State Leadership

Adriana Sanchez-Aldana
CCAE Executive Director
Southern Section, Sweetwater Adult School

Adriana recently retired as the principal of Montgomery Adult School after a 35 year career in the Sweetwater District in San Diego. She began her career in adult education as an Instructional Assistant, worked her way into teaching full time, and then began working on special projects as a Teacher on Special Assignment. In addition, she has worked at the state level as a teacher trainer and content specialist in federally funded staff development projects.  She has 40 years of experience in adult education.

Dr. Sue Lytle Gilmore
CCAE President
Northern Section, Sac-City Adult Education

Sue is the Director of Adult Education for the Sacramento City Unified School District, a position she has held since 2010. Prior to assuming this position she was Principal, A. Warren McClaskey Adult Center in for 18 years. She was the Assistant Director of Special Education before beginning in adult education. Sue taught at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge for 11 years before returning to Sacramento in 1979. She received her Bachelors and Masters degrees from University of the Pacific and her Ph.D. from Ohio University.

Steve Curiel
CCAE President-Elect
South Coast Section, Huntington Beach Adult School

Steve has worked 22 years in K-AE education. Steve worked one year as an evening adult school computer skills instructor before becoming an administrator. His last fifteen years have been in Adult Ed administration. As an administrator Steve has overseen CTE, ASE, ABE, ESL, and Community Education. Currently, Steve is the Principal of the Huntington Beach Adult School. Steve has been involved with CCAE since the very first year he moved into Adult Ed and has held both chapter and section level positions. Steve also serves as ACSA Region 17’s Adult Education representative to the ACSA Adult Education Council and as a board member on the California Consortium for Independent Study. He and his wife, Michele, have three children and live in South Orange County.

Lorrie Christie
CCAE Secretary
Southern Section, San Bernardino Adult School

Lorrie began working in the SBCUSD in 1986 as an Instructional Aide in elementary schools, moved up to Tutorial Assistant in both middle school and adult school, and then on to a full time teaching position as a computer instructor at the San Bernardino Adult School in 1992. 

Lorrie has been an active member of CCAE since 1992 and has held several chapter board positions–everyone but treasurer.  She is currently serving as the Southern Section Past President and CCAE State Secretary.

Larriann Torrez
CCAE Past President
Central Section, Tulare Adult School

Larriann Torrez is employed with the Tulare Joint Union High School District (TJUHSD) as Director of Tulare Adult School. Prior to becoming Director, she was serving in a dual role as the Assistant Director of Tulare Adult School and the Principal of Sierra Vista High School. Before employment with TJUHSD she was a Program Manager for Proteus, Inc. Larriann began her career in adult education in 1994 at Porterville Adult School where she taught evening GED and High School Diploma classes. Larriann has been involved with CCAE at the local, section, and state level and is now representing the Central Section on the State Board as Past President. She is the past recipient of the 2005 CCAE Charles O. Peterson Meritorious Service Award, the 2009 CCAE Caroline S. Casida Meritorious Leadership Award.

Chris Nelson
Education Administrator
Adult Education Office

The California Department of Education has appointed Christian Nelson as the new administrator for the Adult Education Office. Chris brings a wealth of knowledge and experiences in adult education leadership.
Mr. Nelson has been an adult educator for his entire career. He taught high school subjects for adults seeking a high school diploma as well as classes for adults with disabilities as a teacher at Mt. Diablo Adult Education.  
Chris founded Episcopal Community Services Skills Center in San Francisco, a non-profit serving homeless and low-income adults. He has been an adult education administrator in a variety of adult schools including Albany, Martinez and most recently Oakland Unified School District where he served as the adult school Principal.
Chris has been coordinating all activities in Oakland adult school for the AB 86 Regional Consortium. He worked closely with Peralta Community College District and five other adult schools to develop the regional plan to coordinate educational services for adult learners. 

Chris has been involved with CCAE since 1986 when he joined as a teacher. Over the years, Chris was the Bay Section Legislation Chair, Bay Section President and State Board President for the 2011–13 term.

Darlene Neilsen
CCAE State Awards Chair
LA Metro Section, Los Angeles Unified School District

Darlene’s is currently assigned as the Compliance Advisor with LAUSD’s Division of Adult and Career Education. Originally a LAUSD classified employee, she made the change to certificated status 14 years ago.  A CCAE member since 1999, Darlene has been continually active at the chapter, section, and state level of the organization. She has held all board positions in both the chapter and LAM section. Darlene has worked on numerous local LAM events and conferences as well as served on several state conference committees. Darlene was the recipient of LAM’s 2002 Outstanding Classified Employee and the 2011 E. Manfred Evans Award. 

