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Our Leadership

Nancy Lavelle
Nancy J. Lavelle, Ph.D. – Founder and President
Dr. Lavelle founded the non-profit Institute for the Redesign of Learning, in 1974, to serve as a catalyst for the design, implementation, and dissemination of innovative teaching and learning strategies for infants, children and adults with learning, developmental, behavior and/or emotional disabilities as well as individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The Institute offers early intervention, special education, mental health, vocational and job placement services to 3700 children, students and adults from 35 communities in Southern California. The Institute operates four facilities in South Pasadena: Almansor Early Childhood Education Services; Almansor Academy (a special education, non-public day school); Almansor Transition and Adult Services/Almansor Supported Employment Services, Almansor Community Outreach Services, and Almansor Mental Health Services. Almansor Mental Health Services also operates a clinic in the City of Commerce. The Westmoreland Academy, our sixth program and second special education, non-public day school for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders, opened in 2012 in Pasadena. The Almansor Center serves a diverse population. Approximately 44% of our clients are of Hispanic/Latino origin; 33% are Caucasian; 12% African-American and 11% Asian. Over 60% of families receiving services live below the poverty level. Forty percent of our clients are in foster or group home placements. The Institute has also provided courses and workshops nationally for more than 3000 parents and professionals in the last several years.

Dr. Lavelle is also President and CEO of Total Education Solutions, Inc. (TES).TES, founded in 1997, is a privately held, full-service, multi-state special education company that provides professional services to clients and direct special education and pediatric therapy services to individuals with special needs in schools and homes; online; and in the community. TES also operates multi-disciplinary therapeutic clinics in San Diego, Los Angeles, Alhambra, Lynwood, and Sacramento, California; in Troy, Michigan; and in Akron Ohio where TES also established the TES Academy, a speciality school for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Dr. Lavelle received her doctorate in Psychological Studies in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Lavelle is principal author of Taking Charge® for Educators and Related Professionals: Linguistic Coaching for Special Needs and At-Risk Youth; and Taking Charge®: A Life Planning Partnership with At-Risk Youth and has conducted over 300 workshops nationwide for parents, educators and other professionals working with at-risk youth. She has served as a Review Panelist for the U.S. Department of Education National Exemplary School Recognition Program; the Council on American Private Education; as well as the Institute for At-Risk Infants, Children, Youth and Their Families; all located in Washington, D.C. Dr. Lavelle has been a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Private Schools for Exceptional Children, Washington, D.C.; the California Association of Private Special Education Schools, in Sacramento; Education 1st!, a Los Angeles based entertainment industry group dedicated to improving the quality of education; and the Inside Edge Educational Foundation, Beverly Hills. Dr. Lavelle has also served on the Board of Directors, and is past president of the Education Industry Association, based in Washington, D.C. She is currently on the Board of Directors of the UCLA Mountain Bruins, Lake Arrowhead, CA. Her areas of professional expertise include: Linguistic Coaching®, personal responsibility training; crisis intervention; self-determination and advocacy; and staff development and training. Her areas of professional expertise include: school organization, strategic planning, staff development and training, teacher education, parent training, crisis intervention, self-determination and advocacy.


 

Edward Amey
Edward Amey, M.S. – Managing Director
Edward joined Total Education Solutions in the summer of 2014 as Managing Director for the Institute for the Redesign of Learning. A southern California native, born and raised in the San Fernando Valley area, Edward earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from U.C. Santa Barbara in 1992 and a master’s degree in Educational Psychology and Counseling at California State University, Northridge in 1995. He has been in the education and social services arenas for 15 years, in addition to having worked in the Information Technology industry for six. Edward brings many years of experience in leadership, team-building and program administration. He has been a Supervisor and Project Coordinator for the Children’s Bureau of Southern California, working in the Foster Care and Adoption divisions. Edward has served as a Foster Care Social Worker, Case Manager and Direct Care Counselor/Crisis Interventionist for local non-profit mental health organizations and a Non-Public School. For several years he served as the Executive Director for the Lutheran High School Association of Southern California. He has a passion for working with children and teens, and a desire to see every individual reach their potential and live a life of purpose.

