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California Charter Schools Association Presents 2023 Legacy Awards to Pioneering Leaders in the California’s Public Charter Schools

March 16, 2023

SACRAMENTO, CA  Today, the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) honored the pioneering work of three distinguished California charter public school leaders with CCSA Legacy Awards at the 2023 California Charter Schools Conference. The Legacy Award was created in 2022 to recognize the groundbreaking work of education leaders in advancing the development of California’s public charter schools.

The CCSA Legacy Award is presented to leaders whose work can best be measured by the countless lives they have transformed, the opportunities opened for thousands of scholars, and the forward-thinking practices they nurtured in hundreds of classrooms and the generations of educators they have inspired.  

“I am honored to be able to present these three amazing leaders in public education with the CCSA Legacy Award. Each have demonstrated a true dedication to public education through their work and as trailblazers in California’s charter public school sector,” said CCSA President and CEO Myrna Castrejón. “Their tenacious efforts have literally bent the arc of opportunity for generations of charter school students, increasing equity and access to a high-quality, innovative educational experience.”

CCSA produced a special video series featuring the three leaders who received this year’s Legacy Awards. Please click on the links to learn about those award winners.

The recipients of the 2023 CCSA Legacy Awards are:

Debbie Tarver, CEO, LaVerne Elementary Preparatory Academy (LEPA) and Executive Director and Founder, Desert Trails Preparatory Academy (DTPA)

For the past 30 years, Tarver had dedicated herself to putting kids first, holding high expectations for students and staff, and providing unwavering support to help them achieve their goals. In 2015, Tarver, Executive Director for LEPA, took on the challenge of leading DPTA, a struggling "parent trigger" school. In just three years, Tarver helped DPTA achieve high academic marks in both English and Mathematics. Outside of her schools, she has held many positions within CCSA including as a Capitol Advocacy Leader, a CCSA Member Council representative, and is active with the CCSA Inland Empire Political Action Committee (PAC) and Advocacy Council. In 2018, Tarver was honored as the Hart Vision Leader of the Year, Southern California.

Malka Borrego, Founder and CEO, Equitas Academy Charter Schools

As Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Equitas Academy Charter Schools, Borrego has worked in partnership with families in the Pico Union neighborhood of Los Angeles to provide quality education with the mission of college graduation for all students. Founded in 2009, Equitas Academy’s schools today serves approximately 2,000 TK-8th grade students across six campuses. Their initial campus, Equitas Academy, has been recognized as a California Gold Ribbon School and a California Distinguished School by the California Department of Education. In addition, Borrego recently founded LEAL (Latino Educators Advancing Leadership) to deepen the connectivity between Latino education leaders. Borrego has dedicated herself to ensuring other charters are flourishing through her service on the CCSA Member Council and Board. In 2016, Borrego was honored as the Hart Vision Leader of the Year.

Diane Tavenner, Founder and CEO, Summit Public Schools

In 2003, Tavenner co-founded Summit Public Schools with a group of local families. Today, she serves as CEO, overseeing ten schools in California and Washington States. Summit Public Schools also shares a free institutional model, Summit Learning, which is used by more than 380 schools, 3,800 educators, and 72,000 students across the U.S. Tavenner has served as President of the CCSA Board and was honored with the Hart Vision Leader of the Year award in 2010.


About the California Charter Schools Association

The vision of the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) is to build great public schools of joy and rigor that prepare all California students for success in college, career, community, and life. The mission of CCSA is to meet parent, educator, and community need for great public school options by supporting and advocating for high quality non-profit charter schools and sharing their success throughout California’s public schools. Learn more.