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.


Krystal Starwich

Deputy Director

Krystal Starwich serves as the Deputy Director for the Washington State Charter School Commission where she oversees both the authorization and oversight activities of the agency. Prior to this role, she served 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 training to become a registered yoga teacher and hopes to use those skills to support individuals who are incarcerated and recovering from trauma.

Leslie Hayden

Oversight Specialist

Leslie Hayden is one of two Oversight Specialists who joined the Commission in December of 2019. Prior to joining the Commission Leslie was an educator with positions in historically underserved communities as a 9-12 classroom teacher, Restorative Justice Teacher Advisor, and a Data-Intervention Coordinator. Leslie was also a co-coach for the Academic Decathlon team for three years. She was the Self Study Coordinator for three schools accrediting process.

Leslie holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Masters of Public Policy Administration from California Lutheran University. Leslie is National Board Certified teacher in Social Studies-History, and has worked as a National Boards Professional Learning Facilitator with UCLA Center-X to support new National Board teacher candidates.

Leslie is a native Californian who recently transplanted to Washington with her family, including her twin boys. She joined the commission as an Oversight Specialist to ensure that schools are delivering a quality education for all student populations including “at-risk youth.” She believes in the Commission’s mission “fostering innovation and ensuring excellence so that every student has access to and thrives in a high-quality public school… especially schools designed to expand opportunities for students who have been underserved, and to ensure the highest standards of accountability and oversight for these schools.”


Kara Lowe

Oversight Specialist

Kara is one of two Oversight Specialists who joined the Commission in December of 2019.

She 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.