Our Team

We are REDi. We are leadership and policy experts, researchers, and professional development coaches dedicated to advancing the field of K–16 education. Our associates are familiar with both the daily challenges that practitioners face and emerging issues that call upon policymakers to rethink the systems in which learning occurs. Offering integrated and action-oriented services for projects in the United States and abroad, team members use an evidence-based approach to work with partners and accelerate their progress forward.

Scott Himelstein

Scott Himelstein

Founder & President

“ Amazing opportunities are found outside
the schoolhouse doors. ”

As REDi’s founder and president, Scott Himelstein leads the team with an expertise that encompasses the financial, political, governance and workforce dimensions of K–16 education. Scott’s work over the past three decades has been committed to fostering a better linkage between educational research, policymaking, and practice. He believes that a shared understanding of the complex system of education by all stakeholders is the groundwork for improved outcomes.

Scott is a Physical Security Specialist and graduate of the U.S. Federal Law Enforcement Training Center Physical Security Program. Scott was also former Commissioner of the California Department of Justice Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission and Director of The Center for Education Policy and Law at the University of San Diego. He brings unique experience intersecting education policy development with law enforcement best practices and training.

Prior to founding REDi, Himelstein developed and led two research centers at the University of San Diego. In 2007, the Center for Education Policy and Law (CEPAL) was founded with a gift from the William D. Lynch Foundation as a joint center between the School of Leadership and Education Sciences and the School of Law. In 2011, with funding from Dr. Irwin and Joan Jacobs, the Mobile Technology Learning Center (MTLC) was established to collaborate with school districts to effectively integrate technology into today’s digital learning environments. Currently, the work of the centers is part of the Institute for Entrepreneurship in Education (IEE) which Himelstein formed in 2014 as the umbrella organization for CEPAL and MTLC. Himelstein has held two state-level executive leadership roles. He was the former Deputy Secretary of Education/ Chief of Staff and later Acting Secretary of Education for the State of California. In that capacity, he served as chief policy advisor to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on K–12 and higher education. In 2008, Himelstein was appointed by the Governor to the California Community College Board of Governors which oversees 114 colleges, the largest system of higher education in the world. He served as its president from 2011 to 2013. Prior to his appointments by Governor Schwarzenegger, Himelstein served as Chairman and CEO of the National Even Start Association, Chairman and CEO of San Diego Reads, and Executive Director of California Reading Recovery Council. In addition to his work with REDi, Mr. Himelstein is the President of the William D. Lynch Foundation for Children, a position he has held since its formation in 1989. He is also a board member for the City Heights Prep Charter School in San Diego. Past service includes work with the Museum of Photographic Arts, California Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, San Diego State University Literacy Center Advisory Board, and the San Diego Workforce Investment Board.

Dr. Suzette Lovely

Dr. Suzette Lovely

Senior Associate / Leadership Development – Coaching

“ We lead teams to unexplored boundaries and
never-thought-of possibilities. ”

Suzette Lovely provides direct support to district and school teams in leadership development, government relations, human resource management, strategic planning, and college and career readiness. Suzette’s career spans 34 years in K–12 education as a teacher, principal, deputy superintendent, and superintendent.

While serving as district superintendent, Lovely spearheaded numerous efforts in San Diego County to engage external stakeholders in the work of public education including implementation of a $13 million regional Career Pathways Grant; conception of an eportal to allow employers and industry partners to collaborate directly with schools; facilitation of workforce readiness meetings with superintendents, school board members, community college presidents, mayors, city managers, and economic development coordinators; and participation in collective impact endeavors with non-profits such as the United Way. Lovely was also invited to participate on a focus group with California’s Governor to discuss the State’s new accountability system. Following her undergraduate work at University of California, Irvine, Lovely earned a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from National University and a Doctorate Degree from Cal State University, Fullerton. Her research provides unique insight into the generational perspectives of Millennial teachers and their long-term commitment to the profession. Lovely is the author of three books and numerous journal articles on school leadership, governance and developing capacity from within. She has been a featured speaker at local, state and national conferences. Dr. Lovely has been recognized for her visionary leadership and educational contributions by California Senator Patricia Bates, the California PTA, Hi-Noon Rotary, the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, the Master Teacher Publication, and the San Diego County Art Education Association.

Tamara Otero

Tamara Otero

Senior Associate / Government Affairs – Community Outreach

“ Deliberate support for determining your own
successful outcomes. ”

Tamara Otero brings the board governance support to the REDi team. She believes that community and governance support is vital to any change in current systems. She is committed to relevant student learning through thoughtful and strategic practices that enhance opportunity for ALL students. As a community outreach strategist, Tamara works to create collaborative environments with community and districts to enable growth and sustain progress.

Otero brings years of school board governance experience. As a community leader, her involvement and outreach supported shifts and changes in the school systems. She has been involved in school bonds, school design, curriculum and budgets.  She has the led the charge for technology-infused classrooms, blended learning, and presentation literacy for all students in her district and beyond. She is a confident, articulate speaker and has testified on behalf of refugee students in the U.S. Congress. She is the co-organizer of TEDx Kids, represented her district at Digital Promise, League of Innovative Schools, and is the current Vice President of San Diego California School Board Association. Otero co-authored the book, From the Boardroom to the Classroom, and brings a unique perspective with an entrepreneurial background and a hands-on approach to change in education. She was recently named School Board Member of the Year in her region. In recognition for her community leadership, Otero received the Continuing Service Award from CA PTA, and continues to serve on local PTA Boards. She has spent many years as a volunteer in the system and understands the intricacies of revision and transition in the education system, and is the bridge between community and school districts. Follow Tamara on twitter: @oterotamara

Rich Thome

Rich Thome

Senior Associate / Leadership Development – Strategic Planning

“ One of us is not as smart as all of us. ”

Rich Thome engages at the top level of management to help district leaders, school boards, and superintendents align their work and achieve system-wide goals for their students in charge. With a career spanning 49 years in the field of education, Rich believes that a focus on quantifiable student outcomes, coupled with a vision with an eye towards 21st century skills, produces high quality learning environments.

Thome began his career as a classroom teacher, eventually teaching at all levels of K–12 education: elementary, middle and secondary. Moving into district leadership roles, he served as a school superintendent in two school districts over a span of eight years, an assistant superintendent of technology, research and human resources at the county level in San Diego for 5 years, and led 29 elementary schools in Capistrano Unified for 7 years. He also served as the director of the Educational Leadership Development Academy and the director of leadership development for the Institute for Entrepreneurship in Education at the University of San Diego. Rich brings to the REDi team the expertise and lessons learned from conducting 79 superintendent and executive searches and 118 school board workshops. Mr. Thome is co-author of the book, From the Boardroom to the Classroom. Following his undergraduate degree in Spanish at Cal State Los Angeles, Thome earned his master’s degree in School Management and Administration from Pepperdine University. He holds a K–12 Bilingual, Cross Cultural certificate and a Standard Secondary, K–12 Specialist and Administrative Services credential from the State of California. He is fluently bilingual in Spanish. In addition to his work with the REDi team, Thome is a partner with Leadership Associates, one of California’s premiere school superintendent search firms.