Each of the outstanding community leaders serving on the A+ Schools Board of Directors brings a unique background, skills and interest to shape and govern the work of advocating for equity and excellence. All share the belief that every child deserves an excellent education and are committed to dramatic improvement in student achievement. Updated 7/7/2016.
|Tracey Reed Armant, Ph.D., Chair||Program Officer, The Grable Foundation; Parent|
|Diana Bucco||President, The Buhl Foundation|
|Jackie Dandridge||NEED & Retired PPS Educator|
|Amanda Godley, Ph.D.||University of Pittsburgh, School of Education|
|Rev. Brenda Gregg||Founder/Executive Director, Project Destiny|
|Kirk Holbrook||Office of State Representative Jake Wheatley|
|Leigh Halverson||Director of Partnerships, FUSE Corps|
|Rev. Robert James||Youth Pastor, Mt. Ararat Baptist Church|
|Ron Lawrence||Director of Marketing, Sales, and Bids,|
|Temple Lovelace, Ph.D.||Associate Professor of Special Education, Duquesne University|
|Allyson Lowe, Ph.D.||Dean, College of Leadership and Social Change at Carlow University|
|Dan Mahon||Rice Energy|
|McCrae Martino||Chief Operating Officer, Partner4Work|
|Cate Reed||Vice President, Teach for America|
|Sabrina Saunders||Executive Director, Coro Pittsburgh|
|Tom VanKirk||Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer,|
|Honorable DeWitt Walton||Allegheny County Council;|
Jackie Dandridge is a graduate of Westinghouse High School. She holds a Bachelor's Degree from Chatham University and a Masters in Curriculum and Supervision from the University of Pittsburgh. Jackie is a former Pittsburgh Public School teacher. Before retiring in 2008, she had a rewarding career that included classroom teacher, Instructional Teacher Leader, director of federal a gifted grant and Gifted Resource Teacher. Jackie has been the coordinator of the School Home Communication Course for teachers with the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers for several years and is also a National Trainer for Family Involvement. Jackie is presently the College/Career Advisor at Pittsburgh Carrick and Perry High Schools.
Born in Mississippi and reared in Gary, IN by activist parents, Allegheny County Councilman DeWitt Walton is a 25-year employee of the United Steelworkers (USW) and is currently assigned to the Civil & Human Rights department. He has served as an Organizer, Strategic Campaigner and as an Assistant to the International President. His responsibilities include increasing union membership along with strengthening the historic link between organized labor and the Minority community and he brings a broad range of experiences in community and political mobilization; Dewitt joined the Young Democrats in college and continued to work on social justice and political projects. An alumnus of Idaho State University, in 1971 he joined VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) the domestic equivalent to the Peace Corps. DeWitt returned to Gary, Indiana in 1976 to work for Inland Steel Co. where he became active in both his local union and community organizations. He served in a number of capacities in his local union including Political Education Director. In 1990, the United Steelworkers union hired DeWitt as an Organizer for the United Steelworkers of America and in 1995 transferred to Pittsburgh where he has worked on and directed projects that have taken him across the United States, and Europe and Africa. Currently DeWitt serves as an Assistant to the International President for the United Steelworkers Continuing to practice the principles of building coalitions between Labor, Activist and Community groups, DeWitt served as a National Board member of Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), President of the Pittsburgh chapter of ADA. Currently he serves, as Vice President of the Pittsburg A. Philip Randolph Institute (PAPRI) is a Board member of the Thelma Lovette/Centre Ave YMCA, Three Rivers Waterkeepers and Schenley Heights Development. He continues to be active in the Pittsburgh Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. In his USW, APRI and Kappa Alpha Psi roles, he created a partnership with the Housing Authority City of Pittsburgh (HACP) that focused on efforts to empower HACP residents and communities economically, educationally, conduct mentoring programs for children of residents and build better information sharing systems for the residents of those facilities. He also serves as Program Director of the Pittsburgh APRI’s “Breaking The Chains of Poverty” workforce development program.
Leigh Halverson is strategic projects advisor to Heinz Endowments President Grant Oliphant. She joined the Endowments in 2015 after serving as Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto’s deputy chief of staff for economic development. Leigh previously had worked in the philanthropic sector for almost 10 years after graduating with a bachelor’s in international affairs and economics from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore. After serving with the Charitable Division of U.S. Bank, Leigh earned a Masters of Public Policy and Management at the Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University with a focus on nonprofit management. She then worked for six years as special assistant to the president and CEO of The Pittsburgh Foundation, where she helped to manage major initiatives, including Talent City, a recruitment and hiring partnership with Pittsburgh’s new mayoral administration. Leigh has served in an organizational capacity with One Young World, and previously served as the chair of the board for the Environmental Charter School at Frick Park.
