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
Christie, Christina
D’Apuzzo, Chantal
Emami, Azita
Fisher-Adams, Grace
Franke, Jim
Garcia, Oliva
Kim, Austin
Mizrahi, Ramit
Nerenberg, Paul
Smith Parker, Heidi
Swanson, Ian
Umans, Chris
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.

tinaChristina Christie
Tina Christie is Professor of Social Research Methodology and Chair of the Department of Education at UCLA. Tina’s work focuses on social program and policy evaluation. Her research investigates the factors and conditions that influence evaluation practice with the goal of strengthen our understanding of evaluation as a method for facilitating social betterment. She has served as a lead investigator on over 30 grants/contracts, studying child maltreatment, education, and health behavior programs and policies targeting at-risk and underrepresented populations. Since 2014, she has received several million dollars to study the processes and outcomes of a collection of early childhood care and education programs in California. Her research in this area naturally informs her contributions as a CCC board member.

Tina and her family joined The Children’s Center at Caltech community in 2013 when her daughter, Grace, entered the Koala classroom. Grace is now a student at the UCLA Lab School. Her son, Eli, is currently a Dolphin who claps his hands with excitement every day when pulling into the CCC parking lot. We are thrilled to be part of the CCC family and by extension the Caltech community.

Chantal D’Apuzzo
Chantal Morgan D’Apuzzo’s connection with Caltech began as a graduate student in the chemistry department x years ago. She and her husband, a former Caltech postdoc, were CCC parents until recently, when their daughter left for kindergarten. Chantal was a Bunny Room Parent and served on the Finance Committee before joining the Board four years ago. Chantal is currently Board Secretary and sits on the trustees and personnel subcommittees. Chantal also serves as a community member of the clinical trial review board at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Currently, Chantal is an Associate General Counsel at Caltech, managing patent litigation cases and providing legal advice to the Institute in matters involving research. Prior to returning to her alma mater Caltech, Chantal advised clients with patent prosecution matters at Finnegan and Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati P.C. in the Bay Area, and patent litigation at Munger, Tolles and Olson in Los Angeles. She clerked for the Honorable Mariana R. Pfaelzer in the Central District of California, assisting the Judge with complex patent cases.

Chantal earned an undergraduate degree in chemistry from Princeton University, a doctorate in biochemistry from Caltech, and a law degree from Stanford Law School.

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.

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
Olivia Garcia’s connection with The Children’s Center at Caltech began over 10 years ago.  Throughout Olivia’s career at the CCC; which has a STEM based curriculum, Olivia has been a teacher to many young children.  The children that she has worked with have ranged in ages of 6 months to 5 years.  Olivia believes and supports the Education philosophy that the Children’s Center at Caltech provides to all the children that attend the Center.  As a true advocate of the STEM curriculum for young children, Olivia remains well informed on the latest STEM and brain research by attending Conferences throughout the country and the world.  By attending the various STEM conferences, Olivia is able to bring the knowledge and training that she has retained.  She uses that experience to train and present the information to other teachers, staff and the community.

Throughout Olivia’s 20-year career as Early Childhood Educator, Olivia has held numerous professional roles.  As a Teacher of young children, Olivia possesses a strong understanding of what it takes to meet the needs and requirements of quality program.  Olivia also has a valuable understanding of the developmental needs of all the children she teaches and how to hold and expect a partnership with each child’s family.  Most recently, Olivia was been given the opportunity to travel the world and be a presenter of the STEM Curriculum.  During the past year, Olivia has traveled numerous times to China and has trained Early Childhood Educators in The STEM curriculum.  She is well respected in China and has been asked to return in the future and keep educating and presenting to Early Childhood Educators in China.  Olivia is young women in the field of Early Childhood Development that has accomplished many things in the field and will continue to be a valued participant in the large community of educating young children.

Austin Kim
Austin Kim is the father of three boys, two who are alumni of the CCC and one a budding infant who hopes to one day follow in his brothers’ footsteps. He manages the global aerospace & defense practice for Bain & Company, a management consulting firm that provides strategic advisory services to Fortune 500 companies. His experience includes driving corporate strategy and business development initiatives as an executive at the Walt Disney Company and building organizations from the ground up for two well-funded technology startups.

Prior to transitioning into the private sector, Austin was a commissioned officer in the US Army, having served for eight years in military intelligence. He is a recipient of the Bronze Star Medal and Combat Action Badge for his service while deployed as an embedded advisor to the Iraqi Army.

