OPA Board Names Executive Director and SOC Chancellor

Dear OPA Families, Friends and Supporters:

Great news to report from last night’s OPA board meeting! After extensive searches and thorough, collaborative, interview processes, we are excited to announce the hiring of a permanent OPA Executive DiIrector and a new Chancellor for OPA-SOC. As I am sure you know, these have been two positions of priority for our organization and we are thrilled to be able to fill them with highly-qualified, experienced leaders. Both new hires will hit the ground running on Monday, August 13.

As permanent Executive Director, OPA welcomes Jill Marks. Jill has seen California education from nearly every perspective. She was a teacher at the K-12 and college levels early in her career. She joined her first charter school organization in 2004 and for nearly ten years led Gateway College & Career Academy in Riverside. As Charter School Director, she oversaw all of the organization’s fiscal, governance and instructional operations and reported directly to the school’s Board of Directors. In 2013, she joined the Gateway to College National Network as the California State Director. In that role, Jill led the organization’s efforts to fulfill their mission of building sustainable pathways for dropouts and other credit deficient youth to attain a high school diploma and a meaningful post-secondary experience. Of course, both of these leadership roles required Jill to develop and deploy essential organizational leadership skills that will be vital to OPA going forward.

Amy Kernan joins OPA as OPA-SOC’s new Chancellor. In addition to SOC Chancellor, she will also take on the role of OPA Chief Academic Officer. Amy has more than 15 years of school leadership experience she brings to OPA-SOC. From department chair in 2001 to assistant principal in 2006 to principal in 2012, Amy continued to develop her school site leadership qualities. Since 2014, she has been the Director of Assessment and Accountability for the Laguna Beach Unified School District where she, among other things, oversaw the district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) process and led all professional development opportunities for the district. This mix of extensive site and district-wide leadership is perfectly matched for the two roles she will take on and we are very excited that Amy will be joining us.

Filling these critical roles before the start of the school year was a key priority for our board. Additionally, filling these roles was also necessary for us to continue progress in meeting our commitments under the recently approved MOU with CUSD.

As you know, we have been operating for several months with an interim Executive Director, Kathleen Daugherty. Kathleen joined us at a critical time and used her decades of educational leadership experience to help us navigate some very difficult challenges. As Kathleen transitions out of this role and hands the reins to Jill, I hope you will join us in thanking Kathleen for her service to OPA.

We couldn’t be more thrilled with the progress made to date – Jill and Amy are the capstones to that effort. Please join us in welcoming them to OPA team and keep an eye out for an invitation to meet both Jill and Amy soon.

As always, I deeply appreciate your support.


Joseph Haney