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Leadership Team

Ricardo Mireles - Executive Director
Mr. Mireles is the founder Academia Avance, a college preparatory charter public school located in the Northeast Los Angeles neighborhood of Highland Park. Development started in 2004, with authorization granted in May of 2005 by the Los Angeles Unified School District. Operations commenced that summer with 100 students in grades 6-7. Avance now serves over 400 students in grades 6-12. The charter was renewed by the Los Angeles County Board of Education in 2010, and again by the State Board of Education in 2015. 
Development of Avance followed Ricardo's stint at the California Charter Schools Association in 2003. CCSA was his crash course on all things charter, after spending four years at the LAUSD, having joined in 2000 the team that launched the planning and eventual construction of 120 new schools. It was at LAUSD the he came to realize that even more than just needing new school facilities, Los Angeles needed a new way of schooling kids. 
Mr. Mireles brings to Avance Schools a broad range of experiences in public policy and technology. Mr. Mireles has taught at the UCLA School of Public Policy and Social Research, and at the Don Bosco Technical Institute. He completed a fellowship in public affairs with the Coro Foundation - New York City in 1990. He is a graduate of the Don Bosco Technical Institute, has a B.A. in Anthropology from Columbia College, and has completed graduate work in urban planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He lives with his wife and son in Highland Park.
Dr. St Claire Adriaan - Director of Instructional Support and Student Achievement​
St. Claire was born, raised and educated in Apartheid South Africa. Very early in his life he learned that education was his only weapon against apartheid. He did everything in his power, motivated by his parents, community and teachers to get educated and go to College. He was intent on becoming a teacher to ensure that the kids form his community received a quality education and realized their dreams. St. Claire obtained his Diploma in Elementary Education from Dower College of Education in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. He went on to complete his BA, Ed (Secondary) , BA (HONS), B.ED (Post Graduate) from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. He then went on to Rhodes University where he completed a PGDE in Educational Leadership and Management.


Before migrating to the United States in 1999, he was a lecturer in Educational Psychology at Kagisanong College of Education in Bloemfontein. Since St. Claire’s arrival in the United States he has won numerous teaching awards including being a Disney Teacher of the year Honoree in 2006. He turned around a failing school in New Orleans as well as post the best 7th grade Math scores in California. St. Claire has spent the past 15 years working in urban schools and became very concerned about the large number of minority students being pushed out of school and the impact that it was having on the school, community, state and country. He strongly believes in building relationships with students and families and in restorative justice. He just recently became licensed as a Restorative Justice Trainer, one of about 400 in the United Stated and his main goal is to work with schools and help them keep our minority students in school. He strongly believes that it is not where you come from that determines your destiny, it is hard work and the will to succeed and adults that believe in you.

Marcelo Olmos - Director of Fund Development
Marcelo Olmos is a native of Los Angeles and as a first-generation American, is especially committed to making a difference in education. Marcelo is a graduate of CSU Fullerton with Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, and earned his Master’s in Public Administration: Nonprofit Management degree from CSU Northridge. Marcelo has demonstrated his commitment to Avance, having first served as Operations Director beginning April 2007. As Development Director, Marcelo is excited to propel Avance on to a new level, cultivating awareness and funding opportunities that will reveal new possibilities. In his spare time, Marcelo enjoys cooking, hiking, and exploring Los Angeles’ diversity through food, music and art.
Ricardo Gonzalez - Director of Avance Athletics

Avance 2008-2014 2015-Present 

A UCLA graduate with a BA in Political Science and Clear Credential Teacher from Mount St. Mary's in Physical Education.

Mr. Gonzalez has taught PE for grades 6-10 and currently serves as Athletic Director and Lead PE Teacher. He has also helped as an assistant soccer coach and middle school basketball coach for boys and girls.