Board of Trustees

A Board of Trustees governs the Children’s Center. The Board consists of parents, staff, and members of the community who are elected by the general membership of the Children’s Center. The Board has full legal responsibility for the Center. The officers are voted in once a year and parent participation hours are waived for those serving as officers.

The Board meets at 6:00 p.m. on the third Monday of each month in the CCC Conference Room. Meetings are open to anyone wishing to attend. There are six standing committees of the Board: Finance, Fundraising, Strategic Planning, the Committee on Trustees, Personnel, and Facilities. Everyone is encouraged to serve on one or more of these committees, for which work hour credit is given.

Amori, Michael
Cashell, Judy
Christie, Christina
D’Apuzzo, Chantal
Emami, Azita
First, Zachary
Fisher-Adams, Grace
Franke, Jim
Garcia, Oliva
Kastanas, John
Kim, Austin
Mizrahi, Ramit
Nerenberg, Paul
Simmonds, Kendall
Swanson, Ian
Umans, Chris
Walkup, Julia
Wolf, Julie
Wood, Susan


michaelMichael Amori
Co- founder and CEO of Virtualitics, a Data Analytics platform in VR/AR. Previously  was Managing Director and headed a quantitative trading group  at Deutsche Bank  in London and New York. Designed the group’s data science and risk management systems.  Raised money for and was technical advisor to the bank’s first insurance- linked fund.  Lead author in published paper on insurance markets. Speaker at various industry seminars/conferences. Previously was interest rates derivatives trader at Credit Suisse and Bankers Trust, and prior to that was analyst at Goldman Sachs in Energy & Telecommunications Group. Member of Board of Caltech’s finance and economics department (HSS division), judge at the LA County Junior High Physics Science Fair.  MBA Harvard, MS Applied Physics Caltech, BS Physics Columbia University.

Judy Cashell
Ms. Cashell earned her Master of Science from Bank Street College of Education. She was previously the Child Development Administrator for CCFS/Head Start/Early Head Start. Ms. Cashell has worked in the field of early childhood education for more than 30 years including 19 years in Head Start/ Early Head Start management and administration. She has taught for 12 years as an adjunct professor of child development at Pasadena City College, and she is CLASS certified.

tinaChristina Christie is Professor of Social Research Methodology and Chair of the Department of Education, University of California, Los Angeles. Christie specializes in social program and policy evaluation. Her research focuses on the factors and conditions that influence evaluation practice in an effort to strengthen our understanding of evaluation as a method for facilitating social change. Christie has served as a lead investigator on over 30 grants and contracts to conduct evaluative research on education, social and behavior programs and policies targeting at-risk, underserved and underrepresented populations. She is the editor of four books, co-editor of a new book series Evaluation in Action (Sage) and has published over 50 scholarly articles and book chapters on evaluation.

Chantal D’Apuzzo
Dr. D’Apuzzo’s connection with Caltech began as a graduate student in the chemistry department x years ago. Now she and her husband, a former Caltech postdoc, are CCC Parents. Chantal is a Bunny Room Parent and served on the Finance Committee before joining the Board.

Dr. D’Apuzzo is an Associate General Counsel at Caltech, managing patent litigation cases and providing legal advice to the Institute in matters involving research. She is counsel to the IRB, IACUC, and IBC research review boards and works with researchers to respond to government requests under the Freedom of Information Act. Prior to returning to her alma mater Caltech, Dr. D’Apuzzo advised clients with patent prosecution matters at Finnegan and Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati P.C., and patent litigation at Munger, Tolles and Olson. She clerked for the Honorable Mariana R. Pfaelzer in the Central District of California, assisting the Judge with complex patent cases.

Dr. D’Apuzzo earned an undergraduate degree in chemistry from Princeton University, a doctorate in biochemistry from Caltech, and a law degree from Stanford Law School. Dr. D’Apuzzo is a member of the State Bar of California and is admitted in the Central, Northern, and Southern Districts of California as well as the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. She is a member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys and the Los Angeles Intellectual Property Law Association. She is a former active member of the Judge Paul R. Michel Intellectual Property American Inn of Court in Los Angeles and the Federal Circuit Bar Association, with which she did pro bono work for veterans and sat on the Bench & Bar Conference planning committee.
In 2013, Dr. D’Apuzzo was a finalist for the Corporate Counsel of the Year Award by the Los Angeles Business Journal and was named one of Pasadena’s Top 100 Attorneys by Pasadena Magazine in 2013, 2014, and 2015.

