Natalie Wheatfall-Lum, J.D.

Director of TK-12 Policy

Since Natalie (she/her/hers) joined EdTrust-West in 2014, she has supported the organization’s policy research, analysis, and position development, primarily in K-12 equitable funding and accountability. Natalie’s work is grounded in understanding the experiences of those stakeholders directly impacted by education policy decisions: parent, student, and community advocates. Before her current position, Natalie was an Education Pioneers Graduate Fellow with EdTrust-West. Before working in education policy, Natalie practiced law, gaining experience in various civil rights issues, including LGBTQ equal rights, fair housing, and immigration. While in law school, Natalie worked as a student attorney in Howard University’s Civil Rights Clinic, representing clients in employment, housing, and education discrimination cases. A proud product of two of California’s higher education systems, Natalie earned an A.A. in Transfer Studies from San Diego Mesa College and a B.A. with honors in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, San Diego. Natalie earned her J.D. from Howard University’s School of Law.

“I started public school in California in a diverse, working-class neighborhood. After transferring districts in 8th grade, I graduated from a predominately white, upper-middle-class public high school. In this new setting, I experienced the privilege of increased resources while encountering the disadvantage of low expectations for students of color. At a young age, this experience opened my eyes to the injustices inherent in California’s public school system. I have been passionate about ending these inequities ever since.”


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  • Oakland, CA
School Funding
School & District Improvement
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.