Staff

Krystal Starwich

Interim Executive Director

Krystal Starwich currently serves as the Interim Executive Director for the Washington State Charter School Commission. She previously served as Deputy Director of the agency where she oversaw both the authorization and oversight activities of the agency and as the Commission’s Director of New School Applications and managed the new school authorization process, which is regarded as one of the strongest in the nation. Krystal started her career in public service at the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction where she worked as the state’s first Charter School Program Grant Coordinator.

Prior to joining the Commission, she spent three years providing operations and student support at an independent school in Seattle. She earned her Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Seattle University and her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Washington. Her non-profit professional experience includes legal advocacy for survivors of gender-based violence, fund development, and program coordination.

Pacific NW born and raised, Krystal is a proud product of Washington’s public education system and credits programs like Running Start for her success as a student. She believes that charter schools with proper management and rigorous oversight, can provide students and families with a high-quality option to support their learning and development. She is passionate about youth civic engagement and has been a longtime volunteer and board member for the YMCA’s Youth and Government program. She is a registered yoga teacher with a focus on inclusive, body-positive, and trauma-informed classes.

Kara Lowe

Oversight Specialist

Kara comes to the Commission with a background in business management and over seven years of legislative affairs experience for state and federal trade associations. After staying home with her children, Kara returned to work as a preschool teacher. She spent five years working in early childhood education. Kara has worked in public schools as a traveling art teacher for grades K-5 and completed a special education public school internship in Occupational Therapy. After spending time living on the East Coast and in the South; she returned to the Pacific Northwest to raise her family.

Kara is proud to be a product of Washington State public schools and is a daughter of a 35-year public school educator. She holds a Dual Emphasis Bachelor of Arts from The Evergreen State College in Community Health Sciences & Non-Profit Business Management, with a minor in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Policy.

Kara’s interests are in the improvement of systems framework in society, and public policy. She is excited to partner with the Commission in working towards maintaining and achieving educational equity in Washington State.

 

Mike Sando

Charter School Engagement Supervisor

Prior to spending sixteen years in the classroom as a history and civics teacher and track coach, Mike worked as a Legislative Assistant for the state Senate from 1993-98. He earned a Political Science degree from Western Washington University in 1992 and obtained his teacher certificate from St. Martin’s College in 2002. Mike is married with two children in college.

Currently he is the Charter Schools Engagement Supervisor which means that Mike will be working with schools to facilitate communication between the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), the Charter School Commission, and our charter schools.

 

Amanda Martinez

Amanda joined the Commission in 2016. Prior to her work with the Commission, Amanda worked as an Executive Assistant for more than five years in the cosmetics industry, as well as for non-profits in the Seattle area. Her administrative experience working with a Vice President of Sales and Marketing, a General Manager and an Executive Director enhances the breadth of expertise, efficiency and energy she brings to the mission, and running the office.

A proud “local girl” who grew up in Tumwater, Amanda received her BA degree in Finance and Management from Saint Martin’s University in Lacey, WA. She is “mom” to one stepdaughter, two puppies, and a proud aunt to four nieces and nephews.