Community » Board of Trustees

Board of Trustees

The Urban Discovery Academy Board consists of a team selected to represent the community-at-large, the business community, and educators. Board members are selected with skills and experience to match their Board responsibilities by a majority vote of the then-current Board. Board member positions have a term of one year and renewal is considered annually. The Board's major roles and responsibilities include establishing and approving all major educational and operational policies, approving all major contracts, approving the school's annual budget and overseeing the school's fiscal affairs, approving the school's personnel policies and monitoring their implementation, selecting and evaluating the top staff of the school, and all other responsibilities provided for in the Bylaws or the Charter necessary to ensure the proper operation of the school.
Urban Discovery Schools Board of Directors MaeLin Levine
Urban Discovery Academy Board President

MaeLin Levine is a partner in the national award-winning design firm, Visual Asylum, located in downtown San Diego. Ms. Levine has extensive experience in leading nonprofit organizations as well as professional experience in working with many nonprofits on fundraising efforts as a consultant. Ms. Levine currently serves as Education Chairwoman on the Board of Directors of AIGA San Diego.


Ms. Levine’s professional experience also includes brand developed for educational resource materials such as National Geographic School Publishing, Pearson, McGraw Hill, La Jolla Country Day School, USD, and UCSD. Ms. Levine is an educator at Point Loma Nazarene University and San Diego City College, and a former participant in the CCDC’s Downtown Educational Task Force.


Ms. Levine received her BFA degree in communications design from the University of Denver, and attended an Executive Development program at the Harvard School of Business. A passionate advocate for innovative education, Ms. Levine was the lead petitioner for Urban Discovery Schools’ charter petition with two children, one currently enrolled in UDS.


Email: [email protected] 


Urban Discovery Schools Board Vice President Edward L Abeyta PhD
Urban Discovery Academy Board Vice President

Edward Abeyta is Associate Dean and Director of Pre-College Programs at UC San Diego (UCSD) Extension. Prior to joining UCSD Extension in 1995, Edward began his service at UCSD as a counselor for the Early Academic Outreach Program serving underrepresented students in San Diego high schools and later assumed the role of Registrar and Director of Academic Services at UC San Diego Extension. In 2010 he established the UCSD Extension Pre-college Programs & Outreach division where he currently serves as the Director.


Dr. Abeyta has a B.A. from the University of New Mexico, an M.A. from the University of San Diego, and his Ph.D. in Post-Secondary Adult Education from Capella University. Edward has been recognized by UCSD and the UC Office of the President for his involvement in staff diversity and development initiatives. In 2008 Edward was selected for a two-year term as the Staff Advisor to The Regents where has served on the UC Diversity Commission, Post-retirement Task Force, and The Regents UC Commission on the Future. In 2018, he was appointed to the UC Scout Advisory Board. Scout is one of the University of California's Student Academic Preparation and Educational Partnerships programs that develops and delivers UC A-G approved online classes and curriculum to students in California and around the globe.


Email: [email protected] 


Esther M LaPorta Urban Discovery Schools Board Secretary
Urban Discovery Academy Board Secretary


Esther LaPorta is currently working as an independent fundraising consultant. Clients have included Helen Woodward Animal Center, Episcopal Community Services, La Jolla Symphony and Chorus, NSCAD University in Halifax. Ms. LaPorta retired from the University of San Diego (“USD”) as Associate Vice President for University Relations where she held multiple leadership and development positions during her 16-year tenure.


Prior to her work with USD, Ms. LaPorta served as Executive Director of the Palomar College Foundation. Ms. LaPorta is a founding Board member of Urban Discovery Schools. In addition to her involvement with Urban Discovery Academy Schools, Ms. LaPorta volunteers her time as President of the Board for Mary Magdalene Apostle Catholic Community and as a Docent in the Rare Book Room of the downtown San Diego Central Library. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Drama and English from Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania.


Email: [email protected] 


Morgan Appeal


Urban Discovery Academy Board Treasurer


Morgan Appel is Assistant Dean for Education and Community Outreach (ECO) at UC San Diego Extension, overseeing a diverse array of programming for PK-post retirement, including opportunities for students, practitioners, administrators, parents, and community stakeholders across the globe. He previously served as Director of Education Programs at UC Irvine’s Division of Continuing Education (DCE) following a research appointment at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts at UC Irvine. With expertise in education transformation and policy, Appel has worked with several school districts, universities, and research institutes to explore the impacts of legislated and organically generated change agentry across segments of education. Professional specialties include gifted and talented education; the neuroscience of teaching and learning; arts integration; business education; and organizational behavior in educational institutions. Beyond his current administrative appointment, Appel teaches a variety of courses at both UC San Diego and UC Irvine.

Email: [email protected]

Ann Hart Urban Discovery Schools Board of Trustees


Urban Discovery Academy General Board Member


Ann Hart is a retired educator with over 40 years of experience working in public schools. She is currently a consultant for the California Division of AVID(Advancement Via Individual Determination), a not-for-profit organization, that serves schools across the United States, Canada, Australia, and the Department of Defense (DoD) schools in Europe.


Dr. Hart was formerly superintendent of both the Catawba County School District and the Chatham County School District in North Carolina. She taught in elementary, middle, and high school worked as an administrator at the site and district level, and served as a state Math Coordinator in North Carolina. Dr. Hart attended public and DOD schools in California and South Carolina. She received her BA and MEd from Clemson University, EdS from East Carolina University, and EdD from North Carolina State University.


E-mail: [email protected] 


Ron Miriello - Urban Discovery Schools Board of Directors Member


Urban Discovery Academy General Board Member


Ron Miriello is an award-winning creative director, designer, brand strategist, sculptor, speaker, and community leader. For more than 30 years, he has helped organizations better connect with their audiences by using creativity, strategy, and design. Throughout his career, Mr. Miriello has worked with such diverse companies as HP, Sony, Sprint, Nordstrom, Disneyland, Qualcomm, and TaylorMade.


Today, as director of MIRIELLO Brand Expression, he continues to use design and brand expertise to help organizations address their challenges and achieve their goals. As a key contributor to design thinking in San Diego, Mr. Miriello is a founder of AIGA San Diego and an AIGA National Fellow. He supports such initiatives as the San Diego Innovation Museum, Urban Discovery Academy, the San Diego Community Cycling Center, and the San Diego Italian Film Festivale. He has extensive experience using design to help commercial and residential buildings become vibrant places. He operates both from the Barrio Logan neighborhood of San Diego and Siena Italy. He is an alumnus of Colorado State University and the Instituto La Poggerina, Florence Italy.


Email: [email protected]