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.
Michael Waite, Treasurer
Michael has a passion for public education, developed from Australia (where he was born) to today in Seattle, where he will have 3 daughters attending Seattle Public Schools. His experiences include senior finance and operations positions at Bentall Kennedy (now BentallGreenOak) and Cascade Investment, the investment company of Bill and Melinda Gates. Michael has run for State Treasurer of Washington and previously served as PTSA President at Kimball Elementary (Seattle), on the National Board of Trustees of Camp Fire and the Board of United Way of King County.
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.
Oscar Cerda, Member at Large
Oscar Cerda serves as Community Engagement Manager for the Washington Department of Transportation. Oscar lives in the Tri-Cities and travels frequently to Olympia and around the state. He is currently serving on the Board of Latino Civic Alliance and has a long history as a community activist. He has a strong interest in serving diverse communities. With his experience, he would like to support LEV in alliance and coalition building with communities of color and Latinos.
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).
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.
Dean Nielsen is a political strategist and Principal of Cerillion N4 Partners. Since starting his political career in 1992 working for Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign, he has worked on political campaigns in 32 states on every level of campaign, from school board to Congress to Governor to President as well as advising candidates and political parties in Eastern Europe. He’s worked on numerous government relations and communications projects for corporate and nonprofit clients including the Palms Casino in Las Vegas, a major sports team ownership group, a Fortune 500 agricultural interest, Seattle’s Harborview Hospital, and the Seattle McCaw Performance Hall. More recently, he has expanded his portfolio to include companies focused on clean energy, biomass generation, online cable TV, spectral pattern matching, data processing, and other services. Mr. Nielsen holds a bachelor’s degree from Bradley University.
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.