Families In Schools was created in 2000 to focus on family engagement as a critical component of school reform and improved student outcomes, in particular for students from low-income families and communities of color. Consequently, we provide programs and professional development that cultivates authentic parent engagement by building the skills, knowledge and confidence of both parents and staff on how to work together.
The Role of the Training Consultant: The Training Consultant serves Families In Schools by providing exceptional training support and customer service to our clients who include school and district-based teachers, parent liaisons and administrators, as well as other school and community-based organizational (CBO) staff.
Martha Castillo is a first-gen maverick turned edupreneur. Her mission is to equip students and leaders with the tools necessary to close the equity gap in education. As a former special education teacher and college readiness counselor for the most underserved students in The Bronx, NY, and Los Angeles, CA she is aware of the challenges first-gen students face when transitioning
to college and has dedicated her career to helping underserved students receive the guidance and resources necessary to successfully achieve their educational goals. Martha earned her bachelor’s degree in public administration from the University of La Verne and her M.S. E.d in education from The City College of New York. As a first-generation college student, diagnosed with a learning disability while attending community college, she is familiar with the challenges
first-generation students face when transitioning to college. Martha has dedicated her career to helping underserved students receive the guidance and resources necessary to successfully achieve their educational goals. By continuously building relationships with fellow educators and members of the community she strives to provide the best tools and practices available to help students and leaders thrive.
Tamara Renée Davidson
Tamara Renée Davidson is a Harlem-born interdisciplinary musician, educator, and curriculum developer whose work crosses the disciplines of music, mixed-media painting and collage, printmaking, writing, film, fashion, movement studies, and Africana studies. Tamara graduated from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study in 2011. At Gallatin, she created an interdisciplinary major that combined Arts Education, Creative Writing, Africana Studies with a focus on The Caribbean and Latin America, and Jazz Vocal performance. Her undergraduate studies were bolstered by a semester abroad at The University of Havana in Cuba with The Tisch School of the Arts Film program, where she studied Afro-Cuban music.
In September of 2016, Tamara was commissioned by the Whitney Museum of American Art to co-lead and cultivate her first performance art piece entitled “shake the stars with your song”. In addition to her work as an artist, Tamara has become a seasoned educator, curriculum developer/consultant, and community liaison working with institutions such as The Brooklyn Children’s Museum, The Children’s Museum of the Arts, The Whitney Museum, The Bronx Children’s Museum, and Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education. Tamara currently lives in Los Angeles, where she is a teaching artist for the L.A. Philharmonic and an MFA candidate in Music Composition and Performance at The California Institute of the Arts. Tamara is honored to join the Families In Schools team as a trainer and curriculum consultant.
Julie N. Heifetz, PhD.
As an educator, trainer, and consultant/coach Julie works with students, teachers, and their families to support literacy, emotional management and wellbeing, stress reduction, and resilience. Julie shares social emotional learning best practices, resources, tools, and techniques with students of all ages, as well as adults.
An alumna of UCLA, Julie earned her doctorate in Cultural Anthropology and Education and received a K-12 teaching credential. She began her career in the classroom teaching underserved students in Los Angeles and new immigrants dealing with the challenges of adjusting to life in the U.S.
As a senior program manager at L.A. City Hall and International Literacy Association in Washington D.C., Julie led youth, family engagement and teacher training programs in the U.S., Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Her work includes empowering women and ensuring that girls, as well as boys, have equal opportunity for education and work from the early grades through secondary and graduate levels.
Julie is dedicated to promoting equity, cross-cultural understanding, and social emotional learning. Throughout her life, her domestic and international travel ventures have allowed her to engage in these efforts and create partnerships with people around the world.
Lucy G. Muñiz
My name is Luzelena (Lucy) G. Muñiz I was born and raised in the Coachella Valley. I attended UC Santa Barbara earned my Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Spanish. I continued on to the University of Southern California to earn my Master in Social Work. I currently reside in Indio; a place I have always home. After attending college and beginning my career in the Los Angeles area, I made the decision to return home and serve the community where I grew up. I am currently employed full-time as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker within the medical field helping individuals with chronic illness.
