BA, American Ethnic Studies, University of Washington
As the Director of GEAR UP at Central Washington University, he is responsible for the leadership and management of a $18.5 million-dollar federally-funded project. He supervises 22 full-time staff who provide direct support services to nearly 4,000 low-income students in north central Washington.
He is a member of CWU's Employees of Color Equity Council, National Council for Community and Education Partnerships, National Tutoring Association, The National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies, The Western History Association, and The Labor and Working-Class History Association.
Throughout her career, Marie has been committed to equity and community service. She served for five years as an adjunct faculty member in the Human Services Program at Western Washington University. She was executive director of Friendship House homeless shelter in Mount Vernon, and the Whatcom Peace & Justice Center in Bellingham, where she ran a program offering high school students post-graduation resources. Marie has won numerous academic, community, and writing awards, including the Whatcom PeaceBuilder Award and the Bishop Melvin E. and Lucile Wheatley Peace & Justice Award.
She was a board member of the Bellingham Boys & Girls Club and president of NAMI Whatcom. And currently, Marie is a board officer of the Wyoming State Poetry Society (WyoPoets) and The MONARCH TRAIN that provides books to children aged five and under in rural Idaho.
Kelley Quirk is in her seventh year as the Program Manager for Central Washington University’s (CWU) GEAR UP. She is responsible for all on-campus programming for students and parents including workshops conferences, trainings and summer camps. Kelley collaborates with site directors to plan and execute programming to meet the grant’s goals. She also supervises student employees.
She spends her free time with her husband, four children and two grandchildren, cooking, reading, exercising, playing and exploring. She is also the middle school volleyball coach and high school track and field coach for the Ellensburg School District.
Kelley has presented at the National Council for Education Partnerships (NCCEP) Capacity-Building Workshop and NCCEP/GEAR UP Annual Conference. She has previously served as a member of Public School Employee's Bargaining Team and CWU Health and Wellness Committee.
Marla Weidenaar is in her sixth year as the Program Coordinator for Central Washington University GEAR UP. She is responsible for monthly reconciliation of expenditures and tracking budget information. Marla also compiles data for the Dept. of Education's matching requirement of the grant.
In her free time, Marla loves to travel. She has lived in Berlin, Germany for five years with her husband and first child, and in Stavanger, Norway for four years with the addition of her second child. Marla feels that travel has had a big impact on her growth mindset. Experiencing different cultures, languages, foods, dances, and ways of life, has changed her perspective and outlook of the world.
MS, Student, Family and Child Life, Central Washington University
BS, Social Sciences, Central Washington University
Marisol Serrano-Perez, born and raised in Burien, WA. She serves as the GEAR UP Database-Research Analyst at Central Washington University. In her position, Serrano-Perez runs reports and import data from the site directors.
She is currently working on a master's in Family & Child Life at Central Washington University and hopes to graduate this summer. She recently graduated with Honors in Social Services with a double minor in Anthropology and Child Development.
Marisol has been involved with el Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlan (M.E.C.H.A), Wildcat Leadership Academy, the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute, and presented at CWU's SOURCE Conference.
MS, College Student Services Administration, Oregon State University
BS, Psychology, Washington State University
Lesley Hernandez was born and raised in Brewster. As a Site-Director, Hernandez works closely with junior and senior students by providing the skills and resources necessary to become successful students and continue onto post-secondary education.
Before CWU GEAR UP, Hernandez served an Academic Counselor and First-Year Student Success instructor for TRIO Student Support Services and Graduate Teaching Assistant for the Honors College, both at Oregon State University.
MBA, Eastern Oregon Univerisity
BS, Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, Eastern Oregon University
BS, Public Administration, Eastern Oregon University
Zed Deenik has served as a Site Director in Chelan High School since 2016. Born and raised in South Africa, Zed immigrated to the United States in 2006, graduating from high school in The Dalles, OR. While completing his MBA, Zed moved to Wenatchee, WA, where he currently lives with his Wife, Sarah, and daughter, Natalie.
Zed currently serves approximately 240 students in the Classes of 2020 and 2021 at Chelan High School, guiding them towards graduation and Post-Secondary Education.
MA, International Studies, University of Washington
BA, Cultural Anthropology, Central Washington University
In the Highland School District Anastasia serves 200 students and supervises a team of teachers, tutors, and STEM coaches while working with district administrators and local community organization partners towards grant goals and outcomes.
She aims to ensure that all students she serves have the knowledge, opportunity, and supports they need to succeed in their post-secondary education and career goals. She is passionate about Diversity, Access & Inclusion, and providing solutions to real and perceived barriers of individual and collective achievement.
Prior to coming to CWU Anastasia has worked as an Applied Cultural Anthropologist & Data Analyst in the private sector, as an Administrator and Researcher for Math in a Cultural Context- a culturally relative education grant project with the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and Yupik tribal elders and educators, and as a Case Manager serving the developmentally disabled community.
