Husky Pride circle


Connecticut Association of Schools, Assistant Executive Director

Kim Shirshac headshot


UCAPP Program Assistant


Eric Bernstein Headshot


Eric Bernstein is an Assistant Professor in Educational Leadership. He has been a member of the UCAPP faculty for five years and currently serves as the lead faculty member for the Learning Theories course. Dr. Bernstein embraces the use of new technologies in his instructional practices and has a goal of helping students develop the theoretical understanding and practical strategies to lead the learning of the adults in their current and future roles and lead their own continuous professional growth.

Dr. Bernstein holds a joint appointment as the Director of Curriculum Advancement in the School of Dental Medicine. Prior to joining the faculty at UConn, Dr. Bernstein was a principal and director of two magnet high schools in Hartford and was an administrator and math and social studies teacher in two other Connecticut school districts. Dr. Bernstein also has a Juris Doctor degree and is admitted to practice law in the state of Connecticut.

Mike Buckley headshot MIKE BUCKLEY

Michael Buckley is an adjunct instructor in Educational Leadership and has been a member of UCAPP faculty for several years. He formerly served as liaison between UCAPP and the Connecticut Association of Schools and as clinical supervisor for the East 16 and West 25 cohorts. He teaches the first course in the program, Principalship & Administration of Educational Organizations. Dr. Buckley expects UCAPP students to assume the mantle of leadership from the first day of the program, approaching issues and obstacles encountered both in UCAPP and their home school and district as opportunities for the application of their developing leadership skills. He believes UCAPP students learn to lead by doing, reflecting on their actions, and accepting feedback, understanding that the most important lessons often occur when they are out of their comfort zones.

Miguel Cardona headshot MIGUEL CARDONA

Miguel A. Cardona is an adjunct professor in the Department of Educational Leadership. He has served in this capacity for four years teaching Climate & Culture, Instructional Leadership, and Organizational Improvement. He completed his Master’s, 6th Year, Doctorate and Executive Leadership Program at the University of Connecticut. Dr. Cardona has recently been appointed the Commissioner of Education for the State of CT.

He is currently on sabbatical from service as an instructor in the UCAPP program while serving as the U.S. Secretary of Education.

Casey Cobb headshotCASEY COBB

Casey D. Cobb is the Raymond Neag Professor of Educational Policy at the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. His current research interests include policies on school choice, accountability, and school reform, where he examines the implications for equity and educational opportunity. He is co-author of Fundamentals of Statistical Reasoning in Education (Wiley/Jossey Bass, 4th ed.) and Leading dynamic schools (Corwin Press). Dr. Cobb has published in such journals as Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Educational Policy, Education and Urban Society, Educational Leadership, and the Peabody Journal of Education. Dr. Cobb is a National Education Policy Center Fellow and member of the Research Advisory Panel for the National Coalition on School Diversity. He is an elected member of the Executive Committee for the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) and former editor of Educational Administration Quarterly (EAQ).

He holds an A.B. from Harvard University, an M.S. from the University of Maine, and a Ph.D. from Arizona State University.

Anna Cutaia headshot


Dr. Anna Cutaia holds the position of Superintendent of Schools in Milford. She began her appointment in Milford on August 1, 2018. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Mount St. Mary College in 1991, followed by a Master’s degree in education from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1997. While working as an educator for several years, Dr. Cutaia continued her post-graduate studies and received her certificate in the Executive Leadership Program (2007) followed by a Doctorate in Education (2013), both from the University of Connecticut.

Dr. Cutaia’s career path has touched every segment of the educational leadership spectrum. She started her career in Myrtle Beach, SC, where she served as a teacher (1991-1998), an assistant principal (1998-2000), and principal (2000-2003). In 2003, Dr. Cutaia moved to Connecticut and served as principal of Casimir Pulaski Elementary School in Meriden. During her early years in Connecticut, Dr. Cutaia also worked with the Connecticut State Dept. of Education (CSDE) as an educational consultant and as an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut and Southern Connecticut State University. Dr. Cutaia served for six years as the Director of Elementary Education in the Fairfield Public School district. Prior to coming to Milford, she served as the Superintendent of Schools for Regional District 14 for four years, encompassing the communities of Bethlehem and Woodbury.

