Staff | The Chalkboard Project


Jenny Gillet
Collaboration Project Director

Jenny Gillet began her career as a teacher in the D.C. Metro area after receiving her MAT from Lewis and Clark in 2003. She moved back to Portland in 2005 and joined the team at Floyd Light Middle School in David Douglas School District. In 2013, she was chosen to co-manage the David Douglas Collaboration Grant and worked to elevate teacher leaders to lead professional learning. Jenny attended the 2016 Oregon Writing Project Summer Institute and hopes to spread this model of collaborative professional learning, teacher leadership and school reform in her work with Oregon districts. Prior to becoming a teacher, Jenny shredded on drums in local rock bands and pursued an acting career. Today, she regularly performs flamenco dance. Jenny is also fluent in Spanish and taught in an elementary dual-language immersion program for two years.

Whitney Grubbs
Executive Director

Whitney Grubbs has more than a decade of experience in education, public policy, and cross-sector collaboration. As former chief of staff to the Oregon Education Investment Board and senior staff to Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, Grubbs provided strategic guidance to policy makers and successfully moved significant public policy aimed at improving education outcomes, reducing disparities, and supporting educators. She is an avid champion of public education and lives in Portland with her husband and her two children, both of whom are students in Portland Public Schools.

Mike Kalkofen
Finance Director

Mike Kalkofen has nearly 20 years of accounting and finance management experience in organizations ranging from less than $1 million in revenue to more than $70 million and 2,500 employees worldwide. Prior to joining Chalkboard Project, Mike was the finance and administration director at Gateway to College National Network in Portland. Mike holds a BSBA from the University of Denver and an MBA from the University of Nevada.

Bahia Overton
Equity and Partnerships Director

Bahia Overton oversees implementation and ongoing management of the two-pronged Leading for Learning initiative—working closely with the Oregon Department of Education and higher education partners to improve school leadership. Her experience in student recruitment and retention for Portland State University shapes the program’s recruitment and outreach strategies for program participants and addresses barriers for reaching people of color, women, and individuals from other historically underrepresented groups in school leadership. Bahia holds degrees in psychology and social work, and is currently a doctoral candidate at Portland State University.

Perla Sitcov
Communications Director

Perla Sitcov has more than eight years of experience working in fundraising and communications. She beleives that quality public education is a right for all children and is inspired by the hard work teachers do to help realize that right. On a daily basis, you can find Perla working on Chalkboard's communication strategy, managing its social media and website and leading the fun committee. Perla holds a bachelor’s degree in photography from University of Washington.

Julie Smith
Deputy Director

Julie Smith leads the educator effectiveness efforts including CLASS, School District Collaboration Fund, and works with rural schools in Oregon. Julie is also Chalkboard’s principal in assessment and teacher evaluation issues, and directs policy development in these areas, plus overseeing the CLASS/SDCF coaching cadre and supporting the Distinguished Educators Council. Julie’s background in education includes teaching first through fourth grade in Vancouver schools and later serving in an administrative role as a professional development specialist for several years. Julie served on the Oregon Quality Education Commission since 2012, and is a member of other Oregon statewide committees around education innovation. Prior to joining Chalkboard as a staff member in 2013, Julie was a CLASS coach for two years working in the field with educators and administrators. She received her Masters in Education with Administrator License from Washington State University, and teaching credentials from Monterey Bay, California.

Janet Soto Rodriguez
Policy and Innovation Director

Janet Soto Rodriguez has dedicated her life to centering the voices of marginalized communities. Her nonlinear career path has taken her from teaching high school to community organizing, serving as the business equity policy advisor for Oregon’s Governor, and working most recently as the rural economic development program director for Business Oregon. She brings her education background, ability to navigate executive, legislative and local branches of government and her lived experience grounded in social justice values to the Chalkboard Project.

Annie Tronco
Educator Effectiveness Coach

Annie Tronco joined the Chalkboard staff in 2015 after previously serving as a CLASS Project coach. In addition to coaching multiple school districts with their School District Collaboration Fund grants, she currently facilitates the advocacy work of the Distinguished Educators Council and is involved in developing Assessment Literacy throughout Oregon. Prior to joining Chalkboard, Annie was heavily involved in mentoring early career teachers and provided leadership for the Oregon Mentoring Program. She began her career teaching middle school language arts and social studies and has worked on behalf of public education for more than 20 years. Annie holds a bachelor’s degree in Politics and Government and an M.A.T. from the University of Puget Sound.

Ashley Walker
Office Coordinator

With a master’s degree in early childhood and elementary education from George Fox University, Ashley comes to this role at Chalkboard Project with more than fifteen years of teaching, teacher training, parent education, and administrative experience. Ashley is a writer, a parent, and a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. Talk to her about what she’s reading!