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Board of Directors

The José Valdés Math Foundation

The José Valdés Math Foundation, a 501C3 organization, was founded with the sole goal of supporting and sustaining the José Valdés Math Institute. Below is a list of the current Board of Directors.  You are welcome to contact any member of the Board via email (addresses are or via our Contact Form.

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Marcos Herrera, President

Marcos is passionate about serving the community as well as promoting STEM education for our under-represented youth.  Marcos currently participates in numerous nonprofit organizations as a board member or volunteer.  Besides serving on the José Valdés Math Institute Foundation Board, Marcos serves on the Boards for Alum Rock Counseling Center, Amigos de Guadalupe, Respite and Research for Alzheimer's Disease, Mabel B. Wright Education Fund, Olimpico Learning, Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (Industry Advisory Board, San Jose State center), Companions in Ignatian Service and Spirituality as well as part of the Pastoral Care Staff at Regional Medical Center in San Jose.  He is also involved with various activities at Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County and volunteered for Catholic Charities for 35 years including serving on the board of Catholic Charities USA. Marcos retired from a career in engineering in 2014.  Marcos has graduate degrees from UC Berkeley and Santa Clara University and Bachelor’s degree from San Jose State, all in Engineering.

Cheryl Lawton, Vice President
Cheryl first began her involvement with the José Valdés Math Institute in 1993 as a teacher in the Summer Institute and quickly witnessed the impressive results: Provide students with a positive, supportive, caring, collaborative, and personalized environment- in addition to a rigorous curriculum- and ALL students can achieve amazing things. She taught with Valdés nearly every summer until becoming a school administrator meant she no longer had her summers available to teach. In 2007, Cheryl and a team of Valdés colleagues co-founded the José Valdés Math Foundation with the sole purpose of financially sustaining the José Valdés Math Institute and its outreach to/support of underrepresented students in our community. Cheryl is currently serving as principal of Branham High School in San Jose.  Prior to Branham she served as Principal at Milpitas High School, a school in which she taught math early in her career. In between her time at Milpitas High, Cheryl taught math and served as co-principal at Hillsdale High School in San Mateo- a Stanford SCOPE-endorsed and nationally recognized model of Smaller Learning Community design and successful high school reform. Prior to becoming a school administrator, Cheryl taught mathematics in San Jose, Milpitas, and East Los Angeles at the middle school, high school, and community college levels. She earned both her BA degree and teaching credential in Mathematics from CSU Northridge, her MS in Teaching Mathematics from Santa Clara University, and her MA and administrative credential in Educational Leadership from San Jose State.


Susan Ledezma, Treasurer

Susan Ledezma is a Senior Manager in PwC’s Assurance Services in San Jose, CA and is also an alumni of the José Valdés Math Institute. She has over 15 years of public accounting experience serving technology companies. Susan has served communications, entertainment and semiconductor companies in various stages of growth ranging from large multinational companies to small private enterprises. She has experience dealing with complex accounting and auditing issues including revenue recognition, goodwill, acquisitions, and long-lived asset impairments.  Susan graduated from Santa Clara University in 2000 with a BS in Accounting.  She is licensed as a Certified Public Accountant in California. 

Kate Valdes, Marketing and Communications

Kate Valdes joined the Board in February, 2019. She currently serves as a Product Designer at Netflix in Los Gatos, CA, and is the granddaughter of Mr. José Valdés, the founder and namesake of the José Valdés Math Institute. Kate has served in a range of creative positions, including 10 years of product design experience, crafting UX/UI solutions for task-based, data-driven, enterprise and consumer platforms. She helps organizations distill complex problems into easy and actionable solutions which help people do more with the time they have. Kate has a BS in Graphic Design from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo as well as numerous additional certificates.  She volunteers her time with a variety of non-profit organizations in the Santa Clara County area.


Jose Valdes Math Foundation Leadership Team

Bob Turner, Institute and Program Director

With a Bachelor of Science Degree and graduate courses in Biology, Bob Turner began his middle-school teaching career in 1997.  In 2007, he began his administrative career by earning his Master's Degree in Education.  His entire educational philosophy has been about raising the bar of student expectations.  Student excellence is, and always has been, his primary goal.  Over the years, Bob has had many administrative roles as an educational leader.  He has been a Science Department Chairman, an AVID Coordinator, an After School Program Supervisor, a School Loop Administrator,a District Computer Technology Leader, a Saturday School Administrator, and an After School Detention Supervisor.  Bob started as a math teacher in the Valdés Math Institute program during the summer of 2002. In the summer of 2003, Bob was selected as a Valdés site principal, an administrative role he continued each summer until February 2015, at which time he accepted the full-time position of Director of the Valdés Math Institute.


Robert Escobar, Foundation Executive Director

Robert is a life long resident of the Santa Clara Valley and has served his community throughout his life. As a civil rights activist he has supported and participated with many local non-profits advocating for issues and quests important to the Latino community. He has served as a volunteer for Latinas Contra Cancer, El Toro Youth Association, The American GI Forum and many more. He currently serves as a member of San José Jazz and is extremely proud of its Progression Program that provide intensive youth development cultivating their gifts through music education and performance. Robert has also served as a Planning Commissioner for the County of Santa Clara and the City of Morgan Hill. He recently retired from his position of Deputy Director of Human Resources of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. Robert owned his own consulting business for 12 years and prior to that he was the President of San José Development Corporation, a San José based nonprofit whose endeavor was to develop and implement economic development strategies in low income neighborhoods. Robert received both an undergraduate and Masters Degree in Public Administration from the University of San Francisco. As a member of the U.S. Army he served a tour of duty in South Vietnam. Robert continues to support many organizations throughout the Silicon Valley and will carry forward strong goals and objectives, fulfilling the philosophy that embraces the values of the José Valdés Math Institute.