As we celebrate 40 years of innovative educational services to the community, Edward is excited to guide and support the great work that is being been done at IRL, and lead the organization into its next 40 years.


 

Al Hernandez
Erik Quillen, M.S., LMFT – Education Director, Special Education Day School – Almansor Academy
After graduating from USC in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree from the Rossier School of Education Erik worked as a janitor and leadership conference production manager before completing the three-year Master of Science degree in School-Based Family Counseling and Marriage & Family therapy through CSULA’s Charter College of Education. He is currently a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and holds a clear Pupil Personnel Services credential in School Counseling with an advanced certification in Child Welfare and Attendance. Erik has over four years’ experience as a therapist (MFT) working with at-risk youth and families throughout the Los Angeles area and has, for the past three years, served as an educational administrator as a Program Coordinator for The Almansor Center’s Non-Public School, The Almansor Academy.


 

Lori Andrews
Lori Andrews, M.Ed. – Education Director, Special Education Day School – Almansor Academy
Lori joined the Institute for the Redesign of Learning in July 2008 as an Education Director with Almansor Academy. Lori holds a B.A. in Social Science, a Master of Education in Special Education, and credentials in Single Subject, Special Education, and Administration. Lori worked as a general education teacher, Resource Specialist, Special Day Class Teacher, Transition Specialist, Program Specialist, and Principal of a Charter School before joining IRL. She is currently on staff at Pacific Oaks College as an adjunct professor in the School of Education. With 25 years of experience in the fields of education, administration and leadership management, and extensive experience in the field of Special Education, Lori brings a wide range of experience to help expand the programs at Almansor. Through Lori’s leadership, the Almansor Academy has grown by adding classrooms, expanding the Transition/Vocational program for students up to age 22, and adding an online curriculum for grades K-12. Lori’s passion continues to help the Almansor Academy be a leader in providing the highest quality education available for students who have Special Needs, and by creating an atmosphere that encourages students who have been unsuccessful in other school environments to achieve their goals both inside the classroom and out in the community.


 

Melinda Docter
Melinda Docter, Ed.D., BCBA; Director of Education – Westmoreland Academy
Dr. Docter joined the Institute for the Redesign of Learning in June 2012, as Education Director for its new Westmoreland Academy, a specialty school for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Melinda has 24 years of combined experience in teaching and administration for both general education and special education. She holds a Doctorate in Education – Organizational Leadership and Masters in Education, both awarded by Pepperdine University and California State Credentials in General Education, Special Education in Moderate to Severe Disabilities, and Administration.

Dr. Docter was previously the Vice President of Curriculum at TeachTown, a company that creates products for children with autism and other developmental delays and was responsible for all curriculum development and California State Standards alignment. She served as the principal at Junior Blind of America’s Special Education School, providing educational and therapy services to children with multiple severe to profound disabilities, blindness and autism from 2008 to 2010. Melinda was also the principal at The Help Group’s Village Glen School, specializing in education and therapy services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders/Asperger’s Syndrome from 2006-2008.

Melinda has a child with Asperger’s Syndrome and has recently authored Asperger’s Syndrome: A Guide to Helping Your Child Thrive at Home and at School (Wiley and Sons Publication) with coauthor Syed Naqvi, MD, Director of Pediatric Psychopharmacology, Cedars Sinai Hospital, Los Angeles.


 

Ed Shrader
Edwin Shrader, M.A., LMFT – Clinical Director, Almansor Clinical Services (Mental Health)
Ed joined the Institute for the Redesign of Learning in 1989. Ed Shrader received his B.A. degree in Business Economics from the University of California at Santa Barbara and his M.A degree in Marriage Family & Child Counseling/Psychology from Antioch University West. Ed provided Mental Health therapy services at the Institute for the Redesign of Learning’s Non-Public School for the first eight years and has been the Clinical Director for the Institute for the Redesign of Learning’s Mental Health Department for the last eighteen years. The Mental Health Department provides School & Home based comprehensive Mental Health Services to children, youth and their families between the ages of 1-21.


