California Association for the Gifted

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Regional Representatives

Note: Please scroll down to find your Regional Representatives

Bay Area Region

CAG_Gretchen_StanersonGretchen Stanerson

(Bay Region Educator Representative)


Capitol Region


Kari Hanson-Smith

(Capitol Region Educator Representative)


Ms. Hanson-Smith is a tireless advocate for advanced learners. Eminently qualified, she has more than 15 years’ experience working in gifted education. Ms. Hanson-Smith earned a master’s degree in Educational Psychology, Gifted and Talented Education from the Three Summers program within the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. While there, she studied with Dr. Joseph Renzulli and Dr. Sally Reis, authors of the Enrichment Triad Model, and the Schoolwide Enrichment Model.   Ms. Hanson-Smith’s breadth of expertise includes GATE program design, talent development, differentiating instruction at the K-8 level, the social and emotional needs of gifted individuals, working with students from diverse populations, and gifted education theory.  In addition to serving on the CAG Board as the current Capitol Region Education Representative, She is the Coordinator for GATE and AP Programs, Sacramento City Unified School District. She has also worked as a GATE Resource Teacher and as a classroom teacher.  She is passionately dedicated to urban gifted education and advocating for the academic and emotional needs of gifted and high ability learners in public school systems.

Joshua Tree Region

CAG_Julia_NybergJulia Nyberg

(Joshua Tree Region Educator Representative)


Dr. Julia Nyberg received her doctorate in education from the University of Southern California (USC), with an emphasis in Teacher Education under the mentorship of Dr. Sandra Kaplan. Dr. Nyberg’s research and practice focus on differentiated curriculum and instruction for gifted and talented students. Dr. Nyberg has professional experience in California and China. Dr. Nyberg has taught, delivered demonstration lessons, and provided professional development for grades K-12 at various school districts in California.

IMG_0982Lynda Vo

(Joshua Tree Region Parent Representative)


Lynda Vo has been involved in gifted education since her early days as a student in the 1970’s. She is the mother of two gifted young adults who have allowed her to navigate the world of parenting with children who look at the world a little bit differently. She has her BS in Elementary Education with a foundation in both gifted education and special education and has a MEd in Educational Administration. Throughout her 25 years of teaching, she has designed and written curriculum for gifted students helped school districts implement gate programming and started problem-solving competition programs in several schools. She currently teaches 7/8 grade math at a GATE Magnet school in Ontario, CA.

Mission Region

CAG_Catherine_EstradaCatherine Estrada

(Mission Region Educator Representative)


christina-desiderioChristina Desiderio

(Mission Region Parent Representative)


Christina is the parent representative for the Mission Area. She has a profoundly gifted and talented son, twice-exceptional gifted and talented daughter, and an academically and leadership gifted son. She is currently a principal of a 2016 Gold Ribbon School and was a principal of a 5 STAR GATE/National Blue Ribbon School. Christina’s goal is to advocate for and educate others in the area GATE education.

Orange Region

alison-demarkAlison DeMark

(Orange Region Educator Representative)


Alison DeMark, Ed.D is a gifted educator in Orange County, California. She is the GATE Program Coordinator in the Fullerton School District, President of the Orange County Council for the Gifted, and a assistant adjunct faculty member at the University of Southern California in the Doctor of Education program. Dr. DeMark is passionate about gifted education, and presents frequently on the social and emotional needs of gifted learners.

IMG_1624Patricia Chiles

(Orange Region Parent Representative)


Patricia Chiles has worked in education for more than 20 years in various capacities, including classroom teacher, GATE teacher, Curriculum Coach, Leadership Assistant and GATE Coordinator. Patricia currently works as a Program Coordinator for GATE and Teacher Induction for the Fullerton School District and serves on the board of the Orange County Council for Gifted and Talented Education, through which she advocates for gifted education in Orange County. Additionally, Patricia is the parent of three children who are gifted.

Pacific Region

CAG_Cindy_HansenCindy Z Hansen

(Pacific Region Parent Representative)


My passion for serving the twice exceptional community and gifted students began with my two very different children who became my first students and mentors. I am a SENG Model Parent Group Facilitator and an active member in both our region’s Tri-County GATE Council and the Association of Educational Therapists. I have a Masters of Education, three teaching certificates, a post-masters certificate in Gifted and Talented Education, and I am an Educational Therapist/Professional in private practice. Using nuanced approaches to the interconnectedness of gifted, dyslexic and intentionality (AD/HD), I integrate my understanding of social-emotional skills while assisting learners and their families to embrace and grow their complex learning profiles. I am committed to serving our gifted community through workshop experiences, SENG Model groups, and informative sessions; collaborating with schools and in informal settings.

Connect with Cindy at or

Palomar Region

Sue Ann Busseysue-ann-bussey

(Palomar Region Educator Representative)


Sue Ann Bussey is an energetic advocate for gifted students as well as the educators and families who support them. For over twenty-five years, she has worked in the field of gifted education in myriad capacities. Throughout her career, she has served as a classroom teacher, district-wide GATE mentor teacher; a member of a district committee to develop a portfolio GATE identification system; a CAG Board Educator Representative; and an organizer of the CAG/Oceanside Unified Summer Demonstration School for the past five years. In the arena of professional learning, Sue Ann empowers educators and parents through trainings in literacy, differentiation, GATE, inquiry, and design thinking.  When Sue Ann is not helping GATE students to achieve their potential, she is inventing new recipes, enjoying time with her family, playing with her Australia Shephard, and traveling to historical sites.

no_representativeSuzanne Hagen

(Palomar Region Parent Representative)


Redwood Region


Jana Reveles

(Redwood Region Educator Representative)


Santa Lucia Region


Susan Gratulty

(Santa Lucia Educator Representative)


Susan started her career in education in Indiana where she worked with special needs preschoolers.  After finishing her credential Susan taught general education fourth and fifth grades.  It was there that she found she had a gift working with at-risk students.  Susan’s career path took a new turn after moving to California.  She worked in a Juvenile Facility in Merced.  When she and her husband moved to Santa Cruz, Susan took a position working in a Court Community Day School.  Many of the students there were identified as GATE, but their emotional needs took them other places.  Susan is now the Coordinator of Visual and Performing Arts, and GATE for the Pajaro Valley Unified School District.  She has four wonderful daughters, Valerie, Stephanie, Natalie and Michelle.  Her husband John is Dean of VAPA at Cabrillo College.


Paula Simka

(Santa Lucia Parent Representative)


Paula embarked on her journey into the gifted education as a result of her volunteering work at her children’s school. Witnessing how gifted children often go through school without having their academic needs met has led her to switch gears, leaving her industrial engineering background and entering the world of gifted education. As a passionate advocate for gifted children, Paula has successfully worked with the school administrators and staff to build a gifted program. Having graduated from the Three Summers Program in Gifted Education at the University of Connecticut, she currently serves as the Gifted Coordinator for Discovery Charter School in San Jose, working with gifted students, providing advanced resources for teachers, and supporting parents of gifted children.