Our Board is comprised of dynamic business, education, and community leaders who generously volunteer their time and expertise to guide the Education Alliance in its mission. Three permanent members include the Superintendent of the Washoe County School District, and both Presidents of the University of Nevada, Reno, and Truckee Meadows Community College. We are thankful for our Board’s 100 percent financial support!
Dr. Susan Enfield
Washoe County School District Superintendent
Chief Communications and Community Engagement Officer
Brian Sandoval, J.D.
University of Nevada
David Shintani, Ph.D.
Vice Provost, Undergraduate Education
Board of Directors
John Ahdunko has been an active community member in Northern Nevada for the past 20 years. He began his career in the banking industry while earning his Bachelors degree from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2006. He has more than 20 years’ experience in the financial industry and has lead with the passion of helping more people live Greater in the various roles he has held. In his current role, he serves on the Senior Leadership team for Greater Nevada and has successfully built programs that focus on financial wellness by building strong partnerships with local and community organizations through engagement, recognition, and a passion to help more people live Greater.
Why I support education: Supporting education is very important because as individual’s access education, they are preparing to address today’s challenges and tomorrow’s opportunities. It’s my belief that when our students become lifelong learners, it puts them in a position to be successful, adapt, evolve, and ultimately, contribute greatly to our communities.
Kristine Brown Caliger
Kristine Brown Caliger is proud to have been raised and educated in northern Nevada, and takes even more pride in doing her part to ensure a new generation will be able to say the same.
After earning a B.A. in Music at the University of Nevada, Kristine began her career in communications, digital media, and graphic design, working with several area non-profits.
Kristine’s trajectory changed when she was hired at News 4-Fox 11 in 2013. She eventually became the station’s first Managing Editor, overseeing newsroom, editorial, and digital operations. Kristine’s leadership guided the station’s work during several election cycles, community triumphs and tragedies, and natural disasters. But the goal was always singular, though times and circumstances differed: advocating for the community, and keeping people informed.
Kristine now serves as the Vice President of Partnerships and Programs at the Reno+Sparks Chamber of Commerce, where the goal remains much the same. She advocates for and informs the business community of policies that impact them, creates ongoing educational opportunities for members, and unifies members and partners in the spirit of good business citizenship and generosity. She believes this is what serves as True North in good times and challenging ones.
Why I support education: The teachers who have made the most impact on my life are those who believed in who I could be before I did. Thank you, Mrs. Knazovich, for asking to hold my hand in our class picture because you believed I would ‘be something someday’. Thank you, Mrs. Galloway, for telling me you thought I could be the first woman to be president. Whether or not those things are true, the empowerment you gave me – and all your students – is true. I am forever grateful and will do the same for others.
Joe Cline, Ph.D.
Dr. Cline is a professor of chemistry and vice provost emeritus for undergraduate education at the University of Nevada. As vice provost, Cline oversaw University assessment and accreditation, the development of academic curricula, and the periodic review of all instructional programs. The Advising, Writing, Math, and Tutoring Centers, the Honors Program, the Intensive English Language Center, Service Learning, and the Core Curriculum report to the vice provost for undergraduate education.
Dr. Cline earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry at the University of Virginia and a Doctorate in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology. As a professor of chemistry, Cline’s expertise is in molecular spectroscopy and dynamics and he has mentored numerous undergraduate and graduate researchers in his research activities.
Melissa Deadmond, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Melissa earned her B.S. in Biology and French from Albertson College of Idaho and Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Nevada. She joined the Biology Department faculty at Truckee Meadows Community College in 2005. Seeing the need to broaden students’ perspectives and opportunities in health, Melissa co-developed the Associate of Science in Community Health Science degree and returned to University of Nevada to earn an M.P.H., Epidemiology so that she would have expertise in the discipline. Melissa has since transitioned to administration and serves as TMCC’s Associate Dean of Assessment and Planning. Melissa is married with two children and loves soccer.
