Joshua Halsey

Executive Director

Joshua was appointed Executive Director of the Washington State Charter School Commission on October 7, 2013.  Prior to leading the Commission, Joshua was a Regional Program Developer at Puget Sound Educational Service District where he oversaw multiple education improvement grants and spearheaded the development of the South King County STEM Network, a key component of both the South King County’s Race to the Top Grant and the Road Map Project.  Joshua has also worked closely with multiple school district leaders throughout King and Pierce County, as well as state and national level leaders.

Joshua has a passion for serving others and supporting systems improvements in service of students and families.  His primary goal at the Commission is to lead the Commission to become the model charter school authorizer of the nation.

Joshua holds a Bachelor of Arts from Linfield College and a Masters of Arts in Organization Systems Renewal from Seattle University.


Paula Kitzke

Director of School Quality and Accountability

Paula joined the Commission in September 2016 as a Special Education Program Supervisor and in July of 2017 started in her role as Deputy Director. She began her career in education as a teacher in Colorado where she assumed various leadership roles in the districts. Paula accepted a teaching position at the University of Colorado – Denver where she worked to train teachers and administrators to support personnel working with students with disabilities. She also held a joint appointment at the University of Idaho between the College of Education and College of Life Sciences to support teacher evaluation and STEM resources for rural school districts.  Paula brings extensive experience supporting special education in charter schools at the state level. She has worked as a Program Specialist with a focus on policy and implementation for charter schools in Arizona, Idaho, Oregon, and most recently four years in North Carolina.

Paula’s focus remains on supporting administrators in an educational system that meets the needs of students who are at risk and creatively utilizing all resources available so that every student will learn. She believes all students need a community in which they feel safe and are able to contribute within their environment.

Paula holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in education from the University of Wisconsin and a Master of Arts from the University of Colorado. She remains a Badger and Green Bay Packer fan.


Krystal Starwich

Director of New School Applications

Krystal Starwich is the Director of New School Applications. Prior to this role, she served as the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction’s (OSPI) Charter School Program Grant Coordinator, in which she successfully built and implemented the Charter School Program and managed all grant-making and management activities.

Additionally, she served as an evaluator during the 2017-18 New Charter School Application cycle for both the Commission and Spokane Public Schools. She is thrilled to continue the work of the Commission, which has one of the most rigorous and well-regarded application processes in the country, to help realize its mission of authorizing only high-quality charter public schools. In addition, she is excited to spearhead new initiatives designed to help build knowledge and capacity in prospective applicants.

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 at Seattle University and her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science at the University of Washington. Her non-profit professional experience includes legal advocacy, 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.


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

Chief of Staff/ Executive Assistant

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 auntie to four nieces and nephews.