“Milken Educators point to their award as a pivotal professional milestone. They understand that encompassed in this recognition is the responsibility to grow as a leader at the school level and beyond. Encouraged and supported, these outstanding educators discover a renewed passion and purpose as they stretch their professional practices and policy influence to even higher levels.”
—Dr. Jane Foley, Senior Vice President, Milken Educator Awards
Dr. Jane Foley
As senior vice president, Milken Educator Awards, at the Milken Family Foundation, Dr. Jane Foley oversees the selection and notification of Milken Educators and works with state agencies on state events related to the Awards. In 1994, she received the Milken Educator Award for the state of Indiana.
Dr. Foley is also director of the Milken Scholars, an initiative that helps outstanding young men and women achieve their academic and professional goals.
She is senior advisor for the Lowell Milken Center, a Kansas-based initiative that supports projects across the country and world that feature unsung heroes that have changed the course of history.
From 2006 to 2010, she was senior advisor to former U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. William Bennett and led a team of Milken Educators to develop an online curriculum and advance the use of his American History books, "America: The Last Best Hope," in schools across the country.
Starting in 2002, Dr. Foley led a Foundation project to disseminate an interdisciplinary curriculum guide based on The Children of Willesden Lane, a World War II memoir by Grammy-nominated pianist Mona Golabek that serves as a rich learning resource for schools. Dr. Foley also serves as an Honorary Director Emeritus on Mona's foundation, Hold On To Your Music.
Dr. Foley was a public school educator for 24 years, serving at the elementary and high school levels as both teacher and principal. Before coming to the Foundation in 1998, she was principal of Flint Lake Elementary School in Indiana, which, under her leadership, attained state and national recognition in the areas of school restructuring, professional development, technology integration and student achievement. Dr. Foley received her B.A., M.S., and Ph.D. from Purdue University, and her honors include the International Society of Educational Planning Outstanding Dissertation Award, Phi Kappa Phi Academic Honorary, and the 2011 Distinguished Education Alumni Award from Purdue University’s College of Education.
A 2001 Milken Educator from Virginia, Stephanie Bishop now serves as Vice President of the Milken Educator Awards at the Milken Family Foundation. In her role at the Foundation, Stephanie supports the national network of excellence to expand and strengthen strategies that Celebrate, Elevate, and Activate Milken Educators.
She was co-chair of the inaugural I, Too, Am the Dream Contest for the Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream in 2020. Along with a select group of Milken Educators, the Contest provided a platform for empowering students to be ambassadors for reimagining an American Dream through thought-provoking essays, poetry, spoken word, and short stories.
In 2007, the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes enlisted her expertise for its production of “Life in a Jar,” the story of Irena Sendler. In 2012, she and her students were honored with The Discovery Award from the Center for their original one act play “Walk With Me,” featuring unsung hero and upstander, Ken Reinhardt, in his quest to defend and befriend the Little Rock 9 in 1957.
Since 2004, Stephanie has been a co-program chair for the Teachers of Promise Institute. The Institute brings together the top aspiring educators from 30 of Virginia’s college and university Schools of Education and partners them with master educators for an event to celebrate their choice to teach while providing high quality workshops to activate them to the profession.
Stephanie was a public school educator for 25 years, serving at the district and secondary levels as Director of Secondary Education, principal, and teacher. As Principal of JEJ Moore Middle School in Prince George, she led a team of educators who transformed the learning culture to one that was process and project-based with meaningful and relevant student outcomes.
At the time of the Milken Award, she was a theatre arts teacher and chair of the fine arts department at Prince George High School, where she created an award-winning theatre arts program.
Having worked at the Milken Family Foundation in several capacities since 1994, Greg Gallagher now serves as a Senior Program Director. He leads, supervises, and executes the logistical requirements of the Milken Educator Awards department throughout the various program cycles including selection, notifications, state and national events as well as throughout the program cycles of the Milken Scholars Program, especially regarding the numerous on-site and off-site events. As Alumni Director of the Milken Scholars Program from 2009-2014, Greg interacted, mentored, provided career counseling, led community service activities and professional development with many graduates of the most elite universities in the US. Greg has also been the administrator of the Milken Festival for Youth from 2005 until present. The Festival for Youth helps young people improve the lives of their community members through service including environmental, intergenerational and civic activities. He graduated from the State University of New York at New Paltz.
Joyce joined the team in October 2018 and is a Senior Associate working with the Milken Scholars Program and Milken Educator Awards. Previously, Joyce was a Teach For America corps member and a founding teacher at Alliance Alice M. Baxter College-Ready High School where she taught Environmental Science, Biology, and served as Dean of Students. She has engaged in field experiences with Earthwatch Institute and Conservation International and was recognized by the Los Angeles Unified School District as a 2017 Hero in Education. Joyce earned her B.S. in Biology from Boston College and an M.Ed. from Loyola Marymount University.
