Governance Council


Welcome to New West’s Governance Council webpage. Please scroll down to learn more about our current board, access agendas and minutes from prior meetings, and view our calendar of upcoming governance council meetings.

Board meetings are bi-monthly and start at 4:30 pm unless otherwise specified on the agenda. All meetings are open to the public and held in the school library. Agendas shall be posted 72 hours prior to scheduled meetings online and on-site.

New West families and the local community are warmly encouraged to attend the New West Governance Council meetings that take place throughout the school year. Accessing the meetings is easy. All meetings are held in the school library and begin promptly at 4:30 pm. The dates for all the Governance meetings are posted at the beginning of the school year on our website under Compliance / Governance. In addition, meeting agendas and minutes are posted on the website and provide further information related to the New West Governance Council.


Upcoming Calendar, Agenda & Minutes



Michael Schlesinger

Community Representative | Board Chair | Contact

Michael Schlesinger, President and founder of Cambra Realty, is a real estate entrepreneur and investment expert with more than fifteen years of experience focused on Southern California’s dynamic office market.

Cambra Realty is a leading real estate investment and management firm with a specialized niche in the Southern California office market. Since its inception in 2005, the firm has acquired more than two million square feet of retail, office, and industrial product, encompassing more than 30 properties valued in excess of $500 million.

Cambra Realty’s experienced company leadership has transacted an aggregate total of more than $700 million in acquisition and financing transactions. Cambra Realty has a distinct reputation for providing exceptional hands-on post-acquisition management services that maximize asset values. Cambra Realty effectively applies a disciplined yet entrepreneurial investment approach that seizes diverse opportunities while mitigating risk. Michael has been recognized by Real Estate Southern California as one of the “Top 40 Rising Young Stars” in commercial real estate.

Michael is highly regarded by New West staff, teachers, parents and community leaders as driving force on the New West Board. Michael joined New West in 2012 and has served as a community representative before transitioning into his current role as an active and engaged board chair on the current Governance Council.

Michael was instrumental in solving the major real estate challenges faced by the school and was especially effective in securing New West their new middle and high school campus on Armacost Avenue. In addition to securing a much-needed new school facility, Michael used his experience to simultaneously guide the school to obtain a critical conditional use permit.

Michael’s leadership on the board and his community expertise directly led New West to successfully achieve their most challenging enrollment goal which was to reach full 6-12th grade capacity for 825 students.

Michael is a proud and devoted parent of three children.

Michael also sits on the board of his children’s preschool and elementary school PTA as well as on the boards of AYSO Region 76, Spark, After School All Stars CAB and Parent Revolution.




Sharon Weir, Ed.D

Sharon Weir, Ed.D

School Leader | Contact

Sharon Weir was born and educated in Scotland, UK. She received her undergraduate degree from St. Andrew’s College of Education (1987), graduate and post-graduate degrees from the University of Strathclyde (1993) and Glasgow University (2002), and completed graduate work at Harvard University in Boston, USA (2010).

Sharon began her career in 1987 teaching students in primary and secondary schools across a diverse socio-economic spectrum. In 1993, she transferred to South Lanarkshire Council to work as a special education consultant to develop a fully inclusive educational model for disadvantage students. In 1998, she took an administrative role when invited to join a local authority project under a UK government initiative as a lead officer for a new educational think-tank on intervention and innovation in primary and secondary schools. From 1997-2000, she worked collaboratively with the University of Glasgow in an extensive research project leading to a published dissertation that identified discrepancies in male and female achievement at the secondary school level.

In 2000, Sharon moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, where she became Director/CEO of Seashore Learning Center (SLC), a public, independent, high-performing K-6th grade charter school on Padre Island. Under her direction, SLC became an “Exemplary Campus” with more than 95% of its students passing the Texas statewide achievement tests. In addition, Sharon worked collaboratively to obtain grant funding for facilities, technology, and curriculum development in excess of $15 million dollars. Sharon became a mentor for charter schools across Texas and a frequent speaker at both the state and national level for curriculum and technology in public education.

Sharon was appointed Principal/Executive Director of New West Charter in Los Angeles in February 2005. She has applied her extensive knowledge as an innovative British educator, her experience as a charter school leader, and her natural enthusiasm and good humor toward making New West Charter Middle and High School into one of the most highly sought after public schools in California.

In 2009, Sharon was selected as the CCSA California Principal of the Year.

New West has subsequently been named twice by the California Department of Education as a prestigious California Distinguished School (2009 and 2014).




Tanisha M. Barnett, Ed.D

Tanisha M. Barnett, Ed.D

Middle School Leader | Contact

Dr. Barnett brings public, private and charter school knowledge to New West. She has been an educator for 18 years, 14 of which have been spent at New West. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in African American Studies from UCLA. She later pursued further studies in Education at Pepperdine University where she earned her Teaching Credential and Masters Degree. She then went on to earn her Administrative Credential from Cal State University of Dominguez Hills and finally earned her Doctoral Degree from Loyola Marymount University.

Dr. Barnett entered New West as a sixth grade History teacher. She subsequently became the Assistant Principal of New West and served for over eight years. Her most recent position in administration is our Assistant Director.

Dr. Barnett has been involved with and chaired a number of committees throughout her career. She has served in various coordinator roles, including SBAC Testing and CELDT Coordinator, facilitated character education programs, and has played a critical role in many aspects of educational professional development.

Dr. Barnett is a strong advocate of a safe and orderly learning environment for faculty, staff and students. She aims to establish a fair, honest, and respectful school community. Dr. Barnett works tirelessly to create positive home and school relationships while disciplining with integrity and supporting student success. Dr. Barnett’s priority is to keep the atmosphere positive and the lines of communication open among staff, students, and parents.

