Board Biographies

Last Updated: 4/19/2022 5:13 PM



        Deborah Padberg - Board Chairperson





Deborah Padberg is a Bay Area native who lives in Walnut Creek, California. Deborah has worked with non-profit organizations for over 20 years with a specific emphasis on helping children and families. Having visited over 40 countries with World Vision, Deborah has a unique perspective of the challenges of poverty and education globally. In her current position of Director of Philanthropy for World Vision Bay Area, Deborah is working towards ending extreme poverty in developing countries. Deborah holds a Masters of Arts in Education from Mills College and an undergraduate degree from Cal State University Chico. Deborah is married and has two children.


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             Marie Issa Gil - Board Vice Chairperson




Marie Issa Gil is a mission-driven, nonprofit leader and charter school administrator who is deeply invested in her community and school families. As Bay Area Regional Director for Rocketship Public Schools, she develops and implements strategies to drive community engagement and foster public and political support to promote a culture of achievement, excellence and mutual respect in education. Marie brings various perspectives to local board governance that ranges from DEI principles to growth and innovation models. She is a disciplined thinker who leverages collaborative systems to reach goal for maximum impact to build first class educational options for parents. Marie believes in the power of parents to champion their children’s education, demand political attention, hold leaders accountable, and enable high-quality public schools to thrive in their community.

Marie Issa Gil earned her master degree in Public Administration from the University of San Francisco and brings over 25 years of community leadership in start-ups, nonprofit administration and federal and state programs. As a mother of two charter school high-schoolers, she enjoys spending as much time possible at home cooking, swimming or outdoors attending to her succulent garden and fruit trees.


Heather Vega


         Heather Vega - Board Secretary




Heather Vega is a communications pro and former journalist who uses her talents to support educational organizations making a difference in the lives of children. Currently, Heather is an Account Director at Larson Communications, the only strategic communications firm in the nation specializing in public education reform.

An expert in personalized learning, school systems and preparing teachers, Heather has represented organizations across the country – ranging from local charter networks to nationally renowned education technology organizations. Heather joined Larson Communications after eight years as an award-winning education reporter at the San Mateo Daily Journal, including freelance work which appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle and Parenting on the Peninsula. Heather earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in social science from San Francisco State University. Heather lives with her husband and son in Concord. She is also active with the Make-A-Wish Foundation as a long-time wish granter.

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        David Wendt - Board Trustee



Life is change.  Some question whether the means justify the ends or the ends justify the means.  Possessing a degree in social work and nonviolent conflict and change (BA, Syracuse University), a masters degree in dance (MFA, California Institute of the Arts), further education in the visual arts and theater technology, and having overseen technology operations for many years (Technology Manager, Kaiser Permanente's MultiMedia Communications), I have come to the conclusion that the means justify the ends.  To achieve the ideals of civilization, methods that facilitate progressive change must lead.  Performing arts is one way that expresses the need for change and that is what brought me to the board of CoCoSPA.  Edith Hamilton said it well, “Civilization, a much abused word, stands for a high matter quite apart from telephones and electric lights. It is a matter of imponderables, of delight in the things of the mind, of love of beauty, of honor, grace, courtesy, delicate feeling.  Where imponderables are the things of first importance, there is the height of civilization, and if, at the same time, the power of art exists unimpaired, human life has reach a level seldom attained, and very seldom surpassed.” 




       Dr. Fatemeh Bani-Taba - Board Trustee



For 17 years, Fatemeh has sought fair and equitable solutions to conflicts, which have also led to policy and procedural change in Sonoma County. Concurrently, Fatemeh is a licensed clinical psychologist and a certified communications trainer and facilitator who coaches administrators, chiefs, physicians, directors and other leaders to inspire self discovery and insight on issues such as empathy, compassion, communicating unanticipated outcomes, patient perspective and needs, DEI and interpersonal behavioral change. It is Dr. Banitaba’s hope that her love as a parent, and diversified skills as a professional, will enable her to make meaningful contributions for the SPA community. Dr. Fatemeh Banitaba holds a BA in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from San Francisco State University, as well as a Masters and Doctor of Psychology degree in Clinical Psychology from the Wright Institute.

As a mother of a middle-schooler, she believes that life is meant for living joyfully. She and her daughter share a love of food and learning about the world through extensive local and international travel. Fatemeh also enjoys a variety of music to fit the mood, as well as reading, watching documentaries and spending time with her large extended family.