About Us


School Exec Connect consultants can meet the complex needs of education today. School Exec Connect Partners and Associates have exceptional reputations and are regarded as highly knowledgeable about leadership and leaders. We conduct searches for all levels of education executives and consult on a variety of topics related to school improvement, planning, and board governance. We have worked successfully with districts across the nation and bring decades of experience to meet your needs. Please view more details about the services we offer by clicking on “Other Services.”

Our consultants have extensive nation-wide networks that enable them to know personally the finest superintendents and principals throughout the country. Our consultants hold collective memberships in the top state and national educational organizations, teach at colleges and universities throughout the country, are published authors, and have won prestigious educational awards. They are leaders in the field.

dragsethKenneth Dragseth, President


Ken Dragseth, Ph.D., President, School Exec Connect, has been conducting executive searches for school districts since 2005. He is the retired superintendent of the Edina Public Schools (MN) and recently retired Director of Administrative Licensure and Lecturer at the University of Minnesota’s School of Education. He has 48 years of experience in education and has had experience as a principal, curriculum director, assistant superintendent and superintendent in a highly successful metropolitan district that has been recognized nationally for the excellence of its programs.

His honors include: National Superintendent of the year, 2003, American Association of School Administrators; Minnesota Superintendent of the Year, 2002; Executive Educators Top 100 Educators; University of Minnesota College of Education Distinguished Leadership Award; 100 Distinguished Alumni Award and 150 Distinguished Alumni Award (Gustavus Adolphus College).

Ken has conducted local, state and national workshops on a variety of topics including board/superintendent relationships, high school start time, gender bias issues, ethical values, data-based decision-making and leadership skills. He has published numerous articles in national and state journals. Ken has a Ph.D. and M.A. from the University of Minnesota and a B.A. from Gustavus Adolphus College.

ajohnsAntoinette Johns, Vice-President


Antoinette Johns Ed.D. is the retired Superintendent of the Brooklyn Center Community School District in Brooklyn Center, MN. She began her administrative career as a coordinator of Services for a District in Michigan.  In Minnesota she was the Director of Special Education, and Director of Career and Technical Education for Intermediate District 916.  She served her first superintendent role in McGregor, a rural Minnesota district.  Toni has served on many state committees and was in the Bush Public Schools Fellows Program for Educational Leaders.

Leadership roles have included President of the Minnesota Administrators of Special Education, Treasurer and President of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators.  She has also served as the Chair of the Northwest Suburban Integration School District and as Chair of the TIES Executive Committee.  TIES is a 38 member consortium of school districts formed to provide innovative technology solutions to administrative functions and learning.

lindahansonLinda Hanson, Partner and Past President


Linda Hanson, Ed. D., founded School Exec Connect in 2004.  She now leads the Illinois School Exec Connect team. She has conducted executive searches nationally for school districts since 1992.  She is the retired superintendent of Highland Park/Deerfield High School District (THSD 113) , IL and was the superintendent of Mundelein High School District 120 (IL). She has experience at every level of education from Kindergarten through college.  She has led schools that have been recognized nationally for academic excellence.

She has won multiple leadership awards including Illinois Instructional Leader (Illinois Principal Association), Lake County Superintendent of the Year (voted by peers), the Illinois Governor’s Award (for leadership in the arts), Woman of Achievement (YWCA and Girl Scouts of America), and Outstanding Administrator of the Year (Illinois Association of Student Assistance Programs).

She has published numerous articles in state and national journals and has conducted local, state, and national workshops on topics ranging from long-range planning to school board leadership.

bob's-picture-002Robert Hanson, Partner and Past Vice-President


Robert Hanson, Ph.D., served as vice-president of School Exec Connect for four years. He brings 35 year’s K-14 public school and college level education experience as a music teacher, administrator and conductor.  He received his doctorate at Northwestern University in Illinois. In addition, he has worked extensively with not-for-profit organizations in Illinois and Michigan. He has served at the music director of a nationally recognized symphony orchestra and has designed and written regionally and nationally recognized music education programs for K-14 students.

dcloughDavid Clough, Partner


Dave Clough, Ph. D., has conducted school executive searches since 1999. He is the retired superintendent of the Libertyville/Vernon Hills High School District (CHSD 128) in the northern suburbs of Chicago. He has had more than 30 years of administrative experience encompassing all levels of education throughout the Midwest and has served outstanding school districts in Minnesota, Nebraska and Illinois.

