About Our Team

Monterey County Office of Education

Leadership, Support and Service to Prepare All Students for Success

Dr. Deneen Guss, County Superintendent of Schools

About Our Team

Don't forget to check out our video introduction on the Meet Our Team page

Administrative Team

Portrait of Caryn Lewis

Caryn Lewis
Assistant Superintendent, Educational Services



Connect with Caryn on Twitter at @pk12innovation

Operating from core principles that everything we do must generate a positive impact on the success of all students, our Educational Services team is dedicated to growing the collective capacity of the Monterey County educators who lead this vital work every day. Our shared purpose is to engage in collaborative partnerships and develop dynamic instructional systems in order to accelerate learning and maximize opportunities for all of our youth. Recognizing the diverse needs of our learning communities across the region, we are committed to supporting schools and districts with innovative programs and services to ensure equitable solutions for college and career readiness. Our goal is to provide you with extraordinary service and ongoing support to develop rigorous academic pathways that foster student agency and cultivate deeper learning competencies.

Michelle Ramirez

Michelle Ramirez
Senior Director, Educational Services



Michelle Ramirez has been in education for more than 24 years, serving as an elementary classroom teacher, grade level coach, elementary school principal, director of LCAP, Student Services, State and Federal Programs and Early Learning, and is currently the Senior Director of Educational Services in Monterey County.

Michelle collaborates with districts in their work with the Local Control Accountability Plans to create the best conditions for positive student outcomes. Michelle brings to MCOE the love of learning, a strong will to serve the community, a passion for the arts, and extensive work on comprehensive balanced literacy.

Cathy Cranson

Cathy Cranson
Director, Special Projects



Cathy has worked for MCOE since 2008 and has spent her entire educational career in Monterey County. Among her various responsibilities, she is the director of the MCOE Teacher Induction Program and has built online trainings of current state and district initiatives to help deepen new teachers’ understandings of the needs of students in Monterey County. As the Director of Special Projects, Cathy has had the opportunity to work with teachers, site and district administrators to align their work. She is a firm believer in supporting, serving, and leading Monterey county educators in order to meet the needs of ALL students. As a former Special Education teacher, equity and access is crucial. ALL truly means ALL to Cathy!

Esther Rubio

Esther Rubio
Program Coordinator II



Esther brings over 30 years of experience in program development, management, stakeholder collaboration, and budgeting. Her goal is to support schools with developing systems that ensure ALL students have access to the highest quality education.

Esther trains school staff on how to improve their school climate by implementing Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports (MTSS). Esther works collaboratively with many community partners to ensure school systems include mental health services, parent engagement, social emotional learning and student voice. She also coordinates the county team of Youth Mental Health First Aid instructors who provide training on how to respond to youth in crisis.

“Transforming the culture of schools and communities”

Alicia Gregory

Alicia Gregory
Program Coordinator, AmeriCorps



Alicia coordinates the AmeriCorps program at MCOE, which serves elementary schools throughout the Monterey County, providing them with Literacy Tutors. AmeriCorps members serve an 11-month term of service and receive professional development and literacy training. Members from the program are set on a teaching pathway and are provided networking opportunities and resources to assist them in reaching their goals.

Irma Lopez

Irma C. Lopez



Irma joins us from The First Tee of Monterey County (TFTMC), where she was the Members Services Coordinator. She has experience working with Monterey County school districts through partnerships with The First Tee, and supervised a staff team of 15-25. In earlier work, Irma worked with Alisal Union School District as an Outreach Coordinator and then as a Family Services Specialist supporting students, families, and schools in many different ways.

Additionally, as a long time Salinas local, Irma brings strength in networking and connections across the county. She is dedicated to youth and community service. Irma is serving as Hartnell College Board of Trustee for District 4, and as a Board Member for the Ernie Camacho Educational Foundation. She is also a volunteer of TFTMC, Gonzalez Youth Guardians and the National Steinbeck Center. Irma has done so much within the community, that she was a recipient of Salinas’ “City of Champions” commendation award.

Dora Salazar

Dora Salazar
Director, Language & Literacy



Dora Salazar has been in education for more than 30 years. She has been an administrator for 20 years and 15 of those years were as a school site principal. She currently serves Monterey County as a representative for the Bilingual Coordinators Network at the California Department of Education as well as in the Region 5 Community of Practice for the CA English Learner Roadmap. She is a co-leader of the Monterey County Bright Futures Goal 3 Advisory group.

Dora is passionate about ensuring equitable instructional opportunities for English learners to thrive. She is dedicated to creating networks, collaboration and professional learning opportunities for educators who impact student learning, including parents, who are a child’s first teacher.

Edi Porter

Edi Porter
Educational Administrator, Language & Literacy Specialist, Elementary



Edi Porter has been in education for more than 23 years in many capacities - elementary classroom teacher, Reading Recovery teacher, Induction mentor, university master teacher, Instructional Coach, and District TOSA.

