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.

20192020 CCAE State Board

Kathleen Porter
CCAE President
Southern Section, Career, Technical, and Adult Education
Poway Unified School District

Kathleen Porter has been involved with adult education, career technical education and workforce development for youth and adults in the San Diego area since 1987. 

Kathleen is currently the Executive Director of Career, Technical and Adult Education with Poway Unified School District, a large suburban school district in north San Diego County. In this role, Kathleen is responsible for overseeing Poway Adult School, career technical education, Partners in Education, and the District’s alternative programs, including its online courses. 

A former teacher, resource teacher and career guidance specialist, Kathleen was previously the director of the East County Career Center, part of the San Diego Workforce Partnership’s One-Stop Career Center network. 

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Steve Curiel
CCAE Past President
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.

Sonya Ramirez
CCAE President-Elect
LA Metro Section, Los Angeles Unified School District

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Rob Lawrence
CCAE State Secretary
Bay Section, Martinez Adult Education

Rob is currently the Career Education Coordinator for Martinez Adult Education where he oversees a dynamic career education program that retrains students in the fields of accounting, administrative support, computer applications, healthcare, and medical billing & coding. Originally a Martinez Unified School District classified employee, he made the change to certificated status 21 years ago.

A CCAE member since 1997, Rob has been continually active at the chapter, section, and state level of CCAE. He has held board positions in both the Contra Costa Chapter and Bay Section. Rob has worked on numerous Bay Section events and conferences as well as served on several state conference committees. In 2008, Rob was the recipient of the CCAE Excellence in Teaching Award.

In addition to his full-time job, Rob manages seven websites including the California Council for Adult Education.


Branka Marceta
CCAE Member at Large
Northern Section

Branka currently holds the position of the Director of the Capital Adult Education Regional Consortium as she facilitates the implementation of the goals and strategies articulated by the 14 members and numerous community partners who comprise the regional system of delivery for education and training for hard-to-serve adults in the Greater Sacramento Region.

Previously, for over a decade on the job as the Coordinator of Technology Projects for the Outreach and Technical Assistance Network [OTAN], a position serving the whole state under WIOA Title II/Adult Education and Family Literacy, Branka served the #AdultEdu field through professional development and technical assistance. In this capacity, she coordinated the Digital Leadership and Technology Mentor Integration Academies for 10 years and successfully co-organized 9 instances of the Technology and Distance Learning Symposium. Branka facilitated numerous trainings and projects related to educational technology and presented over 100 times at local, state and national events for adult education. Prior to coming to OTAN, Branka was a teacher of adults in the program areas of English a Second Language, Family Literacy and Digital Skills, as well as Basic Literacy. She taught mostly in the San Francisco Bay area, but also in Canada and in Serbia, her country of origin.

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Ed Schmalzel
CCAE Member at Large
Central Section, Clovis Adult Education

Ed Schmalzel has been involved with education in the Fresno County area since 1987. 

Ed is currently the Learning Director of Career, Technical and Adult Education with Clovis Unified School District, a large suburban school district in the Central Valley. In this role, Ed is responsible for overseeing Clovis Adult School’s Career Technical Education programs, AEBG and Perkins grant funding, COE school accreditation and Agency Services. 

A former Special Ed Instructional Aide, Teacher, Activities and Athletic Director, Ed was previously the Head Guidance Counselor at Clovis High School.

He has been involved with CCAE since the very first year he moved to Adult Ed and holds both chapter and section level positions.  He and his wife, Karen, have 3 grown children and live in Clovis, California.

CCAE State Ex-Officio Members


Vladimir Tigno
CCAE State Awards Chair
Los Angeles Metropolitan Section
North Valley Service Center—LAUSD

Vladimir Tigno has been employed by the LAUSD Division of Adult and Career Education since April of 1991. He started as a teacher’s assistant, then progressed to an instructor, teacher advisor, specialist, assistant principal and consultant. Although the job duties were different at each of his positions, the goal of helping adult students succeed remained the same. Vladimir joined CCAE in 2006 as the LA Metro Section Treasurer-Elect with the realization that he can further help adult students.  CCAE has given him the opportunity to advocate for Adult Education through student scholarships, employee recognition, participation in legislative process.

Vittoria Abbate-Maghsoudi
CCAE Legislative Committee Chair
Bay Section, Mt. Diablo Adult Education

2019-2020 CCAE Contractors

Dawn Koepke
Legislative & Government Budget Advocate
McHugh & Associates

Dawn Koepke was named a partner in 2012 after joining the McHugh team in December 2003. She has been a key asset to the firm, handling the legislative, budgetary, regulatory and research needs of the firm’s clients and lobbies in the policy areas of public safety, health and human services, resources, environmental safety, chemical management, and adult education. Dawn serves as 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 an array of environmental legislative and regulatory actions.

As an Associate at McHugh & Associates, Dawn 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 obtaining new and expanded rights for crime victims
in California through legislative and initiative efforts, helped to defeat past efforts to eliminate
the death penalty and alter three strikes, and more. Dawn has also helped to elevate the
importance of child abuse and neglect prevention and has worked 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 elevated and promoted industry’s position on green
chemistry, chemical management and regulation, and recycling initiatives before the
Legislature, Administration, and state Agencies. Most notably, she helped build a diverse
industry coalition – the Green Chemistry Alliance – to help frame, develop and implement
California’s groundbreaking Green Chemistry Initiative.

Prior to joining the McHugh team, Dawn served as a member of the Davis Administration. In
her capacity as Special Assistant to Governor Gray Davis, she helped manage the Governor’s
daily activities, assist the Legislative Affairs team, coordinate and prepare responses regarding
major policy and legislative action on behalf of the Administration in response to public inquiry.
She has maintained strong connections from the Davis Administration that have since become
key assets in the Governor Brown Administration and Legislature.

Dawn graduated from San Francisco State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in
International Relations. As a component of her degree in International Relations, Dawn studied
abroad at the Universidad de Salamanca in Spain where she completed an intensive Spanish
language and literature program.

In 2006, Dawn completed her Master’s Degree in Public Policy & Administration (MPPA) from
California State University, Sacramento with special focus in regulatory affairs and collaborative
studies. Dawn’s thesis work focused on regulation as a policy tool to achieve policy goals with
specific focus on environmental regulatory efforts in California.

Jim Turnbough
CCAE State Financial Manager