Dr. Barnett is a very visible Assistant Director; she states that the best part of her job is interacting with students by walking the halls and doing supervision. She gets to know every student and every student gets to know her. Dr. Barnett loves New West, and plans to keep working with students, staff, and community for many years to come.




Mark Herrera

Mark Herrera

High School Leader | Contact

After twelve years in education – seven in high school, three in middle school, and two in a school leadership position – I am honored to announce that I will serve as Vice Principal for New West’s high school grades in the Fall.

Though all my students know how much I love the classroom and will surely miss it, the opportunity to build on the foundation laid by Mr. Straka’s leadership is inspiring. Our school has a strong faculty team, a growing reputation for academic excellence, and a commitment to serving a diverse community. My goal is to build on those strengths with the same energy I put into every history lesson I ever taught here.

I look forward to helping all our students get a great education, earn admission to colleges and universities, and start their careers ready for life’s challenges. I also look forward to working with our staff, teachers, parents, and community, and to learning all I can from Ds. Barnett and Dr. Weir. We can and will make New West even better!




Brian Straka

Brian Straka

NWC+ Leader | Contact

Having spent over a decade in public education, Brian Straka has been everything from an American and World history teacher, the costumed Eagle mascot, a domestic and international school trip leader, a high school Vice-Principal, the IT guy, a parking lot attendant, a Civil War reenactor, the annoyingly-loud varsity basketball announcer, an improv coach, a school kickball champion, an Ellis Island Immigration Office, and a student psychologist, he is most excited about his new role as the Director of Development for NWC+.




John Lee

John Lee

Parent Representative

John Lee serves as Advisor of Education Initiatives at the Wonderful Company and leads college access programs for underserved students in California’s Central Valley. He previously served as the Los Angeles Executive Director of Teach Plus, a national non‐profit focused on the retention of high quality teachers in urban schools, and as the Executive Director of Larchmont Schools, a network of charter schools in Los Angeles. He also served as the Director of Leadership for the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA). Prior to joining CCSA, John was the founder and principal of KIPP Los Angeles College Preparatory School, a high‐performing charter middle school serving students in Lincoln Heights and surrounding communities.

John began his career as a social studies teacher in Baltimore, Maryland, as a Teach For America corps member. He earned his B.A. from UCLA and his M.A. from Johns Hopkins University, and also completed the KIPP School Leadership Program, an intensive year‐long program that trains individuals to open a KIPP school.

John and his wife, Jean, live in Westwood with their children, Rachel and A.J.




Steven Jones

Steven Jones

Teacher Representative | Contact

I have been the 7th-grade history teacher at New West Charter since 2011. For the past three years, I have also served as co-director of the New West Summer Bridge program for incoming 6th graders.

This is my eleventh full year in the classroom. Previously I taught at several other charter schools in the LA area, after earning my BA in History in 2005 and my Masters in Teaching in 2007 from the University of Southern California. I grew up in Portland, Oregon but have lived in and around Los Angeles since 2001.

Outside of New West, I read books, watch basketball, and sometimes read books about basketball. Since 2013, I have enjoyed collaborating on these activities with my 4 ½-year-old son. (My wife enjoys them much less than we do.)




Brittney McBride

Brittney McBride

Teacher Representative | Contact

It is important for a representative to be a strong voice in order to communicate concerns, successes, and necessities on behalf of the faculty. I’ve been an educator at NWC for over ten years, and have gained trust and built relationships with the faculty and staff. I strive to maintain these relationships with a positive attitude and welcoming energy that creates a collaborative environment for faculty members. I am fully dedicated and committed to the NWC organization and it is time for me to rise to the occasion and be part of the revolving change.




Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson

Teacher Representative | Contact

I was raised and educated in the sunny and strange state of Florida. I attended the University of South Florida and earned a B.S. in Biomedical Sciences. I often share the stories of my “unique” experiences engaging with life in the swamps, springs, and beaches of the Gulf Coast with my classes. A year-long environmental volunteer experience with AmeriCorp Cape Cod provided even more classroom banter, from scallop genetics at the Marine Biological Labs in Woods Hole, to dressing up as a human-sized water drop named H2O Flo. When I am not working on some engaging new way to make Biology hands-on, I can be found during the week and weekend hiking the trails of Griffith Park or the Angeles National Forest.

I started teaching Biology and Environmental Science 15 years ago in Florida and couldn’t be happier that I’ve relocated, with my teaching credentials in tow, to a state with a coast to rival the one I grew up near. I have found the hardest working team of teachers in Los Angeles at New West, and love that any new out-of-the-box idea that engages students beyond the norm is embraced and celebrated. I have been revived by the passion of both my colleagues and, more importantly, my students who demonstrate their early desires to pursue advanced degrees associated with life science. Making science relevant to all is a constant and ongoing personal goal knowing that many in our diverse student body are not headed toward a science degree. I am passionate about making STEM fields seem enticing and exciting. The course work to get there, although challenging, is not unattainable when a student’s passion for science is sparked early and kept ignited. I hope to set them all on fire!




Ben Reznik

Ben Reznik

Community Representative

As Chair of the Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP Government, Land Use, Environment and Energy Department, Benjamin (Ben) Reznik’s practice emphasizes real estate development entitlements, zoning and environment issues, including frequent appearances before city planning commissions, city councils and other governmental boards and agencies on behalf of real estate development firms and various industries. Ben leads a group of distinguished attorneys that specialize in CEQA and NEPA, air emissions, energy, licensing, government contracts, and regulatory issues, to name a few.

Ben, who has been lead counsel in high-profile projects for clients including G.H. Palmer, Kilroy, Candy & Candy, Decron Management Corp., and The Clarett Group, was described in 2010 as “the most powerful lobbyist in LA” by Curbed LA, Los Angeles’ most respected, widely-read real estate and land use blog.