Our Founders

Connect was founded by a group parents in Redwood City who wanted to bring another educational choice to everyone in our community.  We live, work, and raise our families in the city, and our work on Connect is all volunteer.  Many of our children will attend Connect — and we hope yours will too!

Alicia Yamashita
Alicia has taught in classrooms from Russia to California, working with students from a wide range of educational, socioeconomic, and language backgrounds.  She’s raising two energetic boys in Redwood City and has volunteered in many education-related settings here too.

Burgess Peck
Through her work as a nurse practitioner at Kaiser, Burgess is already very connected to our Redwood City community.  She’s bringing her growing interest in education to bear in her work with Connect.  Burgess has a son and a daughter, and her delicious cookies and cakes fueled many Connect planning meetings.

Diane Freidlaender
Diane is a senior researcher at the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education. She leads research on student-centered and equitable schools with many of the characteristics that Connect will have. She is also the evaluator for Alameda County Office of Education in their commitment to provide all students with access to the arts. She has long volunteered in support of the education of her children — twin boys and a daughter — and the children of Redwood City.

Haley Dupuy
Haley has 15 years of teaching experience in both elementary and middle school grades, and has had a variety of leadership roles at schools and school districts.  She particularly values professional development, which will be an important part of the teacher experience at Connect.  Haley has a son.

Jeremiah Leigh
Jeremiah owns a business providing marketing and graphic design services, and has strong knowledge of the online and information technologies that help companies work.  You will have seen his work reflected in this site and our lovely printed information.  He has two young daughters and volunteers on the board of the older one’s preschool.

Kathryn Hopkins
With 15 years of experience teaching, researching educations, and managing youth programs, Kathryn is a founding director of Aim High in Redwood City.  The tuition-free program supports underserved middle schoolers.  She has a young son and recently welcomed a daughter to her family.

Ken Klieman
For nearly 20 years, Ken has taught language arts and social studies to middle schoolers.  He is especially committed to service learning, which will play a big role at Connect.  The Interact Community Service Club he founded has supported students in their service projects for soldiers, homeless students, and a growing list of others. He has twin sons and a daughter.

Kristine (Krissy) Connell
Krissy has 15 years of experience in various educational settings, and currently lectures at San Jose State University.  She teaches a course in social-emotional learning, a hallmark of Connect, and has expertise in developing the kind of project-based learning that will also have a home at Connect.  She has a son and daughter.

Maria Smith
Maria has been running her family computing business for almost two decades, and has also worked in software development and business administration.  She has volunteered in all sorts of settings, including 10 years on the board of the Redwood City Swim Team.  She has a son and daughter.

Maya Sissoko
Maya’s nearly 20 years of teaching experience include her current position as head teacher at Nueva School in Hillsborough; Connect’s educational model is very similar to that at Nueva School.  In her classroom, “structured freedom” helps children learn to their full potential.

Thea Henry-Hamilton
Thea is an arts-in-education advocate with 20 years of experience working in the arts, from filmmaking to multimedia/video games to performance. She has created and raised funds for several programs in educational settings, such as a before-school fitness program for elementary children.  Thea has a son.

Whitney Wood
Whitney has nearly 20 years of experience helping guide communication to all kinds of audiences, but helping get the word out about Connect might be her favorite so far.  She owns a customer experience consulting firm, and serves on the board of her younger daughter’s preschool.