- Board of Trustees
Meet our Governing Board
Esther Valdes-Clayton is the Owner and Principal Attorney of Valdes & Associates, a law firm located in Downtown San Diego. Mrs. Valdes-Clayton is a San Diego native, a graduate of Chula Vista High School, where she was the recipient of a Rotary Scholarship, as well as a scholarship from the Embassy of Spain. Mrs. Valdes-Clayton attended the University of California, San Diego, where she majored in United States History. As an undergraduate, Mrs. Valdes-Clayton received a scholarship from the Friends of the International House, which allowed her to study in Alcala de Henares, Spain, focusing on Spanish Literature and History. Mrs. Valdes-Clayton graduated cum laude while working two jobs throughout her undergraduate career. Upon graduation, Mrs. Valdes-Clayton attended the University of California, Berkeley (Boalt Hall), where she studied Labor Law, International Civil Law, and Asylum Law, and an Associate Editor of the Berkeley Journal of International Law. Upon receiving her law degree, Mrs. Valdes-Clayton relocated to her hometown of San Diego, to raise her daughter Paulina.
Mrs. Valdes-Clayton is a practicing attorney and is regularly featured on Spanish- language network Telemundo. She has been interviewed by local and national media including the Los Angeles Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune, NBC News, The Hill, CalNews, and Reuters, regarding her advocacy and effective legal representation. Throughout her career, Mrs. Valdes-Clayton has represented school employees, parents, and teachers as an advocate and legal representative. For the past 6 years, Mrs. Valdes-Clayton has volunteered at several school districts including Fallbrook, Oceanside, San Ysidro, and San Diego school districts. Mrs. Valdes-Clayton frequently serves as a guest speaker at statewide student conferences, and as an advisor to counselors and teachers on Immigration and Labor issues, throughout San Diego County.
As the daughter of immigrants, Mrs. Valdes-Clayton's journey has been marked by a dedication to education, and a love for her community. Since 2012, Mrs. Valdes-Clayton and her daughter, call Coronado their home, and in 2015, Mrs. Valdes-Clayton became the proud parent of a Coronado High School graduate. Her current term on the school board runs through 2022.
Dr. Helen Anderson-Cruz
Dr. Helen Anderson-Cruz
Dr. Helen Anderson-Cruz and her family have been Coronado Islanders since 1989. Her daughter attended elementary, middle and high school in Coronado and is currently a teacher at Village Elementary. She also has a 7-year-old granddaughter in second grade at Village Elementary.
Dr. Anderson-Cruz’s professional experience includes 20 plus years teaching Language Arts course in the Sweetwater Union High School District and over a decade of teaching a variety of graduate and undergraduate courses at the University level.
Dr. Anderson-Cruz completed her doctorate in Education in 1997 at the University of Southern California. Subsequent to graduation she was invited to join the graduate faculty in the Rosier School of Education at USC, where she designed and taught a variety of graduate courses in the doctoral and Master of Science programs. When her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, she left the University to care for her.
In 2006 she was coaxed out of retirement by the Dean of the College of Business at San Diego State University. She taught Report Writing for Accountants in the College of Business, and Business Communication courses in the Rhetoric and Writing Department for 10 years before retiring again, in 2017.
Dr. Anderson-Cruz brings an extensive background in teaching and learning to the CUSD Board of Trustees. She has had many years of experience developing Language Arts curriculum at the state and local level, and has developed and taught a number of graduate courses in curriculum and instruction, classroom management, diagnostic and prescriptive teaching, individualized instructional delivery, and literacy assessment.
Dr. Anderson-Cruz is looking forward to serving on the CUSD Board and working with all stakeholders to ensure the best education for all students in Coronado. Her current term on the school board runs through 2022.
Whitney Antrim was born and raised in Coronado. The daughter of a US Navy SEAL and an American Airlines flight attendant, she was raised to embody strength, service, and hard work. Whitney attended Christ Church Elementary, Coronado Middle School, and Coronado High School. (Class of ’97!)
Whitney has dedicated her career to public service. She spent 17 years protecting the constitutional rights of all and representing those who are less fortunate as a Deputy Public Defender for the County of San Diego. There, she focused on serving the veteran and disabled communities. Now, she uses her advocacy skills on behalf of school districts all over the State of California as an attorney in the Special Education and Student Services fields. She graduated from UC Santa Barbara and then pursued her law and business degrees at Vanderbilt University Law School and the Owen School of Business.
Whitney lives in Coronado with her husband and two children. Her kids are future students at Silver Strand Elementary. Her objective is to improve the schools for students, parents, and teachers and ensure that our kids are safe, welcomed, and given a world class education. Elected in 2020, her current term on the school board runs through 2024.
