PUC Network

Board of Trustees

Board Members

Dr. Jacqueline Elliot, Board Chair

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.

Ms. Brenda Buonora, Board Member

Bio coming soon.

Dr. Manuel Ponce, Board Member

Manuel Ponce was born in Panorama City and raised in Sylmar by his parents, both of whom are educators. His upbringing instilled in him the importance of education as a mechanism for change and equality for all people. At an early age Manuel began working with youth in the community by volunteering at the local recreation center as an athletic coach. Manuel attended Herrick Avenue Elementary and Porter Magnet Middle school. Upon graduating from Bishop Alemany High School in Mission Hills, he began working in education as a teacher’s assistant and was named the aquatics administrator for Alemany High School’s Water Polo and Swim teams. Manuel joined PUC as a science teacher at Lakeview, after teaching for six years at a small, private elementary school in San Fernando. After one year as a teacher at Lakeview Charter Academy, Manuel applied for and was hired as principal. During his current tenure as principal, Lakeview’s API score has grown from 735 to 856; the school was honored with the Title I Academic Achievement Award and received a 6 year WASC accreditation.

Manuel received an Associate of Arts Degree in Liberal Arts from Los Angeles Mission College and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Liberal Studies from California State University, Northridge. He was a Fellow in the Charter School Leadership Academy at Loyola Marymount University where he earned a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership with a certificate in Charter School Leadership and Special Education Administration. In 2010, Manuel was named Student of the Year for the School of Education at Loyola Marymount University. In 2012, he earned a Doctorate in Educational Leadership for Social Justice from Loyola Marymount University and now serves as a part-time professor.

Ms. Lisa Tovar, Secretary/Treasurer

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.

Ms. Bertha Vidrio, Board Member

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.