Amir Ahmari is a San Jose native and a proud alumnus of Oak Grove High School and San Jose State University. Mr. Ahmari began his career with PricewaterhouseCoopers where he served as a financial auditor for multiple Fortune 500 technology companies. After PwC, Mr. Ahmari has had stints at Chargepoint, and Apigee (acquired by Google). Most recently Mr. Ahmari has transitioned to a role overseeing the Revenue and Accounting Operations at ThoughtSpot, the world’s first relational search engine for data. Mr. Ahmari holds a BS from San Jose State University in Accounting and is a certified CPA. Additionally, he is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He is deeply passionate about improving educational options within San Jose and is excited to bring his financial expertise to the board. Mr. Ahmari will serve as our founding Treasurer.
Lester Deanes currently serves as the Assistant Dean for Student Life at Santa Clara University. In his current role he serves on the University’s Council on Inclusive Excellence, to ensure Santa Clara remains a diverse and safe space for all students. Mr. Deanes also supervises the Office of Multicultural Learning at the University, managing 12 staff members. He has taught first- generation college students for the past five years, teaching them to navigate the college system and thrive. Throughout his career he has been published in major journals, such as those of the American Education Research Association and California Conference for Counseling Center. He is member of the Association of Student Conduct Administration and the National Association Student Personnel Administrators. Mr. Deanes earned his BA in History at Lake Forest College, Lake Forest, IL and MA in Communication at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA. Mr. Deanes’ dedicated focus on diversity and social justice will be a crucial perspective as the school carries out its mission of service learning. Mr. Deanes will serve as our Founding Board Chair.
Behshad Farahmand is a Bay Area native and a proud alumnus of Saratoga High School and San Jose State University. At San Jose State University Mr. Farahmand served as the President of Beta Alpha Psi, a National Honors Accounting Fraternity where he was able to gain exposure and access to many of the Big 4 Public Accounting Firms and their Partners, as well as many Fortune 500 Companies. Mr. Farahmand began his professional career with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP where he served as a financial auditor for multiple public and private life science and technology companies in both the San Jose and Boston Offices. After PwC, Mr. Farahmand spent a short stint of his career in Cambridge, MA as a Global Accounting Manager for a development stage telecom Company, where he soon returned to the Bay Area as a Technical Accounting Manager for an IPO Consulting Firm, Nextstep Advisory, servicing and managing most South Bay Clients (Marvell, Nutanix, 23&Me, MongoDB, etc.). Currently, Mr. Farahmand is the Senior Manager of Accounting for Bugcrowd, Inc., a Cyber Security Company who are connecting organizations to a global crowd of trusted hackers to identify vulnerabilities. Mr. Farahmand is deeply passionate about improving educational options within San Jose and is excited to bring his financial expertise and business setting background to the board.
Blanca Herrera is originally from México, but migrated to San José, CA at a young age. She graduated from Independence High School and San José State University. Her career includes being an educator for 20 years in different capacities such as classroom teacher, computer lab teacher, principal, and district administrator. Currently, she is the Director of Instructional Technology at Saratoga Union School District. Ms. Herrera also has an interest in entrepreneurship, having attended at Startup Weekend in San Francisco, and has been part of an advisory board for ImagineK12, an edtech accelerator program, for 2 years. She also serves on the board and is currently the treasurer of the Kiwanis Pueblo de San José, an international organization focusing on developing leadership in youth through community service. Ms. Herrera holds a B.A. in Political Science, International Relations concentration, minor in Spanish, a Bilingual Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, and an M.A. in Instructional Technology. Ms. Herrera is excited to join the board and be part of providing students in San José an opportunity to be prepared to follow their passion and contribute to their community in a positive way.
Lead Founder and Executive Director of Perseverance Preparatory School, Ms. LeeNatali began working with high school students at Downtown College Preparatory School on the Alameda, then joined Teach For America and taught at Cornerstone Academy Preparatory School (“Cornerstone”) in the Franklin-McKinley School District. Cornerstone, a 2014 California Distinguished School located within the boundaries of San Jose, was also founded by a Fellow with Building Excellent Schools. At Cornerstone, Ms. LeeNatali taught 2nd, 5th, and 6th grades, piloted a leadership curriculum based on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, served on the school’s Hiring Committee, and contributed as Master Teacher for the pilot Teacher Residency Program. Ms. LeeNatali also served as Manager of Operations and Culture as well as Site Director at Teach For America’s intensive summer training program for two years. Bringing a deep commitment to the students and families of San Jose and a regional as well as national network of training and support from Building Excellent Schools, Ms. LeeNatali earned a BA in Law and Social Justice, as well as a BS in Psychology, and Multiple Subject Teaching Credentials from Loyola Marymount University.