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 7:00 p.m. on the third Monday of each month through Zoom. 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.
Parker, Heidi Smith
Marina Agranov is a Professor of Economics and the Director of the Center for Theoretical and Experimental Social Sciences (CTESS) at Caltech. Marina studies both strategic interactions between agents with conflicting interests and individual decision making processes. Her recent work includes bargaining games, social learning environments, games on networks, agency problems, auctions, and information aggregation settings.
Marina’s connection to CCC began back in 2010, when she arrived in Pasadena fresh after the grad school in New York University embarking on a new journey of being an independent researcher and at the same time expecting her first child. More than a decade later, she has now one CCC graduate and another Penguin attending the CCC right now. For Marina and her family CCC is an integral and extremely important part of the Caltech community. She is thrilled to be part of the team, which helps CCC to adapt to a constantly changing environment.
Olga Batygin is a daughter of an elementary school teacher and a scientist, and as a result she had been deeply involved in education starting from a young age. She believes that every single child is entitled to a quality education, and the Children’s Center at Caltech has given her own children the access and opportunity to be successful later in life.
As a result of her strong belief that the primary tool allowing control over one’s own life is education, Olga has fostered a continued commitment to supporting equitable access to quality learning environments. Part of her ethos is that early STEM education is essential for the development of young inquisitive minds, allowing the capacity later in life to challenge the status quo and design one’s best life. Currently, Olga serves as the Co-Founder and CEO of Lucinetic, an early-stage startup that is enabled by AI and elevates the letter of recommendation ecosystem. Before that, Olga spent more than a decade in various roles at Caltech, staffed the Caltech Childcare Committee, and started several programs from the ground up. Olga’s skills as a strategic manager in operations, administration, and communications, ranging from tech startups to established businesses and academia, allows her to design and implement complex programs to meet mission-critical goals. Olga’s deep experience with Caltech administration, and her far-reaching network at the Institute and beyond will enable an efficient and positive communication pathway between the CCC, Caltech administration, and the community.
As a first-generation immigrant, Olga is reminded daily of the good fortune of having had the opportunity to grow up, become educated, and subsequently raise her children in a system that values learning and individuality. Olga considers herself responsible to support the CCC and those who have been instrumental in this effort, as well as to do what she can in offering that level of access to quality education to partners in the community by supporting the CCC’s external efforts.
Jackie Browne is a proud parent at the Children’s Center of Caltech. She deeply values the CCC teachers and staff who provide the center’s children an unparalleled STEM education while helping every child to establish critical thinking skills and develop emotional intelligence. Serving as a volunteer since 2017 and as a member of the Board since 2019, Jackie aims to help teachers, staff, and the center’s children thrive while working strategically with the board to best serve our entire community.
A longtime fundraiser, Jackie is currently the Associate Director for Creative Content in the Caltech Fund. She utilizes her skills at the CCC to lead a team of volunteers to fundraise for necessary projects and programs. Prior to joining Caltech, she served as Development Director of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and in a variety of roles at Bet Tzedek Legal Services. She is a former Coro Fellow and AAAS Mass Media Fellow, with a B.A. in biology from Ithaca College.
Chantal Morgan D’Apuzzo’s connection with Caltech began as a graduate student in the chemistry department n years ago. She and her husband, a former Caltech postdoc, were CCC parents until their daughter left for elementary school. Chantal was a Bunny Room Parent and served on the Finance Committee before joining the Board. Chantal is currently the Caltech-appointed Board member and sits on the trustees and personnel subcommittees.
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. Chantal also serves on the Board of the International School / Lycée International de Los Angeles.
Jim 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 Directors 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.
Alma Gharib-Brady’s connection to CCC started as a preschooler enrolled at the center while her father attended graduate school and her mother worked as a staff scientist at Caltech. Alma also worked at CCC as a summer teacher’s aide after graduating from Polytechnic high school. She and her husband, Sean Brady, have a son starting in the Dolphin room and a daughter in the Raccoon room. Alma is currently a Clinical Research Director and Staff scientist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles where she directs research studies examining the effects of toxic stress on child development, and the various conditions that influence resiliency in infancy and early childhood. Her research background includes visual behavior and eye-tracking. Alma earned her PhD from Caltech in 2015 studying social neuroscience in clinical populations such as ASD and completed a postdoc at USC. Prior to that, she earned an MA in Art History from Columbia University and a BS in Biology from UC San Diego. Sean leads a medical device company that was spun out of Caltech. Caltech and CCC are special to Alma and Sean, and their extended family. The Brady family values the influence of the CCC curriculum and staff on their children’s lives and loves being a part of the CCC community.
