OUR FOUNDING TEAM
Elysa Arroyo, Founding Board Member
Elysa Arroyo is a teacher in CCSD and the Manager of Compliance and Grants Administration for Aerospace Machine and Supply. Ms. Arroyo moved from Southern California to Las Vegas to join Teach for America in 2014. During her time as a teacher, she has served as Grade Level Chair; an elected School Organizational Team rep; and Leadership Team member. She founded and directed her school's theater program, which was accepted into the Disney Musicals in Schools program in 2017. Ms. Arroyo currently serves as a fellow in the Nevada Teach Plus Fellowship. Additionally, she has completed fellowships with the Nevada Department of Education, the Nevada Governor’s Office of Workforce Innovation, and Opportunity 180. She holds a M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction from UNLV and an MPAP in Public Administration and Policy from American University.
Jennifer Braster, Founding Board Member
Jennifer Braster is the founder of Naylor & Braster Attorneys at Law, PLLC, a commercial business litigation firm in Las Vegas. Ms. Braster founded Naylor & Braster with John Naylor in July 2014. Prior to this, Ms. Braster worked as a commercial litigator at Pisanelli Bice, a premier commercial litigation boutique firm in Las Vegas, and also Lionel Sawyer & Collins, one of Las Vegas’ largest law firms.
Ms. Braster was a board member of a local animal rescue in Las Vegas for about five years. As an avid animal lover, she was also a founding member of the State Bar of Nevada’s Animal Law Section. Through her litigation practice, Ms. Braster strives to advance the protections to animals in Nevada. Ms. Braster has represented multiple homeowners in civil rights litigation against various police departments stemming from the unlawful killing of homeowners’ dogs, donating a portion of her legal fees to local animal rescue. Ms. Braster is currently the public board member for the State of Nevada Board of Oriental Medicine and has been the public board member for State of Nevada Board of Oriental Medicine for two years. Ms. Braster has also volunteered with the Clark County Bar Association Community Service Committee’s work with the local homeless community.
Ms. Braster is originally from Philadelphia, PA and graduated with a B.A. in psychology and sociology from Boston University and a J.D. from Temple University. She has lived in Las, Vegas since 2006 and has a 7-year-old son and several four-legged children.
Tracy Gniewek, Founding Board Member
Tracy Gniewek has more than two decades' experience in Human Resources. After leading Human Resources teams in the Corporate environment for large organizations for 25 years, Ms. Gniewek founded her consulting business and serves as its President & Chief People Strategist.
Ms. Gniewek has led the human resources initiatives for several local premier hospitality properties including Planet Hollywood, the Aladdin, MGM Grand, and the Light Group. She has vast experience with building the HR foundation for start-ups and facilitating change during mergers and acquisitions. Ms. Gniewek creates employee-focused strategies to boost employee engagement, performance, motivation and satisfaction while meeting an organization’s business model and objectives and improving the bottom line.
Ms. Gniewek holds a Bachelor of Science in hotel administration from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She is an active member of Nevada Subcontractors Association, an Authorized Partner and Certified Trainer for Everything DiSC® and Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team and a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) since December 2010. Ms. Gniewek achieved her Producer License for Health and Life Insurance in the State of Nevada in February 2020. In her spare time, Tracy is a proud aunt, avid Dave Matthews Band fan, and actively volunteers with many local non-profits.
Sandra Kinne, Lead Founder and proposed Executive Director
Lead Founder and proposed Executive Director Sandra Kinne is an experienced educator. She began teaching in the Compton Unified School District as a Teach For America corps member in 1999. She was voted by her peers at “Teacher of the Year” at King Elementary for the 2005-06 school year, and served in many leadership roles as a teacher, including School Site Council chairperson, Leadership Team member, lead teacher for the Gifted and Talented program, and as an elected CEA representative. Ms. Kinne brings more than 12 years of teaching experience, including in a special education school for emotionally disturbed students and at a K-8 urban charter school, in Syracuse, NY, where 97% of students qualified for free or reduced lunch.
Ms. Kinne served for three years as an instructional coach with Teach For America - Las Vegas, working with 1st- and 2nd-year teachers in the Clark County School District; was a School Director at two sites as part of Teach For America’s Summer Institute in Phoenix; and was an Assistant Principal at a Title I middle school in California.. She has also worked in education for the State of Nevada and is currently employed by CCSD.
Ms. Kinne is a former military dependent and grew up on Army bases around the world. She first moved to Las Vegas nearly a decade ago. She holds a B.A. from Syracuse University, M.A. Ed. from Loyola Marymount University, and M.P.A. from Columbia University. Additionally, Ms. Kinne has teaching credentials in CA and Nevada and a preliminary admin credential in California.
Jon Haskel, Founding Board Member
Jon Haskel is a veteran educator in Las Vegas. He taught 5th grade for eight years before working as a learning strategist and instructional coach for two years. For the past four years, Mr. Haskel has served as an assistant principal at Pinecrest Academy St. Rose, a public charter school in Las Vegas Nevada. Mr. Haskel was appointed principal of Pinecrest Academy St. Rose for the 2019/2020 school year and continues to serve in this role.
