About Us » Board & Leadership Team

Board & Leadership Team



 Founder/CEO – Phil Matero

Phil Matero is a recognized leader in the national movement to improve opportunities for quality education available to youth who have not been well-served by the traditional education system.  As its Executive Director, Phil Matero launched YouthBuild Charter School of California in 2008 to cultivate collaborative learning communities in which every student has the right to an authentic education, plays a meaningful role in creating positive social change, and becomes an active participant in working towards just conditions for all.  He has consulted for YouthBuild USA, YouthBuild International, US Peace Corps, the National Youth Employment Coalition, and other projects where he offered his expertise in social justice, youth development and education towards meaningful efforts to generate consequential and sustainable opportunities for youth.
Email: [email protected]


 Superintendent/ Chief Collaboration Officer – Dr. Rudy Cuevas
Dr. Cuevas firmly believes that good schools can rebuild and sustain our democracy. His present day preference for highly collaborative work settings emanated from the realization that while individual resilience needs to be validated, such resilience should be secondary to the kind of democratic collaboration we need in both our schools and communities.

Inspired by the above framework, Dr. Cuevas works as the Superintendent and Chief Collaboration Officer at YCSC, where he currently collaborates with a network of 14 YouthBuild programs that are partnered with YouthBuild Charter School of California. Via this unique collaboration with YouthBuild programs, Dr. Cuevas has facilitated the development and implementation of an innovative youth development school model that features the kind of project based learning to support young people moving into college and career pathways.

To support the above collaboration with YouthBuild programs, Dr. Cuevas has also facilitated the development of quantitative and qualitative metrics that reliably and uniquely measure the success of YouthBuild program participants, students, staff, and stakeholders.

Dr. Cuevas has spent the last 21 years working in various capacities in education from high school social studies teacher, dean, track coach, principal, director of curriculum/instruction, and now Chief Collaboration Officer. Dr. Cuevas is a founding board member of the LMU School of Education Alumni Association and an inaugural fellow of the Executive Latino Leadership Association.

To support the growth and development of other schools, Dr. Cuevas regularly chairs school accreditation committees for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
Email[email protected]


 Principal – Tizoc Brenes
Tizoc Brenes was born in Los Angeles, grew up in Mexico, attended high school in San Diego, and went to college at Columbia University in New York City. Before becoming Principal of YouthBuild Charter School, he worked as a math and science teacher in East Los Angeles and Norwalk. In 2011, he co-founded the nonprofit leadership program, Field of Dreams Learning, Inc., in Norwalk. He holds a BA from Columbia University and an M. Ed and administrative credential from UCLA. Additionally, he is currently enrolled in a Ph. D program at UCLA.
Email: [email protected]



 Principal – Dr. Sonia Hernandez
Dr. Sonia Hernandez was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley. She received her B.A. in Political Science and Sociology from Mount St. Mary’s College. After working with foster youth through a volunteer experience, she felt a calling to become an educator and support underserved students. While pursuing her teaching credential and M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction, she gained a vast amount of knowledge working in a fully inclusive educational setting. Prior to becoming Principal, Sonia worked in a variety of roles at the Antelope Valley YouthBuild site, including Social Studies Teacher, Lead Teacher, and Program Coordinator. She obtained her credential in administration in March of 2015. As an educator, Sonia strives to provide and authentic education rooted in social justice to students of all abilities. After overseeing a grant to support re-entry youth, Sonia wanted to strengthen her ability to develop creative and innovate strategies to guide other educators in providing meaningful educational experiences. This inspired her to pursue her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Cal State University, Northridge. 
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PresidentJesus Zelada: Jesus is a local immigration attorney who came up through through the LAUSD school system in a challenging neighborhood and now dedicates his time to work on the challenges that immigrants face in coming to this country. He received his Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Studies from Cornell University and his Juris Doctorate from Whittier Law School. He runs the Law Office of Jesus Zelada, APC and volunteers as a lawyer with the Counsel of Mexican Federations in North America (COFEM).


Secretary – Dr. Nancy Parachini: Nancy Parachini is Director of the University of California, Los Angeles, Principal Leadership Institute and the Principals’ Center. She specializes in teacher development, language acquisition, and bilingual education. Dr. Parachini has 25 years of experience as an instructional leader within the Los Angeles Unified School District, serving in many roles including principal, evaluator, and professional development specialist. She also served as a Fellow at the University of Pittsburg’s Institute for Learning, a Program Evaluator for the UCLA School Management Program, and in 1997 earned her doctorate in Education from UCLA. Dr. Parachini is passionate about preparing social justice educators to transform the conditions of urban public schools.

Treasurer - Dr. Chelsea Kang-Smith:
Dr. Chelsea Kang-Smith has been part of Youth Build Charter Schools of California since 2017 as a Professional Expert for the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence’s (CCEE) Pilot Partnership Program to innovate leadership collaborative efforts in student achievement.  She currently is a leadership coach to Los Angeles County Office of Education’s Clear Administrative Services Credential Induction Program where she supports administrators. Dr. Kang-Smith spent over 28 years in California’s public education system empowering and collaborating with school leaders, teachers, and parents to cultivate systems of improvement for student success. She began her teaching at Chemawa Middle School in Riverside Unified School District, then continued into site administrative experiences. She served as an Assistant Principal and Principal at Dale Jr. High School, Magnolia High School, and Walker Jr. High School in the Anaheim Union High School District. Her district level experiences include Assistant Superintendent/Area Superintendent position of San Diego Unified School District and Baldwin Park Unified School District as well as Superintendent of Temple City Unified School District.  As superintendent, she galvanized her community to pass $128.8 million dollar facility bond for schools.  Dr. Kang-Smith was the Director of systems Improvement and Leadership Development for the CCEE where she supported districts and charter schools In student Improvement with technical assistance and resources. Throughout her education career, Dr. Kang-Smith led improvements with her colleagues to receive California Distinguished School, Gold Ribbon, Model Continuation, and Title I Academic Achievement awards.  Dr. Kang-Smith received PTA Honorary Service and Council PTA Honorary Service Awards for her dedication students in her school and district as well as the Hero Award from Walker Jr. High School students. Dr. Kang-Smith earned her Doctorate of Education from the University of Southern California, Masters of Science in Education from the California State University, Fullerton, and Bachelor of Science in Biological Science and Teaching Credential Program from the University of California, Irvine.




Board Member – Ely Flores: Ely is a graduate of a YouthBuild program, worked at a YouthBuild program, and opened up his own YouthBuild program, which he ran for two years.  He is very active in YouthBuild USA and YouthBuild International projects and brings a great youth perspective as well as a program director perceptive. He received his BA in Organizational Management from Ashford University and his MA in Social Impact from Claremont Lincoln University. He currently works as the California Director of Civic Engagement for NALEO Educational Fund and as a consultant for YouthBuild International’s Latin American region.


Board Member – Irene Hsieh: Irene is the Co-Founder of the Education is Forever Scholarship Foundation. She is an experienced classroom teacher and brings a strong teacher perspective to the board, along with a keen understanding of the challenges our graduates face as they transition into college. Irene received her Bachelor’s of Arts in Political Science and her Master’s in Education in Urban Teaching from UCLA.


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