Amelia Bachleda, PhD, Outreach and Education Specialist, Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, University of Washington

Amelia Bachleda, Ph.D. is an Outreach and Education Specialist at the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences. Dr. Bachleda’s professional background bridges the gap between two distinct fields - education and neuroscience. She holds a Ph.D. in neurobiology, and as an outreach specialist, Amelia specializes in sharing the science of learning and development in actionable formats. Since joining I-LABS in 2015, she has had the opportunity to work with thousands of community members invested in human learning, including parents, child care providers, educators and policymakers. Dr. Bachleda travels nationwide to give trainings and keynotes, as well as developing courses, online-trainings, and resources for educators.


Amy Wells Denecker, Librarian, Windham High School

Amy Wells Denecker is currently the school librarian at Windham High School in Windham, Maine. Prior to working as a librarian, Amy taught English in middle and high school and worked for HarperCollins Children’s Publishers and Random House Children’s Books. Amy has a BA in English from Wellesley College and an MLIS from the University of South Carolina. 

Bear Shea, Mental Health / School Counselor SpecialistMaine Department of Education

Bear Shea is passionate about working with children and young adults through a non-violent, restorative and relational approach with a Trauma informed lens. He strives to create a safe academic space, focusing on accessible, relevant and effective clinical support for students and their families. As the Mental Health and School Counselor specialist for the Maine Department of Education Bear has been tasked with identifying and supporting best practices for student and educator mental health, examining state policies and increasing awareness and implementation of school-based Trauma Informed Practices. As the coordinator for the DOE Climate, Culture and Resilience Team, he leads team members to provide resources for schools to support equity, family engagement, restorative practices, social emotional learning and to reduce barriers for homeless, migrant and vulnerable student populations. 

Cherie Galyean,  Director of Strategic Learning, Maine Community Foundation

Cherie Galyean is the Director of Strategic Learning at Maine Community Foundation, where she oversees learning and strategies to inform, improve, and share learning from programs and initiatives. She also manages strategic initiatives related to higher education, such as the Access to Education strategic goal and other emerging issues. She is the MaineCF representative to MaineSpark, where she works with the Adult Promise track.

Christine Frost-Bertinet, Assistant Superintendent, RSU 14

Christine is the Assistant Superintendent in RSU 14. She brings to the field over 20 years of experience as a secondary English teacher and elementary school principal. She is passionate about working collaboratively with educators and communities to elevate schools so that every student thrives. One snapshot of her work as a building leader includes partnering with the local community to install a commercial greenhouse in order to implement a Farm to School and Zero Waste program model to be embedded in the core curriculum design. Weaving experiential, authentic learning opportunities into the school year continues to be at the forefront of her thinking as she works to transform schools to be healthier, sustainable places for all. Christine is a Teacher Consultant for the National Writing Project, she is nearing completion of a Certificate in School Management and Leadership from Harvard University, and is increasingly focused on SEL, equity, and social justice work in schools.

Christine Hesler,  Director of Curriculum and Assessment, RSU 14

Christine Hesler is the Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment in RSU14.  She has worked in the Windham Raymond district for the past 9 years helping to provide professional development and curriculum support for PreK - 12 Educators. 

Drew Myers, High School Math Teacher, Old Town High School

Drew Myers has been in education for the past 27 years. With a degree in Economics, masters in Mathematics Education and a CAS in Education Leadership, Drew has experience in many different roles in high school education. He has spent most of his career in the classroom teaching mathematics, but spent several years in high school administration. Currently, Drew is teaching AP Statistics, Precalculus, and AP Computer Science at Old Town High School, while mentoring new teachers through the Rise Center at the University of Maine.


Erica Watson, Program Director Education & Workforce, Maine Development Foundation

Erica has been working in higher education for thirteen years, after completing her M.Ed. from UMaine. Her work within MCCS, UMS, and volunteer work with College for ME-Androscoggin has allowed her to help build institutional and regional initiatives to improve access, retention, support services, and graduation rates for primarily adult students. She currently works as the Program Director for the Adult Promise track for MaineSpark.

Gilda E. Nardone, Executive Director, New Ventures Maine

Gilda Nardone has been the Executive Director of New Ventures Maine (NVME) for over 40 years.  She is responsible for strategic planning and partnerships, organizational development, financial management, and leadership development of staff and Advisory Council members for the statewide organization which helps Maine people succeed in the changing economy through training and advising in planning careers, starting businesses, managing money and building assets, and developing leaders.  Gilda and the organization have received several state and national awards in recognition of their long-term advocacy on behalf of Maine women and families.  She currently Chairs the Women’s Employment Committee of the State Workforce Board and is a member of the MaineSpark Adult Promise and All Learning Counts initiatives. Gilda has a Masters in Educational Administration, is a graduate of Leadership Maine, and recently received the Kenneth M. Curtis Leadership Award from MDF.

