Three Leaders Join CREATE CA Leadership Council

The Create CA Leadership Council conducted a Nominating Process and invited three new members to join the Council in July.

Craig Cheslog joined Common Sense Media in January 2015 where he is now the Co-Director and Vice President for California Policy for Common Sense Kids Action. Based in the San Francisco office, Craig co-directs the organization’s advocacy platform and is responsible for California-specific policy development and legislative campaign execution across all of Common Sense’s issue areas. Craig is passionate about arts education and was deeply committed to CREATE CA. from 2011-14 when he served as Superintendent Torlakson’s principal advisor at the California Dept. of Education. Craig’s responsibilities in this role included serving as personal strategist, advisor to, and spokesperson for Superintendent Torlakson; serving as the Superintendent’s liaison to other major external individuals and organizations; coordinating major education initiatives; and managing the Superintendent’s Initiatives Office. Prior to joining the California Department of Education, Craig served as the District Director for Assembly member Tom Torlakson, after previously serving in the same capacity for then-State Senator Torlakson. Prior to joining Torlakson’s staff, Craig served as a communications and government relations staff person for nonprofit issue advocacy organizations, including Oakland’s Redefining Progress and the Washington, D.C.-based Concord Coalition  “I am excited and humbled to have the opportunity to rejoin the CREATE CA leadership team”, said Craig. “I learned just how vital it was to ensure every student has access to a high-quality arts education during my tenure as Superintendent Torlakson’s representative. I’m looking forward to jumping back into action and helping the leadership team achieve our goals.”

Jesús Holguín is a passionate advocate for arts education. It is a cause that he has worked to advance at the local, regional and state levels. He is a long-time local school board member who has been active in his district and his community. He is well-regarded for his efforts and focused on strengthening parent and community engagement, and improving services for English Learners. At the state level, Mr. Holguín currently serves as president of CSBA. He is the first Hispanic in nearly 20 years to hold this position. “I strongly believe that Visual and Performing Arts should be an integral part of the core curriculum in our public schools”, said Jesus.  “Research proves the many benefits of the arts and one of the opportunities we have, in line with the implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula, is to close the achievement gap with new and creative ideas based on local needs. What better way to help students succeed academically, socially, and in all aspects, than by giving all students full access to arts education.”

Ryan Smith, Executive Director of Education Trust-West, is a Los Angeles native with a long history of advocating for underserved youth. Prior to leading Ed Trust-West, Ryan was the Director of Education Programs and Policy at the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, where he led efforts to strengthen equity-based programs and policies, funded educational programs, helped empower parents and drove a coalition of parents and local leaders to fight for education improvement in the nation’s second largest school district. Ryan also spearheaded Communities for Los Angeles Student Success, or C.L.A.S.S. which brought together more than 50 civil rights, education and advocacy groups to help ensure the city’s students receive a quality education. Previously, Ryan worked in former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s office, where he served as Senior Director of Family and Community Engagement. Under his leadership, Ryan’s network of 22 schools in LAUSD experienced an increase in parental involvement of more than 40 percent. Ryan also constructed systems within schools to foster authentic family, school and community partnerships, and founded the award-winning Parent College, which taught more than 5,000 parents key strategies to better support and advocate for their children. Ryan is currently working toward his doctorate in education at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is an Annie E. Casey Foundation Children and Family Fellow and was named by Education Week as one of the “Ten Young Education Leaders to Watch” nationally. “Access to arts education is an important component of ensuring equity in our schools”, said Ryan. “Arts Education is a fantastic way to close opportunity gaps and support student success by enaging young people and giving them opportunities to tell their stories creatively and to explore and exercise their leadership. I’m excited to join the CREATE CA Leadership Council to help advance this important cause”.