MEET OUR PARTNERS AND ASSOCIATES
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.
Dr. Kevin O’Mara, President of SCHOOL EXEC CONNECT, has been with the firm for six years and has led numerous searches throughout the Midwest. The retired Superintendent of Argo Community High School District, Dr. O’Mara is currently Associate Professor in Educational Leadership at Concordia University Chicago, teaching doctoral students who are also pursuing general administrative and superintendent licensure. Guided by a fundamental belief in the value of collaboration, reflection, and capacity-building, O’Mara teaches new and experienced leaders that their dedication, knowledge, and input directly impact and enrich young lives. Working in public education for thirty years, he served as a teacher, Dean of Students, Principal, and Superintendent.
Dr. O’Mara’s many significant accomplishments include United States State Department Fulbright Foundation candidate stationed to Argentina; Illinois High School Organization President; Illinois Association of School Administrators Board of Directors; St. Ignatius College Prep President’s Medal Awardee; and Rosary College Graduate of the Last Decade (GOLD) Awardee.
Dr. O’Mara has a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from Dominican University, a Master’s Degree in Public School Administration from Concordia University Chicago, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Concordia University Chicago. During Dr. O’Mara’s nine years as a school superintendent he served on several state-wide Illinois public education committees, including Governor Pritzker’s Education Transition Committee in 2018-19.
Dr. David Negron, is currently a successful superintendent in a district that serves 5,000 students and is entering his 5th year as a superintendent. Prior to this position he served as a School Principal in three different school districts at both the elementary levels and junior high school levels. He was the Educator of the Year in 2012, a 2007 Education Leadership Award recipient from Northeastern Illinois University. His professional excellence and commitment to student learning was highlighted in the Fall 2016 Centers for School Improvement (CSI) statewide newsletter for his work on continuous improvement, analysis of data and deep implementation of fidelity with school improvement efforts.
Dr. Negron was also an adjunct professor at Concordia University teaching leadership courses to aspiring future leaders and superintendents. He was also recently nominated for the National 2018 Superintendent of the Year by the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents. He is also a 2018 graduate of the Illinois School of Advanced Leadership program held for superintendents. He also currently serves as a school board member in his own children’s school district. Additionally, he also serves on two committees with the Illinois State Board of Education. Dr. Negron’s wife is also an educator and works as a 2nd grade dual language teacher. He and his wife have three wonderful children.
Ken Dragseth, Ph.D., Senior Partner, 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.
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.
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.
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
Mr. Lawrence Lobert, Partner
HR Consultant, Larry Lobert and Associates; retired assistant superintendent, Grosse Pointe Public Schools (MI) and former HR Director, New Trier HS (IL)
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.
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.
MEET OUR SENIOR ASSOCIATES
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)
Ms. Patty Phillips
Retired superintendent, North St. Paul/Maplewood/Oakdale (MN)
Dr. John Sawyer III
Retired superintendent, Sandridge School District 172, (IL)
Dr. Timothy Shimp
Superintendent, Yorkville Community Unit School District 115 (IL)
Dr. Linda Yonke
Retired superintendent, New Trier School District (IL)
MEET OUR ASSOCIATES
Ms. Lisa Anderson
Long term member of the Eastern Carver County School board and 30-year leadership development professional, she also serves on the board of the Southwest Metro Intermediate District and the Association of Metropolitain School Districts.
Dr. Brian Barnhart
Superintendent, Western Springs School District 101 (IL)
Dr. Jake Chung
Superintendent, Salt Creek School District 48 (IL) and former Assistant Superintendent of Personnel and Planning, Arlington Heights School District 25 (IL)
Dr. Pat Deklotz
Superintendent, Kettle Moraine School District (WI)
Dr. John Eickholt
Consultant and Trainer, CESA 6 District Administrator Performance Evaluation System and retired superintendent Howards Grove School District (WI).
Mr. Todd Fox
Mr. Todd Fox is in his 13th year as the superintendent of the Southeastern School District, where he has served for 30 years in various capacities.