Jennifer Davis, Director of Center for Student Success and Development, Bangor Campus, University of Maine at Augusta

Jennifer Davis received her Bachelor's degree in Psychology at the University of Florida and her Masters degree in Mental Health Counseling from Boston College. Jennifer is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) and a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC). Jennifer worked in the counseling field with individuals with co-occurring disorders for many years before beginning her work in Higher Education at the University of Maine at Augusta- Bangor campus in 2012. Jennifer is currently the Director of Student Support and Development at the Bangor campus and provides direct service to students as well as oversight for the Counseling Services, Accessibility Services, and Academic Coaching/ Tutoring departments. Jennifer is also an Adjunct Faculty member and teaches courses in UMA's Psychology and Mental Health and Human Services programs. Jennifer is also currently pursuing her PhD in Higher Education at the University of Maine, and will begin her dissertation in Spring 2021.

Joanna Russell, Executive Director, Northeastern Workforce Development Board

The Northeastern Workforce Development Board is the entity responsible for administration and oversight of the one-stop delivery system throughout Aroostook, Washington, Penobscot, Piscataquis, and Hancock counties.  The workforce system includes the career centers in Presque Isle, Machias, and Bangor, as well as extension sites in Houlton, Calais, East Millinocket, Ellsworth, and Dover Foxcroft.  Ms. Russell coordinates the workforce investment activities with economic development strategies to develop job opportunities and create new employer linkages.  Joanna brings over 30 years of experience as a workforce management professional in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors.  

Joyce Yoo Babbitt, Librarian, Windham Middle School

Joyce loves sharing inspiring stories, finding great digital resources and assisting students with research projects.She has over 26 years of experience as a library media specialist in Vermont, California, and Maine. Joyce graduated from California State University of Long Beach with a BA in History, a MA in Education, and a Library Media Certification. She is passionate about helping everyone become a lifelong learner!

Kellie Bailey, Social Emotional Learning/Restorative Practice Specialist, Maine Department of Education

Kellie Doyle Bailey is the SEL Specialist for the Maine Department of Education. Kellie brings to the field 30 years of experience working in Maine public schools as a speech/language pathologist and more recently mindfulness and SEL educator. She is the founder of The Children's Collaboration Center and Calm Cool Kids Educate. Kellie has a deep knowledge and understanding of the neuro-developmental sequences of humans birth to adult and in assisting educators with understanding reactive and responsive learner patterns of dysregulated children. She is passionate about building educator awareness and embedding Social Emotional Learning into everyday academic instruction and believes in SEL as an evidenced based trauma informed primary prevention knowing that SEL begins with educators who commit first to the expansion and knowledge of their own emotional intelligence. Students work optimally when they feel safe and connected. Assisting all students in the development of a strong foundational in social emotional learning allows each in becoming responsive rather than reactive to the demands of learning.  Kellie is an adjunct instructor for The University of Maine- Farmington, teaching Mindfulness in Education and a children's author. 

Kelly O'Brien Weaver, Coordinator of School Counseling, RSU 22

Kelly is an elementary school counselor and director of school counseling at RSU22 in Hampden, Maine.  She is the 2018 Maine School Counselor of the Year and is also on the Maine School Counselor's Association Board of Directors. 

Kristin Chavonelle, Librarian, Windham High School

Kristin Freeling Chavonelle is currently a high school librarian at Windham High School in Windham, Maine, and has worked there for eight years. She first worked as an ed-tech III for five years before becoming the second certified librarian at the high school. Prior to working at WHS, Kristin raised her two children, both of who attended the schools in the district. Kristin has a BA in English from Wheaton College in Norton, MA, and an MLIS (Master of Information and Library Science) from the University of South Carolina. Her interests include photography, gardening, and reading.

Mandy Metrano, Teacher, Monhegan School

Mandy Metrano taught at the one-room schoolhouse on Monhegan Island, Maine from 2015 to 2020, where she was part of the Outer Islands Teaching and Learning Collaborative. She graduated from the University of Southern Maine in 2001 with a BA in Fine Art and returned to USM to complete her BFA in Art Education in 2011. She spent several years working in Special Education with both high school and preschool students during that time and prior to teaching on Monhegan. She is currently co-owner and co-chocolatier at La Nef Chocolate with her husband and lives in Bath, Maine. 

Maria MacDougal, College Access Counselor, Finance Authority of Maine

Maria joined FAME’s College Access team with nearly a decade of financial aid experience. She has worked in financial aid offices at both public and private colleges. She holds a Masters of Education in Adult & Higher Education from the University of Southern Maine, and a Bachelor’s in English from the University of Maine at Farmington. As a College Access Counselor, Maria helps students and families from eight central Maine counties plan and pay for higher education as well as develop financial literacy skills. Maria also assists Maine’s adult learners through the college financing process and personal finance enrichment.

Neil Kirschling, Director, Policy and Advocacy, Rodel

Neil is the director of policy and advocacy at Rodel. His work includes strategic planning, policy development, coalition management, program management, and local and national stakeholder engagement to advance student-centered policies across all of Rodel’s focus areas. Previously, he served as a legislative fellow in the Delaware General Assembly, conducted research for the University of Delaware’s Institute for Public Administration, and participated in the Delaware Department of Education’s “Future Education Policy Leaders” program. Neil graduated from the University of Delaware with a Bachelor of Arts degree in public policy and a Master of Public Administration.



