Benito Aranda-Comer

Policy Analyst - TK-12

Benito Aranda-Comer (he/him) joins The Education Trust–West as a K-12 Policy Analyst. Before joining the Education Trust–West, Benito was an 8th grade English Language Arts teacher in Houston, Texas, where he is from. As a classroom teacher, Benito had the distinct opportunity to serve students by facilitating rigorous coursework that reflected the lived experiences of his students and pushed them to constantly grow their own capabilities. Benito’s experience in a public-charter school system further highlighted the existing inequities for students of color and was a wake-up call to the realities at play for students and educators alike. Benito saw first-hand, before and after the COVID-19 pandemic, how the nation’s most vulnerable students could be affected and how communities still demonstrated their values of resilience and commitment to students. Though chronic issues of the profession were constantly emphasized throughout daily work, the dedication of educators and their belief that all children could succeed remains as a key motivating factor in supporting their work with policy advocacy.

In response to the global pandemic, and to confront the systemic issues plaguing our education system, Benito chose to pursue his Master of Public Policy at Georgetown University to equip himself with the tools needed to advocate for his community. During his graduate studies, Benito also worked as a research associate at FutureEd, an independent, solution-oriented think tank at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy. There he authored several explainer pieces on various topics which included trauma-informed teaching practices and compiled information from various legislative bills on teacher pay. Benito was also the Co-President of the McCourt Education Policy Initiative and leveraged every opportunity to engage in education related instruction and skill acquisition.

Benito holds a B.A. in both History and Latin American Studies and a minor in Poverty, Justice, and Human Capabilities from Rice University. He also has an MPP from Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy and and a Certificate in Education Finance from their Edumonics Lab.

 

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  • Oakland, CA
TK-12
Math Education and Curriculum Development
Educator Diversity
Multilingual Learners / English Learners
Policy Analysis & Development

Karla Fernandez

Communications Manager

Karla Fernandez (she/her/hers) joins Ed Trust–West as a Communications Manager with over 11 years of experience advancing social impact initiatives.

Karla started her career as a teacher at Chicago Public Schools and UIC College Prep. After teaching, Karla joined United Friends of the Children to support LA County’s youth in foster care as a college counselor. Through Leadership for Educational Equity, Karla also served as a Policy Advisor Fellow for the office of a Los Angeles Unified School Board Member. She solidified her interests in policy analysis and quantitative research during her time with the Price Center for Social Innovation, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, and the USC Presidential Working Group on Sustainability. Before joining The Education Trust–West, Karla was the Associate Director for the Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) Collaborative, a network of nonprofits advocating for communities in SELA.

Karla holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, a Master of Public Policy from the USC Price School of Public Policy, and a Graduate Certificate in Policy Advocacy from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Karla is based out of southern California and is passionate about using data analysis, communications, and digital strategies for policy advocacy and social justice efforts.