Meet our 2014 Education Pioneers: Lilliane Ballesteros

August 22, 2014

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Since 2005, the California Charter Schools Association has welcomed graduate students each summer from the Education Pioneers Fellowship program to provide their expertise and perspective to some of the pressing challenges that charter schools face. The mission of Education Pioneers is to identify, train, connect, and inspire a new generation of leaders dedicated to transforming the educational system so that all students receive a quality education.

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Lilliane Ballesteros is an Education Pioneers fellow who worked with the CCSA Advocates team this summer. She is currently pursuing a Master's of Public Administration at the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington in Seattle. She received her B.A. from Occidental College in Los Angeles. Lilliane will be helping to build and implement a political giving campaign for CCSA. She has development experience with community nonprofits in Los Angeles and Seattle. As a Los Angeles native, Lilliane attended public schools through high school and believes strongly in the power of educational opportunities for all students. While she is new to the education sector, Lilliane is excited to support CCSA's efforts this summer and help continue to build a strong community of dedicated supporters.

Describe the project you worked on this summer.

I have been working with the CCSA Advocates team to develop and implement a fundraising plan to increase support for local and state candidates. Working with regional directors, I helped plan several regional fundraising events to engage existing and new leaders in education reform and support CCSA's newly formed small contributor committee. To help facilitate this work, I am creating a database of schools leaders and board members to engage.

What are you interested in doing in the future or after graduate school if attending?

I am interested in continuing to support education organizations, helping to develop meaningful relationships that bring communities together to support all students. Having worked in development and fundraising for non-profit health organizations, I began this summer interested to learn more about the education sector and the exciting and new work being done to help students achieve.

What drew you to the Education Pioneer Program?

I chose to become an Education Pioneers Fellow because I wanted to join the education sector and work on projects and programs that benefit students and offer different types of opportunities. Education Pioneers offered me the opportunity to bring my development skills to the education sector and help an organization that offers students the opportunity to succeed and accomplish their potential.

What has been the most surprising thing you've learned in the course of your work this summer?

The most surprising thing I learned was the collaboration in the sector and especially, how charter schools are inspiring some change among traditional public schools. I had seen the two types of schools as separate and in opposition; but during my work this summer, I learned more about where the two intersect and how charter schools have inspired the school district to offer more choices for parents.

What was your familiarity with charter schools before working at CCSA? How has your view of charter schools changed?

I had little knowledge about charter schools, especially charters in Los Angeles before this summer. I had done some research about schools in New York and heard of larger charter operators such as KIPP and Green Dot, but was unfamiliar with many of the smaller charter operators. I now know more about the charter landscape and am more aware of the diversity among charters, not just between charter and district schools.

What changes would you like to see in our public education system?

I would like to see more shared best practices between schools. We always focus on what is not working in education. But after spending the summer interacting with so many people in the sector - educators, administrators, students, parents, and advocates - I've heard about things that are working. It would be great to see institutions working together more often to help students succeed.