Azita Emami
I am a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Medical Engineering at Caltech, and the deputy chair of Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

My relationship with CCC began over 6 years ago when my older daughter Ariana started in the Bunny Room. She graduated from the Beaver Room last fall. My younger daughter Anahita started in the Bunny Room almost 2 years ago and she is currently a dolphin.

My love and admiration for CCC, my passion for education, science and engineering drive me to serve on the CCC Board. With over 8 years of experience at Caltech working closely with the administration, students, staff and external organizations, I believe that I can be an effective board member and serve CCC in many different domains such as strategy, development, writing grant proposals and fund raising.

ZFirstZachary First
Zach is the executive director of the Drucker Institute, a social enterprise based at Claremont Graduate University that strengthens organizations to strengthen society. He is the author of “Technology Changes, Good Management Doesn’t,” “What to Measure If You’re Mission Driven” and “The Benefits of Unplugging as a Team,” published by Harvard Business Review, and the co-author, with Richard Chait, of “Bullish on Private Colleges,” published by Harvard Magazine. Previously, Zach served as the inaugural assistant dean at Olin College, which was founded in 2000 with a $430 million gift from the F. W. Olin Foundation in order to reinvent engineering education. He holds a B.A. in philosophy from Haverford College, where his advisor was Lucius Outlaw, Jr. He earned his masters and doctorate degrees in higher education from Harvard University, with Richard Chait as his mentor. He is a member of the Board of Advisors at PayScale, creator of the world’s largest database of individual compensation profiles, and a fellow of the National Forum on the Future of Liberal Education.

Grace Fisher-Adams
Dr. Fisher-Adams has a PhD in Molecular Biology from UCLA and a law degree from Loyola Los Angeles. She has worked for the California Institute of Technology for more than 14 years: originally at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a staff scientist, on Caltech’s campus as an Associate General Counsel, and currently as the Caltech Director of Research Compliance. Dr. Fisher-Adams also worked as an adjunct biology professor at Occidental College from 1996-2006. In addition to her service on the board of the Children’s Center at Caltech since 2008, her governance experience includes membership on the board of the CCC’s sister childcare facility, the Child Educational Center (CEC) and membership on the board of the Disability Rights Legal Center, a not-for profit disability advocacy organization.

jimJim Franke is a retired entrepreneur and businessman who now spends his time raising his two boys and helping both private and not-for-profit organizations set, pursue and meet their goals. From an early age, Jim has been interested in childhood development and education; and he has pursued this interest both professionally and personally by serving on the Boards of Director of several non-profits as well as earlier in his career being a member of the non-profit practice at McKinsey & Co. Jim has a BA in Economics and Political Science from Duke University and an MBA from Stanford. Today, Jim is focused on helping the CCC continue to provide exceptional early childhood education. He is also dedicated, together with his partner Steve Bialecki, to raising their two young boys to be life-long learners. 

oliviaOlivia Garcia
During the past 10 years I have been working at the CCC which has a STEM based curriculum with children ranging in ages from 6 months to 5 years old. I believe in and support The Children’s Center at Caltech and I would be a dedicated and devoted champion for it. I continue to stay abreast of new STEM research, brain development and techniques to help not only bring it into the CCC classrooms but to enhance the understanding of Stem and brain development for the teachers, staff and families at The Children’s Center at Caltech.

Throughout my 20 year career in the field of Early Childhood Education, I have had numerous roles. I have been an Assistant Teacher and Lead Teacher with children ages 2 months to 5 years. Due to my many years of being in the classroom, I possess a well-rounded understanding of what it takes to meet the needs and requirements of a classroom. I also have a full understanding of the various developmental needs of children and how to hold and expect a partnership with each child’s parents. The knowledge I have acquired will allow me to assist existing and incoming staff to have a better understanding of what it takes to be a teacher in at the CCC.

JKastanasJohn Kastanas
My children have been attending the CCC for more than five years now, and we still have two years to go, with Max who is in the Raccoons. I have seen the effects of the CCC on my children through their incredible growth in their cognitive, behavioral development. I have been impressed with the CCC’s programs and curriculum that stimulate our children’s development and makes their life more fun.

I fully understand the CCC’s desire to increase their funding sources and hope that my experience in corporate fund raising and development will provide the CCC with new ideas and opportunities. I have connections in dozens of corporations that already work with Caltech and I’m aware of their funding sources for STEM and community financial support. I have worked with many Caltech organizations and student clubs to formulate sponsorship opportunities for corporations – which can easily be amended for CCC use.