Dave is well connected to prospective administrative candidates through a comprehensive network but also through holding a number of key leadership positions, including serving as the past President of the Lake County Superintendents Association, President of the Mid American Association of School Superintendents and President of the Superintendents Roundtable of Northern Illinois. He is also an active member of Suburban School Superintendents (SSS), IASA/AASA and the Illinois Association of School Boards. Dave has presented nationally and regionally on topics ranging from administrative competencies to school quality assessments.

craig-larson-pictureDr. Craig Larson, Partner


Craig Larson, Ed. D., has conducted searches for school districts since 2010, when he retired as superintendent of Rockwood School District in west St. Louis County. He spent 38 years as a teacher, middle and high school principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent in Parkway, Clayton and Rockwood School Districts. He served as principal of Parkway South High for 11 years. Parkway South was an early member of Ted Sizer’s Coalition of Essential Schools, a movement that focused on improving the academic focus of high schools and helped lead to the creation of charter schools. In addition to a leading a number of Superintendent searches, Craig has conducted several searches for charter school leadership.

Craig is a long-term adjunct professor for Maryville University’s Education School and currently teaches a course each semester for aspiring superintendents. In addition, to being a member of AASA, MASA, and the Suburban School Superintendents (SSS), Craig is a long-term member and past president of the Headmasters Association, a 125-year-old coalition of public and private school leaders.

Along with conducting executive leadership searches, Craig also works with schools and districts on strategic planning, communications with the school community, and Board development. He has served as an elected member of the St. Louis Community College Board of Trustees since 2010 and is engaged in expanding higher educational opportunities for traditional and non-traditional students within the St. Louis region.

jack-linehan-pictureDr. John (Jack) Linehan, Partner


Jack Linehan Ed.D, retired from the Shorewood School District (WI) after 18 years of service–7 as high school principal, the last 11 as superintendent. Earlier, he served as teacher, counselor, coach, activities director, and assistant principal with the Whitefish Bay (WI) schools.

He is currently Director of the Superintendent Development Program and Chair of Doctoral Admissions at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee. He has been a consultant to public and private schools throughout the region.

Jack had a parallel career as an Air Force pilot. He was a primary jet instructor pilot on active duty in Oklahoma in the early 1970s and spent 20 years with the Air Force Reserves in Milwaukee as a C-130 pilot and operations officer.

Jack earned his doctorate from Columbia University with a dissertation on the dynamic role of the Superintendency

tmaddenThomas Madden, Partner


Thomas (Tom) Madden, Ed. D., has conducted executive searches for school districts since 1995.  He is the retired superintendent of Lemont Township High School District 210 and has experience in public school education at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.  He has also taught at the college and university levels in both undergraduate and graduate programs.

Tom has conducted workshops and made presentations at the local, state and national levels on topics of leadership, instructional methodologies, classroom management, goal setting, team-building, strategic planning, and effective communication skills.

bob-ostlundRobert Ostlund, Partner


Robert (Bob) Ostlund has been conducting searches with School Exec Connect since 2008, after retiring as Superintendent of the highly respected Wayzata MN Public School District. He served Minnesota schools as a science teacher, Associate Principal, Director of Administrative Services, Headmaster or Superintendent for a total of 42 years. Throughout his career, he was heavily involved in all aspects of human resource administration including negotiations, contract administration, recruitment and evaluation. He was actively involved in professional associations at every level, including serving as President of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators. He was selected as the Twin City Metro Area Administrator of the Year in 2008.

Bob earned his BA and BS degrees in chemistry and biology from Bemidji State University, his Master of Science degree in Science Supervision from the University of Virginia, and completed his administrative licensure requirements at the University of Minnesota. He has participated in or led over 35 searches.

dpetersonDavid W. Peterson, Partner


David Peterson, M. S., is the retired superintendent of the Northern Suburban Education District (NSSED). NSSED is a special education joint agreement that serves twenty schooldistricts in the North Shore of Chicago. Dave is the co-director of FED ED, a consortium that addresses federal education issues that impact suburban school districts in Illinois. David recently moved to Michigan where he leads SCHOOL EXEC CONNECT’S Michigan search team.

