Board of Directors

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Stephen D. Rosen
Chairman of the Board
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Stephen D. Rosen is the founder, CEO and President of TV Magic, Inc., a San Diego based media systems integration company serving the global broadcast, A/V, multi-media and telecommunications industries. His extensive television operations background, systemic approach to consulting, engineering, and systems integration has guided TV Magic, Inc. through several major turnkey projects while maintaining customers such as CBS, FOX, ABC, Warner Bros., ESPN, Technicolor, the Crystal Cathedral, Trinity Broadcast Network, and several major educational Institutions – to name a few.
In 2010, Steve ran for San Diego Unified School District Trustee out of Area B. While losing the election he still garnered over 100,000 votes from San Diegans who believed in educational reform and fiscal responsibility. Steve focused on the rapidly deteriorating financial problems of the District, their growing negative impact on children and how to solve the fiscal problems while protecting the teachers. Many of the major financial issues currently effecting SDUSD were predicated by Steve along with his development of a strategic plan to avoid the insolvency crisis.

Having developed professional relationships within the SDUSD, local business leaders, local, State and Federal politicians, and the local community, Steve has stayed very active in his efforts to affect change within the educational community at large and specifically SDUSD to the benefit of the children and not directly tied to the adults. As part of Steve’s active involvement, Steve recognized the importance of parent’s involvement in children’s education and to facilitate that involvement, Steve helped develop and is a founding Board member of UPforED. He was just elected Board President.

With two boys in SDUSD schools, and his family’s involvement in the local community and schools, Steve and his wife Susan have volunteered countless hours to the local schools and community along with cash and goods donations to support those volunteer efforts.

Having honed his project management skills as an organizer for the 1984 Olympics and 6 years of undergraduate and graduate study in the sciences (BA and MS degrees awarded), Steve has developed the tools necessary to manage and complete large scale projects on-time and on budget and understand the complexities of budgeting and fulfillment along with strategic planning.

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Laura Kohn
Laura is a 20-year leader in the field of education, with a range of experience in policy, government, advocacy, research, program design, nonprofit management and philanthropy. Laura currently consults with local and national clients on education issues. Until 2011 when she moved to San Diego, Laura was executive director of the New School Foundation in Seattle, which used its successful partnerships with schools in low income neighborhoods as a platform to foment education reform locally and in Washington State. Laura and the foundation played a key role in promoting PreK-3rd in the state, to create an education continuum between early learning and early elementary grades so that students develop a solid reading and math foundation.

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Laura’s prior roles include director of education for the city of Seattle, Washington State advocacy consultant for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and education policy advisor to Washington’s governor. She has also served on the boards of directors of many education organizations, including two parent engagement organizations: Communities and Parents for Public Schools and Stand For Children Washington.

Laura has two children in public schools, and her family enjoys cooking, boogie boarding and hiking when not consumed with kid activities.

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Shelli Kurth
Co-Founder and Secretary
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Shelli Kurth’s journey to education advocacy began before the birth of her children. Upon receiving her Bachelor of Arts and Teaching Credential from San Diego State University Ms. Kurth taught in both private and public schools. She taught multiple grades including special education and later co- created a preschool-age kinesthetic learning program for her own children, where she continues teaching today.

Shelli aimed to increase parent involvement as a PTA leader in her local school. Ms. Kurth was both president and vice president of the PTA and has sat on the School Site Council. She has used her energy to start innovative and exceptional programs at Ocean Beach Elementary, a Title 1 school.

As her advocacy participation grew, Shelli helped to found the Point Loma Cluster School Foundation that represents ten schools and 6,000 students in the Ocean Beach/Point Loma Area. She served on the executive board from 2006 to 2011.

While working with the Point Loma Cluster, Shelli heard many parents expressing their needs for a unified voice to support one another in their quest for a children first education. This led Shelli to create UPforEd with co-founder Teresa Drew. UPforEd is a grassroots, non-profit organization led by parents to ensure children come first when making school decisions. UPforEd believes parents are a powerful voice in education and deserve a seat at the table with other decision makers. UPforEd believes every child deserves great teachers and schools and envisions a collaborative relationship between the San Diego Unified School District, teachers and parents.

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Jose L. Cruz
Jose Cruz is the chief executive officer for the San Diego Council on Literacy, a model urban literacy coalition. He has 28 years of experience in the literacy field and is known in the national literacy network for organizing collaborative efforts for literacy.

