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Board of Directors

Cindy Smet
Cindy Lee Smet, President
Cindy Lee Smet is proud to be on the Board of Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, where she has served since 2001. After a career in banking and finance Cindy developed an interest in education and philanthropy while her three sons were in the public elementary schools in Hermosa Beach. For over 12 years, Cindy served as a founding trustee for Vistamar School, an independent high school in El Segundo. Through the John H. and Cynthia Lee Smet Foundation, she and her husband fund the Onward Leaders, Onward Scholars and Onward 4 Excellence programs in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Cindy is a member of the California Science Center Foundation board where she co-chairs the Exhibits and Education Committee and she is a member the DaVinci Schools Fund board. She holds a BA in Economics from the University of Virginia and an MBA from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Gil Flores Gil Flores, Treasurer 
Gil Flores is a Vice President, Senior Relationship Manager for City National Bank’s Commercial Banking Group. Gil leads a team of financial specialists who deliver credit and treasury management solutions for privately held companies with revenues ranging from $20 million to $300 million annually. Gil is a seasoned relationship manager with over 20 years in the banking industry. He is an effective problem solver focused on delivering tailored financial solutions to growing companies. Prior to joining City National Bank, Gil was employed at Bank of America and prior to that was employed at Wells Fargo Bank. Gil is active in his community, volunteering at various food banks throughout Greater Los Angeles and through City National Bank is a member of the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership. Gil grew up in Los Angeles near the mid-Wilshire area after emigrating as a teenager from Nicaragua. He graduated from the University of Phoenix in Los Angeles, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Business-Accounting. He resides in Upland, CA with his wife and three sons.
David Gidlow
David Gidlow, Secretary
David Gidlow is an executive in the apparel industry, specializing in product development, sourcing, and manufacturing. He has worked for a mix of large corporations including Warner Bros. and Macy's as well as smaller, entrepreneurial companies such as BUM Equipment and Babystyle. He has traveled extensively in Asia, Latin America, and Europe. A native of St. Louis, David earned a B.A. in Political Science from Occidental College and MBA in Marketing from the Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA. He is an avid swimmer, cyclist, and baker.
Celia Alvarado
Celia Garcia Alvarado, Ed.D
Celia Garcia Alvarado has been working in the field of education for 20 years and is the Executive Vice President of Education for the Cesar Chavez Foundation. She began her career as an educator in the Los Angeles Unified School District and in 2003 was named Teacher of the Year. She has served as Vice President of Corps Member and Alumni Impact for Teach For America and before that was the Executive Director of the Western Region for Education Pioneers. Currently, Celia is an adjunct faculty member at Loyola Marymount University’s Graduate School of Education. She earned her B.A. from Stanford University, her Ed.M. from Harvard University and Ed.D. from UCLA.
Lida Jennings
Lida Jennings
Lida Jennings is the Executive Director of Teach For America (TFA) Los Angeles. She joined TFA in 2010 with 20 years of experience in the higher education and corporate retail sectors. Most recently, Lida served as assistant dean at the RAND Corporation, following nine years as the director of the full-time MBA Program at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business. Before relocating to Los Angeles for graduate school, she held a series of leadership roles at Macy’s and The Gap in San Francisco. At TFA, Lida has held multiple roles on the leadership team, including Managing Director of Strategy, Talent, and Operations, and Managing Director of District and School Partnerships. Lida earned her BA in psychology from Smith College, MBA from USC Marshall School of Business, and Doctorate in Education from the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. Lida has extensive experience volunteering for nonprofit organizations throughout California.
Picture of Elena Lopez
Elena Lopez
Elena Lopez has been working in the field of education for nearly 20 years and is currently the Senior Manager of Professional Learning for the California Science Center Foundation. She began her career in the field of early childhood education as an educator and director for private and state preschools and later extended her career experience as a bilingual elementary teacher. Elena received a Bachelor's of Science degree and a teaching credential from the University of California, Fullerton.
Tamara Powers
Tamara Ritchey Powers
Since her retirement from work in marketing and market research 25 years ago, Tamara Powers has focused her non-parenting efforts on championing education and children’s well-being. In addition to her work with the Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, Ms. Powers also supports the work of other local nonprofits. She has been actively involved for over 20 years with The Children’s Partnership, a children’s advocacy and research organization. She also is active with the Richstone Family Center, an organization that focuses on preventing and treating child abuse. Ms. Powers has served on the board of The Wonder of Reading, a literacy organization that helped build over 200 libraries in local public elementary schools. She also was on the boards of the Boys and Girls Club of the Los Angeles Harbor, Get Lit-Words Ignite, and Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. In 2013, she chaired the Grant Screening Board for the Everyday Foundation, a women’s foundation that makes a $1 million grant each year to a child-based organization in the LA area. Ms. Powers holds a bachelor’s in economics from Stanford and an MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.
Philip Lance
Dr. Philip Lance
Founder and Board President Emeritus
Dr. Philip Lance is a nationally recognized leader in the field of community development with extensive experience in community organizing, fundraising, and nonprofit management. In addition to being a founder of Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, Philip served as its Board President for 16 years. He also founded and led Pueblo Nuevo Development, a non-profit community development corporation, from 1993 to 2016. In this capacity, he raised $32 million from private philanthropy to help build the Camino Nuevo school facilities. Philip is an ordained minister in the Episcopal Church and currently works as a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice.
Paul Cummins
Co-Founder and Board Emeritus
Paul Cummins has devoted his life to creating opportunities for children from all backgrounds to have access to quality education that engages them, respects them, and inspires them to develop a lifelong passion for learning. In 1971, he co-founded Crossroads School in Santa Monica and, under his leadership, the school became one of the most successful educational institutions in Los Angeles and a national model for innovative, independent schools. In 1995, Mr. Cummins stepped down as Headmaster of Crossroads and formed New Visions Foundation (now Coalition for Engaged Education) to offer opportunities for Engaged Education to all youth. Mr. Cummins has since implemented a number of innovative programs to help children at risk. He earned a B.A. from Stanford University, his MAT from Harvard, and his doctorate from the University of Southern California. He has served as a trustee on over 20 boards. Mr. Cummins and his wife Mary Ann reside in Santa Monica. They have four daughters and five grandchildren.
Agendas & Minutes
Find all our board agendas and meeting minutes here