Who We Are



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Lisa Almeida, M.S.

Lisa is a recognized educator with over a decade of experience delivering professional development and implementation support to educators. Most notably, she is known for effective leadership and teacher coaching in the areas of standards, assessment, data-driven decision making, and professional learning communities. Lisa was national director of professional learning at the Leadership and Learning Center. She is a former distinguished professional development associate, school and district administrator, and teacher.

Lisa is a contributing author to several publications, including Navigating Assessment and Collaboration With the Common Core State StandardsStandards and Assessment: The Core of Quality InstructionInteractive Viewing GuideData Teams in Action; and Ahead of the Curve: The Power of Assessment to Transform Teaching and Learning.

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Leslie A. Birdon, M.Ed. 

Leslie A Birdon is a National Board certified educator with over 25 years of experience.  She is currently working in Ouachita Parish at Riser Middle School as a department head, district science teacher leader, LDC mentor, and state science teacher advisor.  Her range of experience has included both rural and urban settings working with at risk student populations in Texas and Louisiana.  Ms. Birdon feels that all children are entitled to college and career opportunities such as exposure to advanced coursework.

Thus, she has presented over twenty times on various topics such as scientific inquiry, literacy, RTI, effective data analysis, professional learning communities, instructional coaching and mentoring as well as school improvement at local, regional, and national conferences/professional development workshops.   In various roles, she has served as Adjunct Professor, New Teacher Project Seminar Leader, Gifted Education Coordinator, STEM Curriculum Designer, Region 10 Mentor Teacher, National Board Certification Candidate Provider, TAP Master Teacher, District/School Administrator, and Advanced Placement Vertical Team Lead Teacher.

Throughout her career, Ms. Birdon often surpasses district and state norm scores on standardized exams in Dallas, Texas.  Researching better instructional techniques, her testing scores reflected improvement by reaching 64% proficiency in 1996.  In the following years, her students continued to show improvements increasing to 82% in 1997 and 90% in 1998 resulting in the highest for Dallas Public Schools.  In her role as a mentor teacher and STEM Curriculum Director in Irving from 1999 to 2002, the 8th grade students were 80 to 91% proficient on the TAKS state exam as well as the second highest state proficiency in biology.  Moving back to Louisiana in 2004, she taught biology where her students took a state exam showing a 40% increase in proficiency.  In her current capacity as a mentor teacher, her classes moved from 23% to 63% proficiency in meeting their benchmark goal for a district developed test in 2014.  As a result, her students continue to improve with 80% in 2015 and 92% in 2016.

While working in dual roles as an Associate Principal and Curriculum Director, two schools showed an increase 6 to 10 SPS point gain as well as another rated the second highest improvement rate for grades 3-8 in 2009 and 2010 within Louisiana Recovery District.  Managing a 1.5 million dollar literacy grant for East Feliciana Parish as Curriculum Coordinator and TAP Master Teacher,  the district was rated 2nd highest in literacy growth for Louisiana for two years.  Within this same timeframe, Ms. Birdon and school team were awarded by Louisiana Department of Education for implementing a top preforming Teacher Advancement Program at the school level. 

Her peer-reviewed publications involve research on constructivism and its effects on curriculum design and instructional practices.   She has recently submitted to a national blog on connecting literacy to science for Aligned- Achieve the Core called Welding Literacy into Scientific Instruction.

In her community, Ms. Birdon advocates at the school, district, and state level to help write and implement standards and curriculum as a District Lead Science Teacher and State Science Teacher Leader Advisor for the Louisiana Department of Education.  Her greatest joy of education is “to teach students to see the vitality in themselves.”  

Brandon Doubek, Ed.D. 

Dr. Brandon Doubek is a founding partner of Creative Leadership Solutions who is a nationally and internationally recognized presenter. He has provided creative and purposeful solutions to state departments of education, superintendents, principals, curriculum directors, the CCSSO, and teacher leaders in over 100 urban, suburban, and rural school districts in the US, Canada, and Central America. His passion for authentic school improvement is evidenced through robust presentations that are concrete, practical, and humorous.

