Board of Directors
Cindy Lee Smet, President
Cindy Lee Smet is the chair of the board of Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, a group of high-performing public charter schools in Los Angeles. She has served on the board since 2001. Her interest in education developed while her three sons were in the public elementary schools in Hermosa Beach. For 12 years, Mrs. Smet also 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 Readers and Onward Scholars programs, which provide opportunities for deserving students who attend Catholic elementary schools in LA. In 2018, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles recognized Mrs. Smet for her philanthropic work. Before becoming a parent, Mrs. Smet had a career in banking and finance. She holds a bachelor’s in economics from the University of Virginia and an MBA from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Shiho Ito, Treasurer
Shiho Ito is a community organizer and founding director of Pueblo Nuevo Development, the grass-roots community development group that began in 1992 and in 1999 founded Camino Nuevo Charter Academy. As an immigrant and English learner, she is passionate about educational access and equity. Ms. Ito has led outreach initiatives at Larchmont Charter School, chaired the education committee at Ikar, an egalitarian Jewish community, and organized a non-profit foundation to support Millikan Middle School Math Academy. Prior to the birth of her children, she worked in film production and acquisitions for the Japanese market. She earned her undergraduate degree from Yale University where she majored in English and East Asian studies.
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 Garcia Alvarado
Celia Garcia Alvarado is the Vice President of Corps Member and Alumni Impact at Teach For America in Los Angeles. In her role, she leads the largest regional team that is responsible for coaching and developing corp members and supporting and accelerating the leadership trajectory and impact of all alumni in the education sector. Prior to joining Teach For America, she was the Executive Director for Education Pioneers' Western Region, overseeing the organization's work in California, Colorado and Washington and successfully leading the launch of a new program site in Denver. Celia began her career as an educator in the Los Angeles Unified School District and was named Teacher of the Year in 2003 for her district. She was later a Managing Director on the teacher leadership development team at Teach For America-Los Angeles, and led the team responsible for coaching and developing close to 300 corps members who collectively taught approximately 22,000 students in low-income communities across Los Angeles County. Celia received her B.A. from Stanford University, her Ed.M. from Harvard University and Ed.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is an adjunct faculty member at Loyola Marymount University’s Graduate School of Education.
Rachel Hunt is an urban education reform leader and practitioner. She is committed to ensuring that all young people have access to a high quality, public education that prepares them for college, careers, and life. Rachel founded and led a diverse, top-ranking, 6-12 charter school in a Massachusetts district that had historically performed in the lowest 10th percentile of the state. There she pioneered a charter-district collaboration and was elected to serve on the city's school board. Since stepping down as a school leader, Rachel has consulted to public schools and school systems. She earned her B.A. from Wesleyan University and her M.Ed. in School Leadership from Harvard Graduate School of Education.
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, Founder and Board President Emeritus
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, 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, Paul 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. Paul 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. Paul and his wife Mary Ann reside in Santa Monica. They have four daughters and five grandchildren.