The Caltech and CCC communities are special places to Austin and his wife Patricia, who works in the Caltech Budget and Planning office. They married at the Athenaeum and both have been active supporters of the CCC. Austin chairs the Board’s External Communications Committee, spearheading growth initiatives to expand our unique early childhood STEM philosophy and curriculum as a beacon to the world. Patricia has worked on a number of fundraising initiatives, led a day-long teacher team building exercise, and spoke as a featured presenter at the ECSTEM conference.

They both believe that education is a foundational bedrock to personal development and growth. He is 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 serves as West Point’s admissions office representative for the local Congressional District (CA-27) and was a volunteer admissions fellow for Wharton MBA admissions.

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
Paul Nerenberg’s connection with Caltech and the CCC began through his wife, Heather Knutson, a professor in Planetary Science. Paul and Heather have two children, both of whom have attended the CCC from the Bunny Room onward. Their younger child is currently in the Penguin Room. In addition to serving on the Board, Paul is also active in volunteering at Field Elementary School, where he serves on the Advocacy Subcommittee of the Dual Language Parent Advisory Council.

Currently, Paul is an Assistant Professor of Physics and Biology at nearby Cal State LA, the alma mater of many CCC teachers. Prior to joining the faculty at Cal State LA, Paul was a visiting assistant professor at Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, and Scripps Colleges and a research assistant professor at Caltech.

Born and raised in LA, Paul earned an undergraduate degree in physics from Johns Hopkins, a doctorate in physics from MIT, and was a postdoc at UC Berkeley before moving back to Southern California in 2011.

Heidi Smith Parker
Dr. Parker is currently the Grant strategist at USC-Dornsife College of Arts, Letters and Sciences, helping scientists on the USC faculty secure federal funding.

Her husband is an Assistant Professor of Biology at Caltech, and together they try to emphasize nature and real- world play to their children. This is one of the reasons they love CCC and its focus on exploratory learning.

Heidi obtained a BS in Animal Science from the University of Illinois and a PhD in Biological Sciences from Columbia University. She completed a short postdoc at UT-Austin before beginning work as a federal grant consultant. Currently, she has two sons at the CCC– a Raccoon and a Dolphin.

Ian Swanson

Ian Swanson received his PhD in theoretical physics from Caltech in 2005.  He spent three years as a postdoc at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton before moving to join his wife at MIT.

Ian currently works in the field of quantitative investing, and his wife is a Director of Development in Foundation Relations at Caltech.  Their daughter graduated from the CCC in 2016, and their son Lev is currently a Raccoon.  Ian serves the Board as Chair of the Finance Committee, where he has worked to overhaul both the financial reporting and budget forecasting used by the Board to guide the long-term objectives of the Center.

CUmansChris Umans

Chris Umans grew up in Cambridge, MA and came to California to attend graduate school at Berkeley. He joined Caltech as a faculty member in 2002. His household is filled with CCC alums, and his youngest child is currently a Dolphin.

Chris is currently Professor of Computer Science at Caltech, and Deputy Chair of the Engineering and Applied Science Division. He serves as editor of several journals, and is the recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, a Simons Foundation Investigator award, and several best-paper and teaching awards.

As a CCC parent since 2008, and a Board member since 2012, 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.

Chris earned an undergraduate degree from Williams College, and a doctorate in computer science from Berkeley.

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

Susan Wood’s experience over the past 40 years includes serving as a classroom instructor overseeing classroom teachers, coordinating community college preschool practicum students, and providing developmentally appropriate actives for children.

After 20 years in the classroom Susan chose to work in an administrative level as a director of two university child care centers; as adjunct faculty teaching early childhood classes such as Curriculum Planning, Child Human Growth and Development; Child Psychology; as partner and trainer for the Center for Child and family Services Head Start; as a trainer for Los Angeles County Office of Education; as UCLA Extension instructor.

Susan’s passion to support early childhood educators in providing research based, high quality child education has lead to the creation community outreach programs which has included: workshops, a director support group, research projects, and study groups. She founded and hosts the Annual Early Childhood Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (ECSTEM) Conference.  This year the ECSTEM will celebrate 6 years and is planning on 1000 educators. She is an active member of National Association for the Education of Young Children and National Science Teachers Association and has presented workshops on a national level in the areas of early childhood curriculum with an emphasis on science education.


She received a MA in Child Development from Pacific Oaks College, Pasadena, CA.