Calen Evans was born and raised in Northern Nevada and is a McQueen High grad. Prior to becoming the current president of the Washoe Education Association, he was the STEM coordinator at Lemelson STEM Academy and also taught 2nd and 3rd grade there. His passion for engaging students in learning led him into STEAM education and he spent the last six years helping bring STEAM Learning to schools across the state. Evans is also the founder of Empower Nevada Teachers, a local grassroots teacher and educational advocacy group focusing on bringing positive changes to public education in Nevada. His passion to support educators drove him into educational activism and he has spent much of his professional career fighting for educators and students. Now, as the president of the local teachers’ union, he is putting all his effort and energy towards creating a public education system that truly values and supports the professionals in our schools. Calen believes that public education is the cornerstone of a democratic society and vibrant community. Evans is a father of three great children (Caden, Kaiya and Comptyn) and husband to his amazing wife, Chloe. His family, friends, and love of our local community is what drives him every day.
Lauren Garfinkel, M.B.A.
Lauren Garfinkel moved from Las Vegas to attend the University of Nevada in 2004 and takes great pride in calling “The Biggest Little City” her forever home. Her professional career began while earning her undergraduate degrees, working in casino marketing positions for two of the region’s largest resorts over the course of nearly a decade. In early 2017, she made the industry switch from tourism to manufacturing/technology, accepting her current position as Senior Talent Brand Leader for Panasonic of North America, the battery-supplying partner for Tesla inside the Gigafactory. Lauren wears many hats, overseeing all marketing and public communication functions for Panasonic, including community engagement. She has made workforce development and corporate social responsibility for the Reno/Sparks community primary pillars of her role, with a large passion for being the bridge between Panasonic and Washoe County Schools.
Why I support education: Principal for ½ Day has been one of my favorite Education Alliance events for the last three years. 2020’s event in February was particularly special as Panasonic was honored with the coveted Partner in Education PiE Award. My leadership team was present to accept the award not only from the incredible Education Alliance staff, but from our Governor as well. The award was so meaningful to me personally and professionally, however, the experience the next day of getting to shadow WCSD’s Superintendent, the wonderful Dr. Kristen McNeill, was so impactful – I’m very grateful to have had that opportunity. Being “in her shoes” for just four hours painted a clear picture of how important volunteering and supporting our school district is. I look forward to this event and all the others for years to come!
Phil Kaiser, M.A.
Phil Kaiser serves as the president of the Washoe Education Association, which advocates for a great public education system for every student and educator. The WEA represents certified teachers, counselors, school nurses, speech-language pathologists, and occupational and physical therapists employed by the school district. He has been a teacher in the Washoe County School District for twenty years, and achieved National Board Certification in 2006.
As a native Nevadan, Phil was born and grew up in the Reno area. He received his BA from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and his M.A. from George Washington University in Washington, DC. He then worked in the D.C. area first on Capitol Hill, then for the Library of Congress’ Congressional Research Service, and finally in the private sector.
Engaging the community in support of public education is a crucial endeavor, and Phil has pursued this in many ways including serving with groups advocating financial literacy, school safety, and efforts to address the chronic shortage of resources. His goal is to achieve the best possible learning conditions for our children and the best possible working conditions for our educators. He strongly believes that education is the key to economic development and diversification, and personal intellectual growth.
As the child of an American abroad, growing up in Mexico City expanded and shaped Victoria’s vistas in ways unimaginable. The cultural influences imparted by her surroundings, her Mexican stepfather and his family, became a solid part of her heritage. Today, she still holds tight to those core values and conveys them on a daily basis throughout her career, family and friendships. Attending the American School Foundation, an international academic institution for students of all nationalities, offered unique opportunities to acquire a love for learning and cultivating diversity through relationships with people from around the globe.
Teaching English as a young adult and then Spanish upon relocating to the U.S. came naturally. A mother to five, Victoria relished in spending countless hours volunteering in classrooms and on various PTA boards throughout their school-aged years; gaining an even stronger commitment to improving our educational systems and the opportunities made available to all children, from all areas in our community. Her career spans decades in both real estate development in California and the hospitality industry in northern Nevada, striving to build partners-in-education relationships within those realms along the way. Now, after 22 years in Reno, her dedication to joining forces within the business and education sectors in our region is stronger than ever before. When not working, Victoria enjoys gardening, decorating, cooking and, mostly, time with her children and two dogs.
