Regional Director, Central Valley, California Charter Schools Association
As the Regional Director for Advocacy in the Central Valley for the California Charter Schools Association, Jeff works with local and state leaders to expand, strengthen, and mobilize charter public schools as high-quality educational options for students and families across twelve counties, from Calaveras to Kern. Since 2008, Jeff has worked with California Charter Schools Association—the statewide professional and member-based organization for charter public schools—serving first as Assistant General Manager for the Central Valley, Senior Manager of School Development, and Director of School Development and Support, drawing on an interest and experience in nonprofit organizational development.
After coming to California from a cattle ranch in Montana, Jeff fell in love with the dynamic tension between the urban and rural edges of the Central San Joaquin Valley. An advocate for public education and education reform, Jeff is focused on the intersection between the classroom and the social and private sectors—and committed to the idea that what lies ahead for the Central Valley will be determined primarily by how closely and thoughtfully these sectors work together to prepare our youth.
A former high school and college English teacher, Jeff earned his Master’s Degree in English from the University of California at Irvine, and a Bachelor’s degree and Teaching Credential in English from California State University, Fresno. Jeff is the currently the Board President for the Foundation for Central Schools which exists to support Central Unified schools, teachers, and students. He is also a committee member of the Downtown Neighborhoods Citizen Advisory Commission, and has served as a past board member of the Cultural Arts District Association of Downtown Fresno and member of: Fresno Chamber of Commerce’s Downtown Task Force, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the American Association of Grant Professionals, and the National Council of Teachers of English.
Jeff is married to his college sweetheart, Corrie Spees Sands—also a public education advocate and school administrator in Central Unified—and together they have four stubborn and wonderful athletes, artists, and musicians: Elanor, Tabor, Quinn, and Imogen.
Of the multiple, catastrophic, and compounding failures facing our community, by far the most persistent and vicious is poverty. But if poverty is a child, poor education is its parent. As a region, we will continue to rank high on every misery index, and low on quality-of life reports until we directly align the outcomes of education with the specific social and economic prerequisites of a region. The work in front of me is to use public education to change the long-term trajectory of a student’s life and a family’s future. I believe we have the collective brainpower and passion we need; we are conservative in our approaches and skeptical of being told how to fix ourselves by experts from outside the region. Yet we know that working in isolation is not working. I want to be a part of a team of people that is as stubbornly collaborative as I am.”