As a presenter and facilitator, Dr. Doubek has been a keynote speaker and workshop provider while his work in counties, districts, and classrooms has ranged from senior cabinet leadership advisement to classroom instruction modeling. He has also been a speaker at many national and international conferences, including ASCD, Learning Forward, Great to Greater, 90 90 90, and the International Conference on the Arts and Humanities. His research articles appear in the International Reading Association’s journal, New Directions in Reading Research and the International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching, as well as a chapter contributions on Standards and Assessment in Data Teams Overview: The Big Picture and Contexts of Standards and Assessment in Standards and Assessment: The Core of Quality Instruction.

Brandon was the director of evaluation for the National Urban Alliance in New York for three years in addition to his role as a literacy and thinking skills consultant in 10 school districts in the United States for over six years, and he has been a professor of education at two universities. His knowledge of quantitative (statistical) and qualitative research methods in education led to 12 documents that evaluated existing achievement gaps in districts across the U.S. as diagnostic measures for future school action plans. With this information, Dr. Doubek helped to initiate projects in many districts at their inception. Dr. Doubek was also a trainer of new consultants, specializing in K-12 education and transformational leadership during summer institutes. Brandon performed multiple linear regressions and factor analyses for Dr. Douglas B. Reeves on Planning, Implementing, and Monitoring data which resulted in the text Finding Your Leadership Focus: What Matters Most for Student Success.

David Gleason, Ph.D.  

Dr. David Gleason is a clinical psychologist who provides counseling and consulting services, as well as neuropsychological assessments, within public, independent, and international schools. Dr. Gleason served as Administrative Director of Student Support Services at St. Paul's School in New Hampshire before opening his own practice in Concord, Massachusetts in 2000. At that time, Dr. Gleason joined Concord Academy as that school's Consulting Psychologist. In addition, Dr. Gleason serves as Senior Neuropsychologist at Wediko Children's Services in Boston, where he supervises pre and post-doctoral neuropsychology interns and he co-teaches a professional development seminar. Finally, Dr. Gleason has taught psychology at the secondary, undergraduate and graduate levels, and he presents workshops and seminars at schools, national conferences in the United States, and at international conferences around the world. Dr. Gleason's new book, At What Cost? Defending Adolescent Development in Fiercely Competitive Schools, is scheduled for release in January, 2017. 

Howie Knoff, Ph.D.

Dr. Howie Knoff, a licensed psychologist and nationally certified school psychologist, works with districts and schools in long-term relationships to help them implement successful strategies.  He is recognized nationwide as an expert in the areas of: (a) School improvement (ESEA) and special education (IDEA) policy and practice; (b) School discipline (including disproportionality), classroom management, student engagement, and interventions with behaviorally challenging students; and (c) Multi-tiered academic and behavioral services and supports with at-risk, struggling, non-responsive, and unsuccessful students.

Howie is the creator of Project ACHIEVE, a comprehensive evidence-based school improvement program (through the U.S. Department of Health & Human Service’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and he has implemented components of Project ACHIEVE in every state in the country (and abroad) over the past 30 years.

Howie has been a tenured Full professor at two Research I universities (22 years); the Director of the federally-funded State Personnel Development/State Improvement Grant for the Arkansas Department of Education (13 years); and he has authored 18 books, published over 100 articles and book chapters, and delivered over 2,500 papers and workshops internationally. His most-recent books include: School Discipline, Classroom Management, and Student Self-Management: A Positive Behavioral Support Implementation Guide (Corwin Press), and Response to Instruction and Intervention: Implementing Successful Academic and Behavioral Intervention Systems (ICLE/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). 

Howie has received over $21 million in federal, state, or foundation grants for his work, he is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (School Psychology), and he is a Past-President of the National Association of School Psychologists.

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Kim Marshall, M.Ed. 

