Andrea Vargas, CPA, MBA, President, Specialized Education Services, Inc. (SESI)
Andrea Vargas joined Specialized Education Services, Inc. (SESI) in July 2004, and now serves as President. She is responsible for the growth and development of SESI’s alternative education and special education programs. Andrea previously served as SESI’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO), as well as the company’s Controller, Chief Accounting Officer, and Vice President of Finance. She is an operations-focused, mission-driven executive. Her range of expertise extends from managing lender and banking relationships to implementing cost-saving and revenue-generating initiatives. Previously, Andrea worked as an accounting manager with General Cigar, a $150 million manufacturer of premier cigar brands. Prior to General Cigar, she worked in various finance and accounting functions at several large corporations, including United Technologies, The Stanley Works, and ING, Inc. Andrea earned her Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) with a focus in Accounting/Management from University of Hartford and earned her Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Business Administration with a major in finance from Bryant College. She holds a license as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), in good standing, issued by the New Jersey State Board of Accountancy.
Dave Wood, Senior Vice President of Business Development
Since 2016, Dave Wood has served as SESI’s Senior Vice President of Business Development. In this role, he is responsible for the development and maintenance of SESI business partners. He negotiates contracts with district partnerships in coordination with legal and finance and maintains customer satisfaction studies and contract modification as necessary. During the previous six years, Dave served as SESI’s Chief School Director of Alternative Education. Dave previously worked as Director of Program Development for The Camelot Schools of PA, LLC, Director of Operations and National Director of Public Education for The Boys and Girls Clubs of the Big Bend. He also held positions as Business Manager Youth Services International at Everglades Academy, Director of Support Services at Icare Bay Point Schools all in Florida, and as a teacher/counselor in Glen Mills Schools in Concordville, PA. Dave earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Lock Haven University.
Diane Myers, Senior Vice President, Special Education – Behavior Management
Diane Myers serves as SVP of Special Education for SESI, where she leads the company’s pedagogical approach to behavior practices. Her professional expertise and scholarship focus on positive behavioral interventions and supports (at the individual, classwide, and schoolwide levels), students with emotional and behavioral disorders, and training teachers in evidence-based classroom management practices. Prior to joining SESI, Diane served as a professor of Special Education and chair of the Department of Teacher Education at Texas Woman’s University, in Denton, TX; her first academic appointment was at Assumption College in Worcester, MA. As a professor, Diane taught undergraduate and graduate courses in behavior disorders, research methodology, classroom management, and behavioral interventions. In addition, Diane regularly conducted professional development in classroom management and worked with Education Service Centers and districts across Texas and the country to provide training and support to teachers focused on behavioral support for all learners. Diane earned her Ph.D. in special education from the University of Connecticut and her M.S. and teaching certification in special education from Southern Connecticut State University. Prior to her work in higher education, Diane served as a special education teacher in a public middle school and at a residential facility for adjudicated juveniles.
Dr. Ellen Gaske has served as Specialized Education Services, Inc.’s (SESI) Senior Vice President of Academics since 2014. In this role, she oversees the academic needs of students in SESI programs. Prior to her role as Senior Vice President of Academics, Ellen served as Chief School Director, Special Education Programs for SESI’s High Road Academy and was the Executive Director, Grades 3-12, of High Road Academy. She has held a broad range of special education roles in Howard County Public School System including Special Education Supervisor Grades K-12, County-wide Resource Teacher Grades K-12, and Special Education Teacher (both Elementary and LD Programs). She has also served as an instructor at Johns Hopkins University. Ellen earned her Ed. D. in Special Education and Learning Disabilities from Johns Hopkins University, an M.S. in Communicative Disorders from Johns Hopkins University, and a B.S. in Education and Special Education from University of Maryland.
Brooke Violante Kelly serves as Specialized Education Services, Inc.’s (SESI) Regional Vice President for Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. In that role she provides support, supervision, and educational quality assurance to private non-public special education school locations, and supervises, develops, mentors, and evaluates personnel. Prior to her role as Regional Vice President, Brooke was Education Director for SESI in Norwalk, CT. She has also held roles as Director of Program Development for NCIA, Inc. in Baltimore, MD, and Acting Director of Education, Supervisor IEP Compliance, and Special Education Teacher for Youth in Transition School in Baltimore. Brooke holds a Master’s in Educational Administration from McDaniel College and a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies from Pennsylvania State University.
