- Foundation Board
- Foundation Staff
- Foundation Advisory
- Inspire School Board
- Parent Advisory Board
- New Campus Team
Bijan Almassi is attending Chico State majoring in Business Administration Marketing. Bijan loves the city of Chico and his interest in helping the community is one of the main reasons he was interested in the internship. Bijan has prior experience in organizing events and fundraising with the Rotary Foundation and he is excited to utilize his skills as an intern. He is very optimistic about the future of the Inspire School of Arts & Sciences and all that this foundation can accomplish.
Brian and his wife both graduated from CSU Chico in the early ‘80s. After working in Southern California for few years, they moved back to Chico to start their family and take advantage of the smaller town vibe. Brian started teaching in the math department at Chico High and taught for 20 years before moving into administration. After thirty plus years and a rewarding career in education Brian retired in 2018. Now, Brian and his wife enjoy spending time with their three grown boys, keeping up with their house and yard, and hitting the road in their Westfalia camper.
Caryl Brown has been an Inspire parent, advocate, and supporter since 2010. She enjoys being on the parent team, finding ways to support and nurture our students and staff, and volunteering with enthusiastic and creative people. She encourages all parents and guardians to jump in, sign up, and help Inspire, and our kids, THRIVE! Prior to Inspire, she was a passionate volunteer at Blue Oak 2001-2016, and is a biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Casey Taylor is the founder and Executive Director of Achieve Charter Schools of Paradise. In 2005 she worked with parents, community leaders and educators to develop and open a kindergarten through fifth grade charter school in Paradise California. In 2008 Casey led Achieve as they expanded their program to middle school. In 2018 she worked with community leaders, local business owners, teachers and families to open Achieve Charter High School, a high school focused on college and career opportunities for all through entrepreneurship and computer science pathways. After the 2018 Paradise Camp Fire, Casey led her team in reopening schools in temporary facilities in Chico, while building a permanent school facility so the kindergarten through eighth grade school could remain in Chico long-term. She is now working with her team to reopen an elementary school in Paradise for the 2021-2022 school year.
Casey is a Paradise native and is committed to providing high quality educational options to the community, especially during the rebuilding process. She sits on the Rebuild Paradise Foundation Board, is a Paradise Rotary Club member and serves on the Paradise Citizen’s Alliance. Casey is also an advocate for public charter schools and serves as the chair of the California Charter School Association’s Member Council. She works closely with local charter leaders in Butte County and is the chair of the Butte County Charter Leaders Network.
Under her leadership, Achieve Charter School has been recognized as a California Distinguished School in 2014 and again in 2019. Casey was also named the California Charter Schools Association’s Charter Leader of the Year in 2017.
Casey lives in Chico with her daughter who is a senior at Inspire School of the Arts and Sciences. Her son is a journalism and marketing major at California State University Chico.
Catherine SullivanInspire School Board Member
Celeste CramerDevelopment Director
Celeste Cramer takes a vision and makes it reality through sound strategic planning and development. Celeste has over twenty years of social work experience and over fifteen years ...Read More
Celeste Cramer takes a vision and makes it reality through sound strategic planning and development. Celeste has over twenty years of social work experience and over fifteen years of management experience, particularly in the non-profit sector. In the Bay Area, she worked with the Polly Klass Foundation and McDowell Drug Force, serving on the board at age sixteen. Celeste has worked with local non-profits such as Rape Crisis, Catalyst Domestic Violence Services, Hooker Oak Elementary PTO and Stonewall Alliance of Chico. Over the past ten years, she has worked for Butte County Behavioral Health in different roles - crisis counselor, supervisor and administrative analyst - passionately serving people who suffer from mental illness. On the side, Celeste has been doing event planning and marketing with a focus on raising funds for schools (including Inspire!) and non-profits.
During Celeste’s career, she started a nationwide sales businesses to help start-up companies become successful such as Moby Wrap Inc. and Pura Stainless Bottles. Celeste believes strongly that anyone can sell anything as long as they feel passionate about the product. Now she brings her skills and experience to ensure the Inspire Foundation’s success in raising the money needed to build the school they deserve, then to secure enough funds so that the Inspire School of Arts & Sciences students and teachers can focus on learning and educating and not on fundraising. This is a cause Celeste feels fiercely passionate about and is determined to make a reality.
On a personal note, Celeste has a son who has been drumming on anything since he could pick up a stick and now has found a school that appreciates and challenges his talent at Inspire. Her youngest son is counting the days until he is old enough to be a student at Inspire School of Arts & Sciences. She shares, “When looking at high school options, it was a clear choice after attending the Inspire orientation - every teacher who got up to speak about their program was more enthusiastic than the previous. It was palpable, and we walked away incredibly grateful to have this program as an option.”
Dan La Bar
Over a twenty year career in education, Dan has an extensive background in pursuing, obtaining, managing and reporting with a variety of capital revenue streams in education. He has direct experience involving successful public bond measures at the local level focused on repair and modernization ($152M), regional grant reviews ($33M), grant writing ($193k), federal and state grant monitoring ($17M), and operational budgets ($4.1M).
Beyond this, Dan has effectively implemented program design, re-design and continual improvement across district and charter schools specializing in arts education, STEM advocacy, college preparatory curriculum, alternative education, personalized learning and prevention programs for at-risk/at-promise students. He has coached 17 seasons of volleyball locally ranging from middle school to collegiate athletes. He started his coaching career at Chico High School (where Inspire is presently co-located) in the 90's. More recently, he served Inspire (on the same campus) as a school administrator and leader during the formative years of the school from 2011 - 2019.
Lastly, Dan is invested in the local community. Both Dan and his wife, Trelawney, studied at CSU, Chico and have called Chico their home since 1996. They have three children, Jonah, Tobin and Bayliss and hope that Inspire School of Arts & Sciences may be a school they attend when the time comes.
Dan RipkeFoundation Advisory Member
Dave Elke is a full time tenured faculty instructor at Butte College. He earned a BA in Liberal Studies in 1995, and an MA in Music from CSU, Chico in 2001, and has taught at Butte College for 20 years. Dave began his educational career working with preschool children and elementary kids. As part of several after school and preschool programs, Dave found a passion for working with kids and teaching in general. While completing the Liberal Studies Degree at CSU, Chico Dave was also completing a minor in music. Studying music at the college level was such a great experience; he decided to dedicate himself to music. After many years of touring, recording, managing bands, booking tours, and producing albums, Dave settled down in Chico, to raise his two daughters and teach at the college level.
Having begun working at Butte College as a guitar teacher, Dave was able to develop two books for guitar instruction, and eventually wrote a third book that is used at High Schools and Colleges. Dave really took to designing curriculum, and had the opportunity to build the recording arts program at the college. He built the curriculum, two certificates and an AS Degree in Recording Arts. In addition, Dave has just re-designed the music theory classes and re-built the AAT in Music for the college. He now works closely with the Dean and Chair to assist associate faculty and schedule the courses for each semester. He also oversees the music and recording budgets and is responsible for building the recording studio up with grants like the Strong Workforce and Perkins Grants.
Having managed budgets, including several large budgets for studio design, and equipment purchase, Dave has a vast knowledge of maintaining accountability for grants, purchasing necessary equipment, and helping the department and faculty acquire the tools they need to teach at a high level. After building over 12 courses in the college Curricunet system, and getting those classes approved through the curriculum committee, Dave understands the process and can provide strong support in a variety of technical and educational situations. As an instructor, Dave has earned the President's Award for Excellence in teaching, and was awarded the honor of Tenure in 2019. Always passionate about helping others, Dave is proud to be a part of the Inspire team.
Ellen NaritaGrad Night Team Leader
Georgie (Ann Marie) Bellin grew up in Davis, California and attending CSUC Chico and received a BS degree in Economics in 1972. While going to school in Chico, Georgie started to work part time in a real estate office and found her calling. From 1973 to present Georgie has worked in the real estate industry. Starting handling small housing subdivision sales, then general real estate sales (becoming the number #1 sales person at Coldwell Banker before starting her own company" The Group Real Estate Brokers" in 1995. Having built numerous professional office complexes and commercial retail centers, which also made Georgie one of the "go-to" brokers for leasing and tax planning in the North state area. With numerous awards for design, construction, development and leadership in the real estate industry, Georgie brings years of experience to any project she takes on.
Georgie has given thousand of hours to public service. First being appointed to the City of Chico Planning commission in 1978 and then serving 2 terms as chairperson. Then being elected to the Chico City Council in 1983 and reelected in 1987 plus serving as Mayor in 1985. Georgie has served on numerous civic boards and commissions. Such as Chamber of Commerce, Board member of the Chico Woman's Club, Chico Rotary Club, appointed to serve on Butte County General Planning commission and currently serving as chair on the City of Chico Architectural Commission.
Georgie has a daughter who lives locally and a son who is a firefighter in Davis, and her husband is retired profession from CSUC. As busy as she is Georgie, a licensed pilot, and her husband still take time to snow ski and fly fish and play golf any chance they get.
Heather Fox is an experienced grant writer and project manager providing grant writing and business development services to non-profit organizations for more than eight years. In that time she has successfully completed proposals for Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC), behavioral health organizations, schools, as well as a variety of grassroots non-profit organizations addressing issues ranging from homelessness/housing, victim services, restorative practices, time banking, education, and early childhood trauma. Highlights of the last eight years include: Successfully overseeing the application process that led to the designation of seven (7) new FQHCs each receiving $650,000/year in on-going federal grants; once designated she assisted health centers in addressing grant conditions and maintaining compliance. More recently, she was lead author and project manager responsible for successfully securing competitive contracts worth more than $15-million dollars (1/3 of the agency budget) and increased the contract totals by more than 30%. Annually, Ms. Fox successfully secures an average of $40-million dollars for a variety of clients throughout the U.S., with approximately one-quarter of that being new funding.
Holding both a bachelor’s degree (BSW) and a master’s degree (MSW) in social work, she is passionate about social justice, and is committed to promoting a fair and equitable society for all. She teaches master’s level students group theory and process, grant writing, and program development; and bachelor’s students introduction to social work as adjunct faculty in the School of Social Work at California State University, Chico. In addition to grant writing she supports non-profit organizations through the changes necessitated by the Continuum of Care Reform instituted by the State of California, including identifying and implementing policy and operational changes to meet the new requirements and ensure continued licensure for the organization. Ms. Fox also advises organizations on fund development and strategic program expansions, board development, strategic planning, and executive coaching and support.
Jamie King-Iseman is the demographic/population specialist assigned to the new campus project. She has obtained her Masters in Geography with an emphasis in GIS and Population Demographics from the University of South Carolina. Jamie has 15 years of experience in assisting over 50 school districts with demographic and planning analyses, including meetings with district and community committees, preparation of reports and scenarios for student populations and sites, redistricting/consolidation of current schools to balance enrollments, and locational analysis of new school sites.
Jamie has over 22 years of experience working with school districts to develop their facilities and annual projections. As the President and Co-Founder of King Consulting, she’s determined to discover new opportunities and funding for her clients and firmly believes all children deserve the opportunity to learn safely and efficiently. These core values in conjunction with Jamie’s extensive experience make her uniquely qualified at solving the problems school districts face every day.
Jennifer Gibb is a versatile and knowledgeable finance professional, experienced in fund accounting and budgeting for LEAs. Her project competence includes comprehensive and thorough fiscal analysis and reporting on a variety of projects within a multi-faceted organization. She is motivated and personable with a passion for encouraging and empowering team members and has a demonstrated history of success in completion of priorities that achieve organizational objectives. Jennifer is helping the project by securing sate funding, creating financial and administrative documents for key stakeholders, and advising the school on site plan and construction project.
Jennifer Spangler is the Arts Education Coordinator for Butte County Office of Education and Region 2 Arts Lead for the California County Superintendent’s Arts Initiative. Previously she served as Co-Director of The Northern California Arts Project, a regional center of the statewide California Arts Project. Spangler has been a lecturer at CSU, Chico and Butte Community College where she taught Art History, Art Appreciation, and Arts Education. She received her M.A. in Art History from the University of California, Davis.
Before entering the academic field, Spangler consulted with arts organizations and public agencies throughout California to plan and develop arts facilities. Clients included the City of Long Beach, the City of Santa Monica, the San Francisco Arts Commission, BRAVA! For Women in the Arts, The S.F. Mexican Museum, and Shipyard Trust for the Arts at Hunters Point Shipyard in San Francisco.
Jessica Henderson is attending Chico State as a Sociology Major with a double minor in Health Promotion and Public Administration. She is excited to start interning with the Inspire Foundation and add it to her growing list of community engagement adventures she is involved with here in Chico. Jessica has experience volunteering with young children at the Esplanade House through Chico State’s CAVE program. This experience helped her realize the importance of community service and how rewarding it can be to work with children and young adults. She is thrilled to start working with the people at Inspire, utilizing her love of community service, giving back to the people of Chico and learning new skills that she will be able to exercise in her social services career after graduation.
Joanna C. Dunlap MBA PhD
Joni is Professor of Learning Design and Technology (LDT) in the School of Education and Human Development (SEHD) and Senior Faculty Fellow for the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CELT) at the University of Colorado Denver. She has a PhD in Educational Leadership and Innovation from the University of Colorado. An award-winning educator, her teaching and research interests focus on the use of sociocultural approaches to enhance students’ learning and experience; online and blended teaching and learning; critical digital pedagogy; and faculty development and professional learning. She has two children currently at Inspire: GG (senior) and Raeghan (freshman) Gibson.
Julie is proud to be an Inspire parent and live in a community that embraces a high school built on risk taking, bold thinking and dedication to its students. Julie is a retired elementary school teacher, advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, writer, gardener, and parent of three adult children. She and her husband find themselves on the brink of retirement...again and again. Julie is so happy to be a part of this group of people focused on creating and maintaining a meaningful and nurturing environment for young people to thrive.
Kam BullInspire School Board Member
Kate McCarthy, PhD, is Dean of Undergraduate Education at California State University, Chico, where she has worked for over 25 years. In her current position she oversees General Education, the First-Year Experience program, the Honors program, the Office of Civic Engagement, and the Chico Student Success Center. She also leads campus-wide initiatives aimed at improving retention and graduation rates for all students and closing equity gaps faced by students from historically underserved groups. With a Chico State colleague she was recently awarded a $3 million Department of Education grant to support Hispanic and low income students’ preparation for, access to, and success in post-baccalaureate degree and credential programs.
Prior to assuming her current position in 2017, Dr. McCarthy served as Professor and Chair of the Department of Comparative Religion and Humanities. Her research focuses on interreligious relations and she is a leader in the emerging academic field of Interreligious Studies. In addition to numerous journal articles and book chapters, she is the author of Interfaith Encounters in America (Rutgers University Press, 2007) and co-editor of God in the Details: American Religion in Popular Culture (Routledge, 2001, 2010). She also co-directed a $100,000 National Endowment for the Humanities grant to develop the California Pluralism Project, a digital resource on religious diversity in California.
An award-winning teacher, Dr. McCarthy served as Interim Director of Faculty Development at Chico State from 2014-2015, where she created multiple programs to support faculty in implementing research-driven innovations in teaching.
Dr. McCarthy is active in her community through regular service at the Torres Community Shelter and in facilitating community programs that foster political depolarization. She has served on the Inspire Board of Directors since 2016 and is the proud parent of two Inspire graduates.
Kelli Van Pelt Jurgenson
Kelli began her Van Pelt Construction Services career while still in high school, when she spent vacations in the main office learning the ropes from her father and uncle. After college, she returned to the firm full-time as a project engineer. Her natural instincts for the business helped her rise in the ranks first to project manager, then senior project manager. As a regional vice president, Kelli oversees multiple project teams throughout California. In addition, she leads VPCS’s marketing efforts and is integral to its strategic business development operations. Kelli is the Construction Manager/Owner's Rep on the new campus project.
Kelly has twenty-two years of broad leadership experience, managing teams up to 100 people and annual budgets up to $45M. Managed through times of rapid environmental growth, mergers of major banks, reorganizations and downsizing. The last ten years she has led a fraud risk management strategy team remotely from Chico, California with team members across the US.
Kelly's strengths are developing a strategic perspective, driving for results, communication and collaboration/teamwork. She has used her skills in various officer positions of Parent Teacher Associations on and off for the last eight years. She has also acted as a local coordinator for exchange students because she believes exchange programs make the world a better place.
Kelly and her husband David raised three daughters in Chico who all graduated from Inspire. They also hosted five exchange students who attended Inspire. Inspire profoundly impacted all of them in a positive way. They were all engaged in not only their college prep course work but also by their multiple electives and after school activities including leadership, science, music, theater, art and dance. They took a trip to the South to learn about the Civil Rights movement and participated in after school sports. They are all currently thriving in colleges. Kelly is motivated to support the school so that future students will have the same inspiring experiences.
Kylie Lindquist is attending Chico State with a major in Business Administration Marketing. Her passion for serving the community through volunteering and involvement on campus is the main reason as to why she was interested in this internship. "Learning more about the city of Chico and all it has to offer has been a privilege and I'm hopeful for whats to come for the Inspire School of Arts and Sciences!"
Leta Stock is currently majoring in Event Management and minoring in Spanish at Chico State. She is involved in the community through various volunteering efforts as well as through Adventure Outings, where she is an Assistant Leader. Leta has had practice with planning events through community outreach, and hopes to one day plan inclusive events that make the arts more accessible to all. She is excited to have the opportunity to work with Inspire as an intern and looks forward to the upcoming virtual events season!
Olivia Calvin is currently a Junior at Chico State majoring in Business with a focus in Human Resources. She grew up in Chico and has always loved her hometown. With a large interest in widening her experience in how organizations work, the opportunity for an internship with Inspire seemed like the perfect fit for her. Olivia’s involvement in past community events, the urge to help her community and the love she has for her community are all huge factors in why she can’t wait to see how Inspire continues to grow.
Pat Kemeny Macias is currently the Executive Director of the Museum of Northern California Art (monca). Her days are filled with details and more details concerned with operating Chico’s first art museum. Pat says, "Sometimes the “work” happens before I get out of bed . . . contemplating the unknown!"
Pat and her husband, Richard, moved to Chico from the Bay Area due to retirement and finding a less stressful but still cultural place to plant their roots for the final time. Pat was raised in Michigan, received her Bachelor’s degree in Art Education and a Master’s degree in Printmaking from Eastern Michigan University. For eighteen years, she taught art in the Ann Arbor public schools and was the Director of one of the Summer Art Fairs for seven years. Next, she moved to St. Louis, MO to become the Education Director at Laumeier Sculpture Park before returning to teaching. "A move to San Francisco led me to teaching once again this time at Piedmont High School for thirteen years, retiring in 2006 before the move to Chico."
Rachael Badgley is currently a senior at Chico State majoring in Business with a focus in marketing. She grew up in Roseville, but loves living and going to school in Chico just as much. She has previously been involved in the community through school programs and volunteering at Butte Humane Society. She hopes to gain more marketing experience with opportunity to intern with Inspire and is looking forward to getting involved and being a part of the team.
