OCS Governing Board Members
The Odyssey Charter School Governing Board is comprised of up to ninetten members who serve to provide leadership and guidance to the school as related to fiscal and governance matters. Our diverse board members bring a variety of experience, expertise, and talents which work in unison to ensure the success of our school and students. Our Governing Board members are:
Nina Zippay, Board Chair
Nina joined the Odyssey Charter School Governing Board in April 2014 as a Parent Representative. Ms. Zippay earned her undergraduate degree in Journalism at Southern Illinois University followed by a Juris Doctor degree in Chicago at Kent College of Law, specializing in Environmental Law. She received her Masters of Business Administration (MBA) with an emphasis in leadership and sustainability from Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business.
As a licensed California attorney, she counsels local businesses and non-profits and spent several years as an environmental attorney with the United States Environmental Protection Agency. She is a local business entrepreneur of two education-based enterprises, Radical Radishes, a writing workshop and summer program for children and young adults, and Radical Cooks, a cooking school for both adults and children. Her non-profit board experience includes having served as President of Mt. Washington School Site Council within the Los Angeles School District and President of the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council.
Jexy Wadle, Board Vice-Chair
Jexy Wadle joined the Odyssey Charter School Governing Board in 2012 as a parent representative member. She currently the Lead and Founding Teacher of the Humanities Academy of Art and Technology in Los Angeles Unified School where she serves as the instructional lead teacher and second administrator at the new pilot high school. She entered teaching in 1993 as a corps member in the Teach For America Program and went on to become a literacy coach at Roosevelt High School. In 1999, Jexy earned her National Board Certification as a secondary language arts teacher. As a teacher, she was involved in her school’s accreditation process and was on the school reform governance committee. She went on to earn her Master’s Degree in Educational Leaderships and policy Studies from Cal State Northridge.
Before coming to Odyssey, Jexy was on the board of her son’s co-op nursery school. She was the board president for a year and a half and she was on the personnel committee for three years. Jexy was very involved with all aspects of running the school, including hiring employees, working with state licensing agencies, and serving as a liaison between parents and teachers. Jexy is very interested in seeing Odyssey continue to grow and improve. She feels that her experiences as a public school educator and as a nursery school board member have provided her with a unique insight that she will bring to Odyssey’s Governing Board.
Melissa Denton, Board Treasurer
Melissa Denton joined the Odyssey Charter School Governing Board in 2015. She is currently the Executive Director of The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company where she oversees all aspects of the company. For the past fifteen years, Melissa has been professionally involved in theatre both in Los Angeles and New York City.
Melissa earned her undergraduate degree at South Dakota State University, and a MA in Nonprofit Management from Antioch University in Los Angeles.
Marisa Davis, Board Secretary & Odyssey Charter School Parent Board Member
Marisa joined the Odyssey Charter School Governing Board in October 2016.She worked for many years in Theatre Arts Administration, and as a Costume Designer, later receiving her BFA in Textile and Surface Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology. As a Textile Designer, she has contributed to manufacturing within several different industries, in a variety of technical applications. Additionally, she has volunteered in many social outreach programs, and as an activist has engaged with the community and policy makers to defend health choice, and advocating for every child to receive a quality education. Recently she attended a training in Human Rights Education here in Los Angeles, as well as, the Alternative Education Resource Organization Conference in Portland, Oregon. Currently, she is a mother of two, developing print designs out of her Pasadena studio, and is pursing an MBA from Western Governors University. She is honored to be a supporting part of the Odyssey Charter School mission, and the future of public education as a whole.
PARENT REPRESENTATIVE BOARD MEMBERS
Mel Kennedy-Morrow, Odyssey Charter School Parent Representative Board Member
Mel joined the Odyssey Charter School Governing Board as a Parent Representative in October 2016. She is a seasoned storyteller with more than 20 years of experience writing, directing, and producing documentary television and film. Prior to becoming a filmmaker, she studied anthropology and journalism at FAU, and received a BA in Film and Media Arts from Emerson College. She has produced and directed content for many US broadcast and cable outlets including ABC, Bravo, A&E, MTV, The Biography Channel, Discovery Channel, Discovery Science, E!, HGTV, History Channel, Lifetime, MSNBC, TLC, Travel Channel, and National Geographic Channel.
A tireless truth seeker, Mel has a knack for getting to the heart of the matter, writing and producing documentary series and specials on a wide array of topics, including breakthrough green technologies, true crime criminal investigations, and gold mining in Alaska. Her work is often focused on the unique struggles that face today’s youth, from kids caught in the juvenile justice system to the uber-pressured lives of elite young athletes. Most importantly, she is interested in the struggles of young women, and her documentary work has examined everything from surviving middle school to female millennials fighting to fit into a modern workforce where equality is still a moving target. Mel’s central goal in all her work is to lure audiences in with entertainment, then deliver a solid punch in the gut that exposes the raw emotional core of the human condition. Her goal is to utilize film and TV as an entry into discussions around hard-hitting social, economic, and environmental issues and to inspire change.
Six years ago Mel’s world was lovingly turned upside down with the birth of her two children, Max and Stella, which she considers to be her most challenging and rewarding productions yet. She currently splits her energies between part-time filmmaker and part-time chauffer, event planner, chef, therapist, stylist, personal assistant, hairdresser, tutor, and council-in- chief to two very spirited children. As of October 2016, She is looking forward to a brand new adventure serving as an active, conscientious, and committed member of the Odyssey Charter School Governing Board.