Mr. Cruz is the recipient of the 2003 San Diego Union-Tribune, “Educator of the Year” award. He has also served as president of Rolling Readers USA, the National Alliance of Urban Literacy Coalitions, and the San Diego Branch of the International Dyslexia Association.

He is a two-time recipient of the International Reading Association’s “Celebrate Literacy Award,” and is a recipient of the READ/San Diego “Literacy Advocate of the Year” award. He has received recognition for his efforts in supporting literacy services for incarcerated youth, as well as services for those who are homeless. He was also honored in 2007 by PBS and Union Bank as a Hispanic Heritage Month “Local Hero,” in the Education category.

Recently, Mr. Cruz was selected to serve on the board of directors of ProLiteracy, the largest literacy organization in the world.

Mr. Cruz is a native San Diegan, a graduate of the University of Southern California, and a proud product of the San Diego Community College District and its instructors.

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Hank Marxen
My motivation is simple. I believe education is the most important collective endeavor as a society. I want to do my part to make it better. I’m involved with UPforED to give my perspective as an educator to help inform their mission.

I’ve been a student of leadership since high school, and a deep learner in education for 20 years. For the last decade, I’ve been a teacher in SDUSD, and have experienced almost everything a teacher can, from designing and opening a school, coordinating our accreditation, writing and managing grants, advising the Class of 2008, designing and piloting original curriculum, and serving as a former stalwart member of the school site council for years. When my own kids went through school in the LMSV school district, I was active in the PTA, including a year as treasurer.

With two more kids preparing to enter school in a few years, and I want them to have the best possible education regardless of where they attend and I’m committed to public education.
As a teacher for ten years, having taught science and now as Graduation Coach* at one of SDUSD’s most impacted schools, I know one of our weaknesses is our ability to get parents involved. Parents, particularly those disenfranchised by their job schedules, language barriers and a complex education system, need every bit of help possible from within and from outside the System.

I was fortunate to have an adequate primary and secondary education in another state, and have been witness to some of the greatest education, training and development in the world in my undergrad education at the Naval Academy and as a Naval Aviator, which is what brought me to this Finest City. I am hopeful that one day I can honestly say “San Diego Unified offers the Finest public education anywhere!” It’s going to take the full-on dedication of everyone involved to make that happen, including parents. I’m involved here with UPforED and in the classroom — what are YOU doing?

*Graduation Coaches help student complete online courses to recover credits they need for graduation.


Ellen Nash
Ellen Nash is a native of San Diego, where she was born and raised in Southeast San Diego. She is married with three children and two grandsons.
he attended Horton elementary, Gompers Junior High and Crawford High School Her experience at Crawford High School afforded her the opportunity to form the first Black Gospel Choir at Crawford High School.
Ellen is a product of the Educational Opportunity Program and graduated from San Diego State University with a B. S. degree in Public Administration with an emphasis in Human Resources Management. She pursued Graduate Studies in Educational Leadership, SDSUDuring her time as a student at SDSU she worked a fulltime job at Project Concern International, where she had the opportunity to travel to Africa and Mexico. After leaving Project Concern to focus on completing her degree she worked as a student assistant in the Educational Opportunity Program, Black Student Union and was instrumental in forming the first Black Gospel Choir at SDSU.

She began working in SDSU Human Resources as a student assistant where she was promoted to SDSU Manager of Human Resources and worked there for 28 years and retired. She then was hired at UCSD Health System as Manager of Human Resources, and worked there for 5 years and retired.

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Ellen is the owner of a Transamerica World Financial Group business where she offers financial education, products and services to families, employees, and individuals.

Her volunteer work includes:
San Diego Urban League – United Front for Educational Justice, Co-Parent President
Black American Political Action Chapter, San Diego, Member
SDSU African American Alumni Association
Member of the NAACP
Up for Education, Parents
District E Advisory Committee
Diamond Education Committee
Serves as Assistant to the Pastor, Faith Tabernacle, COGIC
Member of Jamacha Community Council
Designee to the Coalition of Neighborhood Councils, in District 4


William Ponder
Educator, author and long time university administrator. Bill Ponder is nationally recognized as a leader in educational equity access and reform.

In addition to his work with UPforEd, Bill is involved with Groundworks San Diego and is the Vice Chairman of San Diego Unified School District’s Proposition S. Independent Citizens Oversight Committee. His latest book “In the Eyes of God: American Public education in the 21st Century” was featured in the New York Review of Books in 2010.

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