Dr. Jacqueline Elliot, who currently serves as President and CEO of PUC National, emigrated to Los Angeles from Scotland at the age of 13 and attended LAUSD schools through 12th grade. She has been dedicated to public school reform since 1986 when she first became a teacher in Pacoima, California. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology, a Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential, and a Master’s degree in Educational Administration earned at CA State University, Northridge. She also holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Change earned at Fielding Graduate University. She is a fellow of the Pahara-Aspen Institute’s Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. Dr. Elliot also serves on the 501c4 board of the California Charter Schools Association and on the Los Angeles Advocacy Council. In addition, she is an adjunct professor in graduate studies for the Institute of School Leadership and Administration at Loyola Marymount University and has been a recipient of the Hart Vision Award from the California Charter Schools Association, as Leader of the Year.
Dr. Jacqueline Elliot was driven by an intense desire to improve the state of public education for the children and community of Pacoima, which she had grown to love. She founded Community Charter Middle School (CCMS) in 1999, which was the first charter middle school in Los Angeles County. The school became extremely popular very quickly and in response to community demand, she subsequently founded several more schools to serve the same geographic area. She began collaborating with Dr. Ref Rodriguez in 1998 when the two realized that they had identical visions for 2 communities to which each of them was respectively dedicated; the NE San Fernando Valley and NE Los Angeles. They began collaborating and supporting each other from the moment they met as they embarked upon what turned out to be parallel journeys in the two communities. After working together for 5 years, they co-founded Partnerships to Uplift Communities (PUC Schools) in 2003 as one umbrella non-profit organization for the schools and subsequently co-founded PUC National in 2013 to promote, serve, and replicate the Partnerships to Uplift Communities schools, mission, and vision. Combined, they have co-founded 17 highly successful PUC public charter schools located in NE Los Angeles and the NE San Fernando Valley and one PUC school in Rochester, New York.
Lisa Tovar is the Chief Financial Officer for PUC National. Lisa Tovar has over 20 years of experience in Finance and Accounting. Prior to joining PUC National, Lisa Tovar was responsible for Budget Forecasting and Planning, Financial Reporting Consolidation and Fiscal Management for the Studio Services Division at Warner Brothers Studios, Warner Brothers Records, Music Publishing Division at The Walt Disney Company, SAG-AFTRA, Clear Channel Communications and The Patina Group. Lisa Tovar received her Bachelor’s Degree with college honors from UCLA and earned her Master’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration on Accounting and Finance from Woodbury University. Lisa Tovar also received her Minor in Education and Public Policy at UCLA and was a distinguished UCLA Law Fellows Scholar, where she earned a certificate in Conflict Mediation on behalf of the UCLA and Los Angeles County Partnership Conflict Mediation program. With her high level of expertise in finance and accounting, and her dedication to the mission and vision of PUC, Lisa Tovar brings a wealth of expertise and passion to her work as PUC National, CFO. Lisa Tovar is a third generation native to Los Angeles and is passionate about being part of the educational community in Los Angeles.
Brenda Buonora, is the founder of Valley Community Charter School, an elementary charter school now known as Our Community School. When VCCS opened its doors in the Fall of 2000, it was the fifth charter school in the San Fernando Valley. She became Executive Director of North Valley Charter School, serving 6th – 12th grade, in 2006, its fourth year of operation. She was able to bring the school from a $700,000 deficit to a $64,000 reserve and resolve all its building issues, placing the school in a strong position to ensure its charter renewal. In the late 1980’s, Brenda founded three area developmental preschools in which she implemented various programs to serve children with special needs. These centers currently serve over 100 families in the San Fernando and Antelope Valleys. She served on the board of the Southern California Association for the Education of Young Children as Vice President and Co-President for 6 years. Brenda has taught in the Child Development Department at both Mission College and Pierce College. Brenda earned her Master’s degree in education from California State University Northridge, where she wrote her thesis on “Creating a Charter School in Los Angeles Emphasizing Intrinsic Motivation.” Brenda brings her experience with charter schools, her strong school financial and administrative skills and her previous experience on school and educational boards to the PUC National Board.
Ana Perez joined the PUC National Board of Trustees in October 2018. Ms. Perez is a valued member of the Board in that she has been an active and very engaged PUC Schools parent for a number of years and is deeply committed to the mission and vision of the organization. Ms. Perez is a member of the School Advisory Council (SAC) at PUC Triumph Charter Academy. She also advocates for PUC Schools by reaching out to local elected representatives for support. Ms. Perez is also an employee of LAUSD and works at a Northeast San Fernando Valley elementary school. She grew up in Los Angeles and is appreciative of and inspired by the difference the PUC schools are making.
Bertha Vidrio was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley by both her parents which were born in Mexico. Being that she was the first generation to grow up in the United States, and coming from a family that did not speak the language, since a young age it was clear how determined she was to get an education to one day be able to help both her family and community.
Bertha attended both Community Charter Middle School and Community Charter Early College High School in which she was awarded Valedictorian of her graduating class in 2009. She went on to graduate from California State University, Northridge in 2013, with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Psychology. While in college, she volunteered at several organizations to help advocate for community members. Today she works at an Assisted Living home and continues to advocate for those in need.