Diana Ceja is a mathematics educator with more than 24 years of experience in the field. She is currently Administrator, Riverside County Office of Education Instructional Services. She served as president of TODOS: Mathematics for ALL an equity-based international professional organization affiliated with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).
My career has been guided by the strong belief that each child—no matter his or her background—should have access to high-quality mathematics curriculum and instruction and should benefit from the educational materials, professional learning, leadership, and policies necessary to succeed in postsecondary study. As director of K–12 education strategy, policy, and services at the Center, I lead and support our K–12 services, online course programs, and digital platform services teams.
Dr. Elisha Smith Arrillaga joined the Dana Center as managing director in May 2021. She previously served as the executive director of The Education Trust—West, a national research and advocacy nonprofit organization committed to educational justice for students of color, students from low-income communities, and English learners.
I taught high school in New Orleans and learned how to survive day to day by working with diverse sets of resilient educators, administrators, and students. I learned that regardless of teaching expertise, we can always make students feel like their learning and future trajectories are a priority. As a doctoral student at The University of Texas at Austin, I’m grateful to have the opportunity to teach freshman calculus students with my advisor, Professor Uri Treisman.
Frank Savina grew up in El Paso, Texas but likes spending as much free time as possible visiting family in Italy with his wife Ivette. He is fluent in English, Spanish, Italian, and math. Frank and Ivette are the adoptive parents to 2 children—11-year old Anna, and 13-year old Matt, and they share a house with Anna and Matt’s mom, Patty.
My passion for education began in sixth grade through my experiences with a caring, passionate teacher, Mrs. Ivie. After high school, I attended Eastfield Community College, in Mesquite, Texas. As a first-generation college student with limited financial resources and family support, I was embraced by Eastfield’s faculty and staff, who encouraged, supported, and pushed me to pursue my educational goals.
I am a social worker—both by profession and at heart. Helping families and their children who are experiencing poverty and homelessness is truly a passion, and I’ve dedicated my life to it for over 35 years. I have witnessed remarkable progress in that time, and I have seen countless lives changed.
My parents and I would work logic problems when I was little and they always asked me the same questions. How do you know that’s the answer? Can you prove it? I come from a long line of teachers and lawyers, and I draw from both in my work as an educational researcher at the Dana Center. I have my father’s insistence on proof and accuracy, and my mother’s penchant for clearly sharing information.
In my 6 years teaching in Austin-area schools, I worked hard every day to create a caring, inclusive, and empowering classroom community for my students. Now I work on the policies that shape what happens in classrooms in Texas and beyond. One of the reasons that I remain motivated by the mission of the Center—equity, access, and excellence in math and science education—is to ensure that all students can reclaim a place in the community of mathematical learners.
My father spent his career as a math teacher and baseball coach. So, naturally, I began calculating my own stats in little league. My appreciation for data (and baseball) has continued throughout my life. Teaching high school math, including statistics, and continuing into district level work and now as a course program specialist with the Dana Center has allowed me an opportunity to work with some truly inspiring people.