Austin Kim
Austin Kim is the father of two boys, Patrick and Clive, who both attend the CCC. He and his wife Patricia view education as a foundational bedrock to development and growth. Austin serves as an active alumnus of the United States Military at West Point (BS in Mechanical Engineering), East-West Center at the University of Hawaii at Manoa (MA in Economics), and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. (MBA in Strategic Management and Operations & Information Management) He currently serves as West Point’s admissions representative for Congressional District 27 and was a volunteer admissions fellow for the Wharton MBA program.

Austin brings practical experience in strategy, managing organizations, and driving change, having served Fortune 100 companies across industries as a consultant at Bain & Company and as a manager in the Corporate Strategy and Business Development group for the Walt Disney Company. He also has experience with building organizations from the ground level, having spent the past year at a fast-paced tech startup, Luxe, which is an on-demand mobile- app based valet service with $75 mil in funding. He is a military veteran, having served for eight years as an officer in the US Army, receiving the Bronze Star medal and Combat Action Badge for his service while deployed as a combat advisor to the Iraqi Army.

Caltech and CCC are special places to Austin, having married at the Athenaeum and with children enrolled at the CCC, where Clive has two more years following Patrick who will graduate to Kindergarten this fall after two great years. His wife Patricia currently works in the Caltech Budget and Planning office and volunteers on the CCC fundraising committee and ECSTEM conference. Austin looks forward to serving the CCC community by ensuring that our strategic direction and effective stewardship of finances contribute towards ensuring a world- class, nurturing and safe environment for our children to learn from innovative educators at the forefront of early childhood education and STEM.

RMizrahiRamit Mizrahi
Ms. Mizrahi is the founder of Mizrahi Law, APC, where she represents employees exclusively in discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wrongful termination cases. Ms. Mizrahi graduated from Yale Law School, has a master’s degree in Gender & Social Policy from the London School of Economics, and a bachelor’s degree from UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. Ms. Mizrahi has been selected as one of the Top 100 Super Lawyers Rising Stars and Top 50 Women Rising Stars in Southern California, as well as a Top Attorney by Pasadena Magazine. She is licensed to practice law in California and New York. As a parent with a child in the Koalas, Ms. Mizrahi knows what a special place the CCC is and is delighted to serve on the Board.

Paul Nerenberg
I am interested in serving on the CCC Board of Trustees because I would like to give back to the organization that has given so much to our family. My wife, Heather, and I have been CCC parents for nearly four years. It has been a fascinating and rewarding journey watching as our son, Zachary, has progressed from the Bunnies to the Raccoons. Our daughter, Eliana, will be starting soon in the Bunnies, so we will continue to be CCC parents for several more years. Heather and I are also strongly connected to the greater Caltech community: Heather is a faculty member in GPS at Caltech, and I spent two years in the same division as a research scientist before moving to my current faculty position at nearby Cal State LA.

Because of my previous professional and volunteer experiences, I am particularly interested in helping the Board with issues related to strategic planning, personnel, and policies, but I also anticipate being involved with the logistics efforts that make community events like Evening Under the Stars or the Pancake Breakfast possible. In addition to serving in whatever roles the Board sees as the best fit for my expertise, I hope to be an advocate for the concerns of CCC parents and teachers, both of whom are central to ensuring that CCC continues to be a fantastic place for our children.

KendallKendall Simmonds
The Children’s Center embodies the fundamental idea of community and since relocating from New York in 2009 our family has built long lasting relationships with other CCC families and faculty. Our children have been attending CCC for over 6 years; as they matriculate to Kindergarten and beyond we continue to reflect on the profound impact the school has had on our lives.

My wife and I work in Corporate Finance in downtown Los Angeles and with over 10 years of financial services experience in both Commercial and Corporate banking, I look to engage the board with insightful ways to better manage our working capital and establish an endowment that will ensure a lasting legacy for the Children’s Center.

Most recently, I have served as the Chair of the Trustees Committee and have previously worked on the Finance Committee, the Fundraising Committee and the Communications Committee. My most memorable achievements on the Board have been working to transition the school from the old center to the new facility and working with the entire board to compile our annual report. I firmly believe that through this evolution our community has become stronger and our Board is well positioned to build on this foundation.

I earned my BA in Economics/Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley and my MA from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in International Economics and International Relations. Currently, I am a Sr. Relationship Manager in the Aerospace and Defense Group in the Wholesale Bank at Wells Fargo N.A.