Nichole Sawyer, Dean of Workforce and Professional Development, Washington County Community College

Nichole Sawyer is the Dean of Workforce and Professional Development at Washington County Community College, where she works directly with businesses to meet their workforce training needs and assists individuals to enter employment and advance in career pathways. Prior to this position she oversaw CareerCenter operations in the Northern half of Maine for the Maine Department of Labor for whom she spent the past 25 years in various capacities promoting workforce development initiatives throughout Maine. Nichole graduated from the University of Maine with a B.A. in Public Administration and she is passionate about increasing economic opportunity and family self-sufficiency in rural Maine. 

Rhonda Kaiser, Director, Educare Central Maine

Rhonda is the Educare Central Maine School Director.  She has been in the early care and education field for the over 25 years. She is a strong advocate for services and policies that incorporate a whole family approach and builds a quality care and education system that begins at birth.  She lives in Maine with her husband and two yellow labs. She has two grown daughters.

Robin Chernow, Community Development Officer, Island Institute

In her role as a community development officer with the Island Institute, Robin spends the majority of her time on the Education team, where she provides support for the Outer Islands Teaching and Learning Collaborative (TLC) and manages other student-centered programming. In addition, Robin is a member of the Island Fellows team and serves on the Inclusion & Equity Task Force. Before joining the Island Institute, Robin worked as the Science Education Manager at the Hurricane Island Foundation and had previously worked with students in Philadelphia. A graduate of Haverford College, she is a Rockland, ME resident who brings great skill and passion for supporting schools, teachers, and students in education initiatives.

Stephanie Sutcliffe, Director of Programs, Transforming Education

Stephanie Sutcliffe is the Director of Programs at Transforming Education, where she consults with school leaders on whole child strategy, vision, and implementation as well as leads Transform Education’s internal project management and cross-functional coordination. Previously, Stephanie was a Content Specialist at Achievement Network, a strategy consultant with the Boston Schools Fund, and a middle school Literacy Teacher and Humanities Data Leader at the Academy of the Pacific Rim charter public school in Boston. Stephanie holds a B.A. in Secondary Education and English from Boston College and an M.B.A. in Nonprofit Management from Brandeis University.

Susan Mingo, President, Washington County Community College

Over her more than fifteen-year career in higher education, Mingo has devoted herself to providing opportunities for degree attainment that advance the lives of individuals within Washington County and the State of Maine.   Susan has served as the President of WCCC since August 2018 and prior to that as the Dean of Students for seven years.  Susan supports under-resourced students and works to improve opportunities at the College to close achievement gaps and improve retention and persistence rates for the students they serve. She is an advocate for decreasing barriers that impede student success, creating supports, and leveraging resources to assist students with navigating their external barriers.  

Tammy Lorenzatti, Technology Integrator, Windham High School

Tammy Lorenzatti is currently the Technology Instructional Leader at Windham High School in Windham, Maine. Since entering the field of education, Tammy has worked in educational technology as a Technology Integrator and Video Production teacher.  Tammy has a BA in Elementary Education from the University of Maine, M.Ed. from Lesley University, and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study from the University of New England.

Taylor Pierce, Teacher, Brewer Community School

Taylor Pierce is currently a grade 2 teacher at the Brewer Community School. She graduated from the University of Maine with a degree in Elementary Education and has been teaching for 10 years. Taylor first joined the Maine STEM Partnership in 2013 as a member and in 2016 she joined the Maine STEM Partnership Leadership Team. She is passionate about providing a welcoming classroom for all students to feel safe to take risks and make mistakes as they learn.


Vanessa Michaud, Assistant Principal, Windham High School

Vanessa Michaud is an Assistant Principal at Windham High School and has been in education for 12 years.  Before entering administration, Vanessa taught various science content areas, co-taught science with a special educator, coached, served as a dormitory advisor and weekend residential administrator, and led professional learning groups as a trained facilitator.  Vanessa is passionate about working with students and staff and believes she can help provide opportunities and experiences to guide both groups.  She is actively involved in the district MTSS committee, supervision and evaluation committee, co-advises the Student Council, and works to provide meaningful professional development opportunities to staff.  

Yvonne Thomas,  Education Specialist, Island Institute

Yvonne works closely with island and coastal schools and education organizations to collaboratively develop projects, support teacher professional development, and strengthen networks to address the unique educational challenges and opportunities schools face. She also provides leadership and direction for the annual Island Teachers Conference—one of our signature events. In addition to her role on the Education team, Yvonne provides support for the Marine Economy team and serves on the Island Institute’s Inclusion & Equity Task Force.

Yvonne holds a BA in Fine Arts and Psychology from Connecticut College and an MA in Expressive Therapy from Lesley University. Prior to joining the Island Institute, she was the school counselor at the Vinalhaven School for 13 years and also served as the school counselor for Matinicus and North Haven for several years. She lives on the island of Vinalhaven with her family.