Amber Raskin President
Amber Raskin is a veteran charter school founder and accomplished television producer with expertise in school governance and business management. Amber has worked tirelessly for the past several years to launch Santa Clarita Valley International (SCVi) Charter School. The idea for the school began when Amber, who had moved to the Santa Clarita Valley for its outstanding neighborhood schools, quickly became disillusioned when she realized that her local school with its high test scores and stellar reputation was not a good match for her sensitive and creative daughter. Amber's son, a naturally structured little boy who prided himself on following rules, caused her to worry that a traditional educational model might promote too many rigid behaviors and not help him explore enough of his own thoughts and ideas as he followed a well-defined and entrenched path of learning. Seeking alternative educational options, Amber soon learned Santa Clarita Valley schools, including private institutions, focused on traditional models that did not respond to the instructional needs of her children. Amber began touring the state looking for alternative educational models that fostered learning beyond multiple-choice tests and a one-size fits-all approach to learning. Over the course of her search, Amber found exciting educational innovations that focused on providing youth with the necessary skills for achieving 21st century demands. Amber also learned that while it would have been more financially prudent to establish a private school, her interest in educational reform and alternative educational models had become a newfound passion. Amber decided to create a charter school so that access to innovative educational instruction would be accessible to a wider range of students throughout the Santa Clarita Valley. Amber’s efforts quickly found its grassroots supporters among other Santa Clarita Valley residents, many of whom had been home schooling their children due to a lack of local educational options. Soon innovative educators became interested in Amber’s efforts and an email list turned into a founding group that launched SCVi. When the time came, Amber selected a board of directors who reflected the necessary leadership needed to establish facilities, a financial and business framework and individuals with educationally progressive expertise. When Amber is not taking care of her two school-aged children or working at SCVi where she currently oversees all operations, facilities and business development, among other things, she can usually be found working as a community activist. She founded a local chapter of another non-profit in an effort to protect children from gun violence. She has lobbied in both Sacramento and Washington for safety issues on behalf of our community. A graduate of Cal State University at Long Beach, she has traveled the world, usually with kids in tow, and has worked hard to bring an international perspective to her family. Amber first traveled though Europe after graduating from college with a degree in interior design, but the heart for doing something more. Inspired by Oprah Winfrey, a woman who has realized great success through making a difference, she went into television working as a producer to create hundreds of hours of network television. She was responsible for multimillion-dollar budgets, hiring staff, and the start-up of new companies, including work in payables, receivables, and a host of other management activities. She managed several different staffs of 100-plus, including some especially difficult talent relations. These experiences prepared her for the most difficult of all producing jobs: being a mom.
Vice President Greg Kimura graduated from the University of LaVerne’s (ULV) MBA program with high honors and was soon hired by the Department of Defense (DOD) in Ventura County, CA, as an electronics engineer and then promoted to electronics program engineer. His career has included experience in property management, entrepreneurship, consulting, property management, and investment. He is president of the Val Verde Civic Association (VVCA), Val Verde representative for the Castaic Area Town Council (CATC), and a member of the board of Directors for the Val Verde Community Benefits Funding Committee (CBFC).
John Vescovo Community Member
John’s professional career has included various roles in banking, public accounting, private bank consulting, and related bank regulatory management. John has held the positions of field team leader for the U.S. Treasury – OCC, director of internal audit for a large California regional bank, manager of bank consulting at one regional CPA firm and senior audit manager for another, president/CEO of a consulting business and West Coast assistant regional office director for a nationwide consulting firm. John is currently employed as the senior vice president and chief risk officer for Bank of Santa Clarita.
John earned a bachelor of science in business administration and accounting from California State University, Northridge. John is a certified internal auditor through the Institute of Internal Auditors and a former commissioned national bank examiner with the U.S. Treasury Department. John has authored several articles for banking periodicals and newsletters and has conducted officer-and-director-level training at various West Coast banking conferences and at his bank.
John has been active in Toastmasters for about 10 years and has achieved the designations of distinguished toastmaster, former district lieutenant governor, and chief contest judge for various speech contests. John is an active member in the Southern California Compliance Officer Roundtable and in the local chapters of various banking, auditing and risk management associations.
John has been happily married for 17 years, has three children, including his son who attends SCVi, and two grandchildren. He lives with his family in Castaic and is happy to be part of the local community including joining the school’s governing board.
Wendy Ruiz Parent Representative
Wendy Ruiz is the Infant/Toddler Director at
College of the Canyons Center for Early Childhood Education and an
instructor for the ECE department. Wendy has worked with children and
families for over 20 years in both the classroom setting as well as in
administration. Wendy sits on the board of the Southern California
Valley Association for the Education of Young Children as the Week of
the Young Child Chair and has coordinated the Week of the Young Child
Play Day for the past six years. Wendy received her B.A. in Child
Development from Cal State University Northridge and her M.S. in Child
Development/Child Life from the University of La Verne.
Marti Heinbaugh Member
Marti Heinbaugh has more than 40 years banking
experience starting her career with Union Bank and has been in her
current role over 6 years as the Regional Manager with Mission Valley
Bank. During her tenure with Mission Valley Bank she has been recognized
with Mission Valley Bank’s highest honor, The Spirit Award, an annual
award voted on by her peers acknowledging a single team member who best
models dedication, expertise and service excellence. Marti and her
husband, Marc moved to Castaic in 1995 and enjoy the company of their
friends, family, and their two black Labradors, Deiter and Mia.
Dawn Evenson Member
Dawn Evenson has over 25 years of experience in education. She has been a school administrator for over 10 years in both primary and secondary schools. As a teacher, Dawn used project-based learning in her classroom. She is passionate about doing whatever it takes to make a difference in the lives of children. She has successfully set up small learning communities with a focus on building relationships, which encourages students to make good choices.
While a student at Whitworth College in Spokane, Washington, Dawn earned a liberal arts degree with an emphasis on special needs students and English. She received her master’s in educational administration from California State University, Northridge. Dawn has been a curriculum resource teacher, a mentor teacher, and a BTSA program director.
Dawn is active in the Association of California School Administrators. She has held several positions on the Region XV Executive Board and currently serves as the Region XV president. She was awarded the 2006 Middle School Principal of the Year Award by ACSA Region XV.
Dawn is excited to be a part of the SCVi team, which is creating an innovative, engaging, and supportive learning environment. She resides in Lancaster, California, with her husband. Her three daughters are now in college. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Christine Kunishige Member, Teacher Representative Christine
is a founding SCVi facilitator and in her seventh year of teaching. She
loves SCVi and truly believes that being part of this fantastic
community has enriched her love for education, development as a leader,
and growth as an individual. Christine is passionate about creating
positive, trusting relationships with her students and individualizing
their education to help them experience success in all areas of life.
After graduating from Saugus High School, Christine enrolled in the
Integrated Teacher Education Program at CSUN. She graduated with a
bachelor's degree in liberal studies and a multiple-subject teaching
credential. Christine feels her experience was extremely worthwhile; she
learned about hands-on learning, diversity in the classroom, and
interdisciplinary projects. She enjoys positively influencing the
school's culture by sharing The 7 Habits with learners, staff, and
families throughout the SCVi community. She has received training in
Love and Logic, 7 Habits Certification, Understanding by Design, and
John Musella Member, Community Member
John Musella, APR, is a trusted communications
executive and media liaison who has been in public relations for 15
years. Working for high-profile organizations and Fortune 500 companies,
Musella has a proven track record in resolving complex business issues
and effectively positioning companies and executives. Musella has an
extensive communications background that includes public affairs, social
media, strategic issues development, corporate and crisis
communications, and media relations. As president of The Musella Group,
John brings to his clients a unique hands-on approach to public
relations and social media.
Musella cut his teeth in the PR
agency world as vice president of the Los Angeles office of MWW Group,
one of the nation’s top-ranked PR firms. Musella’s corporate
communications experience includes serving as director of public
relations for KB Home. His public affairs background includes positions
with two of California’s highest-profile real estate developments,
serving as director of communications/government & environmental
affairs for Newhall Land’s Valencia and Newhall Ranch developments as
well as corporate affairs manager for Playa Vista.
worked as press deputy for LA County Supervisor Don Knabe, where he was
the chief spokesperson to the media and primary speech writer. During
his time in the supervisor’s office, Musella was instrumental in helping
create LA County's first civic arts policy and in developing the
county’s safe surrender baby program.
Musella serves on the board
of directors of the Building Industry Association (BIA) LA/Ventura
Chapter and the Castaic Chamber of Commerce. He has served as vice
president of the Public Relations Society of America LA Chapter and on
the board of directors for the Los Angeles nonprofit PVJOBS.