Dave is a recognized national and state leader in special education.  He was President of the Illinois Alliance of Administrators of Special Education in 2000-02, was appointed to the U.S. Department of Education Federal Interagency Coordinating Council by Secretary of Education Richard Riley, and serves on U.S. Senator’s Mark Kirk’s Education Advisory Committee.  Dave is also the recipient of numerous awards including IAASE’s David Berto Leadership award.Dave has served as a consultant to districts across the country and has conducted numerous workshops and presentations on topics ranging from alternate models of service to children with special needs to international achievement standards.  He has published articles in a number of education journals and several book chapters.

Robbins-FY-12Kathryn Robbins, Partner


Kathryn (Kathy) Robbins Ed.D. is an educator with 34 years of service in public education, including 24 years in a variety of administrative roles.  She served as superintendent of Leyden High School District 212 in Franklin Park, Illinois for 14 years prior to retiring in 2013. Under her leadership, Leyden earned the 2013 AP National School District of the Year award and partnered with Google as one of the first three districts in the nation to adopt a full-scale 1:1 implementation of Google Chromebooks.

Kathy was on the Board of Directors for the Illinois Association of School Administrators for nine years and served as President of the state association in 2012-2013. She served on the Executive Board of the Illinois High School District Organization for twelve years and was President of the Superintendents Round Table of Northern Illinois.  She currently serves on the Governor’s State Charter School Commission.  Kathy has presented at the local, state, and national level on topics including board/superintendent relationships, new teacher induction, and 1:1 technology initiatives.

diane-robertsonMs. Diane Robertson, Partner


Diane Robertson has been an educator for 34 years, having served as a teacher, principal, and superintendent.  She recently retired after 19 years as the superintendent of Community Unit School District #4 in Mendon, IL.  She currently leads the downstate Illinois searches for the firm and serves as a mentor for new and veteran superintendents.

Ms. Robertson has been active at the state level as a member of the Board of Directors of the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA), Chair of the IASA Legislative Committee, member of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Committee on Unfunded Mandates, and has many times been called upon to serve on committees and testify before the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois General Assembly on critical educational issues.  While a superintendent, Ms. Robertson partnered with Pearson to design and implement a full-scale 1:1 learning program at CUSD#4 which has totally transformed the educational experience of students and teachers in this small rural Illinois school district.

hrossiHarry Rossi, Partner


Harry P. Rossi, Ed. D., is the co-director of FED ED, a consortium that addresses federal education issues that impact suburban school districts in Illinois. He is the retired superintendent of Northbrook/Glenview School District 30. During his extensive administrative career, he has served at all building level administrative positions and many central office positions.  Harry is an adjunct faculty member at Loyola University Chicago where he teaches educational leadership as well as conducts practicum and internship programs. Additionally, he serves on two university boards as well as several state and National boards.  He has presented and published at the state, national, and international levels.

zabilka-fy-17-1Dr. Gary Zabilka, Partner


Dr. Gary Zabilka, Partner, is the retired superintendent of Morton Grove School District 70 (IL) and the past superintendent of Puffer-Hefty School District 69 in Downers Grove (IL), serving a combined total of 13 years as a superintendent.  He is currently a Field Service Director for the Illinois Association of School Administrators, where he is responsible for coaching and mentoring new superintendents, as well as providing Professional Development in leadership for district administrators. He currently teaches educational administration courses for Loyola University, specializing in the areas of leadership and school finance. In 2012, Dr. Zabilka was named an Illinois Distinguished Superintendent.



Dr. Gerald Freitag, site coordinator and instructor, Cardinal Stritch University Educational Leadership Program and retired superintendent, Franklin Public Schools, Franklin (WI)

Dr. Matt Gibson, retired superintendent, Elmbrook (WI); former superintendent, Stoughton (WI) Fox Point-Bayside (WI), Northlake (WI) and Swallow (WI)

Dr. Carol Klenow, retired interim superintendent, Madison Schools (MI) and retired associate superintendent of Oakland Schools (MI)

Mr. Lawrence Lobert, HR Consultant, Larry Lobert and Associates; retired assistant superintendent, Grosse Pointe Public Schools (MI) and former HR Director, New Trier HS (IL)

Dr. Kevin O’Mara, superintendent, Argo Community High School District (IL) and adjunct professor, Concordia and Dominican Universities.

