Mike Feinberg, President
Mike received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania in 1991 and a Master of Education from National-Louis University in 2005. He joined Teach For America in 1992 and taught as a 5th grade bilingual teacher in Houston. In 1994, he co-founded KIPP and established KIPP Academy Houston a year later. In 2000, he co-founded the KIPP Foundation to help take KIPP to scale. Mike received an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters from Yale University in 2010 and from Duke University in 2015.
Leo Linbeck III, Chairman
Leo is the President and CEO of the Aquinas Companies, LLC, which has three operating companies: institutional construction management, real estate acquisition and development, and bioscience technology development. Leo graduated from the University of Notre Dame with both Civil Engineering and Liberal Arts degrees and received a Master’s in Structural Engineering from the University of Texas. He earned his MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, graduating as the only student in its history to be both Valedictorian and winner of the Arbuckle Award (the person voted by his classmates to have made the greatest contribution to the school). Additionally, Leo teaches MBAs at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business where he serves as a Lecturer and is a former adjunct professor at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business. Leo is also on the boards of several educational, community and nonprofit organizations.
Karol Musher, Board Member
Karol K. Musher received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees with distinction from Northwestern University. She served as a speech-language pathologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and then at Texas Children’s Hospital from 1971 to the present. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology at Baylor College of Medicine. For the past two decades, Karol has been on the faculty of St. John’s School as an educational consultant. She was adjunct faculty at the University of Houston in the Department of Communication Disorders where she taught the course on language and learning disorders, and she frequently lectures on educational issues to teachers and parents as well as to professional organizations. Karol has actively supported important educational causes in Houston’s Jewish and greater communities and has received numerous awards for this work. She was president of Houston Hillel and the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center where she established the STARS educational program for preschool children with special needs and an athletic program for adolescents and adults. She was the founding co-chair of the board of directors of KIPP Houston and has served on boards of trustees at Beth Yeshurun Day School, Emery Weiner School, A+ Challenge, and The School for Young Children in Houston.
Howard Fuller, Board Member
Howard Fuller’s career includes many years in both public service positions and the field of education. Dr. Fuller is a Distinguished Professor of Education, and Founder/Director of the Institute for the Transformation of Learning at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Immediately before his appointment at Marquette University, Dr. Fuller served as the Superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools June 1991 – June 1995. Dr. Fuller received his B.S. degree in Sociology from Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin, in 1962; M.S.A. degree in Social Administration from Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1964, and his Ph.D. in Sociological Foundations of Education from Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1986. He serves on the Board of: Milwaukee Collegiate Academy, Milwaukee Region of Teach for America, Milwaukee Charter School Advocates, Education Cities and FaithActs. He is an Advisory Board member of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. His memoir, No Struggle No Progress was published in 2014.
Lupita Montes, KIPP Alumnae and Co-Chairwoman, Executive Director of Neighborhood Schools
With more than a decade of experience in marketing and communications in the education sector, Lupita is deeply invested in educational opportunities and student success in higher education. As a student from the first KIPP class and the first in her family to graduate from college, Lupita fundamentally understands the opportunities that a higher education provides for an individual, family, and community. After graduating from Trinity University, Lupita joined KIPP Houston Public Schools to establish and build the Marketing and Communications department. Lupita is uniquely skilled at building relationships with clients, partners, and community members. Lupita has extensive experience with managing various phases of marketing, communications, and special projects. Lupita lives in Houston, Texas with her son and husband, where she volunteers in her community.
Vanessa Ramirez, KIPP Alumnae and Co-Chairwoman, Co-Founder of WorkTexas Training Center
Vanessa is a native Houstonian and the proud daughter of Mexican immigrants. She graduated from Occidental College in Los Angeles with a BA in Economics for Business and Management. Her passion for community development and education reform started in 1994 when she became a member of the Knowledge is Power Program as part of KIPP’s founding class.
Vanessa Ramirez serves as the Chief Operating Officer for SER-Jobs for Progress, where she supports the development, implementation, and delivery of program goals to fulfill the mission of SER, and the objectives of each of SER’s adult and youth programs. Prior to this role, she wore many hats within KIPP Houston Public School’s KIPP Through College department, most recently serving as the Interim Director of the Houston Scholar Program. In this role, she provided an extra layer of support to highly motivated students from KIPP and YES schools from 8th grade through 12th grade to help them make the transition through high school and college. She is also the Founder of Eight Million Stories, Inc., a nonprofit organization committed to providing communities of disconnected youth with an effective alternative to incarceration. In this role, she works with system-involved youth to identify their academic and socio-emotional needs and develop them into self-sustaining members of society who will transform our world.
Jaciel Castro, KIPP Alumni and COO, Community Preschools
Jaciel Castro is the co-founder and Chief of Operations of Community Preschools. Jaciel is a structural engineer by training and holds the FE from the Texas Board of Professional Engineers. Jaciel went on to earn another Bachelors from Texas A&M-Commerce in Organizational Development and Project Management then on to the University of Texas at San Antonio for his Masters of Science in Finance and Real Estate Development. During his years at UTSA, Jaciel was appointed by Governor Greg Abbott to serve on the Board of Regents for the UT system where he played a key role in the development of initiatives for student success across all 14 universities under the UT System. He also played a key role in strategically increasing minority graduation rates and the hiring of both MD Anderson and UTSA’s presidents.