Morgaen Donaldson HeadshotMORGAEN DONALDSON

Morgaen L. Donaldson is an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Connecticut and Director of the University’s Center for Education Policy Analysis. She is also a Research Associate at the Center for Policy Analysis and a Research Affiliate of the Project on the Next Generation of Teachers at Harvard University. Dr. Donaldson began her career as a high school teacher in urban and semi-urban schools and was a founding faculty member of the Boston Arts Academy, Boston’s public high school for the arts. She also served as a Project Director in a Gates Foundation-funded effort to replicate the best practices of small schools successfully serving low-income and minority populations.

As a researcher, Dr. Donaldson conducts quantitative and qualitative studies on educator quality, educator evaluation, teacher retention, school leadership, and teachers’ unions with a particular focus on urban and rural schools. She is currently conducting studies on New Haven (CT) Public Schools’ teacher evaluation system and other human capital development efforts; the state of Connecticut’s new education evaluation system; and the relationship between school organization and science achievement.

Chip Dumais headshotCHARLES DUMAIS

Charles Dumais is an instructor in Educational Leadership. He has been a member of the UCAPP faculty since 2017, serving as a member of the instructor team in Guilford, focusing on the competency area of instructional leadership.

Dr. Dumais challenges students to develop broad perspectives on all aspects of the work so that they may best serve their students and their teams. His practical and academic experience in social media is a foundational element in the development of comprehensive communication strategies for school leaders.

Dr. Charles “Chip” Dumais is the Executive Director of Cooperative Educational Services in Trumbull, CT. A native of Connecticut, he began his career in education nearly three decades ago as a science teacher in Higganum, CT. He has proudly taught physics and calculus to more than one thousand students, chaired a science department, served as an assistant principal in Westport, CT, led Newtown High School in Sandy Hook, CT, as its principal from 2008 to 2014, and served as superintendent of the Amity Regional School District. He has earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, advanced degrees and certificates from Southern Connecticut State University and the University of Connecticut, and a doctorate in educational leadership from Central Connecticut State University. He is an active member the National Superintendents Roundtable, the Headmasters Association, the Connecticut Commission for Educational Technology, and the Consortium for School Networking.

Michele Femc-Bagwell headshotMICHELE FEMC-BAGWELL

Dr. Femc-Bagwell’s educational experiences include teaching and school leadership positions in traditional and non-traditional public schools and higher education settings. She is a former secondary school English teacher, middle school assistant principal, and principal of one of Connecticut’s first charter schools. She has served as the director of the University of Connecticut Administrator Preparation Program (UCAPP) and director of the CommPACT Community Schools Collaborative, a statewide school reform model designed to empower community, parents, administrators,children and teachers in school change with a focus on family and community engagement.

Her current research and educational interests include: working with schools to asset map the skills and talents of parents and community members, school/district leadership and the development of relational trust with stakeholders, and teacher wellness. She is the co-author of The ASPIRE Survey workbook a web app tool ( for inventorying the assets, skills, professions, interests, relationships and environmental factors associated with school and community organizations. The APSIRE Survey was recognized as a Promising Partnership Practice in the 2012 annual collection from the members of the National Network of Partnership Schools at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Femc-Bagwell’s doctoral dissertation focused on first year urban principals and the cultivation of trust with teachers to initiate and sustain school reform.

Paul Freeman headshotPAUL FREEMAN

Paul Freeman is an adjunct instructor in the Neag School of Education’s school leadership program. He is a member of the UCAPP instructor teams in Guilford and New Haven where he teaches courses in Talent Management, Policy, and Instructional Leadership.

Dr. Freeman has served as the Superintendent of Schools in Guilford, CT since 2011. He was elected to the Governing Board of AASA, the national organization of school superintendents, and serves on the Executive Committee for the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents and the Governor’s Closing the Achievement Gap Task Force. Most recently, he participated in a partnership between Uconn’s NEAG School of Education and Queen Rania's Teacher Academy in Jordan. The QRTA invited UConn to work with them in developing the leadership effectiveness of school principals in their country. Dr. Freeman is the recipient of the 2014 Outstanding Superintendent Award from the Neag School of Education Alumni Association.

Richard Gonzales Headshot


Richard Gonzales is an associate professor in residence and director of educational leadership preparation programs at the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education.  He currently serves as project director for UConn’s $5.5 million University Principal Preparation Initiative project which is funded by the Wallace Foundation.

Dr. Gonzales received a B.S. in applied learning and development and a M.Ed. and Ph.D. in educational administration from The University of Texas at Austin.  Before entering higher education, he worked for sixteen years as an elementary bilingual teacher, an elementary principal, and a district-level administrator.  He has collaborated on scholarship that has been published in Educational Administration Quarterly, the Journal of School Leadership, Educational Planning, and the UCEA Handbook on the Education of School Leaders.