During Mr. Haskel’s time as a 5th grade teacher at Halle Heweston Elementary, he served as the grade level team lead and worked closely with administration to contribute to the success of the school. Halle Hewetson was awarded various awards both locally and nationally for student achievement including: Dispelling the Myth Award and Nevada 5 Star Rating. As an Instructional Coach, Mr. Haskel was part of a statewide initiative called ZOOM schools that supported teachers and students at schools with high populations of English Language Learners. As an assistant principal, Mr. Haskel was part of the founding administration team and has had the pleasure of contributing to the success of Pinecrest Academy St. Rose, which has been awarded the top rating in Nevada of a 5 star school. As principal of Pinecrest Academy St. Rose, Mr. Haskel guided the community through a nationwide pandemic that required school to close by successfully transitioning from full in person education to full virtual education. Mr. Haskel was able to ensure that all students were able to access educational content through Zoom meetings and recorded lessons.
Mr. Haskel graduated Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Elementary Education. He earned a Master’s degree from Southern Utah University in Elementary Education and earned a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Sierra Nevada College. Mr. Haskel is married to Cassy and has two amazing children, Ryder, 6, and River, 4. Mr. Haskel enjoys professional and college sports, snowboarding, rock climbing, canoeing, kayaking, camping, coaching little league, reading and Netflix. Originally from Michigan, Mr. Haskel is a fan of the Detroit Tigers and Michigan Wolverines.
Justin Long, Founding Board Member
Justin Long is the founder of Diazo Group, a concierge financial planning firm in Las Vegas NV. Diazo’s mission is to be able to provide a concierge bespoke financial planning experience to the mass market. Deriving the thought process from all investors regardless of net worth should receive great financial advice.
Before founding Diazo, Justin was a Senior Regional Planning Consultant with Fidelity investments and tasked with training and educating advisors to the inner workings of financial planning and relationship building. Prior to this, he worked with Fidelity’s high net worth client group as a VP Financial consultant, working hand in hand with individual investors to reach their financial goals and determine what success looked like for them in both their financial and personal lives.
Justin is originally from Walnut Creek, CA and spent a large part of his childhood in the out skirts of Reno, Nevada where he attended college and received a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and Economics from the University of Reno. He is married and has two young children.
Alejandro Rodriguez, Founding Board Member
Alejandro Rodriguez is the Director, Nevada for Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE). LEE is a nonpartisan, nonprofit leadership development organization working to end the injustice of educational inequity by inspiring and supporting a diverse set of leaders with classroom experience to engage civically and politically. As Director in Nevada, he sets and executes the vision for the region and the more than 600 members in the state.
Mr. Rodriguez previously served as Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Commerce. As Chief of Staff, he advised the Deputy Secretary on a range of management, policy, and operational issues, and managed the day-to-day operations of the office. Mr. Rodriguez worked closely with senior Department leaders as they collaborated to implement the top policy priorities of the Obama administration. Prior to joining the Commerce Department, he served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations at the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Committee, where he was among the first senior staff directors hired to build the infrastructure from the ground up to support hiring, on-boarding, and office and resource management for more than 500 eventual employees. He was previously the Deputy Chief of Staff for the 2012 Democratic National Convention Committee in Charlotte, North Carolina. In that position he was tasked with preliminary planning for all aspects of staffing, budget and office build-out, and later helped manage and close out operations. Mr. Rodriguez also served as the Convention Operations Manager for the Democratic National Committee in Washington during the entire site selection process for the 2012 Convention and spent more than three years in the United States Senate serving as an aide to Senator Edward M. Kennedy and Senator Paul G. Kirk, Jr. Prior to his work on Capitol Hill, Mr. Rodriguez worked for Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly, the Kerry Edwards 2004 Presidential Coordinated Campaign in New Mexico, and for the Boston Host Committee for the 2004 Democratic National Convention.
Originally from El Paso, Texas, Mr. Rodriguez graduated with an A.B. in Government from Harvard University and lives in Henderson with his wife, a fifth-generation Nevadan, and 3.5-year-old son and newborn daughter.
Anthony Vu, Founding Board Member
Anthony Vu is the Director of Operations for the Coral Academy of Science Las Vegas charter network in Southern Nevada. In his role, Mr. Vu leads day-to-day operations, facilities maintenance, student discipline and grants management for the CASLV network and its 6 campuses. He developed their five-year strategic plan, designed its restorative justice program, oversaw the completion of the new school grounds for its Nellis Air Force Base Campus, and led the creation of the network’s reopening plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr. Vu served in various roles for multiple nonprofits in Southern California, with the most rewarding experience being able to lead an after-school college access program for disadvantaged students at a Title I high school. In 2013, he moved to Las Vegas to join Teach For America. During his time as an English teacher in CCSD, Mr. Vu taught at the only extended day middle school in the Historic Westside and a Title I high school just north of Chinatown. For every class he taught, his students achieved an average reading growth of at least two grade levels by the end of each school year. He also served as a soccer coach and advisory leader for multiple extracurriculars.
In 2017, Mr. Vu became the Founding Operations Manager at Democracy Prep at the Agassi Campus, Elementary School. As time went on, he absorbed the responsibilities of leading operations for the middle school, high school, and eventually, the entire campus. Along with operations, his duties included overseeing campus purchasing, building national academic and curriculum partnerships, supervising family impact and communication, and being the campus testing coordinator.
Mr. Vu is originally from Santa Ana, CA. The son of Vietnamese refugees, he grew up in a low-income household and attended Title I schools for the entirety of his K-12 education. Mr. Vu holds a B.A. from Cal State Fullerton, M.P.A. from Long Beach State, and M.Ed in Curriculum & Instruction from University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He is a proud uncle, brother, dog father, and social equity advocate.