Dr. John Sawyer III, retired superintendent, Sandridge School District 172, (IL)

Dr. Miles Turner, retired Executive Director of Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators, WI


Dr. Christine Abbott, special lecturer, Oakland University (MI)

Dr. Allan Alson, retired superintendent, Evanston THSD 202 (IL)

Dr. Brian Barnhart, superintendent, Western Springs School District 101 (IL)

Dr. Donaldo Batiste, retired superintendent, Waukegan Public Schools (IL)

Dr. David Benson, superintendent, Cedar Rapids (IA); former superintendent, Ladue (MO), Blue Valley (KS) and Fort Madison (IA)

Dr. Dan Bertrand, superintendent, Marengo Community High School District #154, Marengo (IL)

Dr. Sandy Doebert, retired superintendent, Lemont THSD 210 (IL)

Dr. Dennis Fisher, retired superintendent, Park Hill School District Kansas City (MO)

Dr. Keith Fuchs, executive director, CESA 6 Leadership Center and retired superintendent, Menasha Joint School District (WI)

Dr. Alicia Geddis, deputy superintendent and chief financial officer, Dolton (IL) School District 149 and superintendent designate, Danville (IL) School District.

Dr. Patricia Greco, superintendent, Menomonee Falls SD (WI) and past superintendent of West Bend Joint School District #1 (WI)

Dr. Harry Durland Griffith, retired superintendent, Lake Forest Districts 67 (IL) & 115 (IL) and former superintendent, Goose Creek CISD (Houston, TX), Pampa ISD (TX) and Ingram ISD (TX)

Dr. William A. Hamilton, retired superintendent, Walled Lake Consolidated Schools (MI)

Dr. Bradley Hawk, assistant clinical professor, Leadership, Education, Psychology and Foundations, Northern Illinois University (IL) and retired superintendent, Central CUSD 301 (IL)

Dr. Jill W. Hawk, retired superintendent, Crystal Lake Community High School District 155 (IL)

Ms. Paula Hawley, superintendent, Pikeland CUSD 10, Pittsfield (IL)

Dr. Mary Herrmann, clinical assistant professor, University of Illinois, former superintendent, Clayton School District (MO) and Barrington School District (IL)

Dr. Sarah Jerome, retired superintendent, Arlington Heights School District 25 (IL) and Kettle Moraine (WI). Past President, AASA. Currently with WI School Music, Milwaukee Art Museum and others.

Dr. Sharon Johnson-Shirley, superintendent, Lake Ridge Schools, Gary (IN)

Dr. Von Mansfield, superintendent, Homewood-Flossmoor Community High School (IL)

Dr. Keith Marty, superintendent, Parkway School District, Chesterfield (MO) and retired superintendent, School District of Menomonee Falls (WI)

Mr. Jay McCracken, superintendent, Putnam County CUSD 535 (IL)

Dr. Donn Mendoza, assistant superintendent for secondary education/high school principal, Round Lake Area High School (IL)

Ms. Patty Phillips, retired superintendent, North St. Paul/Maplewood/Oakdale (MN)

Dr. Phillip Price, retired superintendent, Mayfield City Schools (OH), past superintendent, Glencoe School District 35 (IL) and executive director, Midwest Suburban Superintendent’s Association

Dr. Renée Schuster, assistant professor, Maryville University (MO) and former superintendent Community Consolidated School District 181, Hinsdale (IL)

Dr. Donald Senti, retired superintendent, Clayton School District (MO)

Dr. Joseph Sheehan, superintendent, Sheboygan Area School District (WI)

Dr. Jean Sophie, superintendent, Lake Bluff School District 65 (IL)

Dr. H. Steve Sprunger, retired superintendent, East Noble School Corp (IN) and Crown Point Community Schools (IN)

Dr. JoAnn Sternke, superintendent, Pewaukee School District (WI)

Dr. Jerry Thacker, superintendent, Penn-Harris-Madison SD (IN)

Dr. Jack Williams, retired associate superintendent, Ritenour School District (MO)

Dr. Eric Witherspoon, superintendent, Evanston THSD 202 and former superintendent, Des Moines Public Schools (IN)