Landon Miller, M.A.
Landon Miller, a graduate student at the University of Nevada, Reno studying Spanish in the World Languages and Literatures program, has called Northern Nevada home his entire life. He graduated from Wooster High School’s International Baccalaureate Program and went on to pursue a degree in Journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at Nevada. Landon has taught journalism at the Reynolds School since 2016. Landon currently teaches Spanish at the university.
Landon also works for Reno Media Group as an on-air host for 95.5 Alice and 101.7 Juan. Landon is excited to enter the bilingual broadcasting market. Prior, Landon was the evening news anchor at KTVN 2 News, anchoring newscasts between 5:00-11:00 p.m. During his time at 2 News, Landon earned two EMMY awards. Landon ultimately wants to combine his love of broadcasting and Spanish on a larger platform to reach and help a new audience.
Why I support education:
Being on the Outstanding Educator Selection Panel was a great reminder of the important work the Education Alliance does. We can talk about school budgets and teachers spending their own money on supplies all the time, but actually reading teachers’ stories and truly experiencing the need was eye-opening.
Chris Morgan, M.B.A.
Mr. Morgan currently leads the Mobile Lab Program for Deloitte’s Leadership Center for Clients in the United States. In the Lab, he applies design thinking and research-based content to create immersive, interactive facilitated sessions to help teams achieve breakthrough solutions to their most complex strategic and adaptive challenges. Mr. Morgan has accelerated the performance of over a hundred teams from around the U.S., Canada, Europe, Mexico, Brazil, China, Japan, and India. Mr. Morgan completed his undergraduate studies in economics at the University of California, Santa Barbara and the Institut d’Etudes Politique in Grenoble, France and his master’s degree from the Haas School at the University of California, Berkeley.
Why I support education:
To quote one of history’s great philosophers, Whitney Houston, ‘I believe the children are our future.’ It’s our children who will be our community’s, our country’s, and our world’s next leaders. It’s our responsibility to provide our kids with an unparalleled education so that can take care of themselves and our world. There’s no greater investment than ensuring at-risk kids get the support they need to thrive, that talented kids get support they need to reach their full potential, and that all kids graduate with the skills to provide for themselves and our society. I’ve been blessed to have great educational opportunities – every child should have the same good fortune.
Manuel Ortiz, M.A.
Manuel Ortiz was raised in Reno, Nevada and was born to a Nicaraguan mother. He and his siblings are first-generation college students who participated in the Dean’s Future Scholars program and graduated from Procter R. Hug High School. Manuel was recommended to the Dean’s Future Scholars program as part of the second cohort when he was a sixth-grade student attending Glenn Duncan Elementary. Manuel has had the opportunity to give back to the Dean’s Future Scholars program by serving as a mentor, summer program coordinator, and graduate assistant. In 2018, he earned his bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education with an emphasis in History and TESOL. He continued his education by earning his master’s degree in Higher Education Administration in 2020.
Manny has experience working within the Washoe County School District as a TEAM UP Site Coordinator for six years and at the Equity and Diversity Department for one year. Manuel’s journey as a Dean’s Future Scholars program participant came full circle in 2021 when he became the Assistant Director. Outside of work, Manuel enjoys spending time outdoors, cooking plant-based meals, and spending time with his daughter and wife.
Most memorable educational moment:
It is always a joy to see the growth in students after years of working with them. Going back to a school and visiting students who you have built a relationship with is very rewarding.
Charles began his career in Reno, Nevada as a drafter in 1985. After building his career in the Sacramento area market, Charles returned to Reno in 2014 and is currently Project Manager with Verus AEC whose core design services include Electrical and Technology Systems design with market sectors in High Tech, Education, Healthcare, Commercial and Industrial systems automation.
Charles brings hard work, drive and a passion for what he does to the Education Alliance Board and is proud of his upbringing in Reno, attending Elmcrest Elementary, Clayton Middle School, and Procter R. Hug High School graduating with honors in Metals and Architectural Drafting.
Why I support education: The programs that were in place when I went to school afforded me career options right out of high school and I hail the faculty and members in the construction industry for taking an interest in my success.