Austin Kim is the father of three boys, two who are alumni of the CCC and a Koala starting this Fall. 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.
Pauline McPeake has been an early childhood educator for over 20-years. Since 2011 she has served as the Executive Director of the Growing Place in Santa Monica, a non-profit organization with three NAEYC accredited infant/toddler/preschool programs. Pauline is also an adjunct professor at Santa Monica College and the co-chair of the Santa Monica Early Childhood Task Force. For 15-years, she has personally and professionally benefitted from sustaining a relationship with the ED, Susan, educators at CCC, and its exemplary curriculum for young children. While Pauline absolutely loves her career and also enjoys time with her family and friends, taking in the natural beauty of Southern California, and reading.
Amy Onderdonk is a native Southern Californian, having grown up in Sierra Madre. She is a speech-language pathologist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and mother to Lucy (CCC Alumni), Joe (Beaver), and Vivian (prospective Bunny). She has spent the majority of her career working with children ages 0-5 addressing speech, language, and cognitive development in the educational and medical setting holding an additional accreditation as a Certified Brain Injury Specialist. She has served on local non-profit boards, recently as the President of the Junior League of Pasadena. Having worked in and with a variety of early childhood education settings, she recognizes the exceptional work that the CCC does to provide our children with an enriched learning environment and to create a strong community.
Amy holds a BS in Human Development from University of California, Davis, as well as a BS and MS in Communicative Disorders, Speech-Language Pathology from San Francisco State University. As a dedicated mother, SLP, and volunteer, she realizes the importance of an enriched school environment, as well as connections to the community.
Heidi Smith Parker hails from the Midwest and grew up on a farm. Involved in 4-H while growing up, she feels more at home outdoors than in and has never met an amphibian she didn’t like. Heidi trained as a biologist and obtained her BS in Animal Science from the University of Illinois and PhD in Biological Sciences from Columbia University. She completed a postdoc at UT-Austin before becoming a federal grant consultant. 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, Joe Parker, is an Assistant Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering at Caltech. They have three sons—Jonah, a CCC Graduate, Eden and Oscar, who have inherited their parents’ love of the natural world. The Parker family loves the CCC and its focus on early STEM education and exploratory learning.
Jackie Reyes worked at CCC for 16 years as a Bunny, Dolphin, and Penguin Lead Teacher. She has watched as the center has grown to what it is now. She recently accepted a position to be a Spanish Teacher/Assistant Director at Phoenix Global Green School in September 2021. Jackie has a Master’s degree in Education/Child Development and has been an active member of CCC Fundraising committee for several years in the past. Jackie wants to see CCC continue to set standards in Early Childhood not only as an ECSTEM School, but as a model for educators and surrounding communities. Being part of the CCC board allows her to continue to make CCC a great place for children, staff, teachers, and parents. Finally, Jackie is also a parent to two wonderful girls ages 14 and 16.
James Salzmann is the proud father of Jack, a CCC Raccoon; and the husband of Dehn Gilmore, a Professor of English at Caltech. Originally from the East Coast, the family lives in Eagle Rock. James and Dehn have been delighted to see Jack thrive at CCC and are eager to give back to the CCC community, including through James’s service as Secretary of the Board of Trustees.
James is an attorney at Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, where his practice focuses on professional liability, complex civil litigation, and government investigations; recent representations have included universities, other large law firms, and museums and cultural institutions. Before joining Munger Tolles, he served as a federal law clerk to the Honorable John Kronstadt in the Central District of California. Previously, James held strategic development positions at Sotheby’s and Phillips auction houses in London and New York; he also has experience managing online auctions and was a board member and operations director at an international fine-art advisory firm.
James is a graduate of Harvard University, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, and the University of Southern California Gould School of Law.
Neil Shah is the father of a recent graduate of the Children’s Center at Caltech. Neil grew up in Southern California and lives in the Pasadena area with his wife Anne, who works in the Environmental Services Department at Southern California Edison and his daughter Maya, now 7.
Neil currently manages a variety of industrial businesses which supply customers with component products for use in commercial and medical applications. Previously, Neil managed an M&A practice at the Los Angeles offices of Deloitte where he used his law degree to help public companies navigate complex transactions. Neil maintains his law license but focuses his practice primarily on the businesses which he currently manages. Neil attended prep school at Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut and Occidental College in Eagle Rock. After college, Neil earned his Master’s in Business Taxation at the University of Southern California and his J.D. at the University of California – Hastings.
