About Us

Chamberlin Education Foundation supports educators and community partners to advance education equity and academic excellence for students in West Contra Costa public schools.

ON THIS PAGE: Our Mission / Our Location / Guiding Principles / Our Team

Our Message

Chamberlin Education Foundation CEO, Dr. Stefanie Phillips, shares the central question driving our foundation’s approach.

Our Vision

We envision a free, high-quality public school ecosystem in West Contra Costa that values student intellect and identity, challenges students to achieve their full potential, promotes student agency and wellness, and delivers equitable and inspiring outcomes for every student — particularly Black, Latinx, and other historically under-resourced students. We envision active collaboration within and between our district’s public schools that can amplify and strengthen every school’s impact for its students.

Active grants in West Contra Costa
Local investment in education in 2023-24
Schools supported

Our Location


The Chamberlin Education Foundation works to improve student success in the 54 traditional district schools and 14 public charter schools distributed across Richmond, San Pablo, El Cerrito, Pinole, Hercules, El Sobrante, and unincorporated Contra Costa County. 

Guiding Principles

Academic Excellence

We value academic excellence in the public school ecosystem. We believe that TK-12 academic success is critical to students’ long term college and career success. We support research-backed and data-driven initiatives designed to raise academic achievement and deliver measurable academic growth, particularly for underserved student populations.

Collaboration and Partnership

We value authentic community partnerships built on a shared commitment to student success. We believe partnership is necessary to solve complex problems and create sustainable change. In collaboration with community partners, we identify mutual student-centered objectives, and we support partners to achieve shared goals.

Distributed Community Agency

We value the equitable distribution of power, voice, and agency across our community. We leverage our resources to increase the impact and sustainability of our current and future partners. We listen to stakeholders to refine our strategy, and distribute funding and program support to those best-positioned to achieve equitable student outcomes. 

Racial Justice in Education

We value racial justice in West Contra Costa public schools. We believe that equitable education outcomes for Black and Latinx students are a necessary component of a just and healthy school ecosystem. We support instructional practices and advocate for policy change to combat systemic bias and structural inequities in our public schools. We support individuals and organizations working to design systems for racial equity in public education.

Continuous Learning

We value our own continued learning, and the collaborative growth that we experience and share through work with our community partners. We believe that dynamic conditions require emergent and evolving approaches. We rely on academic research, local data, community insights, practitioner expertise, and regular, internal evaluation of our grants and programmatic work to inform our strategy and refine our philanthropic impact.

Our Team

Caroline Damon, VP, Academics, Chamberlin Education Foundation
Dr. Caroline Damon
Interim Executive Director

Caroline oversees Chamberlin Education Foundation’s grantmaking portfolio, partnering with West Contra Costa public schools to advance educational equity and academic excellence for all students, with a particular focus on Black, Latinx, and other historically under-resourced students. Caroline joined the Foundation in 2015 and holds two decades of experience in education policy and practice, as a former classroom teacher, instructional coach, and nonprofit leader. Caroline holds a BA from Connecticut College, a MA from Stanford University, and an EdD from New York University.

Christine Castillo
Chief Financial Officer,
Chief Operating Officer

Christine directs the foundation’s accounting, finance, operations, and property management. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance and Real Estate and is a California Notary.

Angelina Chacon-Garcia
Program Manager, Data & Learning Systems

Angelina leads CEF’s data gathering, analysis, and visualization to support evidence-based decisions that drive foundation impact. Her 15 years experience working with education data inform her approach to managing CEF’s information systems, organizational learning, and internal evaluations.

A Black man with dreadlocks wearing wire-rimmed glasse, a burgundy cardigan and beaded necklasses smiles in an outdoor setting in front of a dark blue wall edged with burgundy tree leaves and green shrubs.
Thomas Laymon
Program Officer, Talent

Thomas heads a portfolio of grants and programs that support recruiting, retaining, and developing impactful teachers, principals, and systems leaders in West Contra Costa public schools. Thomas’s career includes over a decade of experience in education as a teacher, teacher recruiter, school site administrator, and network director.

Daniel Newman Sr.
Property Manager

Daniel manages the foundation’s learning facilities. He and his team ensure that classrooms, grounds, and campus amenities remain in top condition for students and school staff.

Justin Warren
Vice President, Strategy & Communications

Justin leads CEF’s development of strategy, story, and systems. He manages the foundation’s media grantmaking, and heads the team’s internal learning, collaboration, and evaluation processes. Justin spent two decades as an educator, visual media producer, and nonprofit advisor.

Our Board

Steve Chamberlin
Steve Chamberlin was raised in Hawaii, where he attended public school as a young scholar. After service in the US Army, Mr. Chamberlin earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Hawaii, and a Master’s in City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania. His successful career in real estate development spanned 45 years. As an Adjunct Professor at UC Berkeley, Mr. Chamberlin taught urban planning and real estate development for 16 years. He founded the Berkeley / Stanford Real Estate Challenge at the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, and the Urban Plan immersive learning experience at the Urban Land Institute.
susan-chamberlin copy
Susan Chamberlin
Vice Chair
Susan Chamberlin was raised in Hawaii, where she attended public elementary and secondary schools. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Cornell University, and a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of California Berkeley. Mrs. Chamberlin enjoyed a successful career as an architect and in project management. She taught as an Adjunct Professor at UC Berkeley for six years. She has served on the boards of the Richmond Art Center, the Oakland Museum of California, and the Center for Social Sector Leadership. She currently serves as a Trustee of the UC Berkeley Foundation.
Melinda Erkelens
Melinda Erkelens
Board Member
Melinda Erkelens is a seasoned attorney with a deep passion for sailing. With over three decades of legal experience, she has seamlessly merged her legal expertise and love for the sport by serving as general counsel for three America’s Cup sailing teams. Erkelens’s dedication lies in supporting organizations to achieve their goals. Her experience spans a wide range of areas, including contract drafting and negotiation, compliance, risk management and governance. 
Anne Hoffman
Board Member
Anne Hoffman spent over 30 years developing and managing commercial real estate in the Bay Area before her retirement in 2011. A Richmond resident since 1987, Hoffman once served on the Richmond Economic Development Commission, and participated in the Many Hands program that supported Washington Elementary School. Hoffman previously served as an officer of the National Association of Industrial Office Properties, and as a guest lecturer at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. She was recognized as a Woman of Influence by the SF Business Times in 2010.
Arun-small-1-768x984 copy
Dr. Arun Ramanathan
Board Member
Dr. Arun Ramanathan is the former Chief Executive Officer of Pivot Learning, an Oakland-based non-profit that partners with schools and districts across the nation to improve teaching and learning. Dr. Ramanathan previously served as the Executive Director of the Education Trust-West, a state-wide policy, research, and advocacy organization in California. Prior to that role, he served as Chief Student Services Officer in the San Diego Unified School District. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College, his master’s degree in Elementary and Special Education from Boston College, and his doctorate Administration, Policy and Social Planning from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.