The East Side Union High School District Education Foundation was honored to induct the Thomas P. Ryan Hall of Fame Class of 2015 at a dinner ceremony on Saturday, November 21, 2015, at the Dolce Hayes Mansion in San José.
The East Side Foundation Board of Directors selected the Class of 2015 following a two-month nomination period, during which anyone could nominate an ESUHSD graduate for induction. Nominees were scored based on their contributions to the community, leadership qualities, recognition in their chosen field, and potential to inspire current students.
Meet the Class of 2015
Chandra Lopez Brooks
Chandra Lopez Brooks, a native San Joséan, is the Northern California Staff Director for Service Employees International Union – United Service Workers. Her passions include community, civil rights, and social justice issues, improving voter outcomes, and civic engagement within communities of color.
Chandra began her public service career as Director of Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs and later Development Director for a large child development nonprofit organization. Currently, Chandra serves on the Board of Directors for The East Valley YMCA and Sabor Del Valle. She is also the co-founder of The Grub Club, a nonprofit organization that provides weekend meals to more than 70 low income children in San José. She also serves as the Executive Director/CEO of Building Peaceful Families, an organization that reunifies families.
Chandra was recently named by the Silicon Valley Business Journal as one of the Most Influential Women in Silicon Valley.
Lorena Ramirez Collins
Lorena Ramirez Collins is the Associate Vice President of Programs and Services for InnVision Shelter Network, the largest homeless shelter provider in the Greater Bay Area. She has direct oversight of several drop-in centers, transitional and permanent housing programs in San José. Lorena oversees the programming and staff at nine shelters spanning across Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. She has spent over 30 years in nonprofit work in the fields of homeless services, mental health, and drug and alcohol recovery treatment in east San José communities.
Lorena holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Disorders and Sciences from San José State University, graduated with honors, and is fluent in American Sign Language. She has ex-tensive experience conducting trainings in program management, crisis intervention, relapse prevention and in the navigation of mental health and homeless services.
In 2010, InnVision awarded Lorena its prestigious “Spirit of InnVision Award”.
Joe Coto was appointed Superintendent of the East Side Union High School District in 1989 and served in that capacity for over 14 years. During his tenure, the district achieved many ground-breaking and noteworthy goals.
First and foremost, student graduation rates increased and dropout rates fell. Through his efforts, many students who might have dropped out were inspired to reconnect with school and achieve their goals. Joe worked hard to increase the number of students becoming college and career ready.
Joe organized the East Side Consortium of school districts, which led to the approval of legislation that brought over $100 million to participating districts and contributed to increased diversity and integration in East San José schools. He also was instrumental in getting several bond measures passed to help rebuild and modernize the district’s schools. After his tenure, Joe was elected to the California State Assembly where he represented East San José for three terms.
Larry Esquivel started his law enforcement career as a San José Police Reserve Officer in 1984. Two years later, he was appointed as an Officer. As an Officer, he worked in a variety of areas: Bureau of Field Operations patrol, Narcotics Enforcement, Special Operations, MERGE Unit, Bureau of Investigations, and Narcotics Covert Investigations.
He also served as a Sergeant supervising patrol officers and gaining experience as a supervisor in several specialized assignments: Field Training Program, Special Operations – MERGE Unit, and Robbery Unit. In 2005, Larry was promoted to Lieutenant serving in Patrol, Administrative Unit, and the Office of the Chief Internal Affairs Unit.
In 2013, Larry’s vast experience made him an ideal candidate for the position of Chief of Police. He has provided stable leadership to the department during some very difficult times, and he has initiated a number of changes to rebuild trust in the community. Chief Esquivel recently announced his plans to retire after 31 years of service.
Curtis L. Green
Curtis L. Green recently retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the Air Force after 25 years of dedicated service. Over the years, Curtis acquired space operations experience and systems acquisition expertise, which led to an assignment as the Program Manager for Range Standardization Automation (RSA), a $900 million dollar project to modernize Space Launch Range Safety equipment at Cape Canaveral.
Curtis was also assigned to the Pentagon, where he was a key part of the initial effort to develop a robust Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) program in the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy. Although his assignments in the Air Force were demanding, he managed to continue his post-graduate education. He earned a Master’s Degree in Systems Management from the University of Southern California and a second Master’s Degree in Computer Resources & Information Management from Webster University.
Although he has completed his military career, he continues to serve his fellow veterans. As a civilian, he works as a Program Manager for Planned Systems International, leading a team of over 100 IT professionals who test complex healthcare software for the Veterans Administration.