Dr. Gonzales aims to help aspiring school leaders expand their knowledge, understand themselves as leaders, and develop their leadership voice. He believes effective instruction in leader preparation programs helps aspiring leaders develop the capacity and dispositions to perform effectively in whichever assignment they pursue or are called upon to assume in the educational system.

Preston Green headshotPRESTON GREEN

Preston Green is a professor of educational leadership and law at the University of Connecticut. At the University of Connecticut, Dr. Green helped develop the UCAPP Law Program, which enables participants to obtain a law degree and school administrator certification at the same time. Dr. Green also developed the School Law Online Graduate Certificate, a 12-credit online program that helps educators, administrators and policy makers understand the legal dimension of K-12 education.

Before coming to the University of Connecticut, he was the Harry Lawrence Batschelet II Chair Professor of Educational Administration at Penn State, where he was also a professor of education and law and the program coordinator of Penn State’s educational leadership program. In addition, Dr. Green was the creator of Penn State’s joint degree program in law and education. Further, he ran the Law and Education Institute at Penn State, a professional development program that teaches, administrators, and attorneys about educational law.

At the University of Massachusetts, Dr. Green was an associate professor of education. He also served as the program coordinator of educational administration and Assistant Dean of Pre-Major Advising Services.

Dr. Green has written five books and numerous articles and book chapters pertaining to educational law. He primarily focuses on the legal and policy issues pertaining to educational access and school choice.

Terrell Hill headshot


Dr. Terrell M. Hill is currently the Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources for Windsor Public Schools. Dr. Hill was the founding Principal of High School, Inc.; Hartford’s Insurance and Finance Academy, which he opened in August 2009. During his five years as Principal, High School, Inc. received many honors and recognitions for student achievement. Dr. Hill also serves as the Alumni Trustee on the Board of Trustees, at Westfield State University in Westfield, MA.

Prior to opening the school in Hartford, CT, Dr. Hill served as a Vice Principal at Windsor High School in Windsor, CT for seven years. He has taught in Windsor Locks, CT Public Schools, as well as Newport News, VA, Public Schools. He has also taught as an adjunct faculty member at Springfield College and Westfield State University in Massachusetts. He is currently adjunct faculty for the University of Connecticut Principal Preparation Program (UCAPP). His work as an educational leader has been chronicled in books and dissertations, as well as Black Enterprise Magazine.

Dr. Hill is a graduate of the High School of Commerce in Springfield, MA. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from Westfield State College. He earned a M.Ed., Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study, and a PhD in Education Policy and Leadership from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA. His dissertation study looked at “The career paths of Black and White superintendents.” He is the Founder and President of BLAC (Black Leaders and Administrators Consortium, Inc.) an organization born out of his research that endeavors to provide career development and support for Black leaders, particularly in the Education field.

Dr. Hill is best known for his work in the areas of Leadership Development, Equity & Diversity, and Team Building. He serves on the Board of Directors for Re-Center (Race and Equity in Education) and Junior Achievement (Southwestern New England). He is also a proud veteran of the United States Army.

Vincent Iezzi headshotVINCENT IEZZI

Vincent Iezzi is an internship coach in the UCAPP Program in the University of Connecticut’s Department of Educational Leadership. He works with interns in the New Haven-Stamford cohort.

Mr. Iezzi desires to assist aspiring instructional leaders in acquiring skills that will enable them to provide leadership in schools where mastery of content and critical thinking, including 21st Century skills, are part of the school’s guiding values. It is his belief that effective leadership preparation programs enable future leaders to build cultures in their schools where trust and effective teaching strategies lead to student-centered schools that support and equitably educate all students.

Maureen Lantner headshotMAUREEN LANTNER

Maureen Lantner is the Project Director of the Neag Teacher Leadership Fellows Program. She is also an instructor in UConn’s PK-3 Leadership Program. Prior to her work at UConn, much of Dr. Lantner’s career was centered in West Hartford where she served as a districtwide administrator, principal, curriculum specialist, and teacher. Additionally, she supported administrators as they analyzed their leadership practice and planned for improvement in alignment with the CT School Leadership Standards. In West Hartford, she also created and facilitated a Leadership Academy. Participant-driven and steeped in collaborative inquiry, the Leadership Academy afforded select participants an opportunity to develop leadership skills and dispositions in two-year cohorts.

