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Expanding the CAST Network Team


In 2018, shortly after we had opened CAST Tech, our first high school downtown, CAST Schools became a nonprofit organization with two employees, myself and longtime education guru Carol Mendenhall.


The third person to join our team, Marketing and Communication Director Eddie Rodriguez, helped us to develop our brand and visibility in the San Antonio community as we quickly grew to a network of 5 high schools in 4 districts, and one Pre-K-12 Academy.


Now, in the summer of 2024, CAST Schools, the nonprofit organization, is 12 people strong and we are reorganizing. Though we are still opening schools, we now shift to a focus on building for a sustainable future, strengthening our model, partnering with our four school districts to scale CAST practices more broadly.


I am excited to announce that Jennifer Maestas is our new Deputy Director, readying the organization for a planful succession. Eddie Rodriguez is taking on an important newly created role as Senior Partnership Director. CAST Schools was created in partnership with industry, and as career-connected schools, this year we will deepen those relationships, particularly with respect to job shadowing, mentorships, internships and apprenticeships.


Under this reorganization, Dr. Carol Harle, who is well known in the local education community for the many hats she has worn at local districts, colleges, and the Texas Education Agency, becomes our School Experience Director. The school experience team includes Anastasia Perez, our Educator Experience Manager, who works tirelessly to ensure that our educators feel support from the network. A grant from UP Partnership is allowing CAST Schools to cement its commitment to Youth Voice and Agency with a full-time Student Experience Coordinator, and we welcome Eric Falcon in that newly-created role.


We recently announced the addition of our first development director, Nicole Amri, an artist and most recently the co-Executive Director of the youth-serving nonprofit SAY Sí, a longtime CAST partner. 


Starting July 8, we welcomed Stephanie Landivar Gaitan as our new Communications Director, and we’re thrilled at her wide range of experience with many of our education and nonprofit partners. The communications team also includes our fleet-feeted storyteller Josh Collins, and we augment their work with a crew of communications interns from each of our school campuses.


We are growing the data team, which is led by the amazing Nayeli Gomez, with a data science apprentice, Daniel Ruiz. We have a second apprentice in project management, Brooke Zepeda, who will principally work with Eddie Rodriguez on partnerships, but who may also engage in the many events CAST has become known for, such as our Three Years of Fear production, Speak Up Speak Out, and the Youth Rally.


We’ll be sharing more about these apprentices, which is a new program for CAST, in the coming months. Both of these young people are graduates of CAST Tech High School looking to develop new skills and a career pathway, and we know they will bring an important perspective to our team.


Thank you all for your partnership and the community support that has allowed CAST Schools to flourish. You can read more about our team and their complete bios here.


Jeanne Russell

Executive Director

CAST Schools


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The Centers for Applied Science and Technology (CAST) Network is a tax-exempt organization as described in Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Service code. CAST Schools are partnership schools with a focus on STEM careers, project based learning and work-based learning. Key partners include public school districts, higher education institutions, and local employers from target industries.