Ralph Rodriguez has been a Reno resident for the past 25 years, and a proud graduate of Robert McQueen High School. For over a decade, he has turned his passion for health and fitness into a rewarding career as an instructor specializing in personal training, bootcamps, and more. Ralph is the General Manager of Eldo Fit – the wellness program for Caesars Entertainment corporate headquarters, and he is the owner of Pure Barre Sparks opening Summer 2022.
Outside of his passion for helping others achieve their health and fitness goals, he has been a Pop Warner football coach since 2018, and is returning to McQueen High School this fall as a coach for the freshman football team.
Ralph has a strong bond to his community in which he proudly serves and values the intrinsic reward of mentoring youth and volunteering. His two children are his world, and he constantly finds ways to teach them the importance of volunteerism and giving back as today’s children are tomorrow’s future.
Why I support education: Almost every single person who has had an influence on me throughout my life has come through the school system. Whether it be sports, music, or academics, every educator I have ever had along my path has taken the time and effort to instill the characteristics in me that I live by today. Our teachers give endless amounts of their valuable time to our children day-in and day-out, especially in place of us parents who cannot be there all the time. We count on them and trust them to teach the values that are crucial to surviving in the “real world”. Not all heroes wear capes, but I believe it’s safe to say that teachers are some of the biggest heroes who deserve more recognition.
David Shintani, Ph.D.
David Shintani is the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education at the University of Nevada, Reno. He previously served as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources at the University of Nevada, Reno where he is a faculty member in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. David earned his B.S degree in Genetics from the University of California, Davis and his Ph.D. in Botany and Plant Pathology from Michigan State University. In addition to the WCSD Education Alliance Board, David also serves on Washoe County School District Career and Technical Education (CTE) Advisory Technical Skills Committee.
Jill Tolles, M.A.
Jill Tolles has lived, learned and worked in Nevada for over 20 years and proudly calls the Silver State her home. In 2005, she began teaching at TMCC and soon after at University of Nevada where she has taught Communication Studies for the past 10 years. In 2013, she also joined the faculty of the National Judicial College. This led her to open her own small business leading trainings and consulting with companies and individuals on effective communication strategies.
Throughout her life Jill has been passionately engaged in giving back to her community and serving others. Jill has also become an outspoken and staunch advocate for the safety of one of our most vulnerable populations, our children. She served on the Task Force for Child Sexual Abuse Prevention, established by the 2013 legislature, and developed and lobbied for the successful passage of SB394 which established statewide curriculum standards to teach personal safety to children in 2015.
Jill is passionate about high-quality education to ensure a sound economic and socially stable future in Nevada. As a private citizen and now as a Nevada State Assemblywoman, Jill has successfully advocated to improve the state of public education and is proud of the reforms passed during the 2015 session and others impacting the safety of our students, such as AB362, in the 2017 session. Jill loves to spend time with her family, run, hike, and fly fish.
Why I support education: Education literally changed the direction of my life. I am grateful for a few very special teachers who saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself and gave me the confidence to cross the finish line and stretch further than I ever expected.
Cristal Herrera Woodley, M.B.A.
Cristal Herrera Woodley, M.B.A., is an award-winning marketer and communicator who enjoys driving strategy and executing programs that build brand awareness, penetrate new markets, drive revenue growth, and strengthen competitive market positions. Her marketing experience has helped organizations develop compelling campaigns that drive growth and loyalty. Currently, she is the Director of Marketing, Communications and Customer Engagement at Renown Health.
As a native northern Nevadan and a first-generation Latina, Cristal understood the importance of education early in life. Her family instilled this thought of the American Dream and worked hard to provide the next generation with the opportunity of formal education. As a result, she is extremely humbled and blessed to be one of the first in her family to graduate from the University of Nevada, Reno, with degrees in Accounting and Information Systems. Along with a master’s in Information Technology.
Why I support education: Education helps develop our future! My favorite memories are from my volleyball and softball coaching days at North Valleys High School. It was inspiring to see how sports impact academics and confidence in our kid’s lives. As a coach, I was conscious of being an advocate for higher education and motivating my team players to do more and be more. I’m excited to share that our future is bright because of our community’s commitment to improving our education system.