Additionally, Jaciel worked at KIPP Texas-San Antonio for 7 years where he worked under the Chief Executive Officer and in virtually every administrative department in the region from development, enrollment services, marketing, school and district operations, technology, facilities and real estate and finance. Through his experience at KIPP, Jaciel developed tools and best practices to ensure that efficiency and innovation were always key priorities to ensure that the academic teams could focus over 95% of their time in instruction. This experience at UT and at KIPP played key roles in shaping Community Preschools’ innovative model that bridges the gap between early childhood and public education.
Jaciel is currently at Stanford University in the Executive Education Program, working on a scalable model so that Community Preschools can help other schools and childcare centers reach more students.
Amanda Castro, co-owner and Executive Director, Community Preschools
Amanda Castro is a co-owner and Executive Director at Community Preschools. She is a certified professional midwife and has a Master of Science at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Amanda’s research experience spans from novel small molecule synthesis and design in treating different forms of cancer, to stem cell research, and viral synthesis and research. While studying for her master’s degree, Amanda was selected to represent the United States at the conference of Nobel Laureates in Lindau, Germany. During this trip, she was able to meet some of the most famous scientists of today as well as other young researchers from all over the world. Amanda received her Bachelor of Science at Stephen F. Austin State University and minored in biology.
As a child, Amanda grew up on a working Longhorn ranch. It was from this experience that Amanda gained appreciation for the importance of exploration to discover the world. Later this exploratory spirit would lead her to spend her summers in Mexico learning to speak Spanish and gain insight into the Mexican culture. Now as a scientist and mother, Amanda strongly believes in the importance of education and the huge benefit of multilingual education.
Diana Castillo, KIPP Alumni and Primary School Leader, Westchase Classical Academy
Diana Castillo was born in a rural town in Guanajuato, Mexico and at the age of three, she found her world completely changed when her father was taken and held for ransom. Her family was forced to leave the world they knew to travel to the United States in search of asylum and safety. Once they settled in Houston, Texas, Diana’s mom began her never ending search to provide her two youngest daughters with the best possible education.
Diana enrolled in KIPP Academy in 1997 and graduated with a full scholarship to Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Connecticut. During her years at KIPP and Miss Porter’s, Diana kept hearing the message that is was our job to shape a changing world and to help others achieve what they never dreamt was possible. With this in mind, Diana graduated from Cornell University in 2009 and joined Teach For America to set out what she was meant to do: Shape a Changing World. Diana knew there was no better way to do this but to start molding the minds of her young students to also be the change and to have a great impact on our world. Diana had the pleasure of serving as a classroom teacher for 10 years.
A year after helping to found the program, Diana served as the Campus Administrator, managing her own team of teachers, and ensuring that operations and food service programing ran smoothly, as well as ensuring the safety and well-being of the students enrolled in the program at her campus. Diana is in her 13th year in education, now as the Founding School Director for Westchase Classical Academy.
Claudia Cardenas, KIPP Alumni and Assistant School Leader, Westchase Classical Academy
Claudia Cardenas is the founding Assistant School Leader at Westchase Classical Academy. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Bilingual Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Houston-Downton and a Master of Education in Administration and Supervision from the University of Houston.
At the age of 5, Claudia and her family came to America in search for a better life. As a student, she struggled to learn the language and assimilate to the culture. Luckily, she always had teachers who went above and beyond to help her. In elementary, a teacher suggested that she apply for a new charter school at the time: KIPP Academy. This decision changed her life forever. She was immersed in an environment of high expectations that instilled a love of learning. With their help and guidance, Claudia received a scholarship to one of Houston’s top private high schools, Episcopal High School. After high school, she ran into obstacles but persevered and ultimately became a first-generation high school and college graduate, having graduated from University of Houston-Downtown (followed by receiving a Masters degree from University of Houston Main Campus).
These experiences inspired Claudia to join the education field. She spent 6 years as an elementary teacher, LPAC coordinator, after school tutor and lead teacher roles before taking the current leadership role. Her mission is to show students who have similar backgrounds and similar struggles that one can achieve anything one sets their mind to.
Zulia Hernandez, Director of Development, Texas School Venture Fund
Zulia Hernandez is currently the Director of Development at Texas School Venture Fund. She is a Certified Nonprofit Professional and has a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies, with a minor in Organizational Leadership and Supervision from the University of Houston.
Zulia was born and raised in South Texas and moved to Houston in 2013 where she discovered her love of the nonprofit sector. She worked at SERJobs for Progress, a workforce development organization for three years and moved into an evolving role at Neighborhood Schools Inc. to help kick start the organization.
Advisory Board Members
Sonny and Jodie Jiles
Ann and Johnny Johnson
Sister Jane Meyer
Help Texas School Venture Fund as we seek to increase the supply of great schools.