Kim Marshall was sixth-grade teacher, central office curriculum director, and elementary principal in the Boston Public Schools for 32 years. Since 2002, Kim has provided one-on-one coaching for principals, often in New York City in affiliation with New Leaders (www.newleaders.org), a non-profit that recruits, trains, and supports urban principals. In addition, Kim consults, speaks, and teaches courses for school leaders, with a special focus on teacher supervision and evaluation, time management, the effective use of student assessments, and curriculum unit design. Kim also writes The Marshall Memo, a weekly summary of helpful articles for principals, teachers, superintendents, and other educators (www.marshallmemo.com). Kim is the author of a number of articles and books, including Rethinking Teacher Supervision and Evaluation (Jossey-Bass, 2013).

Brian McNulty, Ph.D

Dr. McNulty brings 30 years of experience as a nationally recognized educator in leadership development. He has served in a variety of positions at both the district and state levels. His work and writing have been featured in books, scholarly journals, and periodicals worldwide. An author of more than 40 publications, his most recent publication is Leaders Make It Happen! An Administrator's Guide to Data Teams. He coauthored School Leadership That Works: From Research to Results with Robert J. Marzano and Timothy Waters.

In addition to being a leading authority on leadership development, Dr. McNulty's extensive experience in working with schools and districts, his knowledge of the research on school and district effectiveness, and his ability to translate this research into practical applications have created opportunities for him to work as a keynote speaker and long-term partner with school districts, state education agencies, and other educational service agencies.

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Linda O'Konek, Ed.D.

Dr. Linda O'Konek has been a consultant with Creative Leadership Solutions since 2015. Dr. O'Konek served as the National Practice Manager for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; a Senior Professional Development Associate with the Leadership and Learning Center and was an Instruction and Leadership coach with the International Center for Leadership in Education. Linda retired from Norfolk Public Schools in Norfolk, Virginia, the 2005 Broad Prize winner. Her public school assignments included Executive Director of Education Accountability, Executive Director of Elementary Schools, and Grant Manager of an $8 million School Improvement Grant. She has taught undergraduate and graduate courses at several universities in curriculum, leadership and supervision. 

Linda has presented at numerous conferences on the district, state, and national level. Linda has vast experience working with teachers, principals, central office administrators, and School Boards of public, charter, and parochial schools throughout the United States, Bermuda, and the US Virgin Islands. She provides dynamic professional development in the areas of Organizational Leadership Development, The Principal Leadership Academy, The District Leadership Academy, Leaders Developing Leaders seminars, Data Driven Decision Making, Data Teams, Data Teams for Leaders, Accountability Planning and System Development, Power Strategies for Effective Teaching, Writing to Learn, Response to Intervention, Leadership Coaching and Development, Principal and Leaders Evaluation Frameworks, and Common Core. She developed several of the Leaders Developing Leaders seminars, and is a contributing author of The Principal Leadership Academy and The District Leadership Academy. 

Jo Peters, Ed.S.

Jo is former principal and senior professional development associate who now delivers professional development services to schools and districts throughout the United States. She is a highly experienced leadership coach and has coached educational leaders at every level, from district administrators and principals to teacher leaders and instructional coaches. Jo also has experience supervising and mentoring elementary, middle, and high school principals. Her work with principals and instructional coaches has helped bring alignment of professional development and quality instruction to schools with a diverse student population. Her areas of expertise include standards, formative assessment, Performance Assessments, curriculum and assessment design.

Jo is a contributing author to REAL-TIME Decisions, Educators Using FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT to Change Lives NOW! She wrote the chapter on leadership coaching for the 90/90/90 School Improvement Notebook and co-authored The Blueprint for Educational Excellence, an objective assessment for school districts to clarify the gap between expectations and reality.

Douglas Reeves, Ph.D.

Dr. Reeves has worked with education, business, nonprofit, and government organizations throughout the world. The author of more than 30 books and more than 100 articles on leadership and organizational effectiveness, he has twice been named to the Harvard University Distinguished Authors Series and was named the Brock International Laureate for his contributions to education. Dr. Reeves received both the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Secondary School Principals and the Parent's Choice Award for his writing for children and parents. His career of work in professional learning led to the Contribution to the Field Award from the National Staff Development Council. For his international work, Dr. Reeves was named the William Walker Scholar by the Australian Council of Educational Leaders.

