League of Education Voters C4
Board of Directors
Betsy Johnson, Chair
Betsy Johnson has been active in education in Bellevue and Washington state for the past 13 years. She has been a PTSA volunteer, past PTSA and Bellevue Schools Foundation president, and Bellevue School Board member. She has been volunteering for Eastside Pathways on the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading since its inception, currently serving as lead for the overall initiative and facilitating the Summer and Extended Learning collaborative. Betsy is a former Microsoft executive and current Director at Groopit. She has four children in the Bellevue schools in middle and high school.
LeAnne Jones Wiles, Vice Chair
LeAnne is the Director of First Year Programs at the University of Washington focusing specifically on successful transitions for high school and transfer students entering the institution. She has held positions at various public and private universities and served as a board member for the YMCA, for NASPA Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, and as a volunteer at the non-profit Treehouse. LeAnne is interested in connecting her experience with those focusing on the K-12 landscape to further align efforts supporting first generation, low income, and underrepresented minority students. She earned her BA in Sociology from Pacific Lutheran University and Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Delaware. She lives in Seattle with her partner, daughter, and foster son.
Yelias Bender, Treasurer
Yelias is an Illinois native with a passion for affordable housing and community development. He started his career in community development at the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco where he gained experience in single-family and multifamily affordable housing. After gaining finance experience at Sunrun, the nation’s leading residential solar provider, Yelias returned to community development finance at Union Bank. In 2017, Yelias moved with his wife to Seattle and joined the City of Seattle’s Office of Housing as a Project Manager before joining JPMorgan Chase’s Community Development Banking division. Yelias holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from Cornell University and master’s degrees in Urban Planning and Accountancy from the University of Illinois and San Francisco State University, respectively. Yelias loves animals, and in his spare time enjoys live music, following his favorite sports teams, and traveling with friends and family.
Roohi Sharma, Secretary
Roohi is a Research Analyst at the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) and an Education Pioneers & Teach For India alumnus. Roohi has served as Communications Officer on the Alumni Advisory Board – Masters in Education Policy program at the University of Washington. She brings experience as a thought partner, contributing to policy discussions. She is a champion of educational equity for all children and brings international perspective to the group from her experience teaching third and fifth graders as a Teach for India fellow in Pune, India. Roohi is interested in serving on the LEV Board because of our shared vision towards achieving education equity for all children.
Darlene Germino, 2020 University of Washington Board Fellow
Darlene Germino is an experienced nonprofit professional who has taught and mentored over 900 students. Her life’s work is dedicated to equity and social justice in education. She attended Seattle University’s Humanities for Teaching program, during which she worked with students at Franklin High School, Bailey Gatzert Elementary, and Washington Middle School. Upon graduating, Darlene worked at a Malaysian high school as part of the Fulbright Fellowship program. For the rest of her 20s, Darlene served as an education specialist, supporting out of school and unhoused youth pursuing their secondary education credentials and post-secondary opportunities. For several years, Darlene worked with Alexander Hamilton Scholars, a national scholarship program supporting first-generation, emerging leaders from underserved communities throughout their college journey and into their careers. All these experiences equipped Darlene with skills in curriculum development, staff training and supervision, cultural humility, and completing challenging projects in resource-limited environments.
In 2019, Darlene began pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree at the University of Washington’s Evans School in the hopes of becoming a more effective advocate for social justice and racial equity in the public sector. She is excited to contribute and strengthen her skills in youth development, program evaluation, policy analysis, and organizational leadership as LEV’s Board Fellow.
Outside of her formal roles, Darlene enjoys reading history and sociology books, painting landscapes, and performing duties as DJ and emcee at her Filipino American family gatherings.
Erica is the State Director of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. Erica brings expertise in Early Learning and has a finger on the pulse of Spokane. She is currently involved with Greater Spokane Inc. (GSI).
Lana Huizar is a California native born to Mexican immigrants. She is a Community Partner Fellow for Washington STEM and a doctoral student at the University of Washington. Before joining the University of Washington, Lana spent four years as a United States Marine. Lana’s work and research focus on improving quality and access to education systems for historically disadvantaged communities. At Washington STEM, Lana’s efforts are nestled in cross-sector work, which helps guide systems change and improve student outcomes. Lana is committed to advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion, to create a more diverse workforce, especially in fields that provide family-sustaining wages.
She received her Education Specialist degree in School Psychology from the University of Washington, and her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at the University of Oregon. In her spare time, she enjoys playing strategy games, running, outdoor adventures, and spending time with loved ones.
Ben Mitchell is Project Manager at the Foundation for Tacoma Students where supports the implementation a recent investment in Tacoma by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In this role, Ben supports and works in partnership with the Foundation for Tacoma Students, Graduate Tacoma Partners and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to elevate the Graduate Tacoma community-wide movement in three areas: Community Partner Capacity and Capability; Data Capacity and Capability; and Postsecondary Access and Completion.
Prior to joining the Foundation for Tacoma Students team Ben spent 4.5 years at Social Venture Partners (SVP) in Seattle where he managed their main grantmaking program and supported the work of providing capacity building and technical assistance to SVP’s grantees. Ben moved to the Northwest by way of Washington, DC where he worked in international development and spent a good chunk of time living and working overseas. His work took him to Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines and Moldova. To his great embarrassment, Ben has never been particularly good with any language other than English.
Ben grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan and has three younger siblings, all of whom work as educators. He lives in Seattle with his wife and a strange-looking but lovable dog. In his free time he likes to go on runs and hikes, attempt to finish any one of the stack of books he’s started in the last year, and reluctantly peck away at DIY house projects.
Robert O’Hara earned a BA in Architecture from Penn State University and an MS.CS from Union College. He is a software and wireless industry veteran, with over 40 years of experience at companies including IBM Research, Microsoft, and Motorola. He has been involved in the mobile wireless data industry since it began, working with companies such as AT&T Wireless and Qualcomm. He is Vice Chair of the Trustees of Union Graduate College, now merged with Clarkson University, and is Chair of the Redmond City Planning Commission. He taught Computer Science at the graduate level for six years, and currently teaches it part-time at the high school level.
Maria Zontine has worked in higher education supporting academic programs for over 15 years. She is currently serving as the HR Director for the School of Medicine at the University of Washington. Maria earned both her BA in Marketing and Communications, and her Masters in Public Administration, from Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, California. Growing up in rural Washington, Maria developed a unique educational perspective which creates a strong conviction towards equality in access to education for all.