An experienced educator with 23 years of experience in dynamic K-12 settings, Deborah leads HFLI’s efforts to create academically excellent small schools and authentic learning programs that engage a wide range of community partners to prepare students to succeed in college, pursue a career of their choice and address challenges with innovative thinking. She develops transformative relationships to launch and sustain new schools and drives HFLI’s development of innovation-based K-12 learning communities where Design Thinking is a central component of teaching, learning and operations; those learning communities currently include the nearly 2,100 students and 245 teachers HFLI serves at its five Henry Ford Academies, as well as learners at schools and districts across the country where HFLI provides Design Thinking workshops and custom consultations.
Prior to joining HFLI in 2005, Deborah designed and directed extensive teacher leadership development programs for multiple school systems and earned the distinction of Master Teacher from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. She served as one of the founding teachers of Henry Ford Academy in Dearborn, Michigan, helping shape its vision and write curriculum for many of its core components, including the Senior Mastery Process.
Deborah earned MAs in Educational Studies and Chinese Languages and Literature and a BA in Chinese and Russian Studies, all from the University of Michigan.
Nan earned a B.A. in English Education from University of Illinois – Chicago, an M.A. in Communicative Disorders from Northwestern University and has completed graduate coursework in educational administration from University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University.
Larry is passionate about improving academic achievement and providing “what kids need” from their educational experience. First as Dean of Students, and now as Director of Network Support for Henry Ford Academies, he uses his leadership experience and a non-negotiable “kids-first” approach to support and mentor school leaders and develop opportunities that help students be successful in high school, college and beyond. Between his roles as Dean of Students and Director of Network Support, Larry was Vice President of Learning Designs (LDI), and lead Sigma Learning, LLC, which provided integrated training services for Delphi Corporation. During his more than 13 years at the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources, he held several positions, including Manager of Training Resources, Manager of UAW-GM Tuition Assistance Plan, and Manager of Skills Assessment and Training. Larry worked for a number of colleges and with a wide range of educational programs, including Teacher Corps Youth Advocacy Project and University Without Walls. He also coordinated the Statewide Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) Youth Programs for Colorado State Department of Education.
Larry earned a B.S. and an M.S. from the University of Oregon. He has lived and worked in locations across the United States, and also played professional basketball for the ABA’s Miami Floridians and in Scandinavia.
Julius earned an M.B.A. from University of Detroit-Mercy and a B.S. in Accounting from Jackson State University, Jackson, Mississippi.
Kathy is responsible for all aspects of HFLI’s financial management, creates operational efficiencies, and is a source of financial management expertise to HFLI’s schools. She is especially proud of her work to ensure that HFLI captures, reports and explains its financial position information in a way that all stakeholders can understand. That ability is built on a foundation of more than 25 years in non-profit accounting and financial management. Before joining HFLI in 2009, Kathy was Director of Business Operations and Controller at Pewabic Society in Detroit for 10 years, and for 15 years prior to that, was the Financial Reporting Manager in Trusts and Investments divisions at Bank One.
Kathy earned a B.S. in Finance from Wayne State University and has completed significant coursework towards her M.B.A. at University of Detroit Mercy.
Jeff began his career in IT holding both part-time and full-time positions supporting engineering research at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. Seeking to make a greater impact on the lives of students, Jeff left higher education and spent 7 years as the IT Director for private schools in Washington, DC, and Nashville, TN. Jeff has built a reputation of finding innovative and cost-effective technology solutions for schools.
Jeff studied Computer Science and History of Science at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and holds a B.S. degree in History of Science.
Christopher earned a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, and an M.F.A. in Transdisciplinary Design from Parsons.
Mary Kovari - Curriculum, Instruction and Achievement Specialist
She graduated from Wayne State University with a B.S. in Education and attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor receiving an M.A. in Education focusing on education policy and administration.
Gwen Strachan - Logistics Manager
Gwen contributes to HFLI’s success by using her organizational skills and non-profit operations experience to manage daily accounting activities for HFLI, coordinate all logistics for staff and hands-on learning programs, and make sure the HFLI team has all of the tools needed to do their jobs. Before joining HFLI, Gwen was a design coordinator and project manager who coordinated custom pottery projects from design through fabrication for three of the Pewabic Society’s designers. Her ability to develop efficiencies grew out of her more than 15 years at Bon Secours Cottage Hospital/Henry Ford Health System, where she earned roles of increasing responsibility, from patient accounting clerk, to supervisor, and ultimately financial services analyst.
Staci L. Williams - Manager of Community Engagement
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