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Deborah Parizek, Executive Director 

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.

Nanette Gill - Director of Education 

Nan Gill is responsible for the continued development of a K-12 educational program that prepares Henry Ford Academy students for college, careers, and to be creative and transformational agents of change in their communities. She will also support the growth of HFLI’s professional development programs. Nan has been a leader in public education for more than 25 years. Her experience includes developing and leading public schools and school districts, facilitating organizational development and strategic planning processes for corporate, educational and non-profit organizations, and coaching corporate and educational leaders. Previously, Nan served as a member of the University Preparatory Academy Board for 5 years, and later served in a variety of operational roles in the UPA system, most recently Superintendent of the school district.  She was also a founder of The Coaching Collaborative, and worked for Ann Arbor Public Schools and the Waters Foundation. 

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 Holliday - Director of Network Support for HFLI

Larry Holliday
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 McDougal - Director of Finance and Administration

Julius manages HFLI’s finance and administrative systems. He is also involved in strategic planning, evaluation, school oversight, and operational initiatives, and creating a plan to expand to additional school sites and create new educational programs. Julius brings to HFLI more than 20 years of experience as a CFO, financial analyst and accountant for health care, manufacturing, technology, logistics, communications, retail and public accounting firms. He came to HFLI from Pro Care Health Plan in Detroit, where he was CFO. He has a wealth of experience in evaluating and improving organizational financial management, increasing revenue, and implementing efficient and effective operational processes across multiple sites. Previously he worked for Warrior Sports, TDS Logistics, Compuware Corporation, Ameritech Corporation, Kmart Corporation, and KPMG Peat Marwick. 

Julius earned an M.B.A. from University of Detroit-Mercy and a B.S. in Accounting from Jackson State University, Jackson, Mississippi.

Lisa Kreinbring – Director of External Relations

Lisa is responsible for developing relationships, communication strategies and materials that support the growth of HFLI, its schools, and its programs. She started working with HFLI in 2006, and has been an integral part of the planning, launch and ongoing activities of all of HFLI’s Henry Ford Academies. Lisa has 20 years of broad marketing and communications experience in both business and education. Prior to her work at HFLI, she was a senior account executive with The Devon Group; during her nearly seven years at the PR firm she managed client, press and analyst relationships, resulting in media placements, national awards, analyst report mentions and speaking engagements for clients. She has also been a senior marketing analyst at Flynn & Company and at a subsidiary of Arthur J. Gallagher, both in the Detroit-area. Lisa graduated with a BA in Psychology and Sociology from Miami University and earned a MSA degree with a concentration in health services from Central Michigan University. She was a 2013 AFP - Detroit Chapter Fisher Fellow and was recently awarded a 2014 NSPRA Don Bagin Memorial Scholarship. Lisa is HFLI’s first point of contact for all media inquiries, and can be reached at lisa@hfli.org.

Kathleen McCann –Controller

Kathy McCann
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 Mesch – Associate Director of I.T.

Jeff believes in forcing technology to meet the precise needs of its users, not confining users to the boundaries and structures of technology. As Associate Director of Technology, Jeff leads all of the technology efforts of HFLI and its schools. He works with the technology coordinators to ensure they have the support and resources they need to serve the schools. He also works to provide a more consistent technology experience across all schools in a way that supports the design thinking 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 B.S. degree in History of Science.

Christopher Patten – Associate Director of Design Thinking for K-12 Education

Christopher supports HFLI’s growing K-12 design thinking initiative, including the continued development of creative problem solving resources and experiences that lead to transformational outcomes for educators and students. Prior to joining HFLI, Christopher was a part-time faculty member at Parsons the New School for Design in New York, where he supported student adoption of human-centered design methodologies. He also worked as a consultant for the design research lab, Thriving, to develop a growth-mindset curriculum for various schools in the city and was selected by Pearson, PLC to author a K-12 design thinking curriculum, which is now being piloted at schools in Brazil and India. As a graduate student at Parsons, Christopher’s work revolved around the theme of design for understanding; in 2013, he was awarded the William Randolph Hearst Scholarship, which gave him the opportunity to pilot his workshop with different entities around New York to help them understand complex law. 

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

Mary Kovari is responsible for the development of curriculum and assessment tools that support teachers in preparing students for college and careers. She is a National Board Certified teacher who is committed to advancing high quality teaching and learning for all students. Mary has been an educator in Detroit for the last twenty years serving as principal of the Detroit Institute of Technology High School (DIT) on the Cody campus and as assistant principal at Western International high School. She has won several awards including Principal of the year from the Engineering Society of Detroit, Administrator of the Year from Greening of Detroit and the Team Leadership Award from Teach for America. 

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 Strachan
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

Staci works closely with principals and leadership staff at HFLI’s Detroit academies to secure significant community support for all facets of the schools’ activities. Staci led student recruitment for the 2012 opening of the fully-enrolled Henry Ford Academy: Elementary School in Detroit. Staci came to HFLI and its academies from Detroit City Councilman James Tate’s office, where she was the Youth Focus Outreach Coordinator. Through relationship building and collaboration, Staci created programs and initiatives under Councilman Tate’s three focus areas: teen pregnancy prevention, literacy and mentoring. A board-certified consultant in the areas of Conflict Resolution and Violence Prevention, she previously worked for a number of years with Detroit Public Schools to reduce violence, with particular gains at Pershing High School. She also worked as a Public Relations Specialist for the Detroit-Wayne County Community Mental Health Agency. Staci earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications and Theater Arts, with a Secondary Education curriculum from Eastern Michigan University. Her love for informative community reporting led her back to school and to intern with Mildred Gaddis on "Inside Detroit," for AM 1200 WCHB in 2005. After graduating from Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts, Staci became a radio personality and went on to produce for a number of well-known Detroit personalities. As the high school representative for Specs Howard, she coordinated recruitment events for high school students as well as high school administrators, to familiarize them with post-secondary opportunities. In her free time Staci volunteers with Third Circuit Court as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for abused and neglected youth in Wayne County.

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