Board of Directors

Elise Darwish, Chair
Elise leads Ensemble Learning’s strategic vision to improve charter school quality and remove barriers to achievement for underserved students. Previously, she was the founding chief academic officer at Aspire Public Schools, where she grew the organization to a high-performing charter management organization with 38 schools in Tennessee and California. She was also the founding instructional coordinator at the San Carlos Charter Learning Center, the first charter school in California and the second in the nation. Elise is a Pahara Fellow and a Leap Ambassador.
 
Bio Coming Soon
 
Michael Barr, Treasurer
Mike is CFO and VP of Operations for Center for Youth Wellness, a San Francisco non-profit focused on helping children who have been exposed to Adverse Childhood Experiences.  Prior to that role, he served as the CFO of Reading Partners, where he helped support the growth of the organization through the implementation of improved forecasting, reporting, and payroll systems. Mike began his career in the tech sector, and then made the move into nonprofits when he joined Aspire Public Schools as their CFO from 2004-11. Mike has served as Interim CFO for a variety of educational non-profits at various stages of their life cycle and has also done consulting for a number of other education-related organizations. Mike lives in Oakland with his wife and two daughters, both of whom proudly attend public schools in Oakland.  He also serves on the board of Education for Change.
 
Steven Borg, Vice Chair
Steve Borg is a senior vice president and corporate marketing director with California Bank & Trust, a division of Zions Bancorporation. He has over 30 years of financial service industry experience, with a focus on marketing communications, strategy, product/channel management, and customer experience. A key tenant of Steve’s core values is that we stand on the shoulders of others, and benefit from the work of those who have come before us. 
 
Jonathan Dharmapalan
Mr. Jonathan Dharmapalan serves as Founder and Chief Executive Officer at eCurrency Mint Limited. He has been Head of Global Telecommunications Center at Ernst & Young LLP since May 2011. In this role, Mr. Dharmapalan is responsible for leading a team of over 2,000 telecoms specialists across the world, in their work with the world's leading operators. In his 25-year career, he has served some of the largest companies in the telecommunications sector. He has served his clients from the early days of divestiture and privatizations through the years of unprecedented growth of wireless and broadband technologies. Mr. Dharmapalan also has significant experience in the related sectors of Technology, Media and Entertainment, and was leading Ernst & Young's Telecommunications Center in Beijing. He began his career in telecommunications at AT&T Bell Laboratories. Mr. Dharmapalan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Northeastern University and a Masters of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from The California Institute of Technology.
 

Buddy James
Buddy James’ passion for great music, travel, and the creation of interesting and meaningful ventures led him to his current position of Professor of Music at California State University, East Bay, where he is currently the Chair of the Department of Music and was the Founding Director of the School of Arts and Media. He was named the CSUEB George and Miriam Phillips Outstanding Professor in 2016.  Prior to coming to CSUEB he taught at many institutions, most notably at Millersville University of Pennsylvania, where he was named Person of the Year in 2006, and has served many organizations such as the American Choral Directors Association and Intercollegiate Men’s Choruses, and is one of the founding officers of the National Collegiate Choral Organization.

Theresa Mak
Theresa Mak has over ten years working as a lawyer focused on labor and employment issues. She is currently a Principal at Jackson Lewis PC in San Francisco with a focus in federal and state employment law. Prior to this work, she was a Senior Labor and Employment Associate at Morgan Lewis & Bockius, LLP   and a Labor and Employment Associate at Seyfarth Shaw, LLP.  She also worked with Judge Lowell Jensen in the United States District Court on civil procedure, civil rights, employment issues and gender and race discrimination. She holds a JD from UC Berkeley and a dual BA in English and Rhetoric and Communications from UC Davis.
 
Milica MitrovichSecretary
Milica Mitrovich is a retired attorney having practiced as a litigator for 15 years in the Bay Area. She has extensive community service experience focusing on children and teens including as a founding Board Member of Facilitating Leadership in Youth, a non-profit providing educational support to youth in Washington DC’s lowest income neighborhoods, and tutoring math and literacy for low income immigrant and refugee children with London, UK based non-profit IntoUniversity.  Milica also served as parent peer group coordinator at her sons' school in Washington.  She holds an MA in the History of Art from George Washington University, a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law and a BA from the University of California, Berkeley.  Milica is also a member of the Board of Advisors for the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC.  
 
Dr. Woods is a native of Oakland, who received her: B.A. in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley; Masters of Social Work from the University of California, Los Angeles; and Master of Public Health and Ph.D. in Social Work from the University of California, Berkeley.
 
Dr. Woods served as a founding faculty member of the Masters of Social Work Program at CSU East Bay where she was the First African American Female Chair of the Academic Senate. After Serving as Chief of Staff to University President Leroy Morishita, she was appointed the University’s first Chief Diversity Officer. She served in that role for 5 years. 

Currently, Dr. Woods is is a retired Professor Emerita teaching course in Race, Gender, and Inequality and Social Work Practice. She also provides Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion consultation to higher education institutions as well as professional development in the area of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.