AVID’s mission is to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success in a global society.

Advancement Via Individual Determination

Board of Directors


Mary Catherine Swanson, AVID Founder


Mary Catherine SwansonMary Catherine Swanson taught high school English for 20 years. During that time she was instrumental in developing numerous award-winning language arts programs. In 1980 she developed AVID, a secondary school program which prepares underachieving students for four-year college entry. Today 95 percent of AVID graduates enroll in college. Mary Catherine created the AVID Center in 1992 to support the in-school system.

Among the awards and recognition Mary Catherine has received are the A+ Award for Reaching the Goals of America 2000 from the U.S. Department of Education; the EXCEL Award for Excellence in Teaching; the Salute to Excellence from the American Association for Higher Education; the Headliner of the Year from the San Diego Press Club; Cable's Leaders in Learning Award for General Excellence, a recognition of her innovative leadership; University of San Diego Remarkable Leader in Education; and University of California Outstanding Alumnus.

CNN/Time Magazine named her America's Best Teacher in 2001, and she was one of three 2001 recipients of the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education. She is listed in Who's Who in America, and has been the commencement speaker at numerous universities, earning three honorary doctorates.

Swanson is the only public school teacher ever to have won the $50,000 award for Pioneering Achievement in Education from the Charles A. Dana Foundation in New York. In presenting that award, the Foundation cited her for "heeding the teacher's calling at the highest level of professional dedication in developing AVID, an imaginative restructuring of the school day that has given thousands of students the skills, support, and guidance that they need to fulfill their potential - far too tragically overlooked - to prepare for a college education."

Swanson's contribution to American education has also been recognized by Washington Post columnist Jay Mathews, who wrote, "I don't know any single person in the country who has done more for our school children than AVID founder Mary Catherine Swanson."

In 2006, Mary Catherine retired as CEO, though she remains on the board of directors. In recognition of her retirement, the board of directors established a perpetual Founder's Scholarship to be given to one AVID student each year. The $50,000 scholarship may be used by the honored student for college expenses.

She is married and the mother of Tom Swanson, a graduate of Stanford University and a history teacher at Del Norte High School in San Diego, CA. Tom's decision to enter teaching is Mary Catherine's proudest moment.

Dr. Stephen Weber, Board Chair


Dr. Stephen L. WeberDr. Stephen L. Weber, President Emeritus of San Diego State University, provided dynamic leadership to an institution that ranks among the largest in the nation. Educated as a philosopher, President Weber began his tenure at SDSU in July 1996. Shortly thereafter he initiated a broad-based dialogue intended to set the course for the university's future. That “Shared Vision” moved SDSU boldly forward: reinforcing academic excellence, nurturing students, honoring diversity and social justice, carefully stewarding resources, and further developing global programs.

A champion of community involvement as well as academic excellence, Dr. Weber was an advocate for community service. Leading by example, he is a past chair of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Board of Directors; and he co-chaired Partners for K-12 School Reform. Dr. Weber spearheaded nationally acclaimed programs with Price Charities to create the City Heights Collaborative, a comprehensive K-12 public education program serving students in the economically low income and culturally diverse community of City Heights. SDSU also partnered with the Sweetwater Unified High School District to provide a clear pathway to higher education, increasing its students' college-going rate by 120 percent over 10 years.

Dr. Weber served on the Board of Governors of The Peres Center for Peace and served on the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC). He was also a board member of Biocom, San Diego's regional life science association. Weber was a member of the Community Advisory Council for San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E). He is a member of the San Diego Rotary Club, an honorary director of the Japan Society of San Diego and Tijuana, and an honorary advisor to the Asia Desk of the San Diego World Trade Center.

Dr. Weber served on the NCAA Board of Directors and is a former member of the NCAA Executive Committee. In addition, he served on the Presidential Oversight Committee for the Bowl Championship Series. Prior to his tenure at San Diego State University, Dr. Weber served as Interim Provost of the State University of New York (SUNY); he previously served seven years as President of the SUNY Oswego campus. Prior to that, he was Vice President of Academic Affairs at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, Dean of Arts and Sciences at Fairfield University in Connecticut, and Assistant to the President of the University of Maine. While a faculty member at the University of Maine, he was recognized as the outstanding professor in humanities.

