Kameron Perez-Verdia, President/CEO
Kameron (Holloway) Perez-Verdia currently serves as the President and CEO of Avant-Garde Learning Alliance. He has 17 years of leadership and management experience in the fields of nonprofit management, education and business. He has held senior leadership positions for Alaska-based organizations including Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Catholic Social Services, Charter College and Alaska Pacific University. Perez-Verdia is also the former executive director for the Family and Intercultural Resource Center in Dillon, Colorado, and former senior vice president for Girl Scouts of Colorado.
Perez-Verdia was born in Alaska and raised in the Inupiaq village of Point Barrow. He graduated from Barrow High School and went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Puget Sound. He holds a MBA, with an emphasis in executive leadership, from Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver. Perez-Verdia has also earned leadership certifications from Center for Human Systems and Harvard University’s Kennedy School for Executive Education.
Perez-Verdia, his wife Monica and two young children, Isabel and Mariela, spend a great deal of time playing in the Alaskan outdoors.
Contact Information: P- (907)279-0361
“Education for Life" sums up Tonio Verzone’s philosophy of education. He points to a childhood trip to visit his dad in Bethel as a pivotal point in his development. Here Verzone witnessed the strength of culture and community. He later realized the importance of connecting education with the lives and realities of students. He developed a passion for experiential learning, participatory development and effective ways of knowledge sharing. His background is rooted in adult education, international education, community engagement, and organization development.
Verzone’s formal education took place at Alaska Pacific University and Columbia University, but his primary education has come from sitting, listening, and working with everyday people. He has spent the last ten years as an education advocate in rural communities around the world. Using adult learning and participatory research methods, he supports participants to analyze and act on issues affecting their lives. He has lived and worked in Vietnam, India, Bangladesh, Lao, Mongolia, Iceland, and Ecuador. Verzone’s domestic experience includes working extensively in Alaska and Appalachia, as well as urban education in New York City and Washington, DC. He has taught at the middle school, high school, vocational and university level.
Verzone is the current Chidley Scholar from the Learning Forward Foundation and a member of the Learning Forward class of 2014. He is a certified trainer for the National School Reform Faculty.
Contact Information: P- (907)279-0354
Alaska’s first and only woman commissioner of education brings a long list of accomplishments to her position: speech pathologist, teacher, teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing, principal, school superintendent, educational consultant, university professor, college president, State Board of Education and Early Development member and founder of Avant-Garde Learning Alliance. Dr. Holloway presently serves on the Charter College Board of Trustees, the CIRI Foundation Board, the Sheldon Jackson Board of Trustees and the National Alliance for Mental Illness Board of Anchorage and provides consulting services to schools, districts, communities and other organizations through her business, Leadership in Excellence.
Holloway has been bestowed many honors and recognitions over her years of service including Alaska Superintendent of the Year, named one of the top 100 educators in America by The Executive Educator magazine and inducted into the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame. She holds bachelor degrees in special education and speech pathology, a Master of Science degree in education, and a doctorate in educational leadership. Throughout her career she has been guided by the philosophy that children come first and challenges herself and others to ask if children are the beneficiaries of our decisions. Holloway is also known as “Quvian,” the Inupiat Eskimo name given to her by the people of Barrow. “Quvian” means “person full of joy.”
Contact Information: P- (907)279-0361
Jann D. Mylet, Director of Operations
Jann Mylet made the move to Alaska in the summer of 2012 after spending 16 years in independent school administration in roles as Director of Admission and Dean of Students, and as a teacher, coach, and advisor at schools in Washington DC, Denver, and Philadelphia. She worked for a year as the Director of Marketing, Enrollment, and Alumni at Anchorage Waldorf School while also working at Avant-Garde as a part-time program assistant. In June, 2013, she transitioned into a full-time position at Avant-Garde as Director of Operations. Mylet holds a bachelors degree in Sociology from St. Lawrence University in upstate New York, and a Masters degree in School Counseling from Villanova University.
Contact Information: P- (907)279-0356
Mo Sanders, Facilitator
Teaching has been Mo Sanders' life goal since she was in first grade. She started teaching "for real" in 1972 in Redmond, Oregon. Forty-odd years later she is as enamored with the profession as she was when starting out in Redmond.
Sanders' formal education took place at Chapman College, University of San Francisco, and University of Anchorage. She has 17 years of classroom teaching experience in grades 2-6, including special education and Gifted and Talented programs. She was a school district administrator for 10 years with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and has been the part-time administrator at Soldotna Montessori Charter School in Soldotna for the past 10 years. Sanders particularly loves working with adults and families and has been an adjunct faculty member at UAA and KPC for over 20 years.
Sanders has lived in Alaska since 1978. She started her Alaskan experience living and working in Barrow for five years. Since that time, she has worked as a consultant in many rural Alaskan villages. Although Soldotna is now her home, she continues to love rural Alaska.
Bernie Sorensen, Facilitator
It was probably inevitable that Bernie Sorenson would wind up continuing to pursue her passion as an educator even after retiring from the Juneau School District in the spring of 2009. “I started practicing when I was about 4 years old. Every one of my family members had to be my student.”
Growing up in tiny Frenchtown, Montana, where she also broke and trained horses, Sorensen was devoted to school. She mimicked her teachers when she played. She kept journals about them, writing down what she liked about the way they taught and what she didn't like. She still loves school to this day. Her first job was teaching first grade on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Arlee, Montana. After a couple of years, she was asked by her principal to coordinate a program that provided extra help to kids who were behind in math, reading or language arts. The determination that earned her a reputation as a trainer who could break horses who were not always treated well, carried over to the classroom. Later, the University of Montana, in Missoula, asked Sorenson to supervise master's degree students who were practicing teaching reading. That's when she realized she would like to be a principal and decided to get her master's degree in educational leadership. Sorenson moved to Juneau in 1988, where she was the assistant superintendent, a principal at both the elementary and high school levels, a reading specialist and as a central office administrator, coordinating grants and assessment, and bilingual and other multicultural programs. Currently Sorenson is continuing her passion for educating ALL students with her work as a facilitator for Avant-Garde Learning Alliance. Additionally, Sorenson runs an after-school credit recovery program for high school students in the Juneau School district.
Nancy Buell, Research and Development
Nancy Buell came to Alaska with her husband Bill in 1979 to work for the North Slope Borough School District, where she assisted villages to implement graduation requirements and coordinated federal programs. Prior to coming to Alaska, Dr. Buell was a high school teacher, a community college administrator, and a writer/developer in the School Change unit of the Rural Education Program at Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory.
Dr. Buell taught in the School of Education at the University of Alaska Anchorage, where she was also the Director of the Alaska Assessment Center for Principals. She also served as the Assessment Director of a large suburban school district in Washington, and worked for the Alaska Department of Education and the University of Alaska Southeast in the Professional Development Center.
School change, especially in rural or small schools, has been Buell's career-long interest, especially change that increases the ability of school personnel to work together with the community for school improvement. Dr. Buell’s primary research interest since the 1970’s has been organizational and staff development. Her doctoral work focused on increasing staff productivity through applying adult learning theory to school and hospital staff development.
Dr. Buell holds degrees in English Education, Counseling and Educational Administration, including Higher and Postsecondary Education.