Ian Swanson
My wife and I are both Caltech alums. After receiving our degrees (in physics and biochemistry), we both went on the postdoc circuit to Princeton, MIT and Genentech. We circled back to Pasadena about six years ago and started a family. Nelly works in Development at Caltech, and I work in financial asset management. Adina, our daughter, will turn five later this year, and she has been a loyal Penguin, Dolphin and Raccoon, and she is looking forward to joining the Beavers this summer. Out son Lev is carefully planning his career at the CCC, hoping to start early next year. I have served for three years on the Board, serving most recently as Chair of the Finance Committee. During my tenure in this position we have overhauled the financial reporting and budgeting process. We have improved the effectiveness and clarity of financial reporting to the Board, and have made notable progress in the budget forecasting process, allowing the CCC and the Board to make more precise and thoughtful decisions to better secure the future of the CCC and, most importantly, the respective futures of our young students.

CUmansChris Umans
Dr. Umans received his PhD in Computer Science from Berkeley in 2000. After spending two years as a postdoc in the Theory Group at Microsoft Research, he joined the Computer Science faculty at the California Institute of Technology in 2002, where he is currently Professor of Computer Science. He serves as an editor of the Journal of Computer and System Sciences, Algorithmica, Computational Complexity, ACM Transactions on Computation Theory, and Theory of Computing. He is a member of the scientific board of the Electronic Colloquium on Computational Complexity and the moderator for the Computational Complexity section of the arXiv. Chris is the recipient of an NSF CAREER award, an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, and a Simons Foundation Investigator award, as well as several best-paper and teaching awards.

As a CCC parent since 2008, Chris has come to deeply appreciate the education that CCC provides, the peace of mind that comes from knowing that our children are in a safe and stimulating environment, and the strong community of parents and families that it fosters.

Julia Walkup
My name is Julia Walkup and I’m the proud mother of a beautiful little girl attending the CCC. She has been attending since she was about 15 months old and is now 2 and half. She loves going to school, seeing her friends and teachers and learning all about the world. While she is at school I work full time as the Director of Special Events for a non-profit called AbilityFirst. AbilityFirst provides programs for children and adults with developmental disabilities. My job is to run our large scale fundraising events that we have throughout southern California. These events have attendees from 30 people to 2000 people and raise about 1.2 million a year. It keeps me busy, but fundraising is something I enjoy and working for an organization that does so much good is very rewarding.

As a fundraiser for over 12 years, I’ve gained a lot of knowledge and expertise on fundraising strategies, event planning, and strategic planning. I feel that my knowledge in these areas can be beneficial to the CCC and hope that I can help raise more funds for all of our children’s benefit.

Julie Wolf
Mrs. Wolf is a stay at home mother of one. Her son Graham attends the CCC and is currently in the Beaver classroom. Caltech has been a great passion of Julie’s, and her husband Rich, a Young Alumni Trustee. As devoted supporters of Caltech, Julie and her husband see the CCC as an integral part of the campus culture as well as an important part of the Pasadena community. Julie feels the new facility goes a long way to ensuring the CCC remains at the highest echelon of infant and toddler education.

Prior to Graham, Julie worked for a family office managing multiple residences across the country, including construction and maintenance of the assets. Julie also formed and operated The Polished Bee, a small company that provided home designs and merchandise.  Prior to that, she co-founded, BellaVita Realty, a real estate development and operating company in Scottsdale, AZ. As an entrepreneur who ran her own business, she had to fill many roles, and she brings experience in project management, facilities development, and event planning.

susanSusan Wood
Ms. Wood has served as the Executive Director of the Children’s Center at Caltech since 2000. Over the past 38 years, she has worked as a classroom instructor, supervised classroom teachers and coordinated community college preschool practicum students. Prior to joining the CCC, Ms. Wood served as director of two university-based child care centers, USC and UCLA. She has taught as an adjunct faculty member at Pasadena City College and as an instructor in UCLA’s Extension program. Additionally, she has served as a trainer for the Center for Child and Family Services Head Start and for Los Angeles County’s Office of Education. Ms. Wood created the CCC’s Early Childhood Math & Science Institute, quickly recognized as one of the country’s leading professional gatherings focused on STEM education for young learners. She is an active member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the National Science Teachers Association. She is a regular presenter at national conferences on early childhood curriculum with an emphasis on science education. She earned an MA in Child Development from Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena.