Friday, November 26, 2021
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Think Together Names Three New Executive General Managers to Lead Regional Afterschool Programs Serving 200,000 Students Statewide


New executive leadership appointed amid transformational growth in expanded learning and afterschool

Think Together, California’s leading nonprofit provider of school improvement, expanded learning and afterschool programs, today announced the appointment of three new executive general managers to its top leadership ranks: Adriana Garcia-Kingston, M. Ed.; Johanna Lizarraga; and Stacy Galdamez.

The announcement comes as Think Together prepares for a transformational moment in education. Bolstered by increases in state and federal funding, the expanded learning provider has hired 515 program staff to its team this fall and is projected to hire nearly 800 more program staffers this school year in support of the need for increased access to afterschool and early learning programs.

“As Think Together continues to experience tremendous growth in the expanded learning space, we needed the building blocks for success. That began with creating the role of executive general manager and promoting these accomplished professionals to these roles,” said Think Together Founder and CEO Randy Barth. “Each of them have an established track record of success fostering meaningful relationships with our district partners and are exceptionally well-suited to work within our communities to increase access to more students in need of afterschool learning programs.”

Executive General Manager Adriana Garcia-Kingston, M. Ed. will oversee Think Together’s Riverside, Orange County and Early Learning programs, which currently reach 9,228 students in 16 school districts and one charter management organization. Garcia-Kingston has been with the organization since 2006 and has more than 20 years of education experience, both as a classroom teacher and leader within Think Together.

Executive General Manager Johanna Lizarraga will head the organization’s operations in San Bernardino, Palm Springs and the Santa Fe Springs regions serving an estimated 12,254 students across 14 school districts. Lizarraga has worked with Think Together since 2008, effectively leading and implementing expanded learning programs across multiple school districts for the last 13 years of her career.

Executive General Manager Stacy Galdamez will lead the Southeast Los Angeles, LA Metro, San Gabriel Valley and Bay Area regions, serving up to 16,564 students across 11 school districts and 24 charter management organizations. Galdamez has been working in expanded learning programs for the past 16 years and effectively led both the San Gabriel Valley and Bay Area regions. Stacy joined Think Together in 2011 as a Site Coordinator for Santa Ana Unified in the OC Region.

Following the appointment of Adriana Garcia-Kingston, M. Ed., Johanna Lizarraga and Stacy Galdamez to the position of executive general managers, Think Together also promoted Harlyn Santos, Rhonda Scott, and Samira Mejia to serve as general manager of the organization’s Riverside, San Bernardino and San Gabriel Valley regions respectively.

“We stand at a time when we have the opportunity to truly change the way students access education in our state and these leaders are prepared to lead our regional teams through this transformation,” said Deputy Chief of Innovations and Partnerships Tommy Brewer II. “Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELO) Grants creates the ability to reach more of the 2 million students at risk of not reaching their academic potential and this investment allows our organization to step in and meet this moment.”

In March 2021, Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state legislature funded $6.6 billion to help school districts recover from the pandemic’s impact. This included $2 billion for In-Person Instruction (IPI) Grants and $4.6 billion for Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELO) Grants to assist districts with the safe reopening of schools and student learning recovery programs aimed at mitigating learning loss.

Generally funded through After School Education and Safety (ASES) program and federally funded 21st Century Community Learning Centers, these programs initially faced budget cuts amid the pandemic. Organizations like Think Together rely on public grants as well as private philanthropy to bring high-quality education programs to K-8 students.

California has the largest system of publicly-backed expanded learning in the nation. Think Together, along with its affiliate, Orenda Education, operates early learning, afterschool and school improvement programs across 46 school districts and 24 charters throughout California serving nearly 200,000 students annually.

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Inland Empire Business Journal
The Inland Empire Business Journal (IEBJ) is the official business news publication of Southern California’s Inland Empire region - covering San Bernardino & Riverside Counties.