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|Board of Directors|
Greg Handel, Chair
Greg Handel is currently a charter school board member and professionally he is the Senior Director for Workforce Development at the Detroit Regional Chamber. He has worked at the Chamber for 20 years and has been responsible for the Chamber’s K-12 Education and Workforce Development policy for the past sixteen. In this capacity Greg has helped develop and advocate policy related Detroit Public School governance, state-wide education funding and school choice. He also takes the lead in planning the education and workforce sessions for the Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference every year and plays a similar role with the Leadership Detroit Education Session. Prior to working at the Chamber, Greg was a United States Peace Corps Volunteer for two and a half years in Botswana, Africa.
David Seitz, Vice Chair-Elect
David Seitz is the Manager of Strategic Initiatives at Apple Computer Inc. where he focuses on implementing the vision of one-to-one learning in Michigan and across the country. He is a strategic change agent who has specialized in education policy but has broad experience in major state and federal policy areas. Apple Computer Inc. is a vendor for some charter schools in Michigan. His previous work history includes serving as Deputy Policy Director for House Speaker Rick Johnson where he coordinated the Speaker’s budget strategies and developed long and short-term strategic policy initiatives for the Speaker and the caucus. He has also worked as the education policy advisor for the Michigan House Republican Policy Office and on the congressional staff of U.S. Senator Spencer Abraham.
Don Cooper, Treasurer
Don Cooper currently serves as the Government Relations Manager for National Heritage Academies (NHA). NHA is one of the nation's largest educational management organizations, and currently manages 71 charter schools in 9 states, serving a total of 45,000 students. In this capacity, Don leads NHA's legislative advocacy in states across the nation, and at the federal level. Don also assists in the development and opening of new schools. Prior to joining NHA, Don served as the Director of Public Policy at The Center for Charter Schools at Central Michigan University (CMU). From January 2002 to December 2006, Don worked in the Michigan House of Representatives where he served as the education policy advisor during most of that time in the majority policy office under two Speakers of the House. Through Don's combined experience at the Michigan House, CMU, and NHA, he has been involved in most every major education policy issue in Michigan over the last 10 years--including establishing the state's graduation requirements in 2005, creating the "smart cap" on charters in 2009, and the successful cap lift effort of 2011. He has also been involved in a successful cap lift effort in North Carolina in 2011, as well as numerous other bills in Michigan and other states affecting the day-to-day operations of charter schools.
Ralph Bland is founder of Detroit Edison Public School Academy, one of 4 schools now managed by New Paradigm for Education – an entity that Ralph formed to manage schools. Ralph is a board member of Excellent Schools Detroit and has gained national recognition for the performance of the schools they work with.
John Cleary has worked to develop three new charter schools and is the Vice President of Finance and Real Estate for The Thompson Educational Foundation and is responsible for real estate and construction activities along with Contract Administrator duties for the Public School Academies of Detroit. Prior to work at The Thompson Foundation, John was the Vice President of Finance at DeMaria Building Company and directed accounting and finance functions for General Contractor/Developer with sales in excess of $100 million.
Mohamad Issa, and the Issa family, are very successful and respected in business. Mohamad is a community leader in Ann Arbor and southeast Michigan. Mohamad's expertise is in real estate and retail property management. His concern about the quality of local schools lead him to open a charter school in 1996. Mohamad co-founded Global Educational Excellence in 1998 with a vision for offering the highest quality educational services to public school academies throughout the State of Michigan. As a graduate of the CMU Business School, Mohamad is able to provide business and management expertise that enables schools to maximize their resources. Drawing on his extensive experience in working with start-up schools, Mohamad measures success as an equal balance of academic achievement, and the constant care to maintaining an economy-proof, fiscally responsible plan.
Jennifer Jarosz is a small business owner of a family restaurant in St Helen’s Michigan. As a community leader she helped apply for and found the Charlton Heston Academy in St Helen. (Named after the famous Charlton Heston who actually lived in St Helen as a boy.) She currently serves on the Board of the school and is a parent there as well.
Greg McNeilly currently serves as COO for the Windquest Group, a Grand Rapids based company privately held by Dick and Betsey DeVos. It is an investment management firm with diversified projects in technology, manufacturing, clean-tech and nonprofit solutions. In 2006, McNeilly served as campaign manager for Michigan gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos. In 2005, he served as Recruiting & Strategy Director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee under the leadership of then U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC). During the reelection campaign of President George W. Bush (R), McNeilly served as Executive Director of the Michigan Republican Party, then under the chairmanship of Betsy DeVos. In 2002, McNeilly served as communications consultant to Don Carcieri’s winning gubernatorial campaign against Myrth Yorkin Rhode Island. In 2001, he was the Executive Director of Choices for Children a Michigan-based education reform advocacy group supporting greater taxpayer accountability in state-run k12 schools. In 2000, he served as Communications Director for the Michigan statewide ballot proposal “Kid’s First Yes!” which sought to legalize k-12 school vouchers for children in underperforming school districts.
Annis Stubbs currently serves at the Executive Director for Teach For America in Detroit. A Detroit native, Annis was inspired by her experience in the Detroit Public School system to become a teacher. After earning her education degree at Michigan State University she joined Teach For America as a corps member in New York City. After her corps experience, she returned to Michigan State for her Ph.D. in curriculum, teaching, and educational policy. Since then, she has taught undergraduate courses at Michigan State, trained incoming teachers for The New Teacher Project, and was elected national chair of the American Educational Research Association’s graduate school governance program. Annis is also involved with Detroit’s Future Teachers for Social Justice, which encourages students to teach in Detroit Public School after college, and also with the Skillman Foundation’s Good Skills initiative, which aims to provide high-quality learning opportunities for Detroit students. Currently, Annis is also a member of the Public School Academies of Detroit (PSAD) Board that governs the University Preparatory Academy - a charter school with campuses in Detroit.
Samuel "Buzz" Thomas
Samuel "Buzz" Thomas has formed a new public affairs company - Thomas Consulting Group - that offers public relations, strategic planning, and governmental consulting to companies and non-profits. Before working on this venture, he served Detroit's 4th District on the Michigan Senate for 8 years. He was elected by his colleagues as the Senate Democratic Floor Leader and was the only African-American in Michigan with a leadership position. Prior to his work with the Senate, Buzz represented Detroit's former 10th District in the Michigan House for six years. There his colleagues unanimously elected him as the Michigan House Democratic Leader, where he served as the youngest legislative leaders in Michigan history. Buzz is an established leader in the field of energy and technology, health policy, and urban development. He is also an avid supporter of the arts and culture community. Thomas has a diverse background in business, working as a homebuilder in metro Detroit, where he was Construction Manager for Parkside Building Company and Avis Tech Park partners, managing both commercial renovations and single-family, residential construction.
Tim Wood is the Special Assistant to the President for Charter Schools at Grand Valley State University. Prior to joining the GVSU team, Dr. Wood was the Superintendent of Saugatuck Public Schools and has served as the principal of Northview High School in Grand Rapids and of Lakewood High School in Lake Odessa. In total, he brings more than twenty years of school administrative experience to the GVSU Charter School Office. AdvancED Michigan and the North Central Association awarded Dr. Wood the 2011 Excellence in Education Award for the State of Michigan. He received a BA from Hillsdale College, an MA from Central Michigan, and a Ph.D. from Michigan State University. His son Greg is a Michigan State graduate, while daughter Ashley holds a BA from the University of Michigan. They both live and work in Chicago.