Staff Members

Name: Omar Yanar
Role: Co-Founder/CEO

Omar Yanar is the Founder and CEO of the El Paso Leadership Academy (EPLA). Prior to forming the EPLA, Yanar graduated at the top of his class at Franklin High School and went on to receive a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and History and a Master's degree of Education from Stanford University. Yanar then worked as a teacher for six years until he returned to school for a Master's of Public Policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Yanar believes that combining his educational experience with public policy expertise can provide him with the necessary tools to effect change in his beloved community of El Paso, Texas. The students and citizens of El Paso are a top priority in his life and looks forward to working with the community for the advancement of its youth through innovative curriculum and teaching methods. 

In addition to his responsibilities at the El Paso Leadership Academy, Mr. Yanar is also a founding board member and Vice President of Progress321, an El Paso-based organization that works to empower and connection professionals across sectors, disciplines, generations and cultures. He is also founding board member of the National Hispanic Institute's Alumni Association Board and a member of the Borderplex Alliance Education Task Force. 

Name: Andrew Benitez
Role: Co-Founder/Principal

Hello! My name is Andrew Benitez and I am the Co-founder and Principal at EPLA. My goal is to ensure that our amazing team of teachers is coached and prepared to meet the needs of all of our students in the classroom. I have served at EPLA as Chief Operating Officer and worked previously as a social studies instructor at the middle school and high school level. I was born in El Paso and am a proud graduate of Americas High School and Harvard University. I believe in the endless talent and potential of El Paso's children and I look forward to working with our dedicated team of teachers and families to ensure that we create a culture and system where college can be a reality for all.

Name: Emily Levario
Role: Business Manager

Name: Deborah Teasley
Role: Operations Manager

Hello! My name is Deborah Teasley also known as "Ms. Debbie." I received my BA in Psychology from Penn State University and my MA in Project Design & Management from S.I.T. Graduate Institute. I have been lucky enough to work all over the world from the rolling mountains of Rwanda to the heart of Appalachia to vibrant South Korea. Upon moving to El Paso in 2014, I quickly fell in love with the city, and it has become a second home. Working at EPLA has been one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had. The faculty, staff and students are a joy to be around. It's an honor to be a part of this organization, and I look forward to watching it continue to grow.

Name: Patty Ramirez
Role: Office Manager

Name: Marianna Olivares
Role: Director of Federal & Special Programs

Name: Stephan Ross
Role: Director of Special Education

Hello! I am the Special Education Director and Special Ed. Teacher for the 7th & 8th grade. I graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso in 2015. My hobbies include reading, snowboarding, and spending time with family and friends. I enjoy the art of teaching because of my past educational career. All throughout Elementary school and High School I was attending a school that was also much like EPLA, thus I am very happy to pass my knowledge on.

Name: Alexandra Vallez
Role: Student/Parent Liaison

Hello! I am the Parent/Student Liaison. I recently graduated in December of 2015 with a Bachelor's Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and am currently in the Master's Program for Counseling in Mental Health at The University of Texas at El Paso. Being here at EPLA is always exciting! I love working here because I learn something new every day. There is not a day that goes by that the kids are not keeping me on my toes, and I love it! Their individual personalities are what I enjoy the most as they are all very different. Working with this group of kids has not only been a privilege but an honor as well. I could not be happier to be here!

Name: Selene Fierro
Role: Campus Supervisor

Hello! I am the campus supervisor of EPLA, and  also part of the lunch program. I am mother of two former EPLA students and one current EPLA scholar. I started as a volunteer at the crosswalk after school, on the schools first year. The following year Mr. Yanar and Mr. Benitez offered me to join the team. As a parent, I know your concerns, this helps me as a staff member to be more alert and aware of the students here at EPLA.

Name: Andrea Vazquez
Role: Receptionist