Andrew Loschert, OCS- South Parent Representative Board Member
Andrew Loschert was elected to the OCS Governing Board in October 2018 and serves as one of two parent representatives for OCS- South. Andrew is a marketing professional working in the tech start-up space. He also has a background as a freelance writer and a rhetoric instructor at the University of Southern California and uses this to inform his mission of communicating a company's message, mission, and value to customers and the community. Andrew shares his desire to join the Governing Board stems from “a desire to take an active role in my sons' education. We believe in the mission of Odyssey Charter Schools and I hope to help the team realize the mission on the OCS- South campus… My background as a marketer might come in handy as the team tries to position OSC- South as a part of the OCS family of schools”.
Ryan Mackey, OCS- South Parent Representative Board Member
Ryan Mackey is a systems engineer and data scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he has worked since 1996. He is currently supporting the 2022 Europa Clipper mission to explore the ocean moon of Jupiter. He has authored over 50 articles and received 3 United States Patents for his work in autonomous and reasoning systems and spacecraft fault protection. He set his sights on a career in aerospace at an early age, inspired by the launch of the Voyager outer planets mission when he was three years old. Growing up in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, he attended the progressive and experimental Popper-Keizer School, graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and completed his graduate studies at Caltech. For the last two years he has trained as part of the JPL Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), and holds current certifications in First Aid and CPR / AED, FEMA CERT, and FEMA Disaster Management. He is active in the Washington Square Neighborhood Association, contributing to block parties and serving as Newsletter Editor.
COMMUNITY BOARD MEMBERS
Rene G. Alicea, Community Board Member
Rene joined the Odyssey Charter School Governing Board in October 2016 as a Community Representative. In his professional role, he serves as the Finance Director for Cockram Construction Inc. René has over 10 years of experience working in all the financial and accounting areas in the engineering and construction industry. He joined Cockram Projects Inc in 2005 as Accounting Manager for the Puerto Rico Division and later that year took over the accounting and finance duties of the USA Division. He became the Financial Controller for the USA and Puerto Rico Divisions in 2010 and Director in 2011. René’s responsibilities have increased to include duties as the Company Officer and Company Secretary for the USA and include administrative leadership for all areas of the USA business.
Rene earned an MBA in International Business and a Bachelor’s in Business Administration with majors in Accounting and Finance from University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras.
Rhonda Graham, Community Board Member
A Los Angeles native, Rhonda has lived in Northwest Pasadena for over 20 years and raised her family there. She has three sons, two of whom attended Odyssey Charter School. Her oldest son, Ronald, is in his senior year at University of La Verne and plans to become a teacher. Evan is attending Pasadena City College, while Kai just entered University of California – Davis studying Biotechnology. Rhonda previously served on the board of Odyssey Charter School from 2009 to 2015, initially as a parent representative and ultimately as a community member. She has also been an active supporter of both Odyssey and her sons’ high school (also a charter school). Rhonda and her family are active with various animal rescue organizations in the local community.
Dr. Joretta Joseph, Community Board Member
Joretta Joseph joined the Odyssey Charter School Governing Board in 2012 as a community member, and assumed the role of Board Chair in October 2013. Joretta has spent the past five years of her professional career in higher education as program administrator, faculty member, and advisor at the University of Southern California and Pasadena City College. Prior to her work in academia, she worked in various accounting and finance roles in both the public and private sector.
As a scholar, her research interests lie in the area of equity in education for historically underrepresented groups in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Joretta earned a doctorate in education from the University of Southern California, an MBA from Howard University, and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Clark Atlanta University.
Patrick Ontiveros, Community Board Member
Patrick joined the Odyssey Governing Board in April 2016 and brings a wealth of charter facility experience and expertise to our Board. He currently serves as the General Counsel & Senior Project Manager for Pacific Charter School Development. In this role oversees PCSD’s legal matters, including contracting and managing outside legal counsel, and as Senior Project Manager, Patrick manages the development of campuses for PCSD’s charter school clients.
Prior to joining PCSD, Patrick was an attorney with Wendel Rosen Black & Dean LLP in Oakland, California, where he focused on corporate transactions and represented private companies and municipal entities. Previously, Patrick was an attorney with a boutique Silicon Valley law firm counseling both high tech and emerging growth companies and venture capital investors. Patrick began his legal career in New York City with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in its Public Finance and Structured Finance Departments. He is licensed to practice law in California and New York.
Susan Ruffins, Community Board Member
Susan Ruffins is rejoining the Odyssey Charter Schools Governing Board, this time as a community board member. She served as parent representative and treasurer to the governing board from 2002 to 2007 during the school’s early years in Pasadena, through its initial five year renewal and its relocation to its current site in Altadena. Susan’s two children attended Odyssey from 2000 to 2010. She is currently a senior administrator at the Beckman Institute on Caltech’s campus where she helps organize and financially oversee multidisciplinary research. Prior to joining Caltech Susan was a vice president in charge of west coast mortgage banking at what is today Banc One Corporation, part of Chase. She has a degree in business and foreign languages from Penn State and an MBA from New York University, Stern School of Business. Susan is originally from Pittsburgh and has lived in New York and Chicago, and has resided in Los Angeles since 1993.