Maritza Cha, Ph.D.

2023-24 Year 1 Members

Maritza Cha graduated from Garfield High School in East Los Angeles and became the first in her family to attend and graduate from college, the University of California, Los Angeles. She graduated in 2005 with two Bachelor’s Degrees in Political Science and History, with a minor in Education. UCLA was so nice she went there twice, earning a Master’s Degree in Education and a teaching credential from UCLA’s Teacher Education Program in 2007. She taught social studies at her alma mater, Garfield High School, for four years. 2010 Dr. Cha and several colleagues designed and launched a pilot school within the Los Angeles Unified School District – Social Justice Leadership Academy at Esteban Torres High School. Dr. Cha then decided to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a college counselor. Dr. Cha earned her second Master’s Degree, counseling, and child welfare and attendance credentials from Cal State Dominguez Hills in 2015. Dr. Cha worked as a school counselor for eight years. Dr. Cha recently earned her Ph.D. in Education and Urban Leadership at Claremont Graduate University. Dr. Cha is an adjunct professor at the University of La Verne.


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Karla Fernandez

Communications Manager

Karla Fernandez (she/her/hers) joins Ed Trust–West as a Communications Manager with over 11 years of experience advancing social impact initiatives.

Karla started her career as a teacher at Chicago Public Schools and UIC College Prep. After teaching, Karla joined United Friends of the Children to support LA County’s youth in foster care as a college counselor. Through Leadership for Educational Equity, Karla also served as a Policy Advisor Fellow for the office of a Los Angeles Unified School Board Member. She solidified her interests in policy analysis and quantitative research during her time with the Price Center for Social Innovation, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, and the USC Presidential Working Group on Sustainability. Before joining The Education Trust–West, Karla was the Associate Director for the Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) Collaborative, a network of nonprofits advocating for communities in SELA.

Karla holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, a Master of Public Policy from the USC Price School of Public Policy, and a Graduate Certificate in Policy Advocacy from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Karla is based out of southern California and is passionate about using data analysis, communications, and digital strategies for policy advocacy and social justice efforts.