Stephanie Marshall serves as the Regional Vice President for Specialized Education Services, Inc. (SESI). In that role she supports educations services for more than 400 students with special education needs. She also works with 15 program leaders to develop their leadership skills and manages the quality assurance of educational services for students. Prior to serving as Regional Director, she held various roles for SESI including Executive Director, Program Director, and Associate Director. Stephanie has also served as Lead Teacher for Rivendale Institute of Learning and Center for Autism. Stephanie is a co-author of SESI’s proprietary verbal behavior program, Broad-based Educational Services and Therapies (BEST). She is a National Autism Conference Presenter for the Autism Society and Specialized Program Individualized Reading Excellence (SPIRE) Certified Instructor.
Erik Ryan serves as the Regional Vice President for the West Region of Specialized Education Services, Inc. (SESI). In this role, he is responsible for managing all contracts, new development, school-based operations, community relations and partnerships, and services and resource integration with other corporate business units across Arizona, California, and Western Colorado. Erik has 20 years of experience in alternative and special education teaching, developing, and administering specialized academic and behavioral support programs for school-age children. He also has extensive experience coordinating services with multiple school districts, charter schools, and behavioral health support agencies throughout the state of Arizona. Erik holds master’s degrees in the areas of Educational Leadership and Special Education, as well as Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies with special emphasis on effective strategies for professional retention in Special Education and working with students identified as Emotionally Disabled. He is a certified School Superintendent and School Administrator through the Arizona Department of Education’s Certification Unit and Certified Instructor in Professional Crisis Management (PCM). Erik is also the co-founder and current President of the Arizona Association of Private Special Education Providers (AAPSEP) and State Liaison with the National Association of Private Special Education Centers (NAPSEC).
Carrie Spies, Regional Vice President, Mid-Atlantic Region
Carrie Spies services as the Mid-Atlantic Regional Vice President for Specialized Education Services, Inc. (SESI). In that capacity, she oversees in-district classrooms (IDC) and private special education day schools. She also provides support, supervision, and educational quality assurance, and supervises, develops, mentors, and evaluates personnel. Prior to her role as Regional Vice President, Carrie served as SESI’s Chief School Director. She has also held roles as Senior Program Director, Associate Director, and Social Worker, all for High Road School of Baltimore County in White Marsh, MD. She has also held therapy, teacher’s assistant, and social worker roles in Maryland. Carrie holds a Master of Social Work (MSW) from University of Maryland School of Social Work and is also licensed (LCSW). She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Ithaca College. She is a member of National Association of Social Workers (NASW), Maryland Association of Nonpublic Special Education Facilities (MANSEF), and Standard Business Units for Specialized Education Services, Inc.
Keith White is SESI’s Regional Vice President of the Southeast region. He is responsible for the oversight of special education schools and programs including standalone special education schools, In-District Classrooms (IDC), and interim placement programs. Keith previously served on the Board of Directors for the Maryland Association of Nonpublic Special Education Facilities and Program Director/Education Director for High Road Upper School of Prince George’s County. He has also served as School Operations Coordinator and Certified Special Education Instructor at Focus Point School (KOBA Institute), where he worked with 25-30 severely emotionally disturbed adolescents. Keith earned his Master of Science in Special Education from Western Maryland College and Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Communication from Towson State University.
Salem Valentino, Vice President of Research and Evaluation
As Vice President of Research and Evaluation, Salem is responsible for leading all research and evaluation work related to the success of our programs. She has extensive experience in this area including National Director roles with Summer Search and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and Research Manager for University of Pennsylvania Emergency Care Policy Research Group. She has also conducted family, student, and behavioral research for various research organizations. Salem holds a Ph.D. in Applied Developmental Science, a M.S. in Human Development and Family Studies, and a B.A. in Psychology with Highest Distinction (Phi Beta Kappa).
Jamila Winder, Vice President, School Partnerships
As Vice President of School Partnerships, Jamila Winder leads and manages Catapult Learning’s sales team. She has a nearly 20-year track record of leading and managing high-performing cross-functional teams in educational settings. Prior to joining Catapult Learning, Jamila served as Vice President of Strategic Alliances at Walden University and Executive Director, Strategic Alliances at Laureate Online Education. Jamila also worked in roles of increasing responsibility over a 10-year period for Drexel University Online, receiving numerous promotions from Business Development Representative to Vice President of Business Development.
Jamila is an active volunteer with organizations that give back to her community. She has served as a Board Member for Women in Transition, Inc. and was a “Big” at Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America. In 2017 Jamila was elected School Director on the Norristown Area School District Board. Jamila earned her MBA from Eastern University and her bachelor’s degree from The Pennsylvania State University.