I was blessed with mentors and family support in pursuing higher education and my goal is to assist parents and students identify their own support system. As an employee of FIS, I am able to share my own experiences and provide students and parents with skills and traits they can use daily to achieve success. I have been with FIS as a part-time employee for 8 years in an array of different roles: college workshop facilitator, coordinator for community engagement campaigns, facilitator for parent and student focus groups in assessing the needs of their schools, and as a professional development trainer for schools districts and community-based organizations. I have enjoyed every one of those roles as I am able to connect with individuals that share a common goal of wanting lifelong success for students. I am able to observe the level of commitment from different capacities; parents, teachers, counselors, principals, and mentors. As a first-generation college graduate, I understand the emotional component of having support from parents and community to help the students achieve their goals.
I have worked in the Training and Development field for over 20 years in the financial industry, leading me to become further involved in CRA activities as a board member, partnering with schools and teachers to administrator programs to enhance students’ understanding of financial literacy.
Additionally, I have facilitated community health care curriculums and am a small business owner. Each one of these professions has offered me the opportunity to gain exceptional knowledge on various topics, to help train and teach others to develop to the next successful journey of their lives.
I have a passion for teaching and training, for sharing knowledge, life experiences and engaging others with techniques that encourage, inspire, and transfer the learning. I believe to fully understand what you are teaching, you must become involved in community service.
My skill set developed from courses in Communications and Public Speaking, as well as professional development on the job; both allowed me a unique experience to communicate with people from all walks of life.
As a mother of two, I was always involved in my children’s schools as a volunteer parent, leading various functions and fully believe that when parents are involved their children’s schooling, they blossom 100%; it helps close any learning or development gap because the students and teachers feel supported.
I am looking forward to facilitating with Families In Schools and learning much more about how to bring FIS to communities to educate, engage and inspire
Joe Smith’s life experience allows for a unique approach to understanding people, cultures, and the demographics that impact education. A husband and father of five, Joe Smith is best known as LineBackerDAD. Joe aims to engage schools, districts, parents, and stakeholders with the highest passion and integrity. Joe places a unique emphasis on intentionally engaging fathers and father figures. It is Joe’s humility and great skill to effectively engage, train, and inspire stakeholders and communities, expanding how parent engagement is practiced.
Liznergly is an enthusiastic, creative and passionate educator and mentor from Caracas, Venezuela who fell in love with working and empowering at-risk communities as she was developing herself after moving to the United States, without speaking the language and not understanding the culture. She deeply believes that all people can learn and thrive in a learning environment that is stimulating, comforting, and welcoming to their unique talents and abilities. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education and has more than 17 years of teaching experience.
In addition, Liznergly has earned certifications in CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapist), Anger Management, Relationship and Emotional Intelligence Facilitator, Emotional Life Coaching, and Psychology & Therapy of Addiction. Throughout her career, she has shown the ability to display the highest degree of personal integrity and the responsibility for personal growth. In her role as a leader in the Latino community, Liznergly uses a balanced blend of motivational and educational methodology to enhance, empower, and focus on integration, education and participation.
Nasario Vasquez Jr.
Nasario Vasquez Jr. is a Program Coordinator for a TRIO-Talent Search project at California State University, Dominguez Hills serving middle & high school students learn the ins and outs of the college admissions process and support their family attaining an understanding of the importance of creating a college-going culture at home, serving the communities of South Central Los Angeles, Watts, and the South Bay.
Additionally, Nasario has been involved with Families in Schools for over 3 years and was the recipient of the Excellence in Parent Engagement Award from FIS in 2018. He now serves as a Trainer and Facilitator for the organization.
Nasario is also pursuing a master’s degree from California State University, Los Angeles, in Latin American Studies. He obtained a B.A. from CSULA in Spanish in 2019, after transferring from community colleges. He is also a father of two kids and is navigating pre-school with his eldest son.
Estephania is a grassroots leader and a first-generation college graduate from Los Angeles. She identifies herself as an indigenous womyn of color who immigrated from Mexico at a young age, due to her family’s economic situation. As a highly optimistic and passionate professional, she has focused all her efforts on improving the quality of life for families and children in disadvantaged communities.
For the past 10 years, she has worked directly with youth and families in holistic models such as community schools, placemaking initiatives, and civic engagement efforts across Southern California and the southern region of Atlanta. She is currently supporting the Los Angeles movement by looking at systems-level change through local and statewide partnerships.
She is proud to be a ULF 2020 alumna, where she had the opportunity to serve in the Atlanta region as a Fellow as well as their Regional Director. She is passionate about leadership development, coaching, community, family engagement, and puppies (as she is a dog mom to a wonderful 2-year-old named Future the Frenchie).