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California Charter Schools Association Presents First Legacy Awards to Innovators in the California Public Charter School Sector

March 18, 2021

CCSA’s new award recognizes education leaders for their groundbreaking work to advance public charter schools across the state

LOS ANGELES, CA  Today, the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) is proud to honor the pioneering work of distinguished California charter public school leaders in presenting the first Legacy Awards. The Legacy Award was created to recognize the groundbreaking work of education leaders in advancing the development of California’s public charter schools. The first set of awards were presented to six charter public school visionaries by CCSA’s president and CEO Myrna Castrejón at the 2021 California Charter Schools Virtual Conference.

CCSA’s Legacy Award will be 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 proud to present CCSA’s first Legacy Awards to six exceptional leaders who are pioneers in California’s public charter schools,” said Castrejón. “Each is driven by a call to service, a unique mission idea, an insight into transformative work, and a relentless pursuit of equity. Not only have they left an indelible mark on the movement, but their legacies pave the way for a new generation.”

This year’s recipients include:

Sue Burr

Sue Burr is a member of the California State Board of Education. Previously, Burr served as the executive director of the California State Board of Education and as education policy advisor to Governor Brown from 2011 to 2012. Burr has held various positions in education policy including as undersecretary of education under Governor Davis and as education committee consultant in both the California State Senate and Assembly, where she helped draft California’s first charter school legislation. 

Allison Diaz

Alison Suffet Diaz is the Founder and Executive Director of Environmental Charter Schools, a growing network of schools that provides a meaningful education for youth in the underserved communities of South Los Angeles. A teacher and lawyer by training, and mother at heart, Diaz set out to create a different kind of educational experience for students, which has evolved into a model for schools across the country. Environmental Charter High School is ranked in the top 3% of U.S. public high schools by U.S. News & World Report and was chosen as one of three national finalists in President Obama’s Race to the Top Commencement Challenge.

John Glover

John Glover is the founder and CEO of Alpha Public Schools. Alpha was founded in 2010 when a group of East San José parents recruited Glover to their community. They worked in close partnership to launch Alpha’s first school in 2012. Now, Alpha operates a network of four high-performing charter schools serving 1,600 TK-12 students. The schools emphasize data-based instruction, leadership development, and rigorous academic programming to prepare students to succeed in college and beyond.

Jorge Lopez

Jorge Lopez is the founder of AMPS public charter school system. Under his leadership, the AMPS network received various honors for exceptional academic results over the years, including recognitions such as the 2008 National Blue Ribbon School, Title I Academic Achievement Awards, Distinguished School Awards, and CCSA's Charter School of the Year in 2019.

Hae-Sin Thomas

Hae-Sin Kim Thomas was most recently the Chief Executive Officer at Education For Change Public Schools (EFCPS) and has a long history of serving Oakland’s charter public school students. Her focus before joining EFCPS was in the turnaround space, working with school districts and charter management organizations to recreate their lowest-performing schools as the CEO of urbanED solutions. Thomas was also the lead organizer and co-founder of Great Oakland Public Schools, an Oakland-based education advocacy group and watchdog. Thomas was the founding principal of ASCEND, one of the five original new small and autonomous schools opened in Oakland, a school recognized for accelerating achievement and engaging community.

Beth Sutkus Thompson

Beth Sutkus Thompson is the founding CEO of KIPP Bay Area Schools, a role she has held for over a decade. KIPP Bay Area Schools currently serves nearly 6,000 students in 15 schools across 6 cities on a path to doubling in size in the coming years; and serves nearly 3,000 alumni on their journey to choice-filled lives. Previously, Thompson was the West Coast Trailblazer at the KIPP Foundation, where she created and implemented a strategic growth plan for KIPP schools, including securing charters, start-up funding, facilities, and community support. Prior to her work at KIPP, Thompson was on the founding team of NewSchools Venture Fund, a national nonprofit venture philanthropy working to reimagine public education.