McCrae Martino is the Vice President of the Forbes Funds where she oversees the Management Assistance Grant (MAG) program by reviewing grant proposals, evaluating progress and making recommendations to the Board. She identifies trends in nonprofits and works with the president to select research topics for the Tropman Reports. McCrae works closely with the president on the strategic direction of The Forbes Funds and ensures that both the grants and research follow that direction. Prior to working at The Forbes Funds, McCrae was the Chief Operating Officer at the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board (TRWIB). As COO, McCrae was responsible for TRWIB’s daily operations, including board relations, project management and budget development. Previously, she was the Director of the Regional Internship Center (RIC) at the Coro Center for Civic Leadership, served as a Budget Analyst for the Office of Personal Management while serving in the Presidential Management Program, and as a consultant for Fuller Consulting and Communication Coordinator/Americorps VISTA for The Mentoring Partnership of SW PA. McCrae has been recognized by Pittsburgh Magazine’s “40 Under 40,” a list of rising young leaders in the Pittsburgh region, and by The Pittsburgh Business Times as a “Fast Tracker.” McCrae received a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Allegheny College and a masters of public administration, concentrating in nonprofit management, from the University of Southern California. McCrae is a graduate of Pittsburgh Public Schools.
Dan Mahon grew up in Pittsburgh’s Bloomfield neighborhood where he lived for over 25 years. Nearby, at the University of Pittsburgh, he earned his BA in Business Administration with a focus in accounting. He possesses strong business acumen and is licensed by Pennsylvania as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Dan is a Senior Manager in KPMG’s audit practice where he has provided professional audit services and accounting advice for over eight years. He has traveled throughout the United States, Canada, South America, Western Africa and Europe to serve his clients which range in industry and size from small manufacturing companies to large multi-billion dollar consumer products food companies. He currently lives in Valencia, PA with his wife Jennifer, another native of Pittsburgh.
Pastor, teacher, preacher, administrator and executive director, Rev. Brenda J. Gregg is the proud mother of three children, Christopher, Bryanna, and Aleshia. After serving the AME Church for more than 30 years, Rev. Gregg returned to Pittsburgh to serve the City of Pittsburgh and beyond. In 2011 she answered the call to plant a new inner city church in Pittsburgh called “Destiny of Faith” where is the Senior Pastor. Rev. Gregg is the Founder/Executive Director of “Project Destiny of Pittsburgh, Inc.” which is a program that monitors inner city youth ages 10-18 through their college years. Currently located on the North Side of Pittsburgh, Destiny is a safe place for youth to grow, experience positive relationships and gain a positive self-image. Rev. Gregg has in the past and continues to serve on many local and national boards, such as WQED, Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force, Pittsburgh Action Against Rape, Kidsvoice, and the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh to name a few. Rev. Gregg is the recipient of many honors and awards.
Cate is currently a Vice President of Teacher Leadership and Development for Teach For America, where she coaches regional teams in six sites on the East Coast towards ambitious goals around transformational teaching. Cate was a 2000 TFA Corps Member who taught 3rd and 4th grade in the Washington DC Public Schools. She also worked in several roles at TFA including running the NYC Summer Institute and in District Strategy. She joined the Broad Residency in 2007 and worked for the Pittsburgh Public Schools for the last 6 years doing everything from project managing the closure of her own high school, redesigning magnet admissions and collaborating to establish a new school based budgeting system. She previously served as Executive Director of Strategic Priorities for Pittsburgh Public Schools. Cate graduated from Schenley High School, as well as from Loyola University (MD) with a BA in History. She holds a masters in teaching from NYU and a masters in public management from Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz School. Cate lives here in Pittsburgh with her husband Doug and their two children Ashton (3) and Grace (1). She enjoys running, reading, cooking, cheering like crazy for the Steelers (and now the Pirates), and potty training.