Sonya Ramirez
CCAE Member at Large
LA Metro Section, Huntington Park Service Area

Sonya Ramirez has worked in adult education with the Division of Adult and Career Education a part of the Los Angeles Unified School District since 1989. Sonya began as a Teacher's Assistant in the Individualized Instruction and Basic Reading Labs. Upon receiving her degree, she began teaching the following subjects: Computers, CAHSEE Prep, and an Algebra class. Working in and for adult education has been very rewarding for Sonya and she is proud to be a part of an organization that supports, advocates and recognizes the adult education community. She believes it is important to continue to provide educational learning opportunities.

Dr. Bob Harper
CCAE Member at Large
Bay Section, Campbell Adult and Continuing Education

Bob Harper joined the Campbell Union High School District in 2010 after previously holding administrative positions with school districts in Los Angeles, Salinas, Pacific Grove, Watsonville-Aptos and San Mateo. Bob has more than 40 years of experience in adult and career education, education policy/advocacy, strategic planning, school finance, curricula and instruction, workforce development and community outreach. Bob has a BA in English and teaching credential from UCLA, an MA in adult education from CSULA, an Ed.D. from UCSC with dissertation research focused on immigrant integration and adult education. Bob was member of the Workforce Investment Boards in three counties, currently serving on the work2future WIB in San Jose. He has worked as a consultant with UCSC and several community-based organizations in adult learning/transformation theory, competency-based instruction and assessment, and program evaluation. He has chaired over 40 accreditation visits to schools in California and Hawaii.

In addition to being on the steering committee for ALLIES, Bob has served in the past on the executive boards of El Pajaro Community Development Corporation, the Santa Cruz County Agriculture Board, Monterey County Literacy Council, the state board of the California Council for Adult Education, the California Department of Education Adult Ed Technology Committee, the adult education Advisory Committee to the Commission on Teacher Credentialing, among others.  

Currently Bob serves as the Vice President and state Legislative Chair for the California Association of Adult Education Administrators, and on the Field Partnership Team of the California Department of Education, the advisory committee to the Outreach and Technical Assistance Network (OTAN), and the state boards of the California State Consortium for Adult Education, and the California Council for Adult Education.

Dawn Koepke
Legislative & Government Budget Advocate
McHugh & Associates

Dawn Koepke joined the McHugh & Associates team in December 2003. She is a key assets to the firm, handling the research needs of the firm's clients, and lobbying in the policy areas of public safety, health and human services, environmental safety and toxic, and now adult education. Dawn is a co-chair of the Green Chemistry Alliance and a member of the Thursday Group, business-friendly coalitions whose efforts are focused on green chemistry and environmental legislative and regulatory actions.

As an Associate at McHugh & Associates, Dawn has successfully advocated on behalf of her clients. On the public safety agenda, she has worked tirelessly to ensure crime victims’ voices are heard in the criminal justice system by fighting against early release of inmates from prison, obtaining new and expanded rights for crime victims in California through legislative and initiative efforts, defeating efforts to eliminate the death penalty and more.  Dawn has also helped to ensure no further cuts are imposed on California’s child welfare and foster care systems in the most difficult of budget years.  Furthermore, she has successfully helped to elevate and promote industry’s position on green chemistry and chemical regulation before the Legislature and Agencies through regular meetings, caucus presentations, and more.

Chesty Peterson
CCAE State Financial Manager
South Coast Section, Downey Adult School

Chesty Peterson began his teaching career at Downey Adult School in 1975 teaching grocery cashiering. He began part time and became full time in 1986 when he started teaching computer applications and office skills. He joined CCAE in 1976 and throughout the years he has been heavily involved in Chapter, Section, and State levels of the organization. He maintains a tax preparation business that he really enjoys. He has received numerous awards from each level of CCAE including the most cherished "Excellence in Teaching." Chesty retired in 2010, but still maintains an office at Downey Adult School.

Sharon Bonney
Membership, Technology, and Communications Management



Sharon Bonney has worked in adult education for 18 years at the national level. Her work has been primarily in an office setting, with a focus on sales and administration.  In 2009, she founded Bonney Business Solutions and in 2010, she joined CCAE, first as the membership coordinator and then moved into the office manager role. In this role she is responsible for oversight of membership, communications, technology, and fundraising aspects for CCAE as well as the general office management. Her agency, Bonney Business Solutions also provides support for the CCAE state conference and website. Members of the team are Rob Lawrence, web designer; Joanne Walsh, assistant; Tammy Reals, clerk; and Jessica Reals, copy editor.