Who We Are

Christopher Cabaldon's headshot

Christopher Cabaldon

Christopher Cabaldon's headshot

Christopher Cabaldon

Christopher Cabaldon works on transformative policy strategies at the local, regional, and statewide scales, with expertise across a wide range of topical areas in policy, governance, politics, economics, administration, and finance.

His professional career in education policy in California spans more than two decades. After coordinating legislative higher education policy development and analysis as Chief Consultant to the Assembly Higher Education Committee and then Chief of Staff to the Assembly Appropriations Committee chairwoman, Mr. Cabaldon served five years as Vice Chancellor of the California Community Colleges, with executive responsibility for policy, strategic initiatives, planning, technology, data systems, governmental advocacy and intersegmental relations, and public affairs.

He then transformed a small organization into one of the state’s most influential policy advocates for K-12 reform as President and Chief Executive Officer of EdVoice. 

Mr. Cabaldon is currently the President of the Linked Learning Alliance, program officer for the California Education Policy Fund, and co-director of the California Legislative Staff Education Institute.

The Governor appointed Mr. Cabaldon to represent California on the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education, where he is Chair of the Issues Analysis & Research Committee.

He has also served on the board for the Foundation for the California Community Colleges, and as a member of the systemwide Student Success Task Force convened by the California Community Colleges pursuant to Senate Bill 1143. He was director of the Blueprint for Community College Student Success project for the New America Foundation.

Mr. Cabaldon has taught courses in public policy and public finance at CSU Sacramento, and serves on the Board of Advisors for the School of Education at UC Davis. He is frequently called upon to help shape state education policy, serving as a gubernatorial and legislative appointee on a variety of blue ribbon panels. He also served on the campaign steering committee for the two most recent statewide education facilities bond propositions. He is a member of the advisory board for the Campaign for College Opportunity.

Since 1998, Mr. Cabaldon has been Mayor of West Sacramento, where his local and regional leadership on school facilities, effective governance, universal preschool, research-based reform, and workforce/education alignment have resulted in both scholarly recognition and improved student outcomes. One of the nation’s leading mayors on education policy and best practices, he is Chair of the Standing Committee on Jobs, Education & the Workforce for the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

His work on transportation, land use, air quality and climate change, housing, and economic development at the local, regional, and statewide scales has won numerous awards, and has become the model for effective regional collaborative action. He chaired the metropolitan planning organization and the region’s Partnership for Prosperity project, and serves on a variety of transportation and air quality agency boards. He was as a member of the Speaker’s Commission on Regionalism, state president for the National Brownfields Association, and then a director for the California Center for Regional Leadership. He has worked on state water and habitat issues for more than a decade on the state’s Delta Protection Commission, as well as the Regional Water Quality Control Board and as a key player shaping the state’s recent water and Delta package. He also served on the board of directors for the Great Valley Center.

Mr. Cabaldon served as a director for the League of California Cities, and was the founding co-chair of both the Asian Pacific and Gay/Lesbian caucuses. He served as president of Asian and Pacific Americans in Higher Education, founding chair of the Asian Pacific Youth Leadership Project, and president of the Asian Pacific Legislative Staff Caucus.

Mr. Cabaldon earned his B.S. in environmental economics from UC Berkeley, where he now serves on the alumni association board, and then a Master of Public Policy & Administration degree from CSU Sacramento, where he received the Distinguished Alumni Award.

Hilary McLean's headshot

Hilary McLean

Hilary McLean's headshot

Hilary McLean

Hilary McLean is a public affairs and communications expert with more than two decades of experience working in policy, politics, and public affairs. At Capitol Impact, LLC, McLean works on a variety of education policy projects, including serving as the executive vice president of the Learning Alliance.

Before joining Capitol Impact, McLean served as Communications Director for the California Department of Education and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell. McLean had previously served for five years as the Chief Deputy Press Secretary for Governor Gray Davis. In the Governor’s office and at the California Department of Education, McLean developed and managed communications strategy on a wide variety of political and public policy issues. Before serving in state government, McLean led earned media efforts on a number of successful political campaigns, including the 1998 election of Bill Lockyer as Attorney General and the defeat of Propositions 200, 201, and 202 in 1996. In 1994, McLean was selected as a California State Senate Fellow, serving on the staff of then-Senator Mike Thompson. Prior to her Senate Fellowship, McLean spent several years as a television news reporter and assignment editor.

Rick Miller's headshot

Rick Miller

Rick Miller's headshot

Rick Miller

Rick Miller has extensive experience in management, policy and communications on the federal, state and level. His work at Capitol Impact focuses on district improvement and large scale collaboration between educational organizations. He serves as the Executive Director of the CORE Districts which provides the connective tissue for a partnership between eight large California school districts representing over a million students.

Prior to joining Capitol Impact, Miller was the Deputy State Superintendent for P-16 Policy and Information Branch of the California Department of Education. In this position, Miller developed policy recommendations on promising ways to improve student achievement throughout California specifically focused on closing the state’s achievement gaps from Pre-K to Higher Education.

Previously Miller worked at Microsoft Corporation developing communications strategies on privacy, security, and overall corporate image. Miller also served as a strategic communications advisor to the Chancellor of the California State University System (CSU). Prior to working at CSU, Miller served the U.S. Department of Education in Washington D.C. as Press Secretary to Richard W. Riley, Secretary of Education in the Clinton Administration. Miller also spent time during those years periodically detailed to the White House Office of Advance where he traveled domestically and internationally on behalf of President Clinton.

Miller lives in Rocklin, California with his wife Julie, an elementary school speech therapist, and their two sons, Casey and Ryan.

Jay Schenirer's headshot

Jay Schenirer

Jay Schenirer's headshot

Jay Schenirer

Jay Schenirer has worked in a multitude of positions that provide him a unique and comprehensive view of the world. He has had experience in both the public and private sectors, as a legislative and state employee, operating his own businesses, working in the non-profit and philanthropic fields and as an elected official.

Mr. Schenirer is co-director of the California Legislative Staff Education Staff Institute, a program officer for the California Education Policy Fund, and leads a variety of Capitol Impact’s projects on education and children’s health.

After earning his Masters in Public Affairs at the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs, he came to Sacramento to work as a budget and policy analyst in the Office of the Legislative Analyst, focusing on general government and health issues. In two other stints as a legislative staffer he worked for the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Office of Research concentrating on health and youth issues. He was also appointed as an Assistant Secretary of Education for Development and Planning by former Governor Gray Davis. Mr. Schenirer left state government to develop a restaurant and catering business that, over 11 years, grew into a multimillion dollar operation with 5 facilities and up to 100 employees at a given time. Mr. Schenirer transitioned from the private sector into the non-profit world, first as Deputy Director of the Foundation Consortium for California’s Children and Youth and later as the General Manager of Sacramento Food Bank Services in one of Sacramento’s poorest neighborhoods. 

Mr. Schenirer was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Sacramento City Unified School District in 1996, serving as Board President for 3½ years and vice-president for 2 years, helping lead the district through an academic renaissance that resulted in SCUSD becoming known as a national model of school reform. He also led two bond campaigns that resulted in over $400 million to rebuild the physical infrastructure of the district. More recently, Mr. Schenirer was elected to the Sacramento City Council, representing 58,000 Sacramentans in 22 neighborhoods.

Over the past decade, Mr. Schenirer has helped build Capitol Impact into a well-respected consulting business working primarily in the non-profit and philanthropic arena. Mr. Schenirer serves on a number of boards and commissions important to the future of the community. Jay and his wife Bina have two sons, David and Noah.

Alex Taghavian's headshot

Alex Taghavian

Alex Taghavian's headshot

Alex Taghavian

Alex Taghavian, who joined Capitol Impact in 2013, has 15 years of education leadership and teaching experience, and has extensive expertise in economic and workforce development strategies. Prior to joining Capitol Impact, Taghavian served in academic management roles for public and private universities, including as an adjunct professor at Sacramento State teaching scholarly writing and research methodologies.

Taghavian serves on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Youth Employment Network and on the board of directors of the Los Rios Community College District Foundation. Taghavian is also 2nd Vice Chair of the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce board of directors.

At Capitol Impact, Taghavian leads strategy for college and career preparation initiatives. He is vice president of the Linked Learning Alliance, and manages design and implementation of technology solutions, workforce development programs, and philanthropic partnerships.

Taghavian holds a bachelor degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, a master degree from Sacramento State, and a doctor of education from Drexel University. He received the Leadership and Service Award from the School of Education at Drexel University and was selected as a winner in the Sacramento Business Journal 40 Under 40 award.

Sue Byrne's headshot

Sue Byrne

Sue Byrne's headshot

Sue Byrne

Sue Byrne serves as the Grants and Development Manager for Capitol Impact. Sue brings to the role several years’ experience in non-profit development, working for various charitable organizations and as a consultant supporting public and non-profit sector development, management and evaluation. She is committed to the pursuit of social justice and making a difference in people’s lives. Combining her professional skills and personal passions, she’s excited to put her experience to good use in executing the missions of the Linked Learning Alliance and CORE Districts. Out of work, Sue is a Board Member of the Tamarisk Coalition and pursues her favorite activities of cycling, wine and, having recently arrived in California from Scotland (via a couple of years in Colorado), exploring everything the state has to offer.

Olivia Capeloto's headshot

Olivia Capeloto

Olivia Capeloto's headshot

Olivia Capeloto

Olivia Capeloto is Capitol Impact’s Program Associate and Office Manager. Since joining in early 2013, Olivia has managed the day-to-operations of the firm as well as the content, events and logistics for numerous projects including the California Legislative Staff Education Institute (CLSEI), a training and development program for legislative staff. She grew up in rural California and from an early age dealt with the real and social consequences of growing up with a learning disability in a small community. These experiences fueled her passion for educational access and equity.

Olivia graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of California, Davis in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Community and Regional Development-double emphasis on Policy and Planning and Organizational Management.

Olivia commutes over 20,000 miles/year to be part of the Capitol Impact team. When she’s not commuting/working, she enjoys horseback riding, adventuring with her dog and home renovations.

Nikole Farler's headshot

Nikole Farler

Nikole Farler's headshot

Nikole Farler

Program Assistant

Nikole Farler serves as a Program Assistant for the California Legislative Staff Education Institute. A recent graduate from Gonzaga University, Nikole majored in Spanish and Political Science and previously worked as an intern for Sacramento City Councilman Jay Schenirer and for California State Senator Jim Nielsen. She also has experience as a mortgage analyst, reviewing loans for State and Federal compliance.

Through her time studying abroad, Nikole experienced first-hand the policies and structure of international government institutions. Since then Nikole’s passion for underserved populations has only grown, and her interest in community outreach programs has expanded to both the domestic and international communities.

In her spare time Nikole enjoys playing soccer and ultimate frisbee, travelling, and spending time with her family.

Anna Fontus's headshot

Anna Fontus

Anna Fontus's headshot

Anna Fontus

Anna Fontus started out as an intern with Capitol Impact where she had the opportunity to work with the project management and policy teams to help support the Linked Learning approach as its expansion in quality and scale accelerated. Before she knew it, she grew attached to the approach and became passionate about ensuring equal opportunities for success in college, career, and life for all high school students. She decided she did not want to leave anytime soon! Luckily, the Capitol Impact team agreed and now Anna serves as the Research, Data, and Policy Analyst. 

Anna is responsible for collecting and managing data sets related to Linked Learning students, practice, and progress. Her responsibilities include conducting research, tracking and monitoring legislation, analyzing policy proposals, and producing resources such as briefs, fact sheets and articles for a wide range of audiences. Prior to working for Capitol Impact, Anna received her Bachelor’s degree from Saint Mary’s College of California where she studied Politics, French, and Dance and completed an internship with the California State Assembly. 

In her spare time, Anna loves to stay active by running, dancing, and exploring new places by foot to balance out her extreme addiction to Nutella.

Sasha Horwitz's headshot

Sasha Horwitz

Sasha Horwitz's headshot

Sasha Horwitz

Sasha Horwitz manages day-to-day operations for the California Education Policy Fund (CEPF) and government relations for the Linked Learning Alliance. Prior to joining Capitol Impact, he worked in the California Legislature as an aide to Assemblymembers Alejo and Blumenfield. He has had a varied career in politics and public policy including work on several statewide ballot measure campaigns and a good-governance think tank. 

Sasha earned his Masters in Public Policy from UC Berkeley and BA in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Sasha is a vocal advocate for science education and serves on the California Alliance for the Next Generation Science Standards as well as on the Board of Directors of the American River College Foundation.

When he isn’t busy analyzing legislation and frantically refreshing Huffington Post, Sasha can be found trying to calm down his baby son, brewing beer, and complaining about the bad writing on TV crime shows.

Natalie Lenhart's headshot

Natalie Lenhart

Natalie Lenhart's headshot

Natalie Lenhart

Natalie Lenhart was born and raised in Sacramento. She grew up in River Park and attended Christian Brothers High School. After graduating, she traveled extensively throughout Europe and continued her education at UC Berkeley. Natalie graduated with honors from Berkeley with a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Politics. She has since started graduate school at the USC Price School of Public Policy where she is completing her Master’s degree in Public Administration.

Natalie serves as a Program Assistant for the Linked Learning Alliance. In this role, Natalie contributes to the Alliance’s work-based learning strategies through community outreach and employer engagement. She also offers platform support for the Alliance’s online tool LaunchPath and assists with marketing and communications.

In her off time, Natalie is an avid hiker, rock climber, and foodie.

April Manatt's headshot

April Manatt

April Manatt's headshot

April Manatt

After heading her own policy consulting firm for 15 years, April joined Capitol Impact to provide strategic guidance for nonpartisan legislative staff education and development programs in California and other states. Previously, she provided policy advice and analysis to the California State Legislature for nine years as a legislative assistant, committee consultant, and Chief Consultant to the Senate Local Government Committee. She wrote laws and shaped state policies relating to the powers, organization, and financing of California’s more than 4,000 local agencies, including property and sales tax allocation, joint power agreements, LAFCO reform, Los Angeles secession, Orange County’s bankruptcy, and Proposition 218 implementation.

April is the author of What’s So Special About Special Districts? and numerous other publications. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a master’s degree from the University of Southern California. In her spare time, April enjoys scary movies, jogging (at a pathetically slow pace), and being a roadie for the Prepartisan Jazz Quartet.

Sara Pietrowski's headshot

Sara Pietrowski

Sara Pietrowski's headshot

Sara Pietrowski

Director of Analytics

Sara Pietrowski serves as Director of Analytics for the Linked Learning Alliance. In this role she oversees the Linked Learning Alliance’s data tools including Linked Learning Analytics and Linked Learning Certification. She also staffs the Quality Standards Panel and the Research Panel. Prior to joining the Linked Learning Alliance, Sara served as a research and data analyst in Sacramento City Unified School District supporting a diverse set of SCUSD departments and initiatives such as the Equity Office, Linked Learning pathways, and the CORE District partnership.

Sara earned a Masters in Public Policy and a BA in Political Science from the University of Southern California. In her down time, you can find Sara honing her developing green thumb in her yard, ensuring her energetic dog Cheyenne gets plenty of exercise, or reading a great book.

Khrystan Policarpio's headshot

Khrystan Policarpio

Khrystan Policarpio's headshot

Khrystan Policarpio

Project Assistant

Khrystan Policarpio is the Project Assistant for the Linked Learning Alliance. She is responsible for coordinating Alliance governance and assists in planning Board and Council meetings. Prior to joining Capitol Impact, Khrystan served as a paralegal working on Non-Immigrant Visas and as a 2nd Grade Co-Teacher, teaching Science and Social Studies. In addition, she has interned with the Office of Senator Barbara Boxer and was the Federal Policy Intern for Council for a Strong America in Washington, D.C. She pursued her graduate studies in Education at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley.

When she’s not eye-ball deep in current events, she can be found looking for new boba places to try and planning her next travel adventure.

Kelly Reynolds's headshot

Kelly Reynolds

Kelly Reynolds's headshot

Kelly Reynolds

Kelly Reynolds leads employer engagement, postsecondary partnerships, and coalition-building for Capitol Impact. Reynolds serves as a key resource connector between education, community organizations, and businesses where she drives key policy and strategic priorities for scaling high-quality career pathways throughout the state.

Prior to the Linked Learning Alliance, Reynolds worked at the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce expanding college access and success via the L.A. Cash for College program, one of the largest financial aid education efforts in the region. In this capacity, Reynolds led major programmatic events and workshops that assisted local students with college-going and financial aid processes, serving 20,000 students and families each year. In 2015, L.A. Cash for College received recognition from the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

While in college, Reynolds participated in the UCDC program and interned at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. where she supported communication efforts and researched national education issues. Reynolds attended the University of California, San Diego and earned her bachelor’s degree in political science and history. Reynolds has lived in two countries and three states. In her free time, she enjoys practicing yoga, reading a good book, and daydreaming of the next trip she is planning.

Patricia Sanchez's headshot

Patricia Sanchez

Patricia Sanchez's headshot

Patricia Sanchez

Patricia Sanchez graduated from California State University, Sacramento earning her Bachelors of Science in Business as a dual major in General Management and Human Resources. Patricia holds several roles at Capitol Impact; she is Program Assistant for the California Legislative Staff Education Institute (CLSEI), Accounting Assistant to the Director of Finance and Office Assistant to the Office Manager.

Prior to working at Capitol Impact, she worked for the California Secretary of State as a Student Assistant for the Business Programs Division as well as the Elections Division. While in the Elections Division, she provided voter support for the 2016 Primary Presidential Elections. She also worked on special projects and research as an intern for the City of Sacramento District 5 under Councilmember Jay Schenirer. Patricia has also worked for programs such as the Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA), and educational foundations that provide support for low performing students.

In her spare time, Patricia loves working with her church’s youth group, hiking, and traveling.

Rebecca Sterling's headshot

Rebecca Sterling

Rebecca Sterling's headshot

Rebecca Sterling

Rebecca Sterling serves as a Program Manager for Capitol Impact, working full time with the Linked Learning Alliance. Rebecca supports the Alliance’s enterprise solutions, including Linked Learning Certification and Analytics, and LaunchPath, a regional work-based learning management tool. She manages external relations with partners and users of these tools, and contributes to strategies for sustainability and growth for the Linked Learning field.

Prior to joining the team at Capitol Impact, Rebecca was a senior associate with Mercury, a national public affairs firm, where her focus was on public health issues and campaigns to address California’s health disparities. In this capacity Rebecca supported clients with paid and earned media strategies and budgeting, research, communications and strategic plan development.

Rebecca graduated from University of California, Davis with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Psychology. While at Davis she served as student body president from 2012-2013.

Whitney Stormberg's headshot

Whitney Stormberg

Whitney Stormberg's headshot

Whitney Stormberg

Whitney Stormberg serves as a Program Assistant for CORE Districts. Following her graduation from Carroll College in 2015, Whitney worked for the Lieutenant Governor’s Office managing constituent affairs and performing research for the Lieutenant Governor’s event briefs.

Throughout college, Whitney developed a passion for service work. Over the past five years she has participated in several service trips with Engineers Without Borders and various private entities; meeting, serving and developing friendships with those she encountered both nationally and internationally. With a passion for public service, Whitney loves being part of an organization whose mission is to improve the surrounding community.

Nancy Xiong's headshot

Nancy Xiong

Nancy Xiong's headshot

Nancy Xiong

Nancy Xiong is the Strategic Communications Specialist for the Linked Learning Alliance and assists the Communications Director with executing a strategic vision for articulating Linked Learning’s opportunities and successes. She grew up in Merced, CA as the youngest of ten siblings and is the daughter of refugee parents from Southeast Asia. These experiences fueled her passion for health and education equity for underserved populations. In her previous capacity, she worked as an AmeriCorps VISTA for a national non-profit organization helping to build advocacy and organizational capacity in the Southeast Asian community throughout California. Her background also includes community engagement and outreach and working closely with first-generation college students.

As a first-generation college student herself, she graduated from UC Berkeley with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Health and a minor in Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies. In her spare time, she enjoys thrift shopping, DIY projects, making ice cream and creating custom greeting cards.