Dr. Keith Fuchs
Lead Consultant and Trainer, CESA 6 District Administrator Performance Evaluation System and retired superintendent, Menasha Joint School District (WI)
Dr. Kelley Gallt
Dr. Kelley Gallt, Superintendent of Lake Zurich CUSD #95, Lake Zurich, IL
Dr. Dean Gorrell
Dr. Gorrell is a 35-year veteran of K-12 education spanning experiences from a classroom teacher, middle and high school principal and 19 years as superintendent. Sixteen of those superintendent years were in the Verona Area School District; an economically, linguistically and ethnically diverse suburban school district adjacent to Madison, Wisconsin
Mr. Ralph Grimm
Retired superintendent of four (4) Central Illinois school districts and currently serves as a Field Services Director for the Illinois Association of School Administrators.
Dr. Sharonica Hardin
Superintendent for The School District of University City, St. Louis (MO). Previously she served as an assistant superintendent and chief human resources officer.
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)
Dr. Devon Horton
Dr. Devon Horton serves as Superintendent at Evanston/Skokie SD 65
Mr. Thomas Joynt
Retired superintendent, Green Bay Area Schools (WI)
Dr. Raymond Lauk
Dr. Raymond Lauk has a background including higher education teaching, seventeen years as a school superintendent, and experiences in professional communication.
Dr. Donna S. Leak
Superintendent at Community Consolidated Schools District 168; past Superintendent of Rich Township High School District 227
Dr. Benjamin Martindale
Retired Superintendent of Gurnee District 56 and retired CEO of both Round Lake District 116 and North Chicago District 187.
Dr. Keith Marty
Superintendent, Parkway School District, Chesterfield (MO) and retired superintendent, School District of Menomonee Falls (WI)
Dr. Steve Matthews
Dr. Steve Matthews has served as the Superintendent for the Novi Community School District (Nov, MI) for the past 10 years. Previously, he was Superintendent of the Grand Ledge Public Schools (Grand Ledge, MI).
Dr. Fredrick McDowell
Dr. Fredrick H. McDowell Jr., Superintendent of Collingswood and Oaklyn Public Schools.
Dr. David McGehee
Retired superintendent of the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District in Missouri; also having served as superintendent in Raymore-Peculiar and Sparta School Districts in Missouri.
Dr. Joseph Meloche
Superintendent of the Cherry Hill Public School District in Cherry Hill (NJ). Formerly an assistant superintendent, director of curriculum, elementary school principal, middle school principal & high school principal.
Dr. David Palzet
Dr. David Palzet, is superintendent in Pleasantdale School District 107 serving students in Burr Ridge, Willow Springs, Countryside, and Indian Head Park.
Ms. Cathie Pezanoski
Superintendent of Elwood CCSD #203 in Elwood (IL)
Mr. David Pruneau
Consultant and trainer for High Impact School Governance. Retired superintendent of Elmhurst 205 (IL), former superintendent of Rochester and Brighton Community Schools (MI).
Dr. Sarah Riss
Retired Superintendent of Webster Groves School District, Webster Groves, MO
Dr. Charles B. Sampson
Superintendent, the Freehold Regional High School District.
Dr. Renée Schuster
Assistant professor, Maryville University (MO) and former superintendent Community Consolidated School District 181, Hinsdale (IL)
Dr. Bhavna Sharma-Lewis
Bhavna Sharma-Lewis, Ph.D currently serves as Superintendent of Schools in Diamond Lake District 76 which is located in the norther suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. She is an experienced educator with 29 years of service in public education.
Dr. Joe Sheehan
Dr. Joe Sheehan served as Superintendent of Sheboygan ASD for 20 years and as Executive Director of the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corporation for the past 2 1/2 years
Dr. Kelly Thompson
Kelly Thompson Ph.D., is in her 8th year as a superintendent with the Muskego-Norway School District (WI), where she has served for 28 years in various capacities.
Dr. David Vick
Retired superintendent, Lake Bluff (IL)
Ms. Carolyn Wierda
Retired superintendent, Bay City Public Schools (MI)
Dr. Jim Wipke
Dr. Jim Wipke, Superintendent of Schools in Ladue School District, Ladue, MO
Mr. Gregory Wright
Retired Superintendent, Posen-Robbins School District, (IL)