Board of Trustees
The Urban Discovery Academy Board consists of seven members, selected to represent the community-at-large, the business community and educators. All future board members will be selected with skills and experience to match their board responsibilities by a majority vote of the then current board. According to the Charter, the Board's major roles and responsibilities include establishing and approving all major educational and operational policies, approving all major contracts, approving the school's annual budget and overseeing the school's fiscal affairs, approving the school's personnel policies and monitoring their implementation, selecting and evaluating the top staff of the school, and all other responsibilities provided for in the Bylaws or the Charter necessary to ensure the proper operation of the school.

Urban Discovery Academy (“School”) welcomes your participation at the School’s Board meetings. The purpose of a public meeting of the Board of Trustees (“Board”) is to conduct the affairs of the School in public. We are pleased that you are in attendance and hope that you will visit these meetings often. Your participation assures us of continuing community interest in our School. To assist you in the ease of speaking/participating in our meetings, the following guidelines are provided.

1.    Agendas are available to all community members.
2.    “Request to Speak” forms are available to all audience members who wish to speak on any agenda items or under the general category of “Oral Communications”.
3.    “Oral communications” is set aside for members of the community to raise issues that are not specifically on the agenda. However, due to public meeting laws, the Board can only listen to your issue, not respond or take action. These presentations are limited to three (3) minutes and total time allotted to non-agenda items will not exceed fifteen (15) minutes. The board may give direction to staff to respond to your concern or you may be offered the option of returning with a community member requested agenda item.
4.    With regard to items that are on the agenda, you may specify that agenda item on your request form and you will be given an opportunity to speak for up to (3) minutes when the Board discusses that item.
5.    Community members may request (“Community Member Agenda Request Form”) that a topic related to school business be placed on a future agenda. Once such an item is properly agendized and publicly noticed, the Board can respond, interact, and act upon the item. Please find the Community Member Agenda Request Form on the website, submit the request form to the Director two weeks in advance of the next board meeting.

The Board of Trustees meets the third Tuesday of every month, please see the board calendar for updates.

Board Members
Edward L. Abeyta - School Facility Committee
Gonzalo Curiel - Vice President
Esther M. LaPorta - Secretary
MaeLin Levine - President
Paul Ryan - Finance CommitteeJim Zoll - School Site Advisory Committee



MaeLin Levine, AIGA Fellow - President

Ms. Levine is a partner in the national award winning design firm, Visual Asylum, located in downtown San Diego. Ms. Levine has extensive experience in leading nonprofit organizations as well as professional experience in working with many nonprofits on fundraising efforts as a consultant. Ms. Levine currently serves as Education Chairwoman on the Board of Directors of AIGA San Diego. Ms. Levine’s professional experience also includes brand developed for educational resource materials such as National Geographic School Publishing, Pearson, McGraw Hill and La Jolla Country Day School, USD, UCSD. Ms. Levine is an educator at Point Loma Nazarene University and San Diego City College, and a former participant in the CCDC’s Downtown Educational Task Force. Ms. Levine received her BFA degree in communications design from the University of Denver, and attended an Executive Development program at the Harvard School of Business. A passionate advocate for innovative education, Ms. Levine was the lead petitioner for Urban Discovery Academy’s charter petition with two children, one currently enrolled in UDA.

Hon. Gonzalo Curiel - Vice-President

Since October 2012, Judge Curiel has been a judge for the United States District Court, Southern District of California in San Diego.  Judge Curiel served as a San Diego Superior Court judge from 2006 until September 2012. Previously, Judge Curiel was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Central District of California in Los Angeles (2002-2006), and the Southern District of California in San Diego (1989-2002).  Judge Curiel was also in private law practice in California and Indiana. Judge Curiel attended Indiana University where he received a J.D. (1979) and a B.A. in Telecommunications (1976).

Esther M. LaPorta - Secretary

Ms. LaPorta is currently working as an independent fundraising consultant. Ms. LaPorta retired from the University of San Diego (“USD”) as Associate Vice President for University Relations where she held many other leadership and development positions during her 16 year tenure at USD. Prior to her work with USD, Ms. LaPorta served as Executive Director of the Palomar College Foundation and Director of Development for University of San Diego High School. Ms. LaPorta volunteers her time as President of the board and member of the Community Council for Mary Magdalene Apostle Catholic Community and as a member of the Cabrillo-Diego Branch of the American Association of University Women, where she also once served as Branch President. Ms. LaPorta has also been involved in numerous other nonprofit organizations. Early in her career, Ms. LaPorta also taught speech and drama. Ms. LaPorta holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Drama and English from Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Ms. LaPorta’s career and interests have been devoted to education, to nonprofit management and to resource development.

Edward L. Abeyta, Ph.D.

Edward is Director of K-16 Programs at UC San Diego (UCSD) Extension. Prior to joining UCSD Extension in 1995, Edward began his service at UCSD as a counselor for the Early Academic Outreach Program serving underrepresented students in San Diego high schools and later assumed the role of Registrar and Director of Academic Services at UC San Diego Extension. Dr. Abeyta has a B.A. from the University of New Mexico, a M.A. from the University of San Diego and his Ph.D. in Post Secondary Adult Education from Capella University. Edward has been recognized from UCSD and the UC Office of the President for his involvement in staff diversity and development initiatives. In 2008 Edward was selected to a two year term as the Staff Advisor to The Regents where he served on the UC Diversity Commission, Post-retirement Task Force, and The Regents UC Commission on the Future. Edward is also Trustee of the San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory, board member on the San Diego Workforce Partnership Workforce Advancement Committee and Youth Council, and founder of the Science, Technology, Engineering, +Arts, and Math STEM to STE[+a]M global network. 

Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan is a seasoned executive who has experience leading a wide variety of business functions across multiple industries, with experience in both Europe, Asia Pacific and the United States. He currently leads partner strategy and transformation activities for Hewlett Packard Enterprise Group. He lives in San Diego with his wife and daughter, enjoys biking, skiing and cooking and in 2008 he was fortunate to be involved in the creation of the Urban Discovery Academy Charter School in downtown San Diego. And holds an Executive Degree in Business Administration and Accounting from Cambridge University, England. 

Jim Zoll 

Jim Zoll has an earned doctorate from the University of San Diego in educational leadership. Thirty six years of teaching and administrative experience in the public/private K-16 education and busi­ness arena. Arizona, Alaska, California, Massachusetts and New York State teaching and administrative creden­tials to warrant appointment as superintendent. Sensitivity and experience in multi-cultural environment in urban, suburban and rural settings. Ability to maintain momentum in moving a school forward with a common vision. Superintendent communication/public relations skills in representing a school district to its public/private constituencies through high visibility and involvement in the community. Experience in developing partnerships between education, business, government, and other community groups. Knowledgeable and experienced in long-range planning, community growth and development, fiscal management, new construction, budget and facilities development, personnel management and educational technology (administrative and instructional). Success­ful in working with federal, state, and county governance, local governing boards, site councils and student governments in defining roles and developing mutual trust. Experience in working with ethnically diverse community populations and representative political groups in a sensitive and positive way. Possess a comprehensive understanding of and a commitment to the unique needs of a school district, including elementary, middle, high school (technical and college preparatory) continuing, alternative, technical, special and developmental education.

Last Modified on August 22, 2015