Captain Pontes is a native of Virginia Beach, Virginia and a graduate of the University of Virginia, where he earned a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science. He entered the Navy in December 1977 and received his commission several months later after completion of Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida.
After receiving his designation as a Naval Flight Officer, Captain Pontes completed S-3A Viking replacement aircrew training. It was in the venerable Viking aircraft that Captain Pontes logged over 3000 flight hours and 600 arrested landings, while flying in and deploying to nearly every corner of the globe. Captain Pontes' VS community tours included fleet assignments in San Diego with the VS-29 Dragonfires, the VS-33 Screwbirds, and in Jacksonville, Florida where he commanded the Checkmates of VS-22. Additionally, Captain Pontes served as a flight and weapons system instructor with the community's fleet replacement squadron, the VS-41 Shamrocks. He later returned to command VS-41 and was responsible for the training of all Viking aviators. While assigned to these squadrons Captain Pontes deployed in the aircraft carriers KITTY HAWK, CARL VINSON, NIMITZ, and EISENHOWER.
Following his second command tour, Captain Pontes served as Operations Officer embarked in USS CONSTELLATION where he oversaw ship's movement and operations during an extended Western Pacific Ocean/Persian Gulf deployment. Additionally, during his 25-year career, Captain Pontes served on a number of staffs to include Carrier Group FOUR, SECOND FLEET, Chief of Naval Operations, and Naval Air Forces U.S. Pacific Fleet. His memorable staff achievements include embarking in five carriers in eighteen months while serving as Flag Lieutenant for COMCARGRU FOUR, exercising with NATO units at the height of the Cold War while sailing with SECOND FLEET in USS MOUNT WHITNEY, and developing strategic plans to reshape Naval Aviation in the post-Cold War era for the Chief of Naval Operations. Most notably, in his final assignment as Air Wing Readiness Officer on the AIRPAC staff, Captain Pontes played a vital role preparing five air wings to simultaneously deploy in support of OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM and the war on terror.
Upon his retirement in June of 2003, Captain Pontes was authorized to wear the Meritorious Service Medal with three gold stars as well as numerous additional medals and ribbons. He was a designated Joint Specialty Officer and graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia.
Captain Pontes continued his long relationship with the Navy after his retirement. In the Fall of 2003, he stood up the Naval Junior ROTC unit at Coronado High School and led the unit for six and a half years as the Senior Naval Science Instructor. Before retiring a second time, the unit had won six consecutive Distinguished Unit awards. His experience gained as a teacher, combined with his past leadership successes made him a logical appointee to the Coronado Unified School Board in December or 2014, where he still serves as a Trustee today. His current term on the school board runs through 2022.
Bruce Shepherd was appointed to the Board of Trustees in February 2022 to fill a Board vacancy. Mr. Shepherd’s term on the Board of Trustees runs until shortly following California’s November 2022 general election. Mr. Shepherd’s seat on the Board then will be filled through a special election included within the November general election, and the prevailing candidate will have a term that runs through November 2024 election; when Mr. Shepherd submitted his application for appointment to the Board vacancy, he indicated that he would not run for election in November of 2022 to continue to serve in the Board seat.
Mr. Shepherd has served previous terms as a Board Trustee for the Coronado Unified School District. Mr. Shepherd served in this role from 1998 to 2002 and again from 2006 to 2014. During several of these years, Mr. Shepherd served as President of the Board of Trustees. Major projects undertaken during Mr. Shepherd’s years of service on the Board included renovation of virtually all of the District’s school facilities.
Mr. Shepherd moved to Coronado in 1991. He and his wife Susan are parents to 4 grown children who have progressed through and graduated from Coronado’s public schools.
Mr. Shepherd also has been active in other community organizations outside of the Coronado schools. Mr. Shepherd served for 20 years on the board of directors for the Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization in San Diego. He also coached for 13 seasons in Coronado Little League. More recently, Mr. Shepherd served for several years on the board of directors for Safe Harbor Coronado (an organization dedicated to promoting the emotional well-being of Coronado youth and families).
In his professional life, Mr. Shepherd practiced as an attorney within the law firm of Latham & Watkins (one of the 10 largest law firms in the world). Mr. Shepherd had a broad commercial transactional practice, with a particular focus on helping clients negotiate rights to participate in the development, financing and operation of large public/private facilities (such as Petco Park and other sports stadiums and arenas, several hotels, several senior housing communities, and several shopping centers). Mr. Shepherd also served for many years as the managing partner of Latham’s San Diego office. Mr. Shepherd retired from Latham & Watkins in 2015.