Staff

Jessica de Barros

Interim Executive Director

Jessica de Barros is a policy leader committed to closing opportunity gaps and promoting racial justice. Her previous experience includes serving as Executive Director of Communications, Government and Public Relations for Puget Sound Educational Service District, an agency supporting 44 school systems in urban, suburban and rural settings. She played an instrumental role in establishing partnerships with local health jurisdictions to steer school systems through COVID-19 response and recovery. Also with PSESD, Jessica directed implementation of a $40 million federal Race to the Top District grant in partnership with school districts, postsecondary institutions, workforce partners, and community-based organizations in Seattle and South King County.

Jessica began her career working for U.S. Senator Patty Murray on education, workforce, and social policy in Washington, D.C.  Her previous experience also includes serving as Board Chair for a Washington state charter school, Director of Impact for the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, and leadership positions with Seattle Public Schools and the City of Seattle. A graduate of Seattle’s Franklin High School, Jessica earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from American University and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Washington.

Krystal Starwich

Director of Strategic Initiatives and Policy

Krystal Starwich currently serves as the Director of Strategic Initiatives and Policy for the Washington State Charter School Commission. She previously served as the interim Executive Director and 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.

Morgan Sampson

Director of School Quality and Accountability

Morgan serves the Commission as Director of School Quality and Accountability, supporting the Commission’s Oversight Specialists connect with and support Washington’s Charter Schools – ensuring the highest educational outcomes possible for charter students. She comes to the Commission from a five year career at the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s Student Information office as Lead Accountability Data Analyst. In that role, Morgan helped OSPI and the State Board of Education create and implement the Washington School Improvement Framework and design the new Report Card. Prior to that work, she managed political campaigns in Seattle and worked for several non-profits.

Morgan is a born and raised Pacific Northwesterner, having received her MPA from the Evans School at the University of Washington and her BS degree in Political Science from the University of Oregon.  She and her husband have settled on a small farm on the outskirts of Olympia where they wrangle their three dogs and try to keep up with the property.

Kara Lowe

Business Operations Manager

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.

Italiana Hughes

Oversight Specialist

Italiana has a passion for education, as a former elementary and preschool teacher. She has also been involved in college access work, supporting several teams of AmeriCorps members, in addition to being a community impact manager for a collective impact organization.

Italiana grew up in South King County and is the first in her family to earn a Bachelors degree. Proud to be a Husky, she earned her BA in Communication & Culture and minored in Education, Learning, and Society at the University of Washington. Italiana enjoys spending her time with her sweet baby girl and powerlifting at the gym.

Lindsey Westerfield

Oversight Specialist

Lindsey comes to the Commission with a background in public, private, and adult education. She began as a teacher of the deaf, transitioned to a focus on secondary-level literature and leadership, and most recently taught and supported program compliance for sexually violent predators in total confinement at the McNeil Island commitment facility.

PNW born and raised, Lindsey was a Running Start student and the youngest graduate from Western Oregon University. There she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and another Bachelor of Arts in American Sign Language before attending University of Northern Colorado for a Master of Arts in deaf education. Lindsey is the mom of two young Lego-loving, princess dress-wearing daughters and her answer to if she would like a cup of coffee is always a resounding “YES!”