Laurie was one of the original group of EL advocates who in 1998 - heartbroken yet determined in the wake of the passage of Proposition 227 – set out to establish an enduring organization to be a voice for English Learners in California. She served on the original Board, and has continued to be integrally involved in our leadership since that time. Believing in the power of words and voice to speak truth to power, she has served as a writer, researcher and spokesperson for Californians Together while also throwing herself into creating models and examples of powerful joyful classrooms and schools for English Learners as Director of the Sobrato Early Academic Language model currently being replicated in 100 schools across 20 school districts in California. After five decades researching, writing, advocating, and providing leadership development and technical assistance on educational equity with an emphasis on immigrant and English Learner education, language access and rights, Laurie is trying to find her way towards retirement with more time for grandchildren, quilting, singing, hiking in the wilderness and, oh yes, taking on the political challenge of climate change.
Allyson currently serves as the External Relations Manager at the Education Trust-West where she represents ETW in relevant advocacy coalitions, meetings, and events. She monitors statewide education policy implementation at the local level to inform the organization's regional policy, practice, and advocacy work. Prior to The Education Trust-West, Allyson was the Civic Engagement Strategist for UnidosUS (formerly NCLR), the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. Allyson oversaw UnidosUS’s public policy and advocacy activities on a wide range of issues including justice reform, health, education, and immigration in California.
Allyson is committed to advocating for English Learners and Dual Language Learners due to her and her family's personal experiences. Allyson received her bachelor’s degree from The University of California, San Diego, and is currently pursuing her master's degree from Harvard University Graduate School of
Member At Large
Sharon Merritt, Ph.D., was the Director of the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Program at Fresno Pacific University from 2013 to 2021. Dr. Merritt’s responsibilities included program development and assessment, faculty recruitment and support, academic and thesis advising, and teaching in the MAT, Single Subject, Multiple Subjects, and Bilingual Authorization programs. Dr. Merritt also served for more than 20 years as a Lecturer of first year writing at Santa Clara University and other California institutions of higher education, as well as a member of the editorial team for NCTE’s journal, College English from 2001-2007. Dr. Merritt, bilingual in Spanish and English, has conducted research focusing on language ideologies in dual language and traditional World Language education. In addition to joining the Board of Californians Together, she served as President of the California Association for Bilingual Teacher Education from 2020-2022 and is currently serving as Past President (2022-2023).
VICKIE RAMOS HARRIS
Vickie Ramos Harris has two decades of experience advocating for educational equity in California, Boston, and New York City. Vickie’s “community-based policy making” lens drives her work in early childhood (ECE), K-12 and Dual Language Learner/English Learner (DLL/EL) education. As Director of Educational Equity at Advancement Project California, Vickie leads policy advocacy across the Birth to 12th grade system to advance racial equity and economic justice, focusing on areas including: ECE, DLL/EL and bilingual education, ECE-K-12 systems alignment, full and fair funding for public education. She has led and supported research, program design, community engagement and local, state and federal policy and implementation, including state and school district investments in ECE and bilingual education, as well as the creation of a new grade level (transitional kindergarten) in California.
Vickie previously served as Advancement Project California’s Associate Director of Educational Equity, Early Edge California’s State Policy Director, and Chief of Staff to LAUSD Board Vice-President Yolie Flores. Her prior work also includes direct service with children and families with the Boyle Heights Learning Collaborative, Families In Schools, Upward Bound, Children’s Aid Society, Loisaida Inc., and the Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program. Vickie holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Pomona College, and a master’s degree from Harvard University Graduate School of Education. She advocates for DLLs with the Coalition for Quality Early Education, was a fellow with the English Learner Leadership & Legacy Initiative, and formerly served on the Pomona College Alumni Board as well as Board President of the Children’s Collabrium.
Member at Large
Francisco Ortiz is an elementary school teacher in the West Contra Costa Unified School District. Currently, he is on release to serve as Vice President and Community Schools Organizer for United Teachers of Richmond, CTA/NEA. He also serves as an Organizational Ambassador for the California Teachers Association, advocating for multilingual learners and educators on the Language Acquisition Committee of the State Council of Education. His advocacy for linguistic equity began as a child, functioning as a linguistic and cultural broker for his immigrant parents. Navigating the same school district as a bilingual student and teacher fueled his drive to improve educational experiences and outcomes for historically underserved youth. Francisco serves on the CTA Good Teaching Conference Planning Committee and has also served on the Teacher Leadership Congress Planning Team for the American Educational Research Association's annual conference. Currently, he is a doctoral student in Organizational Leadership at the University of San Francisco.
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