In her spare time she enjoys her four children, two grandchildren, reading, hiking, camping, and swimming.
M.Ed, Teacher Leadership, Special Education, Heritage University
B.Ed., AD/Teacher Certification, University of Alberta
BS, University of Alberta
Lyn currently teaches all of Easton School District’s Science programs from grades 7 to 12 as well as SEL and Study Skills. Lyn has been involved in teaching and education related industries for 35 years and hopes to continue for another 35! Her passion is in working with student’s growth in behavior, socioemotional development and academics.
She loves working with her students to find their passions and to find pathways for success during and after high school.
Michael Vowels has been with the SOAR3 CWU GEAR UP grant since it started. He began with the students in the classes of 2020 and 2021 at Chief Joseph Middle School were in 6th and 7th grade respectively. Michael has since followed them up and currently helps in the administration of the grant at the high school level.
Prior to working for CWU GEAR UP, Michael worked as a teacher, substitute teacher and success counselor at New Horizons Alternative High School in Pasco, WA. Now with CWU GEAR UP, Michael's primary focus is ensuring the post-secondary success of all students in the SOAR3 grant. Michael works daily with students who are at risk of falling short of their goals and ensures they don't lose site of the bigger picture, achieving their post-secondary dreams.
Kari earned her BA from Pacific Lutheran University in English (Writing) and a minor in Children's Literature. Kari also played volleyball for the Lutes and was an active member of the Women's Ministry on campus.
Following graduation, Kari worked for National Seafood Educators as a writer and editor. After a 14 year hiatus from working outside the home to raise four children, she returned to the workforce, beginning with GEAR UP in 2017.
MA, Public Administration, Eastern Washington University
BA, History, Eastern Washington University
Charles Zeller serves as the Omak High School Gear Up Site Director. He grew up in rural North Central Washington and graduated from Bridgeport High School in 2004.
Charles went to college at Eastern Washington University where he earned both a Bachelor’s in History and a Master’s of Public Administration. Charles is also currently attending Grand Canyon University earning a Master’s of Education.
Dawn Miller has 13 years’ experience directing three cohorts of GEAR UP students at OHS. Miller works directly with OHS staff to ensure each student in the grant is ready to be successful in their post-secondary choice. Prior to working with GEAR UP, Miller worked in the Oroville School District for 8 years as of 21st Century Director and Elementary and Special Education Secretary.
Before her life in education, she was in the banking industry holding many positions leaving the profession as a Branch Manager at Key Bank in Grandview, WA. At CWU GEAR UP, Miller works with Oroville District staff to develop programming to fulfill the grant goals of increasing academic performance and preparation for postsecondary education, increase the rate of graduation and enrollment of postsecondary education and increase GU student and their family’s knowledge of postsecondary ed options, preparation, and financing.
MA, Higher Education Leadership & Administration, Central Washington University
BS, Advertising, Grand Valley State University
BA, Public Relations, Grand Valley State University
College and Career Readiness certified
Juan Poré has served as a GEAR UP Site Director since 2014, where he has supervised up to 30 student employees. He has served students in both the MOSAIC and SOAR grants, where he has helped students with the transition from jr. high to high school, and high school into college.
Juan has also served on the committee to plan and implement the GEAR UP to support students in their first year of post-secondary. He manages student advisors known as GEAR UP "Ambassadors" on multiple campuses such a UW, WWU, CWU, BBCC, WVC, Whitworth, and Gonzaga. The one thing that he would like to be known for is his ability to build relationships with the students he serves.
BS, Child Development and Family Relations, University of Idaho
Suzette Ellis is the GEAR UP Site Director at Tonasket High School in Tonasket, WA. She is part of a grant program that is managed and run through Central Washington University. She is responsible for organizing and implementing rigorous programing for a cohort of 160 high school age students.
Prior to coming to CWU, Ellis worked in several diverse positions in the public-school system in Washington state. She was a counselor at Bridgeport Elementary School and prior to that worked as their Parent Involvement Coordinator. She worked many years in the school office as the lead secretary at Lind Ritzville High School in Ritzville, WA and Parkway School in Ephrata, WA. At Central, Ellis works daily to meet the objectives of our federal grant.
Germán was born and raised in the Wenatchee Valley. He started working for GEAR UP right after college at Quincy High School. There was an opportunity to work in Wenatchee at Pioneer Middle school in 2015 and now works at Wenatchee High School. Germán feels blessed to work in the buildings where he used to go to school and serve the students and families of Wenatchee.
At Wenatchee High School Germán oversees 17 full-time and part-time employees. His primary duties are ensuring that the program at Wenatchee High School has the necessary tools to be successful.