Our Leadership


Founder and CEO

Dr. Soner Tarim leads the founding team at Royal Public Schools.  Dr. Tarim has been a national leader in STEM education for nearly two decades and was the founder and CEO of Houston-based Harmony Public Schools.  Most recently he spent a year as a Fellow of the Aspen Institute developing the Royal Public Schools model.  In it he marries a new fine arts, reading and writing, and social-emotional curriculum to his renowned STEM program.  Dr. Tarim received his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University in Aquatic Ecology. 

Our board

Cariño Cortez

Chef Cariño Cortez is a Project Manager for La Familia Cortez Restaurants in San Antonio  and a third-generation food enthusiast who grew up in the restaurant business.  Her family tradition began at Mi Tierra Café in San Antonio, but her passion for cooking has taken her across the country.  After obtaining a bachelor's degree in Business Management and Accounting, and studying abroad in Oxford, Ms. Cortez pursued a culinary arts degree from the Culinary Institute of America.  She spent her externship working in New York City Three-Michelin- starred restaurant, Jean Georges, later going on to study authentic Mexican food in Chicago under Rick Bayless.

Kenneth C. Pascal

Dr. Pascal was the Dean of Academic Affairs at The Art Institute of Houston for thirteen years and played a leadership role in planning, budgeting, assessing educational programs, and accreditation. He brings to Royal extensive experience in Human Resources and developing curricula in Fine Arts and Design. Prior to his role at the Art Institute of Houston, he was the Associate Dean of Extended Education at California State University, Fresno and an Assistant Professor in Extension at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Dr. Pascal holds a PhD from UCLA and a BA from Yale University.

Abelardo Saavedra

From his start as a classroom teacher, San Antonian Abelardo Saavedra has worked to improve opportunities and outcomes for students in Texas.  Dr. Saavedra is currently a Professor of Practice for  Texas A&M University.  He has served as Superintendent of  South San Antonio ISD,  Superintendent of Corpus Christi ISD,  and Superintendent of Houston ISD, where he became known nationally for leading a system that made impressive gains in student achievement and school improvement.  In addition to teaching, Dr. Saavedra consults for various public entities, non-profits, and private sector companies.  Dr. Saavedra holds a PhD in School Administration from the University of Michigan and an MS from Texas A&M University.

Benjamin Warren

Mr. Warren has served as the CEO of the ITC Trading Company Limited for over twenty years.  As a successful entrepreneur in the food business, Benjamin has built, managed, and sold leading food businesses with extensive operations across the United States including Coleman Natural Foods, Swift & Company, and FoodBrands America, Inc.  Mr. Warren has been an active volunteer and supporter of Cristo Rey Houston College Preparatory Academy and a board member of KIPP Houston Public Schools, the Holocaust Museum Houston, the Houston Jewish Community Foundation, the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, and the Leo Baeck Education Center Foundation, which founded Israel’s KIPP Inspired Network of Schools. 

Harriet Wasserstrum

Ms. Wasserstrum retired as vice chair in the Texas region of JPMorgan Chase in Houston and subsequently served as the president of the Houston/Gulf Coast Chapter of the American Leadership Forum, a nonprofit organization that joins and strengthens diverse leaders to serve the common good, and as board chair of the American Leadership Forum (ALF) - National. Ms. Wasserstrum serves on the Board Development Committee of the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council. She previously served on the Good Behavior Game Advisory Council, the Boards of SEARCH Homeless Services and INROADS, the Executive Council of All Kids Alliance, and the Regional Faculty Executive Committee of Houston A+ Challenge. She is a Senior Fellow, Class XXI, of American Leadership Forum. She grew up in New York City, where she attended public schools and graduated from the Bronx High School of Science. Ms. Wasserstrum holds an MBA from Harvard University and a BA from Barnard College.

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Royal Public Schools, 700 North Saint Mary's Street, Suite 875, San Antonio, Texas 78205

(210) 947-0655


Board of Directors Regular Board Meeting

Date: January 11, 2019 (Saturday)

Time: 10:30 AM

Location: 910 SE Military Dr. San Antonio, TX 78214


1) Welcome and call to Order

2) Attendance of Quorum

3) Public Comments

4) Update regarding state of Royal Public Schools’ application

5) Nomination and approval of new board members

6) Closing remarks and adjournment