J. Manuel Herrera
J. Manuel Herrera was first elected to the Board of Trustees of the East Side Union High School District in 1990 and has faithfully served in public office for 25 years. Manuel’s career is in politics, public policy, and public administration, working with city managers, elected officials, and nonprofit organizations. He has served as the Director of Planning for United Way of the Bay Area, Ombudsman for the City of San José, and legislative aide on Capitol Hill and in the California State Legislature. He has been a Democratic Party official in Silicon Valley and has served on the Executive Board of the California State Democratic Party.
Manuel is currently launching a new nonprofit called The People Speak, www.thepeoplespeak.net, the mission of which is to uphold higher standards of political campaigning with a voter-based strategy that challenges and neutralizes negative campaigning.
Camille Llanes-Fontanilla leads Somos Mayfair as the Executive Director. She joined the organization in 2010 and co-led the development of the In Our Hands campaign, re-visioning Somos into an organization that combines the best of traditional service provision and community organizing. Camille is a skillful bridge-builder, maintaining and expanding relationships with key stakeholders, securing millions of dollars for the Mayfair community.
Camille is a proud Mt. Pleasant Cardinal, where she was the class president for three consecutive years. Her leadership carried on at UC Berkeley where she was the Class of 2005 President and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications and Ethnic Studies. She also has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from San José State University. Born and raised in East San José and currently living just outside of downtown with her husband and son, Ca-mille is absolutely committed to working alongside community members to address our community’s most pressing social justice issues.
Duane Morgan began his teaching career at Piedmont Hills teaching Safety Education. He transferred to W.C. Overfelt in 1979 and, in addition to teaching, took on a role as coach of the wrestling team. As the wrestling coach, he continued to bring success to the wrestling program, winning CCS and league championships. Duane also mentored students in the classroom and worked with parents and the community.
Duane’s success led him to the position of Chair of the Santa Clara Valley Wrestling Association and eventually to the State Chair for the USA Wrestling, the national governing body for wrestling in the United States. He has served on the Board of Directors for USA Wrestling for 20 years. Duane has twice been named the California Wrestling “Official of the Year”, and USA Wrestling named him “Man of the Year”. He is a Distinguished Member of the California Wrestling Hall of Fame and the current Commissioner of the Central Coast Section.
Noelani Sallings has brought dynamic leadership to the Bay Area and is the first Filipina American elected to the Santa Clara Unified School District Board of Education. She has been active in many culturally diverse communities for over 15 years. Her leadership experience includes volunteer work with the Santa Clara Unified School District, public service on various boards and committees, and professional work with various government officials and Bay Area nonprofit organizations, most recently as the Director of Business Development for San José Jazz.
Noelani has been an advocate for education for more than a decade, serving on the boards of organizations such as the Santa Clara Schools Foundation, the Wilcox Dance Team Boosters, and Next Vista for Learning. She is also a passionate advocate for women’s rights, social justice, and the environment, having served on the boards of DAWN (Democratic Activists for Women Now), the Asian Pacific American Democratic Club, and BAYMEC (a local LGBT rights organization).
Anna Stearns graduated from Oak Grove High School with honors. A Paul Douglass teaching scholarship allowed her to graduate from UC Santa Cruz. She received her teaching credential from San Francisco State University, and her Orff-Schulwerk music teaching certification at Mills College.
Anna has been involved in music, dance and theatre for most of her life. Since 1999, she has been teaching 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade music classes in five different elementary schools in the Mill Valley Public School District, working with approximately 1,000 students per week. As a Marin County teacher, she has received both the Golden Bell Award for excellence in teaching and the Elizabeth Terwilliger Award for Community Service.
As a performing musician, her achievements include opening for Joan Baez on her California tour in 2005-06 and playing/singing with Big Bop and the Choppers, a Bay Area 50’s/60’s review band. Anna has also acted in the Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s Summer Repertory.
Terry Wiley is currently an Assistant District Attorney and the Head of the Juvenile Division for the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office. Over the last 20 years, Terry has worked in a variety of positions at the County including misdemeanor trials, preliminary hearings, and felony trial staff, charging cases and felony pre-trials. While on the felony trial staff, Terry gained a reputation for being a fearless and skilled trial lawyer. He won convictions in numerous murder cases and a variety of other high profile, felony trials. Several of Terry’s cases became the focus of forensic crime television shows.
Terry has been a trial advocacy instructor for the California State Bar and the National Bar Association and has served as a guest lecturer at UC Hastings and UC Berkeley School of Law. He is a Founding Member and current President of the Bay Area Black Prosecutors Association and is the current Chair for the National Bar Association’s Criminal Law Section.