Board of Directors

Dan Mikkelsen, Founder and CEO

Mr. Mikkelsen is the founder of Giving Kids Wings Flight Academy (GKWFA), a California-based nonprofit that teaches high school students to fly on computer simulators and allows them to experience real flight time in small aircraft. He is an Instrument-rated Commercial Pilot, Advanced Ground, and Instrument Ground Instructor. He also has a professional clear credential in social studies, is an NCLB highly-qualified educator, and has earned a CLAD certificate to teach English Language Learners. For the last seven years, he has taught social studies and aviation at the secondary level in South Los Angeles, Inglewood, and Weisburn. He currently teaches at Da Vinci Science Charter High School where he founded a flight seminar program, Aviation 101: Private Pilot, in August, 2011.

Mr. Mikkelsen was inspired to teach in the LA area in order to provide students with a stable educational environment where they could be equipped with the intellectual assets necessary to break free from cycles of poverty and violence. Before becoming a teacher, Mr. Mikkelsen worked as a carpenter for three years, building custom homes, decks, and doing remodeling in the state of Illinois. He completed an integrated Bachelors of Arts degree with concentrations in History, Business/Economics, and Political Science as well as a teaching credential program at Wheaton College, a small liberal arts college 30 miles outside of Chicago. He will be completing an MBA at Loyola Marymount University this April. He currently resides in Torrance, CA.
 

Major Chris Rubacha (USAF Ret.), Secretary

Mr. Rubacha has been teaching real estate law since 1994. He served six years on the Arizona Realtor® association’s legislative committee as environmental and water law specialist. He played key roles in the passage of bills on the licensing of lead paint inspectors, home inspectors and the Broker Management Clinic bill. He is a past president of the Arizona chapter of the Real Estate Education Association (REEA), a member of the California REEA, as well as a California real estate licensee.

He has served in the Arizona Attorney General’s office as a fair housing investigator following a 20-year career in the U.S. Air Force, retiring with a rating of Command pilot. His active service has included B-52 Aircraft Commander, Flight Instructor, Air Attaché, Plans and Operations officer as well as overseas duty in Viet Nam, the Middle East and South America. He has been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, multiple awards of the Air Force Commendation and Achievement medals and the foreign Order Aeronautica.

Chris is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy with a B.S. in History, Abilene Christian University with an M.S. in Management. He is a graduate of the Defense Intelligence College, Air Command and Staff College, has a Certificate of Paralegal Studies from Indiana University and is a Graduate, Realtor Institute (GRI). Chris has also completed the Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR) and the NAR At Home with Diversity training.

 

Steve Jefferson, Ph.D., Treasurer

Steve Jefferson earned a Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership Degree and an administrative credential from the University of La Verne and recently earned a Masters in International Public Policy and Management from the University of Southern California. Prior to this he graduated with a Masters of Science in Special Education from National University. In 1983, he completed a B.A. in Liberal Studies from the University of San Diego. In the intervening time, he has worked as a Research Analyst on a special education research team for the Los Angeles Unified Charity District. He has also served as a Special Education Teacher and Department Chair for Centennial High Charity in Compton, California.

For the past 13 years, Mr. Jefferson has served as a Teacher/Resource Specialist and Coordinator of the Special Education Department of Jefferson High Charity in Los Angeles, California. He currently resides in Placentia, California.

 

Claire Y. Chen, Chief Technology Officer

A trained classical musician throughout her early education, she attended the specialized Music School in Taiwan and received several International Young Artist performance awards. Her further education has included degrees from both The Juilliard School and De Paul University. Her distinguished mentors include Professors Leon Russianoff and Larry Combs (then Chicago Symphony Orchestra principal clarinetist). While in her teens she had performed the Poulenc Clarinet Sonata and Mozart Clarinet Concerto at The Lincoln Center.

Following her musical education, she entered the business world as a corporate accountant and eventually a data-warehouse and business-intelligence professional. While working as the Chief BI (Business Intelligence) Architect of a Microsoft Gold Partner, Claire was appointed by Microsoft as its Virtual Technology Specialist for the SoCal region.

Ms. Chen has personally implemented Business Intelligence projects for The Port of Long Beach, American Suzuki Motor Corp., Kawasaki Motor Corp., The Wharton School, California State Lottery, East West Bank, Columbia University, Miami Dade Colleges, Chicago Department of Public Health, and many other major corporate and governmental organizations. She established her authority in the field as the technical author of Business Dashboards: A Visual Catalog for Design and Deployment (2009). She is currently the President of BI Global Networks, with the mission to automate organizational improvement through Business Intelligence.

 

Tereza Ortega-Curry, Development Director

Tereza Ortega Curry’s academic focus has been in International Business, Linguistics and Disaster Management.

As chair to a countywide children’s character building program, Toy Loan, Ms. Curry was directly involved in negotiating and overseeing a fundraiser wherein she was instrumental in obtaining 1.2 million to save the program. She also worked for Legal Aid Foundation’s Economic Development in South Central Los Angeles devising and coordinating seminars to create non-profits.

Tereza is a natural teacher having raised two future world leader daughters. Her credentials include 6-year docenting Los Angeles County Museum of Art, preventing teen pregnancy and promoting parent-teen communication,‘Reaching Adolescents and Parents’ for Red Cross, teaching youths ‘Blueprint for Workplace Success’ for Workforce Investment Board and writing curriculum.

Tereza is creator of ‘Safe Tea’ TV show and author of ‘Managing Disasters in Unpredictable Times’. As disaster management professional she speaks at events and conducts workshops. A voting member of the National Air Transportation Association Flight Training Committee, leader within United Methodist Women and involved in the annual China Fair for Investment and Trade (CIFIT).

Carl Kirnbauer, J.D.

Mr Kirnbauer is an attorney at law and real estate broker-educator in the state of California. He was educated at the University of Chicago (B.A.), University of Illinois (M.S.), and the University of West Los Angeles (J.D.).  Mr. Kirnbauer has taught real estate and business courses at Cerritos, El Camino, and Los Angeles Harbor colleges, both in-residence and on-line instruction. Carl liberally dedicates his talent and energies to pro bono legal services to the poor, several professional and real estate education projects, and is the Long-term President of the Long Beach Marina Boat Owner’s Association. His community service also includes a sailing program for inner-city youth from Long Beach’s Jordan High School.

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