Dr. Weber's many awards include an honorary degree from Beijing Capital Normal University and distinguished alumnus at his alma mater, Bowling Green State University. In 1997, the San Diego Mediation Center honored him with its Peacemaker Award. In 1999, Dr. Weber received the Executive Director's Award from the San Diego Education Association and the Gold Key Award from the San Diego Hospitality Association. He was recognized as a Leader of Vision by the League of Women Voters of San Diego in 2000. In 2008, he received the Diogenes Award from the Public Relations Society of America, recognizing his honesty and forthrightness. In 2009, Dr. Weber was honored with the American Lung Association Clear Skies Award for SDSU's cooperation with the Metropolitan Transportation Service's SDSU trolley center. In 2010, the Copley Family YMCA's 28th Annual Civic Tribute honored him for his service, devotion, and contributions to the San Diego Mid-City community. In 2011, Dr. Weber was honored by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and presented with its 2010 Regional Unity Award for his community service and civic engagement. Born in Boston, Dr. Weber is a graduate of Bowling Green State University with a B.A. in philosophy. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame in 1969 and is the author of numerous articles on philosophy and higher education.

Clarence Fields, Secretary


Clarence FieldsAs a graduate of the first AVID class, Mr. Fields has first-hand knowledge of how AVID can provide students with skills, resources and access to higher education. He has given numerous AVID presentations to school districts and students throughout California. As a member of the AVID Center Board of Directors, Clarence serves as a role model for students participating in AVID as well as a spokesperson where he assists the organization in recruiting new schools who want to adopt the AVID system.

Mr. Fields began his career with Xerox Corporation in 1988 in the Salt Lake City, Utah, district as a Marketing Representative. He later transferred to his hometown of San Diego, California, where he held roles within Xerox managing sales for State and Local and Educational customers in addition to some of Xerox’ largest clients in Western Region. In his twenty-five years with Xerox, Clarence received several honors such as numerous "President's Clubs" and "Western Region Top Performer." Mr. Fields currently holds a similar role with Kyocera Document Solutions of Southern California where he is responsible increasing Kyocera’s presence with State and Local clients in Southern California.

Mr. Fields has been involved in many community activities such as the "Student Shadowing Program" where students spend a day with various professionals and learn about their jobs. He also participated in the "Kearney High School Mentoring Program" where it was his responsibility to coach and teach African-American students the importance of goal setting and preparing for college.

Born in San Diego, California, Mr. Fields earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Utah where he obtained his Bachelor's Degree in Family and Consumer Studies. In addition to Mr. Fields’ business and civic involvement he enjoys participating in outdoor recreational activities with sons Jordan, Jalen and Jayden.

Matt Gianneschi, Vice Chair


Dr. Gianneschi is the Chief Operating Officer and Chief of Staff at Colorado Mountain College, a comprehensive, multi-campus community college in Colorado’s central Rocky Mountain region. Prior to joining CMC, Dr. Gianneschi served as Vice President of Policy and Programs at the Education Commission of the States, a national, non-partisan education policy non-profit, work that was informed by his time as a senior officer in state government. Gianneschi was the Deputy Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education from 2011 to 2013, Senior Education Advisor to Governor Bill Ritter from 2007 to 2009, and Chief Academic Officer for the Colorado Department of Higher Education from 2004-2007. In between his work at the state level, Gianneschi was the Vice President of Student Services at the Community College of Aurora, a large, urban community college in the Denver metro region.

Most of Gianneschi’s early career was spent in student access and support services. He was an Admission Officer for the University of Denver and the University of Puget Sound, as well as the Director of Operations for the Daniels College Prep and Scholarship Program in the Daniels Fund, the Rocky Mountain region’s largest college access and scholarship program. Gianneschi has led numerous innovation initiatives funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Lumina Foundation, Ford Foundation, U.S. Department of Education, and Intel.

Gianneschi is an alumnus of the Denver Public Schools and received Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from the University of Denver and a Doctor of Philosophy from the Center for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Arizona. Dr. Gianneschi has served as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Denver and the Community College of Aurora and has served on graduate committees at Colorado State University, Regis University, and the University of Colorado. Gianneschi has served in advisory roles for the Denver Scholarship Foundation, the Aspen Community Foundation, and the Colorado Northwest Council of Governments. In 2011, Gianneschi was awarded a Marshall Memorial Fellowship from the German Marshall Fund of the United States.  

Dave Gordon


Dave GordonDavid W. Gordon serves as Superintendent of the Sacramento (CA) County Office of Education. The County office directly serves more than 30,000 students and provides financial oversight and support services to more than 235,000 students in thirteen school districts. He was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Education to serve (2003-2011) on the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), which oversees the National Assessment of Educational Progress (the "Nation's Report Card"). Mr. Gordon currently serves as Chair of NAGB's Reporting and Dissemination Committee. From 2001-2003 Mr. Gordon served on the President's Commission on Excellence in Special Education.

Mr. Gordon was appointed in 2005 by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to the Governor's Advisory Committee on Education Excellence. He has served as an Associate in Education at Harvard University, a visiting scholar at Stanford University, and a visiting professor at the University of California, Riverside. He has served on numerous boards and commissions, including the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and the California Curriculum Development Commission. He has presented at the White House, has been a panelist on the U. S. Department of Education's cable television show, has testified before the U.S. Congress and state legislatures in California and around the nation, and is a frequent speaker at major conferences.

From 1995-2004, Mr. Gordon served as Superintendent of the Elk Grove Unified School District. Elk Grove is an ethnically and economically diverse district of 62,000 students covering 320 square miles of Sacramento County, California. Mr. Gordon was responsible for 55 schools and budgets totaling $500 million. One of the fastest growing districts in the nation, Elk Grove grew from 29,000 to 59,000 students during Mr. Gordon's tenure. From 1991 to 1995, Mr. Gordon served as Elk Grove's Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education. Prior to coming to Elk Grove, Mr. Gordon worked for 17 years in the California State Department of Education. Mr. Gordon began his career as an elementary school teacher in 1968 in the South Bronx, New York.

Among his achievements, Mr. Gordon was named 2002 Elk Grove Citizen Newsmaker and Man of the Year. In 2007 he was named the California Preschool Champion for Outstanding Educational Leadership by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. He has also been an active volunteer in the Sacramento area serving as a board member of the Jewish Foundation of Northern California, the Elk Grove Rotary Club, the YMCA and the Capital Unity Council. He currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Sierra Health Foundation.

Mr. Gordon earned a B.A. degree from Brandeis University and an Ed.M. and Certificate of Advanced Study (C.A.S.) in Educational Administration from Harvard University. He and his wife Deborah, a novelist, have two children and six grandchildren.

Dr. Sandy Husk, Chief Executive Officer


Dr. Sandy HuskDr. Sandy Husk joined AVID Center as Chief Executive Officer in January 2014, bringing more than 17 years of experience implementing AVID in the three districts where she has served as superintendent, most recently in Salem-Keizer, Oregon, the second largest district in that state. As CEO, Sandy is responsible for implementing AVID’s strategic imperatives, which include furthering its mission of closing the achievement gap and preparing all students for college, accelerating the scalability of AVID as a schoolwide and districtwide system, developing student-centric technologies to enhance and sustain the student experience in AVID, and determining how AVID can best serve urban districts.

As superintendent of Salem-Keizer Public Schools in Oregon, her leadership resulted in the implementation of a districtwide strategic plan with an accountability system for all schools and departments. In addition, she worked closely with the school board to adopt a policy governance system that allows a laser-like focus on student achievement. Under Sandy’s leadership, the Salem-Keizer School District experienced consistent gains in student academic achievement. 

Prior to Salem-Keizer Public Schools, Sandy served five years as the director of schools for the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System in Clarksville, Tennessee. In addition, she previously served as superintendent for Mapleton Public Schools in Colorado. She also served as the executive director of Learning Services in Westminster, Colorado; principal of an elementary and alternative middle school; staff development coordinator; elementary school counselor; and teacher.

Sandy earned her Ph.D. in Administration, Curriculum & Supervision from the University of Colorado, Denver; her M.A. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of Colorado, Boulder; and her B.S. in Elementary Education from the University of Georgia, Athens.

Nori Juba


Nori Juba, a private investor, business consultant, and education advocate, is currently co-chair of the Bend La Pine School District in Bend, OR, which serves over 17,000 students. Nori is also strategic advisor to Carver Scientific Inc., which is developing technology to transform energy storage.

Mr. Juba was formerly the chief executive officer of a leading global consumer lighting company that he sold to a private equity firm in 1999. Since then, he has been involved in local start-up companies as an investor and advisor. He co-founded the Bend Venture Conference, which has become the leading conference in Oregon for angel investors. Nori started his business career as a management consultant with The Boston Consulting Group in New York.

Nori has advocated at the state level for higher student achievement through work on the Chalkboard Advisory Committee, Oregon School Board Association board of directors, and as a Governor appointee to the Oregon Education Investment Team, Higher Education Coordinating Commission and the Accelerated Learning Committee.

A native of New York, he graduated from Stanford University with a B.A with distinction in Economics and a M.A. in International Policy Studies. He has two sons and enjoys travel, food, kayaking, college sports, and reading.reading.

Sue Levin


Sue LevinSue Levin is Chief Marketing Officer at Bolt Threads, Inc. She is also Chair of the Oregon Advisory Board at Stand for Children in Portland, OR, where she served as Executive Director from 2010-2014. There, she successfully guided the organization's grassroots and political strategies, fundraising, and organizational management; achieved significant policy victories; and led the organization to unprecedented statewide impact.

Prior to joining Stand for Children, Sue was a director at Playworks, an organization that promotes physical activity to improve the learning environment in public schools.

Sue was a management consultant, working with investors and early stage consumer companies on business strategy, sales and marketing, brand and product development, merchandising, financing and organizational development. Her clients included numerous venture capital and private equity firms, as well as numerous early stage businesses across multiple consumer segments with a focus on active and healthy lifestyle.

She was the founder and CEO of Lucy Activewear, a women’s activewear retailer that survived the dot-com crash and transitioned to 15 bricks-and-mortar retail stores. Sue received her Bachelor of Arts in History from Swarthmore College.

Dr. Monte Moses


Dr. Monte Moses is an educational consultant and speaker. Prior to starting his private consulting firm, Dr. Moses was the Superintendent of the Cherry Creek School District in Colorado. He also served as a school administrator in Littleton, Colorado; Garland, Texas; and Casper, Wyoming, and he was a professor of education at Murray State University in Kentucky.

Dr. Moses is the author of two books, and his articles on subjects pertaining to leadership and organizational improvement have appeared in numerous journals. His recent articles have been influential in shaping the debate about NCLB and high school reform. He has served on numerous panels and commissions at the state, national, and international level. Some of them include the Colorado Race to the Top committee, the AVID Center Board of Directors, ASCD advisory board on the whole child, Colorado P-20 Council, the Western States Benchmarking Consortium, advisory boards for ACT and the College Board, and consultant to the East Asia Regional Council of Schools.

Dr. Moses has received numerous awards, including the Governor's Award for Educational Excellence, Administrator of the Year from the Association of Office Professionals, and AASA National Superintendent of the Year in 2005. He comes from a family of educators. His wife, Kathy, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Northern Colorado. Dr. Moses’ brother Mike served as Texas Commissioner of Education and Superintendent of several Texas districts, and their father Morgan was a prominent school leader in Texas for many years. They have many spirited conversations about education when they are not discussing football or golf. Dr. Moses and Kathy have a daughter, Megan, who is attending college.

Dr. Moses earned an undergraduate and master's degree from Stephen F. Austin University, and a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University where he was recognized as a Peabody Scholar. Dr. Moses is committed to the profession, and enjoys working with diverse groups to improve our system of public education. When he is not busy working on education and civic projects, he enjoys fly-fishing, skiing, and playing golf.

Dr. Eric J. Smith


Dr. Eric J. SmithDr. Eric J. Smith, a reform-minded education leader, made significant changes as Florida’s Commissioner of Education, passing legislation that focused on retaining high-quality teachers, high school grading formulas to better prepare students for college and careers, and new graduation requirements. His commitment to high standards for all students aligns directly with AVID’s mission to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success in a global society.

Dr. Smith was previously the Florida Education Commissioner and currently serves as an adviser to the George W. Bush Institute’s Advancing Accountability program, as well as the AVID Center Board of Directors.

Dr. Smith is a graduate of Colorado State University, received a master’s degree from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, and obtained his doctorate from the University of Florida in Gainesville. He began his career in Florida as a classroom teacher, advancing to several administrative positions in Florida school districts and eventually serving 16 years as a superintendent in Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland. Dr. Smith also served as Senior Vice President for College Readiness at the College Board and is a member emeritus of Chiefs for Change.

Directors Emeritus

Edward S. George
President, Torrey Pines Bank, Retired

Senator Gary Hart
Founder, Institute for Education Reform, California State University

Gerald Hayward
Director, PACE, Retired

H. William Kuni
Private Investor, HWK Investments

Ann Navarra
Owner/Controller, Jerome's Furniture

Ron Ottinger
Executive Director, Noyce Foundation

Thomas A. Page
Chairman, Sempra Corporation, Retired

Drew Schlosberg
Manager of Community Relations & Public Relations, San Diego Union Tribune

Rod Tompkins
Management Consultant

Rene Townsend
Executive Director, Urban Education Dialog and Public School Services

Uri Treisman
Professor of Mathematics, Charles A. Dana Center, University of Texas, Austin