Meet the Team
Allegiance STEAM Academy was created by a team of parents who wanted school choice in their community.
Sebastian Cognetta Ed.D.
Principal & CEO
Sebastian Cognetta holds a Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership from the USC Rossier School of Education. He began his teaching career in 1999 teaching middle school math and science in Fontana, CA. After teaching, Dr. Cognetta supported schools and districts across the country in several initiatives to improve student outcomes. The initiatives ranged from School Leadership, Response to Intervention, Evidence-based Instruction, Inclusion and Co-teaching, Instructional Technology, Supporting English Learners and Innovation and Design Thinking.
Dr. Cognetta then helped design and lead Aveson Charter Schools, two charter schools, in Altadena, CA. Blending evidence-based practices with innovative solutions, Dr. Cognetta has helped Aveson become a national pioneer in learner-centered and personalized education.
He was also instrumental in shifting professional development for teachers from traditional models of trainings and workshops to teacher-driven, collaborative and personalized models.
As the father of two school-age children, Dr. Cognetta knows firsthand the importance of taking an active role in the education of our children and the responsibility placed on school leaders. At a January board meeting Dr. Cognetta stated, “How I approach working in education is I am humbled by the gravity of this responsibility. You are entrusting us with your most valued possession, your children.”
Board of Directors
Mr. Andrew Vestey was raised by a single mother in San Gabriel, CA until the age of 14. Mr. Vestey moved to Chino, CA, where he attended Don Lugo High School. During high school, Mr. Vestey played varsity football and varsity baseball. Upon graduating from high school, Mr. Vestey was continued his education at Chaffey College. At 18 years old, he was hired by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department as a Custody Assistant. Mr. Vestey was then hired two years later as a Deputy Sheriff for the Sheriff’s Department. In 2002, Mr. Vestey left the Sheriff’s Department and began working for the Chino Police Department as a patrol officer. In 2005, Mr. Vestey left the Chino Police Department and began working as a Police Officer for the Fontana Police Department. At the Fontana Police Department, he has been assigned as a patrol officer, SWAT member, field training officer, narcotics investigator, DEA Task Force Officer, Police Corporal, Detective and taser instructor. Mr. Vestey is a decorated law enforcement professional and has been recognized several times for his commitment to the community. Mr. Vestey received the Chino Police Department’s bravery award for his actions during an active shooter situation in a residential neighborhood. Mr. Vestey was named the Fontana Police Department’s employee of the month and employee of the year while assigned to the Narcotics Unit. Mr. Vestey was also recognized as the California Narcotic Officers Association Region 5 Al Stewart Award recipient as the narcotics officer of the year.
While growing up, Mr. Vestey learned the importance of education. He continued his education, while serving the community as a Police Officer. Mr. Vestey earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from California State University, Fullerton and his Master’s Degree in Public Administration from California State University, Northridge.
He has been married for 10 years to Laura Vestey. They have one son and two daughters, who will attend Allegiance STEAM Academy. Mr. Vestey is active in coaching baseball in Chino Hills Pony and has also coached soccer at Chino AYSO. Mr. Vestey was a member of the Fontana Police Officers Association Board of Directors, where he served as President for two years. During his time on the Board of Directors, Mr. Vestey volunteered hundreds of hours to the Fontana community and was the lead negotiator in two contract negotiations. Mr. Vestey also served as a member of the Board of Directors of a charter school in the Chino Valley, serving as the Board Chairman.
Mr. Vestey is excited for this new journey not only for his family, but for all families who believe in School Choice. Mr. Vestey believes all children should be afforded a quality education that will meet their needs.
Samantha Odo received her BS in Biochemistry and Cellular Biology from University of California, San Diego in 1999. She is currently a Senior Key Account Manager for Merck KGaA a German multinational chemical, pharmaceutical and life sciences company headquartered in Darmstadt, Germany. Merck KGaA has around 50,000 employees in around 70 countries and is the world's oldest operating chemical and pharmaceutical company, as well as one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. Previously, she held a Life Science Specialist position with Sigma Aldrich an American chemical, life science and biotechnology company with 9,600 employees in 40 countries.
She was also a Regional Manager for BMG Labtechnologies, Inc a capital equipment company providing research equipment to pharmaceutical, biotechology, government and university research laboratories from 2001-2009. Samantha’s interest in science started early in her childhood, but her AP Biology teacher in high school gave her a motivation to take that interest to passion of wanting to learn more. She hopes to give children an opportunity to experience science and technology as she did in a school setting in hopes to exposing as many students as possible in science and technology. School choice is very important to Samantha and her dream is to be a partner in providing families options and choices in their children’s education.
Vanessa Tirre-Okamoto received her BA in Elementary Education from California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, California. Her lifelong passion for education has driven her to always seek out the best educational opportunities for her four children. Taking an active role in her children’s education has continuously been her top priority. From volunteering in various grade level classrooms, or actively participating in parent-teacher organizations,
to being on school site councils, Vanessa has always placed high value in supporting the learning environments for each of her children. She fully understands the importance of, as well as the countless benefits derived from, positive parental involvement. With great enthusiasm and full dedication, Vanessa commits the best of herself to the successful future of Allegiance STEAM Academy.
Dr. Raquel M. Rall has over 15 years working in the realm of education where she has worked and served in public and private K-12 schools and higher education institutions as well as nonprofit educational organizations. Her research centers on higher education leadership and governance, community engagement in education, and maximizing educational access, experiences, and outcomes for communities that have traditionally had the least opportunities.
She grew up in Diamond Bar, California and graduated from Diamond Bar High School before heading off to undergrad at Stanford University. At Stanford she majored in Human Biology and African and African American Studies. She earned her Ph.D. in Urban Education Policy from the University of Southern California where she was a Provost’s Fellow. She worked as an Assistant Research Professor at USC before becoming a UC Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow and then ultimately assuming her current position as an Assistant Professor of Higher Education in the Graduate School of Education at UC Riverside.
She is married to William Rall and the couple has four daughters. When she isn’t helping with homework or playing chauffeur to school, girl scouts, swimming, soccer, camp, etc., Dr. Rall is an active community leader having served as Sunday School Teacher, Girl Scout troop leader, team mom for various sports, etc. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and serves on the board for Stanford National Black Alumni Association (SNBAA) and on the board for the Council of African American Parents (CAAP).
Dr. Rall brings her extensive background in education and commitment to social justice and high quality education to her service on the Allegiance board. Her leadership, educational expertise, public speaking skills, charisma and dedication to youth bolsters the strength of the Allegiance board. Rall lives by Luke 12:48: "From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded".
Melanie Choi has worked as a Premium Auditor since 2004 when she moved from Raleigh, North Carolina to Southern California. She has Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
After moving to California, Ms. Choi began her training as a premium auditor specializing in workers compensation and general liability audits. In her 14 years of experience she has audited companies such as Legoland, U-haul, Shea Homes and Crunch Holdings. In addition, she has assisted with fraud audits for district attorney’s in San Diego.
Ms. Choi is a mother who is devoted to her daughter. During her free time she loves to help her daughter with extracurricular activities such as golf, tennis and Girl Scouts. And when she finds the time, she loves to watch movies.