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.
 
Carol Isen
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.
 
Ken Brooks
Bio Coming Soon
 
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 has led him to his current position of Professor of Music at California State University, East Bay, where he is the Founding Director of the School of Arts and Media and the Director of Vocal Studies. He has conducted the USC University Chorus, restarted a defunct USC Men’s Chorus, and was honored as the Outstanding Doctoral Graduate in the USC Department of Choral and Sacred Music. Prior to coming to CSUEB he taught at many institutions, most notably at Millersville University of Pennsylvania 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 Mitrovich, Secretary
Milica Mitrovich has spent over 15 years as an attorney in the Bay Area. Prior that that work, she was a Special Assistant in the White House, Office of the President.   She has extensive community service experience including serving on the Board of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, tutoring math and literacy for low income immigrant and refugee youth, and as a Founding Member of Facilitating Leadership in Youth, a nonprofit providing educational support to youth in DC’s lowest income neighborhoods.  She holds an MA in 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.  
 
Matthew Novak
Mr. Novak is a Partner at Berkeley Partners.  Mr. Novak is responsible for the firm's overall operations including acquisitions and asset management.  Mr. Novak has over 19 years of real estate experience in asset management, acquisitions, dispositions, development, and construction. He started his career with Arthur Andersen in San Francisco in the Real Estate Valuation Group. He then spent over five years on the investment management team for National Office Partners (a partnership of CalPERS and Hines) focusing on portfolio and asset management for over $1.0 billion of assets. Most recently, Mr. Novak worked as a developer in the Bay Area focusing on entitlements, project management, and construction of infill development projects. Mr. Novak is a member of the Pension Real Estate Association, the Urban Land Institute and NCREIF.  Mr. Novak holds a BA in Economics from Cornell University.
 
Diane Woods
Diane Woods is Senior Coach for Integral Leadership who teaches coaching programs nationwide. Over the past 25 years, she has consulted to Boards of Directors, government agencies, executive management teams of global corporations, and non-profits. Her clients include The Gap, Inc., Los Alamos National Laboratories, United Church of Christ, Building Futures With Women and Children, Charles Schwab & Company, Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems, The Society of Women Engineers (SWE), and the California State Automobile Association. Prior to starting her coaching practice, Diane served as Vice President of Global Strategies and Organization Development and as Leader of Global Values and Leadership at Levi Strauss’s Corporate Office in San Francisco. As Adjunct Professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies, she taught in the Organization Development Masters Program for several years; she now teaches at SFSU-Extended Learning in San Francisco. Diane also co-convenes Majestic Light, a women’s circle focused on health and well being. Diane has a BS in Psychology from Kalamazoo College and a Masters in Organization Development from American University. She is a certified Integral Coach® through New Ventures West and a Master Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation.