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Leadership TeamJAMIE PIOTTI - (ENTREPRENEUR)
RICARDO LOPEZ VALENCIA - (PRESIDENT)
DEBORAH T. MILLER - (EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT)
ELIZABETH A. MENCHACA - (VICE PRESIDENT ACADEMIC SERVICES)
BERNICE STAFFORD - (VICE PRESIDENT IMPLEMENTATION AND EDUCATION PARTNERSHIPS)
MARGUERITE HILLMAN - (VICE PRESIDENT CURRICULUM AND ASSESSMENT)
- Owner and Chief Executive Officer of Evans Newton Incorporated (an educational curriculum / technology / school turnaround business)
- Founder and President of The Foundation for Educational Opportunity (a nonprofit organization)
- Author of Soulful... How to Build a Successful Company, Help Others and Live a Life with Purpose
- Founder and Owner of Sage Center Consulting (Spiritual Acceptance, Guidance and Education)
- Building Owner and Landlord of Jamie’s Building, LLC – Palo Cristi II (33,000 square feet)
- Proud parent of two boys – Cole and Cameron Piotti
When you believe, miracles can happen, and Jamie not only believed in Evans Newton’s TargetTeach® products, but she also believed that she could make a difference. And she did. Through her dedication and drive, she doubled company sales in one year, and she received numerous awards and promotions, all while improving school and student performance. Ultimately, Jamie purchased the company in 1997. From that point on, she was free to fully transform Evans Newton into a purpose-based soulful company that puts people first—both the children it serves and the employees who make the miracles happen. Under her leadership, the company has grown into the nation’s leading provider of curriculum, consulting and coaching and is successfully bringing schools throughout the United States up to national standards. The company’s track record is unsurpassed, but the thousands of success stories from administrators, teachers, parents and even students are what is closest to Jamie’s heart.
Jamie Piotti is the sole owner and CEO of Evans Newton, located in Scottsdale, Arizona. Evans Newton is one of the largest female-owned companies in Arizona (ranked 16th according to The Phoenix Business Journal 2011 and 25th in 2012), with its corporate office located in the Scottsdale Airpark for over 31 years. In addition, Evans Newton proudly holds the title as being one of the nation’s leading school-improvement K-12 education companies.
Jamie believes where there is spirit there is success. To further support children and education, in 2000 Jamie established The Foundation for Educational Opportunity, a nonprofit organization that provides scholarship money to students attending schools that use Evans Newton’s TargetTeach products. Because of this program, children who otherwise would find college out of reach are able to attend institutions of higher learning and are achieving success. The foundation also supports the Arizona community by awarding college scholarships to underprivileged high school students, to mothers at UMOM New Day Center to further their education, and to ASU teachers who are working toward their master’s degree and promise to work in Arizona’s high-poverty districts. The foundation has given close to $85,000 in scholarships since its inception.
Jamie found her purpose in life at Evans Newton, and she knows there is still much work to be done. Right by her side, she has a loyal and passionate leadership team and dedicated employees who share her spirit and her mission. Together they are empowering schools, creating education success stories, and giving millions of deserving children a shot at their dreams.
When Jamie Piotti decided to become part of the family business, she had no idea what she was in for. She expected that her new job would be a lot of work, but little did she know that she was in for a life-changing experience, one that would not only be the pathway to her life’s purpose, but would also be a teacher of the most challenging kind. This one career decision would put her through tests few can fully imagine and would make her one of the most successful women business leaders in the country.
Jamie’s path from a trusting daughter of a seemingly successful father to astute businesswoman has along the way infused a soul into a business that was once “all about the money.” She took a business from the depths of defeat to the pinnacle of achievement. How did she do it? Through real-life experiences that provided several important underlying lessons:
- When you work with passion and with soul for the good of others, the universe pays you back.
- Finding true happiness happens when you find your true purpose in life.
- Greed is a destructive force that can ruin your life.
- Your most challenging people and situations are your greatest teachers.
Jamie’s book, Soulful... How to Build a Successful Company, Help Others and Live a Life with Purpose, is currently being published. Through her new business, Sage Center Consulting, Jamie hopes to inspire business leaders and open people up spiritually.
When focusing on doing the right thing and doing for good, Jamie has learned that good things will happen to you. Therefore, she has also expanded her skills and now owns a 33,000-square-foot commercial building through her company, Jamie’s Building, LLC, which is fully occupied by tenants. She doesn’t aspire to be the next real estate mogul, but to simply establish her roots in Scottsdale.
Jamie’s biggest accomplishment is being a single mom to two wonderful boys, Cole, 16, and Cameron, 13.
RICARDO LOPEZ VALENCIA
American K-12 education is suddenly a dynamic commercial environment. There are those who believe that we must rescue our schools through management or economic theories. Some push political agendas. Others chase short-term returns. But the leader who has focused on education since he was a teenager knows that chase is a fool’s errand. This leader trusts the American tradition of free and equal education for all. He honors teachers’ pedagogical wisdom, subject-matter expertise and classroom experience as a valuable public asset. Following his principles, he has done well for himself and his family. And he insists, “My children cannot be the exception.”
To some people, Ricardo Lopez Valencia may have been born on the wrong side of the academic achievement gap, the son of migrant farm workers in the small Arizona farming community of Marana, near Tucson. His grandparents were migrant farm workers, in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, and his father, Ray Valencia, worked for thirty years, in copper mines and a cement factory. Valencia’s mother, Amada Lopez Valencia, was one of the first women hired as a deputy sheriff by the Pima County Sheriff's Department, in Tucson. She desired her children to appreciate the worthy history of the Lopez family so, at her instruction, the young Valencia worked in the fields too.
In high school, Valencia recalls, the one day an agriculture teacher took the extra time to help him. In that unforgettable gesture, he improved Valencia’s career prospects by improving his educational chances. Today, recognizing that this was a chance event, Valencia strives to remove the chance from education so that all children receive the same opportunities—not just those whose families can afford to open doors for their children or those from the large urban school districts that receive extra attention and extra funding—but also the most disadvantaged student from the smallest school in the most remote corner of America.
Today Valencia is a successful management consulting and business incubator whose greatest passion is education and the assurance that access and opportunity exists for all children. He is principal of his family company, Zamas Holdings LLC, and a recognized leader of the US Hispanic community. Valencia currently advises and has complete corporate oversight of Evans Newton Incorporated, managing, marketing and selling in today’s variable economic environment. Scottsdale-based ENI develops and implements proprietary media and professional services helping America’s K-12 school and district leaders achieve dramatic improvements in teacher and student performance. Most recently Valencia has been named to the founding Governing Board of Expect More Arizona, a nonpartisan education advocacy organization created in 2009 to build a citizen movement that ensures a world-class education, from birth through career, for all Arizonans.
He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Ambassadors Group [NASDAQ: EPAX], the Spokane-based educational travel company that operates the People to People Student Ambassador Programs as well as other US-based and international educational travel programs for students, athletes and professionals. Via its World Adventures Unlimited unit, Ambassadors Group delivers all international learning and adventure travel programs for the Discovery Student Adventures business of Discovery Communications. Another Ambassadors Group enterprise is Seattle-based BookRags Inc., an educational website that provides book summaries, study guides and lesson plans on literary works. Valencia chairs Ambassadors Group’s Compensation Committee.
Currently too, Valencia is the Immediate Past Chairman of the Board and an Officer of WestEd, a San Francisco-based nonprofit agency with coast-to-coast offices that conduct education research and product development and deliver professional services. At the national level, WestEd is the Project Management Partner for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, one of two multi-state consortia developing assessment systems for the Common Core State Standards Initiative. At the state level, WestEd is an approved service provider for the departments of education of Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Tennessee and Washington. At the local level, WestEd is an approved service provider for such school districts as those in Baltimore, New York City, Oakland, Tucson, and Vail, Colorado. For all its clients, WestEd promotes excellence, equity and learning for children, youth and adults.
Valencia also serves on the board of the Children’s Action Alliance, based in Phoenix and Tucson. CAA advocates for policies and decisions that affect Arizona families on issues related to health, child abuse and neglect, early care and education, budget and taxes, juvenile justice, children and immigration, and working families. Through research, publications, media campaigns and advocacy, CAA works toward a future in which all children have health insurance, no child is raised in poverty and hunger, every child enters school ready to learn and succeed, no child endures the ravages of abuse and neglect, every child has a place to call home and struggling teens have the support they need to become responsible adults.
Other than his success as a student, Valencia’s career in education began in 1983 when, as a member of his high school’s chapter of the National FFA Organization, he was the first Hispanic to be elected president of Arizona’s state FFA association. From that position, he followed his forbearers’ agricultural legacy by earning a scholarship to major in agriculture at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Working a fulltime job to pay his other expenses, Valencia graduated and, right after college, he incubated his first venture—a nonprofit to assist the children of migrant farm workers to pursue post-secondary educations. Soon he became the State Director of Professional Development for Career and Technical Education working for the University of Arizona’s graduate program in Agricultural Education.
From 1995 to 1997, Valencia was executive director of the National FFA Alumni Association, a position from which he began giving back to FFA for what it had given him in his youth. Next Valencia became the Director of Education for USA TODAY, and was hired to expand its national network of educational programs by teaming with school district and corporate partners.
In 2001 Valencia joined ING, a Dutch financial services company with worldwide operations, as vice president of Hispanic markets and then, in 2003, as Senior Vice President. He had strategic, fiscal and operational responsibility for the development of wealth accumulations strategies focused on diversity markets with specific focus in the African American, Asian American, Hispanic, women, LGBT and capabilities market segments.
Valencia returned to Arizona in June 2007, leaving ING to combine his executive know-how with his zeal to make education exciting and successful for all children. In 2008, Arizona’s Democratic governor, Janet Napolitano, appointed him to serve on the Arizona State Charter School Board. Arizona’s next governor, Republican Jan Brewer, appointed him as Corporate Chair of the 2010 Border Governors Conference and to serve a term on the Arizona Mexico Commission to chair the strategic development committee. Previously, he has held numerous national board positions, for the National PTA, the National 4-H, the National Future Farmers of America Foundation, the New York Hispanic Ballet and the international association of students and teachers of marketing, DECA. Also he was appointed to the White House Millennium Youth Initiative and the US Department of Education’s Partnership for Family Involvement.
Greater Phoenix is home for Valencia and his wife, Lisa, a retail executive, and their school-aged children, Zacarias, and twins Maximo and Sofia. The beginnings of the children’s names—Za, Ma, S—formed the brand for Zamas Holdings when Valencia started his business-development consultancy. Later he learned the ancient Mayan word zamas, meaning dawn, tomorrow, hope. How fitting for the lifework of improving others’ lives achieved by Ricardo Lopez Valencia.
DEBORAH T. MILLER
EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT
Deborah Miller has over 30 years experience in all facets of business management and strategy, including finance, operations, customer service, human resources and manufacturing. Since joining ENI in 2001 Deborah has held positions as Controller and Director of Finance & Administration and is currently Executive Vice President.
Deborah is responsible for providing leadership and management ensuring the customer achieves results and value expected for the investment in ENI solutions. She serves as a member of the senior management team in establishing company goals and strategies to ensure short term and long term goals are met or exceeded.
Prior to joining ENI, Deborah was Site General Manager and Controller for Fiskars, Aquapore Moisture Systems, a manufacturer of landscape products, with annual sales over $25 million, where she was accountable for achieving the business and financial goals, increasing customer satisfaction and performance, and successfully transitioning the business unit for consolidation with another business unit. Deborah also served as Chief Financial Officer of Learning-Edge, Inc, a custom developer of technology-delivered training, and Vice President Finance & Administration for DataMyte Corporation, a technology developer and marketer of quality data collection technology and software products, with annual revenue over $20 million. During Deborah’s tenure at DataMyte Corporation, she participated in the acquisition of a small software development company, positioned and initiated the process for an IPO issue, and subsequently participated in the acquisition process and integration of DataMyte.
Deborah has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Metropolitan State University in Minnesota, the Masters of Executive Excellence at the University of Minnesota, and the Management for High Technology Companies at Stanford Executive Institute. She is a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Management Accountant. Deborah is a member of the Arizona Society of Certified Public Accountants, Institute of Management Accountants, and Vistage Group. Deborah has served as a Quality Examiner for the Arizona Quality Award, Treasurer for the National Association of Business Owners, and Treasurer for a Parent Teacher Organization, and a former member of the American Business Women’s Association.
ELIZABETH A. MENCHACA
VICE PRESIDENT ACADEMIC SERVICES
Vice President of Academic Services and Corporate Senior Advisor for the
design of new projects for school districts, Elizabeth Menchaca’s expertise is
in the construction of contracts and the management of large school districts,
such as Tulsa, Oklahoma; Columbus, Ohio; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Kansas City, Kansas. Elizabeth assists districts and schools with the evaluation of their academic priorities. She designs alignment and assessment plans to help alleviate the identified achievement issues.
Elizabeth’s 22 years of experience in planning alignment programs has given her a full understanding of the challenges faced by schools, such as changes in administration, influx of English-language learners, and meeting and exceeding AYP requirements. Elizabeth assists and trains account managers at Evans Newton in consultative selling and the ongoing management of a district’s project. Elizabeth acts as an advisor to the various departments in the company, to help develop direction and maintain the highest educational value for ENI’s products and processes. She speaks on behalf of the company, explaining the educational theory and district implementation of the TargetPerform process and ENI’s offerings. Since 1986, her experience within the company has included curriculum alignment, training, marketing, and sales. Elizabeth worked to develop the original ENI processes for curriculum alignment.
Elizabeth is a former classroom teacher with a background in educating special-needs students. She also is former State Director for a private accredited alternative education program. Her classroom teaching experience was in educational systems based on diagnostic prescriptive learning, with an emphasis in Open Education and Mastery Based Learning. Elizabeth’s experience also includes the design and development of instructional software programs for schools. She has created instructional materials, acted as a publisher for children’s educational books, and designed instructional databases.
Elizabeth’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education and Master of Arts coursework in Educational Public Relations, both from the University of Arizona.
VICE PRESIDENT IMPLEMENTATION AND EDUCATION PARTNERSHIPS
Bernice Stafford’s career spans four decades in the public and private sectors, with experience in the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that ranges from teaching to administration at the early childhood, elementary, and college levels.
Bernice is a frequent presenter at education conferences, on topics ranging from how to close the minority achievement gap to the use of state-of-the-art learning technology in the teaching and learning environment.
Bernice is the Chairman of the Government Relations Committee for the Association of Educational Publishers. She also serves on the boards of Agency for Instructional Technology (AIT), Partnership for Dynamic Learning (P4DL), WestEd Regional Educational Laboratory Board, and the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC). She is a member of the California Comprehensive Center (CC) Advisory Board and California Public Schools Accountability Act (PSAA) Advisory Committee, serving on the Alternative Accountability Subcommittee (ASAM), where she has been reappointed to a third two-year term by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. She is a past chair of the Knowledge Alliance, formerly National Education Knowledge Industry Association (NEKIA), distinguishing herself by being the first person from the private sector to serve in that capacity. She is also a past board member of what was then the Software Publishers Association (SPA), now Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA); she was also the co-chair of that organization’s Textbook Adoption Committee.
Bernice co-authored “A Science-Based Development and Implementation Model for Online and CDROM Curriculum Programs,” which was included in the Second Edition of the International Handbook of Literacy and Technology, published by Lawrence Ehrlbaum Associates. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and a Master of Arts degree in Early Childhood Development from the University of California at Berkeley.
VICE PRESIDENT CURRICULUM AND ASSESSMENT
Marguerite Hillman is a pioneer in educational program design and development for pre-K through adult learners. Her expertise is in the design, development, and implementation of digital products in mathematics and language arts and communication technology programs. She is an adjunct professor at National University in the Strategic Communications graduate program.
Prior to joining Evans Newton Incorporated, Margy was Senior Vice President of Development for Chungdahm America, where she led the design and development of Waking Minds Writing, and LanguageVine, online programs in content area writing and language learning, in Korean, English, and French.
Her work while president of KMS&T, Inc. has resulted in important assessment, professional development, and instructional design applications for clients ranging from PLATO Learning, Pearson Education, Carveniche, Knowledge Adventure, and Harcourt Achieve to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS.
Previously, Margy also served as Vice President of Development at Co-nect and was a founder and Vice President of Curriculum Development at Lightspan Partnership. She also served in design and development leadership capacities at Jostens Learning, Computer Associates, Andersen Consulting (now Accenture), and a variety of other technology companies.
Her publications include “Evaluation of Digital Learning for Young Children,” published in The Digital World of Young Children by The Haworth Press (2009); “The Web and Early Literacy,” published in Computers in the Schools by The Haworth Press (2005); and “ELL Professional Development— Making a Difference for Diverse Students,” published in Harcourt Happenings (Fall 2006).
Margy received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature and her Master of Arts degree in American Studies from San Diego State University, as well as a Lifetime Community College Teaching Credential in Language Arts and Literature and History.