Collaboration is a core value in the work Edi has done in education for the last 23 years. She looks forward to partnering with Monterey County teachers to enhance elementary schools students' learning and achievement in language and literacy.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
Helen Keller

Jennifer Elemen

Jennifer Elemen, Ed.D.
Educational Administrator, Language & Literacy and History-Social Science



Connect with Jennifer on Twitter at @ElGovEcon

Dr. Jennifer Elemen serves Monterey County and Region 5 as leader of the CLIC (Content, Literacy, Inquiry, and Citizenship) Project, Constitution Project, Count Me In! Census 2020 Project, History-Social Science Subcommittee of the Curriculum and Instruction Steering Committee (CISC) of the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA), and is Central Area Vice President of the California Council for the Social Studies (CCSS). Jennifer is a Be GLAD (Guided Language Acquisition Design) Certified Agency Trainer and on the CISC ELA/ELD Subcommittee. She facilitates educators’ professional learning for ALL students’ access and equity with Universal Design for Learning (UDL). She supports educators and students to develop culturally and linguistically empowering civic learning opportunities; build school-community partnerships; and achieve deeper learning competencies for college, career, and global citizenship.

Denise Green

Denise Green
Educational Administrator, Mathematics



Connect with Denise on Twitter at @denisebgreen

Denise Green is the Educational Administrator of Mathematics, in the Educational Services Department, and as such she strives to support districts and schools to ensure students gain a rigorous math education in Monterey County. She is a lifelong learner and math advocate and enthusiast. Denise aspires to empower all students in math class and to instill the belief that each and every student is good at math. She believes collaborative efforts are necessary to transform the way we understand and envision math teaching and learning and more importantly to ensure student success and narrow access, expectation, and achievement gaps. Denise is honored to support efforts to give all students equitable access to rigorous and engaging experiences in mathematics from early years through post secondary.

Will Franzell

William Franzell
Educational Administrator, Science/STEAM



As an Educational Administrator at MCOE, Will is responsible for facilitating Science Professional Learning Opportunities with TK-12th grade educators and administrators in Monterey County. He is available to meet with your team throughout the school year to provide support with the Next Generation Science Standards build capacity at your sites. His skills include designing, developing, and implementing workshops aligned to the NGSS while approaching this work with a combined lens of empathy and equity. Will looks forward to working with your team in order to foster creative confidence through innovation, collaborations, and deeper learning experiences. Contact Will to help transform your school communities so all students have access and support to be successful in college, career, and life.

David Dobrowski

David Dobrowski
Director of Data, Research and Partnerships



David Dobrowski brings a rich experience in data analysis and evaluation including R, data visualizations and facilitated outcomes discussions. His work supports using data and information to make decisions that improve outcomes and reduce inequities. He previously worked for the County of Santa Cruz’s Human Services Department where he supported divisions including Family and Children’s Services, Adults and Long Term Care, and Employment and Benefits. Prior to that he worked at First 5 Monterey County where he supported schools and nonprofits throughout Monterey County that work with families with young children. He has lived in Monterey County since 2003. He received his Master’s of Public Administration from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. He lives in Salinas with his wife Nina and 6-year-old son.

Mara Wold

Mara Wold
Regional Lead, Region 5 Expanded Learning



Mara brings over 20 years experience in program development, management, stakeholder collaboration, and project-based curricula design. Her greatest passion is that all students have access to the highest quality expanded learning experiences that promote wonder, exploration, skill building and a child’s healthy development.

Mara directs the provision of support services to the region’s LEA grantees and partners with a focus on increasing cohesion between in school and out-of-school time. Needs-driven support efforts focus on building staff capacity and leadership through Communities of Practice and 1-1 consultation. Mara leads the Region 5 STEAM Hub for Expanded Learning and greater Region 5 STEAM Ecosystem. She serves on the CDE Expanded Learning Division’s Strategic Design Team in addition to numerous statewide and local advisory committees.

No Photo

Lety Gomez-Gong
Manager, Region 5 Expanded Learning



For more than 20 years, Lety Gomez Gong has worked in management within the non-profit educational sector. She has dedicated her career to increasing the quality of services and support to prepare students for college, career and life.

Throughout her career she has been involved in local and statewide collaboratives and partnerships to increase programming and services in Inclusion, Students with Special Needs, Social Emotional Learning, Summer Learning, Prevention/Intervention in Drug/Alcohol & Violence Prevention, School Climate, Mental Health and more.

She is a capacity builder and provides coaching, consultation, training, mentoring, facilitation and brokering of services. She is the lead in coordinating the Leadership Institute and also coordinates the ReV Up Conference that brings 600+ educators and experts to learn and share promising practices.

Roberto Nunez

Roberto Núñez, Ed.D.
Director of Leadership Development



Dr. Núñez is a K-12 Administrator and Educator, having served over 20 years as a high school, middle school, and elementary school principal. Roberto most recently served six years opening up the new Monte Bella Elementary, in the Alisal Union School District, and lead the effort of making the school a California Distinguished Gold Ribbon School within the first three years of existence.

As the Director of Leadership Development at the MCOE, he is leading and developing the new Transformative Leadership Center at the county level. Dr. Núñez has presented on the topics of Cultural Proficiency and Transformative Leadership throughout the last several years, most recently co-presenting at CABE 2019 in Long Beach, CA and at CALSA Mentor-Protégé in March 2019, also in Long Beach. Dr. Núñez has walked the talk of being a transformative leader. He advocates for students of color having more access to an 21st Century education system, closing of the achievement gap, disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline, and is all in for equity.

Juan Mendoza-Romero

Juan Mendoza-Romero, Ed.D.
College & Career Readiness Administrator and Tobacco Use Prevention Education



Dr. Mendoza-Romero has been a school counselor and school administrator for more than 24 years. He has been an elementary and middle school counselor, a high school academic/college/career counselor and adult/continuation school counselor. He has also been a K-12 school administrator, District administrator, college and university instructor, and a private college advisor.

Dr. Mendoza-Romero is dedicated to help students and families navigate the college going process in order to increase the number of students continuing their education beyond high school. Dr. Mendoza is also the author of My Personal University Advisor: The Complete Guide for University-Bound Students. The book was written to give students more personal and individualized assistance to achieve their goal of attending a university.

Laurie Ramirez

Laurie Ramirez, Ph.D.
Program Specialist, Early Childhood Education



Laurie comes to MCOE with an interesting variety of both educational and community outreach experience. Prior to entering graduate school, Laurie worked as an adult teacher at a welfare-to-work program, assisting students with GED prep, English classes, as well as a community outreach worker connecting students with needed services.

Laurie holds a Masters and Ph.D. in Education from U.C. Berkeley. Her graduate work findings reaffirmed her beliefs that high expectations both at home and in schools, along with educational support systems that take into account the unique personalities of the student population are critical for student success.

Laurie believes that only by having the multi-faceted components of children’s lives all work in unison can a child truly thrive. Laurie is excited to work alongside the MCOE community as well as community partners and stakeholders to build improved early childhood systems in Monterey County.

Eliza Gomez

Eliza Gomez
Program Coordinator II, QRIS



Eliza's life's work is centered on ensuring ALL children have access to high-quality early childhood programs that are developmentally and culturally appropriate. She leads to evokes high-quality early childhood education practices grounded in research. Her grassroots background and life long learner journey give her a wealth of experience and knowledge as a strategic partner in coming together collectively for positive outcomes.

For more than 25 years, Eliza has extensive experience in the early childhood education field and has devoted her career to working with preschool professionals by providing coaching to the ECE community. As well as implementing a myriad of preschool services and family literacy programs. Eliza’s experiences include being a school readiness program director, site supervisor for a child development program. Eliza is a pioneer in being the first mentor in Monterey County for the California Early Childhood Education Mentor Program.

Megan Matteoni

Megan Matteoni
Program Coordinator I, QRIS

831.755.0300 x407


With over 20 years of experience teaching and volunteering within preschool and elementary school environments, Megan has also supported teachers and directors within QRIS. She has conducted assessments of educational facilities and programs, and coached the teachers and directors at each facility to set individualized professional development goals. Megan is a certificated Early Childhood Education teacher with a Master’s in Child Development and a Program Director permit. Her philosophy is rooted in constructivism and believes in utilizing children’s interests and abilities to promote a cohesive community within the classroom. Her research interests lie in the social emotional and cognitive importance of play and movement. She has worked within preschools dedicated to intentional teaching practices through emergent curriculum, and has supported children on the spectrum building on their social emotional skills through play. She also teaches the Brazilian martial art of Capoeira.

No Photo Available

Gelacio Gonzalez
Program Specialist, Early Learning

831.755.0300 x086



Monica Cano

Monica Cano
Program Development & Compliance Specialist

831.755.0300 x386



Support Staff

Photo of Gwenn Frindt

Michelle Rios

Executive Assistant


Photo of Gail Kuehl

Gail Kuehl

Special Projects


Photo Unavailable

Norma Esparza

Teacher & Administrator Induction


No Photo Available

Maria Ramirez

QRIS & Expanded Learning


No Photo Available

Adriana Chavarin

Language & Literacy


No Photo Available

Alicia Diaz-Infante

Student Data Analyst


No photo available.

Melina Beltran

Financial Secretary



Caryn Lewis

Assistant Superintendent
Phone: 831.755.0383

Michelle Rios

Executive Assistant
Phone: 831.755.0364

Social Media