Deborah directs and supports the strategic implementation of HFLI’s mission, develops relationships with like-minded organizations, and maintains primary responsibility for adapting the Henry Ford Academy Model to new schools. An ardent advocate for design thinking in education, Deborah leads HFLI’s development of what is thought to be America’s only innovation-based K-12 core curriculum where learning centers around design challenges. She was one of the founding teachers of Henry Ford Academy in Dearborn, Mich. During the planning and early implementation stages of the Academy, she helped shape its vision and write curriculum for many of its core components, including the Senior Mastery Process. Deborah also designed and directed an extensive teacher leadership development program. While at the Academy, she earned the distinction of Master Teacher from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Prior to joining HFLI, she was an Assistant Principal for Instruction at Plymouth Canton Education Park, an integrated three-high school system with 5,800 students on a single campus, Director for Novice Teacher Induction for the district, Co-Director for the Teaching American History Grant program, and Standardized Testing Coordinator. 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.
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 BS and an MS 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.
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 BS in Finance from Wayne State University and has completed significant coursework towards her MBA at University of Detroit Mercy.
curriculum. Jeff is also responsible for ensuring schools get the proper technology funding from federal, state, local, and other institutions.
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 BS degree in History of Science.
Gwen Strachan - Accounting Clerk
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
Aaron Wilson-Ahlstrom - Associate Director of Curriculum & Instruction
Aaron supports the development of HFLI’s K-12 core curriculum and related professional development programs for teachers, partners, and educational communities. Prior to joining HFLI in 2007, Aaron was an advisor/teacher at University Preparatory High School in Detroit, a charter school in the Big Picture network. His commitment to innovative, student-centered education and educational reform began as an undergraduate, when he was a counselor at the High/Scope Institute for IDEAS summer program for teens. After graduation, he worked full time at the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation in Ypsilanti, Mich., co-directing the Institute for IDEAS and providing training in active and cooperative learning to teachers and after-school providers. Aaron earned a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Michigan’s Residential College in 1995 and a MA in Education and Teacher Certification from the University of Michigan in 2000.
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