Carrie Wagner, Founder and Executive Director
Carrie Wagner, Executive Director, GALS Los Angeles, believes that learning can be joyful as well as academically rigorous. She believes in a holistic approach to education where the student opens up to their own unique talents and skills and gains confidence in who they are as a person. This then creates a launching pad that allows students to make even further strides academically. A product of all girls' education, Carrie is passionate that single gender schools empower students to use their voice, lead confidently and develop strong bonds with their community.
Carrie has been in the charter school movement since 2003. Carrie was recently the COO of Bright Star Schools, which is a charter management organization that operates 5 high performing schools in Los Angeles. Prior to this, she spent 9 years at ExED, a leading nonprofit provider of charter school management services, where she served as President and COO. Carrie has also worked as the Social Enterprise Manager for New Directions, Inc., a nonprofit organization assisting homeless veterans, and in corporate finance at Heller Financial. Carrie is a Certified Public Accountant with experience at PriceWaterhouseCoopers as a Senior Accountant in the audit division. She earned an M.B.A. from The Anderson School at UCLA and a B.S. in Accountancy and Computer Applications from The University of Notre Dame. Carrie recently received her M.A. in Spiritual Psychology from The University of Santa Monica.
Vanessa Garza, Founding Principal
Vanessa Garza has over ten years of urban public education experience. Formerly the Director of Teacher Development at the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, Vanessa began her teaching career as an elementary teacher with Teach For America in East Harlem. She returned to Los Angeles, her hometown, to teach sixth grade at Stevenson Middle School. Ms. Garza has also scaled up a STEM non-profit and served as the program manager for a National Science Foundation grant. As a proven leader, she has served as a middle school and high school Assistant Principal, where she focused on instructional leadership across Los Angeles' charter networks.
Ms. Garza cultivated opportunities to support the development of the College-Ready Teaching Framework rubric while at Partnerships to Uplift Communities, and then she fully implemented The College Ready Promise grant at Green Dot Public Schools.
She graduated from Tulane University, earned her Masters of Education from the UCLA Graduate School of Education, and earned her administrative credential as a member of the inaugural class of the Charter School Leadership Academy at Loyola Marymount University.