Wesley Wilson joined the Foundation in June of 2019 and is a Program Coordinator working with both the Milken Educator Awards and the Milken Scholars Program. Previously, she worked as a site coordinator with a local food pantry, distributing groceries to impoverished residents of Los Angeles County. She also served as liaison between the main food bank and all of its satellite locations. Wesley earned her Bachelor’s degree from North Central College with a major in Broadcast Communication and dual minors in Biology and Environmental Studies. She earned her Master’s degree in Government with an emphasis in Political Communication as well as a Post-Baccalaureate Certification in Nonprofit Management from Johns Hopkins University. Wesley has lived in Southern California nearly all of her life, and in her free time enjoys hiking, reading, and attending concerts.
Dr. Melinda Love
Dr. Melinda Love is a 2007 Milken Scholar from Los Angeles. Melinda joined the team in June 2020 and is a Program Assistant working with both the Milken Educator Awards and the Milken Scholars Program. Previously, Melinda was a math teacher for eight years, working at both the high school and middle school levels. As a teacher, Melinda was able to facilitate project-based learning as well as conduct multiple interdisciplinary projects. Melinda earned her B.A. from Stanford University, where she majored in Urban Studies with an emphasis in Urban Education and minored in African and African-American Studies. Melinda went on to earn an M.Ed. and her teaching credential from the University of California, Los Angeles and her Ed.D in Education Leadership for Social Justice at Loyola Marymount University. Melinda published her dissertation, "Creating Scholar Athletes: Investigating the Academic Support Provided to High School Student Athletes in Southern California High Schools."
Education has deep roots for Bonnie Somers. Her great-grandmother emigrated from Poland to the United States in 1911 and sent six grandchildren to college. Her mother, a retired special education teacher, made a profound difference in young lives. And as a mother herself to three sons, Bonnie wants every child to have access to a great teacher!
As senior vice president of communications for the Milken Family Foundation, which she joined in 1999, Bonnie is privileged to lead a talented team in media and public affairs. She has directed several award-winning marketing and public relations campaigns, including the Milken Educator Awards notifications and the Ferne Milken Youth & Sports Complex. The National Institute for Excellence in Teaching honored Bonnie with a 2013 TAP Distinguished Service Award for her contributions to TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement.
Bonnie’s diverse background combines corporate, nonprofit and agency experience. For 12 years, she ran Somers Communications, serving clients ranging from the Los Angeles Times in Education to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. Bonnie earned a B.A. at Pomona College, then a master's in public relations and an MBA from the University of Southern California, where she was named a Commerce Associates Fellow.
Hailing from a family of teachers, Jana Rausch believes that a student’s path to success starts with effective educators. She puts her beliefs into practice at the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching—chaired by Lowell Milken—where she serves as director of communications.
Jana has established over a decade of experience working with Lowell Milken’s groundbreaking education initiatives including the Milken Educator Awards under the Milken Family Foundation, and TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement and the Educator Effectiveness Best Practices Center under the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET). She plays an integral role in creating successful media campaigns, developing relationships with stakeholders and the media as well as building audiences and professional learning communities through the web and social media. In 2015, Jana received the TAP Distinguished Service Award.
Jana fostered her passion for communications, research and policy as a graduate research assistant at the University of California at Santa Barbara, then as a deputy press secretary in the U.S. Senate—which took her to Washington, D.C., and to all 14 media markets in California. She graduated with dual bachelor’s degrees in English and French from the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Erika joined the Milken Family Foundation in 2015 and oversees websites and social media for MFF and the Milken Educator Awards. She writes educator bios and many of the articles in Connections, including the in-depth Spotlight interviews featuring each season's new Milken Educators. Erika is a lifelong wordsmith and began her career as a journalist for both consumer and business trade magazines. Before joining MFF, she spent many years in product marketing and design for internet startups.
A native New Yorker, Erika moved to California nearly three decades ago and can't ever imagine going back. She is a graduate of Yale University and interviews applicants each year through the Yale Alumni Association. While she's never had her own classroom, Erika loves to teach. She runs workshops at Santa Monica High School (her sons' alma mater) to help seniors learn to tell their own stories in their college essays and authors a food blog, where she encourages home cooks to experiment in the kitchen. Inspired by her work with MFF, Erika has reconnected with several beloved childhood teachers to let them know how much they have contributed to her work and life.
Born and raised in Brazil, Andressa Rogers first moved to the United States in 1998 to realize her dream of becoming a global citizen and expanding her perspective on the world. Her hunger to learn, grow and help others learn and grow, took her to San Francisco. A casual encounter with a nonprofit professional resulted in a volunteer position as a Portuguese language translator and assured her that she was moving in the right direction.
Andressa has a B.A. in Communication with a Concentration in Public Relations from the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, one of the most prestigious universities in Brazil. She has also attended the University of California Extension Program in Berkeley and Los Angeles where she successfully completed public relations, journalism and writing classes. Her diverse professional experience includes working as a public relations professional at different agencies and nonprofit organizations and teaching English as a second language at several English schools in Brazil.
Andressa lives happily in Los Angeles with her husband and their adorable rescued dog. She wakes up every morning knowing that she is fortunate enough to have a job that allows her to use her professional skills to help lead advances in education, medical research and public health.