Ron Pope was employed as an instructor by the Chico Unified School District (CUSD) at Chico Senior High School and for The Inspire School of Arts and Sciences for 34 years. For the first nineteen of those years he taught electronic technology and electronic systems analysis and repair. In 1999 Ron authored Chico High’s first California Partnership Academy grant application and began to work with teachers across the curriculum, implementing the school-within-a-school program–The Academy of Communications and Technology (ACT). In the ACT program Ron taught, along with electronic classes, video and audio production, animation, and a leadership class which produced performances that targeted themes such as anti-bullying and appreciation of individuality, which his students shared with elementary students throughout California. Ron also taught Radio/TV systems classes for Butte County Regional Occupational Programs and Radio Frequency (RF) systems classes at Butte Community College. During his teaching career at Chico High, Ron served as advisor for the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America (now known as Skills USA) where he advised more than 400 regional, 75 state, and 13 national VICA Skill Olympics medalists in both technical and leadership areas and was recognized as the California VICA State Gold Medal Advisor of the year.
In 1991, Ron created one of CUSD’s first elementary school computer learning labs at Parkview Elementary School, which was dedicated in his name by the district in 1993.
Ron served as a member of the State-Wide Vocational Education Steering Committee, the California Council of Electronic Instructors (CCEI), the State Model Grants Screening Committee, and the CUSD Long Range Planning, and High Schools of the Future committees. Over the years Ron authored the CUSD Carl Perkins Vocational Educational Plan, a successful State Consortium School Site Visitation Team grant application and it’s reauthorization, successful California Partnership Academy grant applications for the ACT program and Stage Academy (a drama and music performance-based academy program), the CUSD Revised Vocational Education Plan, and successful West Ed Portfolio Development and 1D Arts, Media and Entertainment Facilities grants. He also co-authored the State Curriculum Guide in Electronics, a School Improvement Program Quality Review application, and Inspire’s initial Charter School Grant application.
Ron was recognized as a Chico Sr. High Outstanding Staff Member, and his electronics program was awarded two CDE Vocational Education Model Site Grants, voted Outstanding County Vocational Training Program, and nominated for the Governor's award for Outstanding Programs. He was personally presented with the Chico Chapter Rotary Teacher of the Year and the CUSD Hall of Fame Teacher of the Year awards. Ron’s academy program was identified as an exemplary cross-curricular educational program by the California State Department of Education (CDE).
Ron is also proud to have served as a state consultant for the California Department of Education, working with schools in the L.A. area, designing programs integrating academic and career/technical courses.
For the last three years Ron has volunteered in the classroom, assisting with instruction in Audio Recording Technology and Pop Band Performance courses.
Sam Gronseth recently retired after 37 years teaching all levels of vocal, instrumental, and classroom music in Paradise, California. He is Past President of The California Music Educators Association (CMEA), leading California’s 5000 music teachers toward excellence. In addition, he directs a church choir, Paradise Community Chorus and a youth string ensemble.
Sam began his university work as a business major, but later changed that major to music education. In addition to his teaching success he has served on the Executive Board of California Music Educators Association, The California Alliance for Arts Education, and on the Presidents’ Council of the National Association for Music Education. He has also served as a member of several non-profit boards and as an advisor for special projects. Over the past years, instrumental and vocal performance groups under his direction have consistently received superior ratings at regional festivals, the highest award given. Sam has been recognized on a statewide basis with the CMEA Outstanding Service Award and The California Outstanding Music Educator Award. Groups under his direction have performed for schools from the Pacific Northwest to Hawaii for venues such as Disneyland, the San Francisco Giants, and the 75th Commemoration of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Following the devastating fires in his hometown of Paradise, California, Sam spearheaded a project to combine local choirs together to celebrate and heal the community. The Butte Strong Choir performed for impacted schools, as well as the closing ceremonies for the NAMM Show in Anaheim, a convention with 117,000 in attendance. He is a mentor teacher for the California Music Educators Association, and presents educational clinics at local, state, and national music education conferences.
As a vocalist and conductor, Sam has performed and directed concerts with groups such as Continental Singers, and as a guest performer with the Oak Ridge Boys and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. His travels with music groups have taken him to 16 countries including Japan, Singapore, Poland and China. Sam received his Bachelors’ Degree in Music Education from Central Washington University in Washington State, and has received postgraduate degrees or certifications at CSU, Chico, University of Phoenix, and CSU, Fullerton.