His volunteer activities include FinishTheDissertation.org, providing free and non-commercial support for doctoral students, and The SNAFU Review, publishing the essays, poetry, stories, and artwork of disabled veterans.  Doug lives with his family in downtown Boston.  He Tweets @DouglasReeves, blogs at CreativeLeadership.net, and can be reached at 1.781.710.9633.

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P. William Van Hickman, Ed.D. 

Dr. Philip Hickman is a national award winning transformational leader in K-12 education and educational technology. Dr. Hickman is an author who wrote “Stop Dribbling Footballs”. Dr. Hickman invented a new education instructional model the K-16 Instructional and Technology Integration Model (K-16 ITI Model) that is transforming teaching and personalizing learning within the classroom. Dr. Hickman’s obsession with personalized learning fuels his partnership with the United States Department of Education on the #GoOpen movement or Openly License Educational Recourses (OER). He is an AASA Nationally Certified Superintendent and continues to be a leading authority presenting at many of the top Ed Tech and Personalized Learning conferences in the nation. He is the Founder and CEO of MindAble Solutions LLC. an edtech firm specializing in innovative platform design, business consultation, and K-12 professional developemnt.   

Currently, Dr. Hickman is a superintendent in Columbus Mississippi. He previously served as assistant superintendent with Houston Independent School District; as assistant superintendent in Kansas City, Missouri; and principal/assistant principal/dean of students positions in Chicago area, Saint Louis MO, and Southern IL. Dr. Hickman has also completed consulting work with many different private/public/nonprofit organizations and a professor at multiple institutions of higher learning in Illinois, Texas, and at Capella University.   

Dr. Hickman received his Bachelors of Arts (BA) in Psychology with a minor in Speech Pathology from the University of Missouri-Columbia.  He also received a Masters of Arts in Education (M.Ed.) and an Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) in School Psychology from the University of Missouri- Columbia.  At Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville receiving a Masters of Education (M.Ed.) in Educational Administration. He attended Saint Louis University receiving an Educational Specialist Degree (Ed.S) and a Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership. 

John Van Pelt, Ed.D.

Dr. Van Pelt has extensive experience as an Associate Superintendent of Educational Services and as a Superintendent working with central office staff and Boards of Education.  He has led several initiatives that resulted in increased student achievement and helped narrow the achievement gap.  These initiatives have been profiled at state and national conferences; in journal articles, and books.  He has presented at state and national conferences on improving student achievement, including ASCD Annual Conferences, National School Boards Association Conference, and National Student Assessment Conference.

Dr. Van Pelt has held school leadership positions in Iowa and Illinois and taught in Sydney Australia for the New South Wales Department of Education.  He has provided professional development for teachers and administrators, including Data Teams/ Decision Making for Results, Leadership Performance Coaching, and monitoring curriculum and instruction through classroom walk through observations and follow up conversations.  He has worked as a consultant with the Leadership and Learning Center in Implementation Audits in California and Delaware and as an auditor with Curriculum Management Systems, Inc. in curriculum management audits in Washington, Idaho, and South Carolina.

Michael Wasta, Ph.D. 

Dr. Wasta has 39 years of experience in public education all in the Bristol CT public schools. He served as a regular classroom teacher, special education teacher, special education administrator, deputy superintendent, superintendent of schools. As deputy superintendent/superintendent he led the district through a multi- year comprehensive reform process that resulted in dramatic improvement in student performance.

Michael was a consultant for the Leadership and Learning Center in Denver, CO for 8 years, making presentations nationwide and outside of the country on systemic reform, holistic accountability and data teams.

As a consultant to the Connecticut State Department of Education for five years he lead in the design and implementation of the Connecticut Accountability for Learning Initiative, a statewide systemic reform program designed to improve student performance in the state’s lowest performing districts. This program, modeled after the Bristol process, produced documented results indicating that the performance gap between urban districts and suburban districts began to close.