Reverend Robert James is the pastor of Children, Youth & Young Adults at Mt. Ararat Baptist Church of Pittsburgh. He is a speaker, mentor, community advocate, and supporter of finding students quality education. Since his arrival to Pittsburgh in 2006, his passion has been to encourage his students to become active leaders in their homes, schools and community. Through service learning projects, small group sessions and intense training, he has equipped his students to help facilitate change in their communities. Robert is a graduate of Morgan State University with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering. He also has a Masters of Divinity Degree in Pastoral Studies and Communication from United Theological Seminary of Dayton, Ohio.
Chelsa Wagner is Allegheny County Controller and serves as the Treasurer on A+ Schools Board. She was raised in the South Pittsburgh neighborhood of Beechview and resides in Brookline with her husband and their two sons. She graduated from Seton-LaSalle High School and went on to earn a degree in Public Policy from the University of Chicago. After college, Chelsa took her passion for policy and became a Business Analyst for a large private corporation, working to reform large state and municipal governments across the country. She returned home to attend law school at the University of Pittsburgh. She worked as an attorney in private practice until 2006, when she was elected to the legislature.
Ron Lawrence is the director of marketing, sales and bids at Bombardier Transportation. Ron comes to A+ Schools as the President of 100 Black Men of Western PA a program that provides tutoring and mentoring to African American girls and boys. Ron is also on the board of NEED and is the parent of two grown children who are graduates of Pittsburgh Public Schools.
Gregg Behr is Executive Director of The Grable Foundation, a local foundation dedicated to improving the lives of children. Administering a grantmaking portfolio advancing early childhood education, education reform, out-of-school time support, and informal learning, he endeavors to ensure that all kids across the Pittsburgh region have outstanding opportunities to learn, play, and grow. From 2002-2006, Mr. Behr served as President of The Forbes Funds, another local foundation that supports nonprofit capacity-building, research, and leadership development. In that role, Mr. Behr twice chaired the Pittsburgh Nonprofit Summit, launched the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership, and coordinated an EMMY-award winning public television series. Prior to assuming his position at The Forbes Funds, Mr. Behr practiced as a litigator with Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, during which time he received the Outstanding Young Lawyer Award presented by the Allegheny County Bar Association. Mr. Behr currently serves as a trustee for the Women & Girls Foundation of Southwest Pennsylvania. Additionally, he sits on advisory councils for the United Way of Allegheny County, Center for Creativity at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership, as well as the Institute of Politics and the Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership at the University of Pittsburgh. Past leadership roles include chairmanship of Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania, the Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh’s Clean Campaign Committee, and WQED’s Community Advisory Board. In 2003, Mr. Behr was selected as one of Pittsburgh’s 40 Under 40. In 2008, he was selected as Pittsburgh’s representative to the TransAtlantic Cities Network. In 2010, Phi Delta Kappa honored him with the Lay Leader Award in Education.
“To thrive, the region needs a healthy core and the core cannot be healthy without a strong public school system.”
Frederick W. Thieman was named President of the Buhl Foundation, Pittsburgh’s oldest multi-purpose foundation, in June of 2007. A former United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Mr. Thieman arrived at Buhl with an impressive civic and professional background. Appointed by President Clinton, Mr. Thieman served as the United States Attorney from 1993 to 1997, where he headed an office of 42 attorneys who both prosecuted criminal violations throughout Western Pennsylvania and handled voluminous civil litigation ranging from health care issues and tort liability to employment rights and environmental impact. While serving as the U. S. Attorney, Mr. Thieman was instrumental in establishing a youth crime prevention effort in Allegheny County that garnered national attention. Over the course of his 30 year legal career, Mr. Thieman practiced as a trial attorney with a specialty in complex business related litigation. He began his career in 1977 as a law clerk to Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Thomas W. Pomeroy, Jr. While practicing law, Mr. Thieman was recognized in professional journals as one of the leading attorneys in Pennsylvania. Mr. Thieman was admitted to practice in 1977 after graduating magna cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law where he was a member of the Order of the Coif and served as Assistant Editor of the Law Review. A 1973 honors graduate of the Pennsylvania State University, Mr. Thieman is a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers, Academy of Trial Lawyers, the Pennsylvania Bar, the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. Thieman has served on numerous non-profit boards and foundation boards, including the Heinz Endowments and the Buhl Foundation, and is the recipient of numerous civic leadership awards from organizations such as the University of Pittsburgh, the Urban League and the Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern Pennsylvania. Mr. Thieman is a lifelong resident of the Pittsburgh area where he resides with his wife Christine. They have four children.