As a CCC parent from 2016 – 2019, Neil was eager to serve the mission of the Center after experiencing firsthand the innovative teaching and the passionate care with which the Center operates. Although Maya has since graduated, Neil’s unwavering belief in the power and importance of education compels him to continue to serve the Center. Neil contributes his financial and legal expertise to the Board as the Chair of the Finance Committee. In his spare time, Neil enjoys coaching youth sports teams, hiking with his family, and traveling.
Zhen Tao is a Senior Partner at Third Square Capital Management with a focus on equity investments. With over 18 years of experience analyzing companies both domestically and abroad, she has a wide breadth of knowledge across industries. Zhen has a strong passion for community engagement and currently serves on the South Pasadena Finance Commission which advises the City Council on matters related to finance, budgeting, and investments. Zhen currently serves on the Finance Committee at CCC.
Having been at a few schools before landing at CCC with her two kids, Zhen deeply appreciates the sense of community and excellence in education that CCC fosters. Zhen is a graduate of the Wharton School with a degree in Finance and Information Systems. She also serves as an alumni interviewer for the University of Pennsylvania. Zhen has two boys currently in the Koala and Dolphin classes, with a third soon to join the Bunnies.
Diana Trujillo is an aerospace engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where she currently serves as a Flight Director and as the Robotic Arm System domain lead for the Mars Perseverance mission.
Born and raised in Colombia, Diana immigrated to the United States at the age of 17 to pursue her dream of working for NASA. She enrolled in English as a Second Language courses, working full-time to support her studies in community college and later at the University of Florida and University of Maryland. After graduating, she worked on the Cygnus International Space Station resupply vehicle before joining JPL. In addition to her technical roles at JPL, Diana also created and hosted #JuntosPerseveramos, NASA’s first ever Spanish-language live broadcast of a major mission milestone, attracting a global audience of millions. She continues to provide English- and Spanish-language updates on the Perseverance mission via NASA’s Martes de Marte weekly video series and via her Twitter account.
Diana is also a board member of the Columbia Memorial Space Center and an Executive Mentor at the Brooke Owens Fellowship. She is also a passionate advocate for diversity in STEM, having pushed for more inclusion of the Latinx community in venues ranging from the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics to the educational program Plaza Sésamo (Sesame Street).
Trujillo earned a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland, with additional studies at the University of Florida. She is also a graduate of Miami-Dade Community College and of the NASA Academy. In 2017, Diana was named one of “Los 22 Más,” the 22 Colombians who best represent Colombia and all Colombians in the USA. In 2021, Diana was honored with the Cruz de Boyacá and named a Comendador of Orden de Boyacá by the President of Colombia, the highest honor Colombia awards to civilians.
As a Caltech neighbor and Caltech Associates Member since 2005, Dr. Tyson is extremely passionate and committed to supporting Caltech’s education and research programs.
Dr. Tyson is a physician in Pasadena, California who has been practicing Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation for the past 14 years. She has a private practice, Crown City Rehabilitation Institute that focuses on Sports Medicine and Pain Management. She is also an entrepreneur and the CEO for a healthcare transportation company, Transport Assist, which contracts with Medi-Cal based health plans to provide non-emergency medical transportation for their members. Her mission in both fields is to improve and increase health outcomes. She is profoundly focused on serving the Medi-Cal and Medicare populations. Her innovation and dedication continues to evolve both Crown City Rehabilitation Institute and Transport Assist to better serve the needs of the patients she encounters.
Dr. Tyson also remains committed to supporting education and making a difference. She served for several years on the Alumni Board of the Polytechnic School and has endowed a scholarship for a minority student. She also remains involved in the Stanford University community by assisting with reunion planning and has endowed a scholarship for a qualified minority woman who is interested in the sciences as well.
Dr. Tyson received her undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences from Stanford University in 1998. She earned her medical degree from the Cornell University Medical College in 2003 and went on to complete her residency at UCLA.
She has a 6-year-old daughter named Marceline and a 3-year-old daughter named Colette.
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 two older children are CCC alums, and his youngest child will graduate from CCC in 2021. Chris is currently Professor of Computer Science at Caltech, and Executive Officer for the Computing and Mathematical Sciences Department. 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. He looks forward to helping the CCC and the CCC community flourish as we emerge from this challenging pandemic year.
Chris earned an undergraduate degree from Williams College, and a doctorate in computer science from Berkeley.
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 activities 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; and as a UCLA Extension instructor.
Susan’s passion to support early childhood educators in providing research based, high quality child education has led to the creation of community outreach programs which have 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. In 2022 the ECSTEM will celebrate 12 years. 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.