Dr. Lantner aims to encourage teacher leaders to develop self-awareness and embrace leadership challenges and discomfort. She believes that leadership skills and dispositions are  ideally developed when participants engage with cycles of new learning, planning, focused practice, and reflection in the context of a safe, collaborative learning community. She applies this structure to three-year cohorts of learning and leading.

Dr. Lantner earned a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of Connecticut. Her doctoral research focused on teacher efficacy, collaboration, and empowerment. Additionally, she currently serves as an Executive Coach for new educational leaders.

Karen List headshot 2019KAREN LIST

Dr. Karen L. List is the developer and Project Director of the Neag PK3 Leadership Program and the Neag Teacher Leadership Fellows Program. She is the retired Superintendent of the West Hartford Public Schools, Connecticut. During her tenure she brought greater coherence, alignment and accountability to the work of school improvement. She expanded prekindergarten in the WHPS, knowing that earlier is better for school success. She left the district in 2014 after shepherding a new building to house the Charter Oak International Academy, with five classrooms for three and four-year old children. Prior to serving in this role, she was Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction. During her 32-year tenure as an administrator in the WHPS, Dr. List served as Assistant Coordinator of the Fine and Performing Arts; Principal of Norfeldt, Webster Hill, and opened the Smith School of Science, Math and Technology, one of West Hartford’s first magnet schools. While she led Norfeldt and Smith Schools they achieved National School of Excellence distinction.

She served on the College Board’s Superintendents’ Advisory Panel and was a member of the CT Center for School Change Superintendents’ Network. She worked with the Harvard Graduate School of Education Principals’ Center for 10 years as an Advisory Board member, co-chair of the Advisory Board and Group Leader for Summer Institutes. Dr. List was an adjunct faculty member with the University of Connecticut School Leadership Program.

She is active statewide with various organizations in leadership development, district and school improvement planning, and PK to 3rd Grade Leadership. She chairs the CAPSS Early Education Advisory Committee.

Dr. List is an Executive Coach for new superintendents and principals.



Kelly Lyman headshotKELLY LYMAN

Kelly Lyman is superintendent of schools for the Mansfield Public Schools and a long time administrator in Connecticut. Past positions include assistant superintendent and principal of elementary and middle schools. She has been an instructor in the UCAPP program for several years teaching the West Cohort. Additionally, for over four years she has been involved in the development and instruction of principals in the country of Jordan, a program provided through the collaboration of the University of Connecticut, the University of Jordan, the Jordanian Ministry of Education and the Queen Rania Teachers' Academy of Amman, Jordan.

Ms. Lyman is committed to preparing courageous administrators to lead schools designed to meet the demands of a rapidly changing global world. She seeks to help her students find their leadership voice while acquiring the skills necessary for visionary leadership.

Joanne Manginelli headshotJOANNE MANGINELLI

Joanne Manginelli is a UCAPP/UPPI Project Coordinator and Adjunct Instructor. She has been an educator for over 25 years. She earned a B.S. in Music Education from the University of Bridgeport, and a M.S. in Early Childhood Education, as well as a Sixth Year in Educational Leadership from SCSU. Throughout the years she worked in many different capacities. Initially, as a middle school educator in New Haven, CT and next as an Education Specialist with the Area Cooperative Education Services RESC in the Professional Development School improvement department where she supported numerous districts and schools in the areas of long-term strategic planning, school improvement, and implementing change to increase student achievement.

In addition to her work with teachers, Central Office Administrators and Principals, she was also the Coordinator for the State’s Education Policy Fellowship Program, as well as the Project Director for Federal Teaching American History grants totaling over two-million dollars. In 2010 Joanne became the Principal of Momauguin Elementary School, a grades 3 – 5 school located in East Haven, CT. She then served as the Hartford Public Schools’ Director of Professional Learning and in 2014 was appointed the Executive Leadership Coach for the district. Joanne is focused on building the skills and dispositions of our UCAPP students so they become highly effective leaders who lead highly effective schools.

Erin McGurk headshotERIN MCGURK

Erin McGurk is Assistant Professor of Practice in Educational Leadership. She has been a member of the UCAPP faculty for five years, serving as an instructor for the Curriculum Lab course. In UCAPP 3.0, she will be a member of the instructor team in Hartford, focusing on the competency area of instructional leadership.

