emry Ortiz
- Donald Frazier
- Jose Lopez Libertad
- Vanson Nguyen
- Roam Romagnoli
- Arielle Smith
Ron Andrade is the manager of the Learning Center at College of San Mateo in the San Mateo County Community College District. In addition to managing the daily activities at the center, he is responsible for the development and coordination of support programs including peer tutoring, supplemental instruction, and a summer bridge program. Before coming to the College of San Mateo, Ron held roles in academic advisement and graduate student support at private and public 4-year institutions. His research interests include effective student support services for community college students, as well as issues of access and success for low income and first generation students. Ron holds a Master of Education in Postsecondary Administration & Student Affairs and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Southern California.
Gina Baleria is a faculty member of the Department of Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts at San Francisco State University. In addition, she is the Chair of Journalism and Digital Media Program at John F. Kennedy University. Through her company, Baleria Creative, she works as a digital media producer and consultant. Gina’s research interest is in media literacy and news literacy.
Gina holds a Master of Arts in Communication: Media Studies from Stanford University and a Bachelor of Arts in English with emphases in Film and History from University of California Los Angeles.
Jack Ballard is an assistant principal of instruction at Gunn High School in the Palo Alto Unified School District. He supports the STEM, CTE, and PE departments within Gunn High School. Before taking on this role, Jack has served as an instructional coach, a department chair, a yearbook adviser, and an English teacher. Jack’s research interests include collective teacher inquiry, student-centered instruction, and the organization of school systems.
Jack holds a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from California State University, Northridge, and he holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
Wissem Bennani manages the International Student Program (ISP) at Skyline College. He is responsible for overseeing the ISP, recruitment and marketing, providing immigration advice, and international student services. Wissem holds a master’s degree in Managerial Accounting from the University of Tunis III, a bachelor’s degree in Business from the University of Michigan Flint and a Master of Business Administration from Saginaw Valley State University.
Don is currently the Dean of Students at Galileo Academy of Science and Technology in San Francisco. With years of experience in the field of education, Don has applied his expertise as an after-school leader, middle school assistant, Family Support Coordinator, Reentry & Preventative Services Counselor; middle school advisor, and co-advisor for the Young Fathers program. He has also developed and implemented curriculum that focuses on leadership development and character education for schools in Berkeley and San Francisco.
Don graduated from The Art Institute of CA - San Francisco, receiving his Bachelor of Science in Media Arts Animation. He discovered his passion for social emotional development while working at San Francisco Friends School. Encouraged by young scholars that he worked with, Don went on to obtain his Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology. He went on to the community-based organization, Berkeley Youth Alternatives, to work with foster, probation, and homeless youth. He focused on the symbiotic relationship of the self and environment. Don is interested in knowing how the psycho-social and emotional development (PSED) of adolescents are impacted by sociopolitical, historical and cultural surroundings—particularly of Black/African American males.
Don's areas of interest include social-emotional development, social pedagogy, cognitive emotional pedagogy, critical theory, education equity, emotional intelligence, culturally relevant pedagogy, holistic healing, teacher effectiveness, parent engagement, strength-based practices, sociocultural learning communities, racial-identity & belonging, multigenerational trauma, language of reconciliation, PTSD, sociopolitical development, communal relations, equity, and social justice with a color conscious approach.
Jose Lopez Libertad works is Senior Program Coordinator at San Francisco State University’s Institute for Civic and Community Engagement. The Institute for Civic and Community Engagement (ICCE) provides opportunities for SF State University faculty and students to become aware and address issues of social justice through community service learning and civic engagement. Through innovative courses, experiential learning, political engagement, participatory action research, and direct services, ICCE partners the resources and expertise of the urban university with the knowledge and assets of diverse communities.
Jose’s current work and academic interests are threefold. First, he would like to explore the relationship between service-learning and high-impact practices in higher education. Second, he would like to investigate the academic contributions of community-based research built on a service-learning pedagogical approach. Finally, he is interested in helping develop curricula and pedagogy that would allow educators to engage as “transformative intellectuals” and students to become critical and engaged learners.
Jose attended San Jose State University where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology San Jose State University with a concentration in social change and a Bachelor of Arts in Social Science with a concentration community change. He also received a Master of Arts in Philosophy from San Jose State University where he fell in love with Latin American philosophy and thought. Born in Santa Cruz, CA and raised in Salinas, Watsonville, Castroville, Fresno, Las Vegas, Miami, Oregon, Mexpan (Nayarit, Mexico) and Tijuana, to name a few, he takes great pride in calling San Jose home. He is the youngest in the family and the first to graduate high school. Having been in 20 countries, Jose enjoys activities that bring balance and joy to his life such as traveling, playing the guitar, and participating in triathlons and marathons.
A child of immigrant parents who fled a war-torn country, first generation low-income college student Vanson Nguyen has been teaching mathematics in the community colleges for over 10 years, serving the system that allowed him access to higher education. He has been at College of Alameda for three years and is now the department chair for Mathematics. Also, he is a member of two organizations, Rock the School Bells (RTSB) and Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education (APAHE). In SF State's EdD program he hopes to learn about social justice and leadership to apply directly to his practice in the classroom and as a faculty leader.
Both of Vanson's degrees are in mathematics. The master's degree, the minimum requirement to teach in community college, included very little pedagogy offered through the program at the time. Thus, his primary research focus is pedagogy, specifically critical pedagogy in community college mathematics. His interest in critical pedagogy in mathematics spans curriculum, leadership, and professional collaboration for development and implementation.
Roam Romagnoli teaches English at Santa Rosa Junior College. In addition to teaching classes in writing and literature she also teaches in the HSI Connections Learning Community, is a mentor for our Puente and Teaching Fellows programs, and serves on the Academic Senate. She is also a co-chair of the LGBT President’s Advisory Committee on our campus.
Before moving to the motherland of Redwoods and Rain, Roam lived in the desert in Southern California. There she taught a variety of courses in writing, literature, and Gender and Sexuality studies at several community colleges and at CSU San Bernardino (CSUSB). Before teaching full time, she worked as the director of the LGBT Center at CSUSB and coached basketball at the University of Redlands. Her research interests include the school-to-prison pipeline and social justice through community college education.
Roam has a Master of Arts in Higher Education as well as Master of Arts in Rhetoric, Composition, and Literature from CSU San Bernardino.
Arielle Smith is a general counselor at College of San Mateo. She has previously held positions with the TRiO SSS Program, as well as coordinator, counselor, and instructor of a First Year Experience learning community, aimed at providing support to first year students as they navigate community college. Her research interests include investigating issues of institutional inequality, support and success for low-income and first-generation college students, college access and equity for historically underserved populations. She is also interested in high school-to-college pipelines, especially for first generation students.
Arielle holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies, with concentrations in Political Science and Latin American Studies, from UC San Diego. She received her Master of Science in Counseling from San Francisco State University.