 

image005 Nancy Miller, M.A., LMFT – Clinical Coordinator, South Pasadena Office, Almansor Clinical Services (Mental Health)
Nancy joined the Institute for the Redesign of Learning in 1999. She received her B.A. at Cal State University Northridge in Radio/TV Broadcasting and received her master’s degree in Marriage, Family, and Child Therapy from Phillips Graduate Institute. She also received her certificate in Substance Abuse from Phillips and received a certificate in Co-occurring Disorders from UCLA Extension. Nancy provided Mental Health therapy services and Clinical Supervision at the Institute’s Almansor Clinical Services for her first 4 years with the Institute. She then worked as a Program Manager for Almansor Clinical Services for 13 years. She has been the Clinical Coordinator for the Institute for the Redesign of Learning’s Mental Health Department Almansor Clinical Services since July of 2016.


 

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Ailsa “Monique” Long, M.S., LMFT – Clinical Coordinator, Commerce Office, Almansor Clinical Services (Mental Health)

Monique joined the Institute for the Redesign of Learning in 2006. She received her B.A. in Psychology from Whittier College and her master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University. Monique provided Program Management for the last 10 years in the Mental Health Department and has been the Clinical Coordinator for the Institute for the Redesign of Learning’s Mental Health Department in Commerce since July of 2016.


 

Nita Davis
Nita Davis, M.P.A. – Director, Transition and Adult Services (TAS)
Nita joined the Institute for the Redesign of Learning in 2008 as Director of the Transition and Adult Services Department. Prior to joining IRL, Nita held a variety of roles in Vocational Rehabilitation, Human Resources, and non-profit management. Most recently, she was in charge of Operations for the Pasadena Ronald McDonald House. Nita has over 17 years’ experience in the areas of management, program development and marketing. In her current position, she has effectively managed the Transition and Adult Services department within IRL with overall responsibility for 140 clients with disabilities. TAS works with adolescents and adults in the areas of vocational rehabilitation, independent living skills training, adaptive skills training, a day program, and community integration services. Nita is a member of the Vendor Leadership committee to the Eastern Los Angeles Regional Center. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from Loyola Marymount University and a master’s degree in Public Administration from California State University, Los Angeles.


 

Emily Baltazar
Emily Baltazar – Program Manager – Almansor Community Outreach Services
Emily began her work as a volunteer with students with special needs at The Almansor Center in 1994, and was later hired as a full time assistant to the Community Outreach Department. After four years with the agency, Emily was promoted to Community Outreach Project Manager. She is actively involved with program implementation and service provision for our current contracts. Her current responsibilities for the Agency include oversight of a staff of more than 30 professionals providing support to over 250 Head Start Classrooms. Services range from assessments, intervention services, and parent/teacher in-services.


 

Tamara Pinelo
Tamera Pinelo M.Ed. – Program Manager – Early Childhood Education Services
Tammie joined the Institute for the Redesign of Learning in 2010 as the infant classroom Lead Teacher before moving into her current role as the Program Manager in 2012. With a specialization in Infant Toddler Development, Tammie has worked with Early Head Start and participated in many staff training videos for Head Start, including supporting inclusion in child development. She holds a master’s degree in Education and is currently pursuing a post graduate certificate in Child Development with her sight on a second master’s degree in Child Development. Tammie also holds a B.S. in International Business from Schiller International University in Florida, and began working in the field of child development in 1998.


 

Raul Martinez
Raul Martinez, B.A. — Director of Facilities and Transportation
Raul joined Total Education Solutions (TES) in 2008, bringing with him over 12 years of Facility Management Experience. Prior to joining TES, he worked as the Operations Manager at a prestigious building maintenance firm specializing in all facets of facility management projects. While there, Raul was responsible for managing labor and equipment budgets in excess of $2MM and 250 direct/contracted personnel for fortune 1,000 companies. Some of his more notable clients were Federal Express, Dole World Headquarters, Warner Brothers and the J. Paul Getty Museum. Raul is Six Sigma Yellow Belt Certified and plays a key role in developing and managing the Corporate Sustainability Plan for the Institute for the Redesign of Learning where he now oversees three departments.