Dr. McGurk works to create meaningful learning experiences that ground UCAPP participants in a deep understanding of curriculum, instruction, assessment and leadership practices. As a UCAPP mentor, she relishes the chance to provide authentic, district-based learning opportunities that allow candidates to jump right into the work of curriculum leadership at a district level, and to facilitate reflective conversations about the challenges and opportunities of this work. Dr. McGurk finds her work with UCAPP energizing and professionally invigorating, as she enjoys interacting with candidates who are eager and poised to change the world.

Susan Muirhead headshotSUSAN MUIRHEAD

Susan Perreault Muirhead has twenty nine years of experience in both private and public education. She been Principal of both middle and elementary schools in last eleven years as a school administrator. Each of her schools in two different districts became CT Schools of Distinction and received the Connecticut Association of Schools Climate Award under her tenure. Additionally, one of her schools was awarded the National Blue Ribbon Award for Achievement.

Mrs. Muirhead believes that by recognizing each educator's strengths and supporting their professional learning and development, the highest quality education for students can be achieved. She believes that effective individualized coaching can help future administrators tap into or cultivate their own capacities, skills and knowledge that can immediately impact their leadership development.

Erin Murray headshotERIN MURRAY

Erin W. Murray is the Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning in the Simsbury Public Schools. With 33 years in the field of education, with the last 20 in school and district adminstration, she brings experience as a leader who has the knowledge, skills, and disposition to meet the complex issues of public schools today. In the position as assistant superintendent she is an instructional leader at the district level who possesses the vision to lead a high performing school district that embraces a mission that believes all students can achieve rigorous academic standards when support systems are in place to foster teaching and learning. This professional experience has continued to strengthen and support her role as an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut in the Department of Educational Leadership (UCAPP) for the past 13 years. As the assistant superintendent and UConn adjunct professor she provides leadership by building and maintaining a vision, direction, and focus for improved teaching and student learning.

Mrs. Murray completed the Executive Leadership Program at the University of Connecticut in order to obtain her superintendent certification. She holds a Sixth Year Degree in Special Education from Central Connecticut State University and Masters of Education in Administration and Supervision from the University of Hartford. She received her B.S. in Special Education from Western Michigan University.

Irene Parisi headshot


Irene Parisi is the Chief Academic Officer for Greenwich Public Schools. Irene’s work in education draws on her years of teaching students in grades 3 and 5 in Meriden, Connecticut, Instructional Coaching and then Director of Curriculum in East Windsor, Connecticut leading change in literacy instruction, digital integration, curriculum design and 21st Century learning environments. As the CAO for Greenwich, Irene has spent the last seven years transforming the teaching and learning experiences for all learners (adult and student); innovating to develop learner experiences and spaces that are future ready in supporting the strategic plan and Vision of the Graduate. Irene is recognized statewide for her work in developing a Personalized Professional Learning system and making learning personal for all. She is a graduate of the Lexington Education LELA Fellowship for Personalized Learning and is currently one of 65 district leaders nationwide selected to participate in the AASA Personalized Learning Cohort class of 2018.

Irene is published with Teacher Created materials titled How to Implement an Independent Reading Program. She is currently on sabbatical from the UCAPP program while serving as the Chief Academic Officer for the Connecticut State Department of Education. 

Loretta Rubin headshotLORETTA RUBIN

Loretta Rubin is an internship coach in the UCAPP Program in the University of Connecticut’s Department of Educational Leadership. As a UCAPP graduate, she returns to the program to serve as a coach this academic year. She works with interns in the New Haven-Stamford cohort.

Mrs. Rubin has spent her more than 45-year career committed to educational equity and the role of organizational and instructional improvement through leadership facilitation. She has served as an educational consultant and executive coach to administrators across the state.

Kevin Smith Headshot


Dr. Kevin Smith is the superintendent of schools for the Wilton Public Schools. Dr. Smith began his teaching career at Central Catholic High School in Lawrence, MA and then taught elementary school at Our Lady Queen of Angels, in Newark, NJ. He began his administrative career as an assistant principal at Sacred Heart School in the Bronx before transitioning to the role of principal in 2003.  During the summer of 2006, Dr. Smith made the move to Connecticut where he became principal of Bethel Middle School and was later was unanimously selected as superintendent of Bethel Public Schools.

In 2019, Dr. Smith was named the Connecticut Association of Schools and Libraries (CASL) Administrator of the Year. He was also honored as the 2019 Wilton Rotary Paul Harris Fellow. Dr. Smith earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Marist College, a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from Seton Hall University and Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership from Fordham University. He lives in Trumbull with his wife Jennifer and five children.

Guy Stella headshot


Dr. Gaeton (Guy) Stella received a Ph.D. in Language, Literacy and Learning from Fordham University and a Masters, 6th Year from Hunter College of the University System of New York City. He served as Superintendent of the Woodbridge School District, Connecticut from January 2006 – June 2016. Before that assignment, he was the Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education in Stratford, Connecticut. Previous to Stratford, Guy held educational leadership positions in the Bronx, including: Deputy Superintendent, Supervisor of School Administrators, and, Principal of the Fiorello La Guardia School. On the national level, Dr. Stella served as a faculty member, Assistant Dean of the Texas House and Dean of the Mid-East Coast House for Teach for America. On the international level he was the recipient of 4 Fulbright grants to study and do educational field work in Egypt, India, Chile and Ecuador. In addition, he has traveled, studied and engaged in educational fieldwork in many countries of Latin America. Dr. Stella has traveled to China on several occasions to visit schools, universities as well as to give educational presentations to Chinese teachers and administrators. Dr. Stella has extensive experience in supervising and mentoring school leaders. This is his 2nd year as an Executive Coach for the UCAPP program.

Howard Thiery headshot


Howard Thiery is currently the Superintendent of Regional School District 10, Harwinton-Burlington following nine years as the Superintendent in Haddam-Killingworth. Previously he was the Assistant Superintendent of Schools in Southington, CT. Howard had been in public education for 30 years as a science teacher, high school principal, assistant superintendent, and superintendent of schools. He has a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Marquette University, a Master of Science in Neurophysiology from the University of Connecticut and a Sixth Year Certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Leadership and Executive Leadership from Central Connecticut State University and the University of Connecticut. Howard is an adjunct faculty member in the NEAG Graduate School of Education at the University of Connecticut where he has taught in the UCAPP Program. Howard is also a member of the design team and faculty of the Advanced Leadership Training Program in Amman, Jordan, which is a cooperative of the University of Connecticut, the Queen Rania Teachers’ Academy and the University of Jordan. He has been part of this program to provide formal leadership training for Jordanian public and private school principals for the last five years. Howard has worked with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on International Education for the last five years as a visiting team chair International School Accreditation visits. He has been a Commission Member on the NEASC Commission on International Education since December 2018 and the Chairman of the that Commission since December 2019.

Howard resides in West Hartford, CT with his wife, who is an ESL teacher, and their two daughters.

Bob Villanova headshot


Dr. Villanova serves on the faculty of the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. He is the Director of the Executive Leadership Program. This program is designed to prepare school district leaders for the challenges of 21st century educational leadership. He has served on the faculty for this program for the past sixteen years teaching courses related to systemic leadership for district improvement, human resource development, school district operations, and the application of district leadership “best practices”.

Dr. Villanova also serves as a district leadership consultant for the CT Center for School Change. He was a charter member of the Center’s Superintendents’ Network and now works as a facilitator/consultant in support of the Superintendents’ Network and other Center leadership development initiatives.

Villanova was appointed in March 2013 as the Director of LEAD Connecticut and served in that position through June 2017. LEAD Connecticut represented an unprecedented collaboration among state and national organizations with deep expertise in leadership and leadership development in partnership with the Connecticut State Department of Education.

From 1993 through January 2009 Villanova served as superintendent of the Farmington, Connecticut Public Schools. During his tenure as superintendent the district consistently performed in the top 5 to 10% of CT school districts on state and national performance measures. Each of the seven Farmington schools was recognized as an exemplary school through various state and national programs.

Dr. Villanova was honored as the Neag School of Education Outstanding Superintendent in 2003 and the Connecticut Association of School Superintendents’ Superintendent of the Year in 2008 He was also honored with the CAPSS Emeritus Award in 2012, Educational Leader of the Year in 2013 by the CT Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and the CAPSS Presidential Award in 2017.

Dr. Villanova continues to be involved in numerous leadership development initiatives including organizing and co-facilitating Advanced Leadership Development Seminars for Early Career and Experienced Superintendents for the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents starting in 2010, supporting the professional development partnership between the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents and the Neag School of Education and providing leadership development institutes for district leadership teams and boards of education. Over the past 9 years he has taken on various assignments and special projects for Connecticut Commissioners of Education related to board governance and district leadership. Villanova continues to work with numerous boards of education and superintendents in developing collaborative governance teams. He has also served an executive coach for more than 15 CT superintendents over the past 6 years.

Jennie Weiner headshot


Jennie M. Weiner is an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. Her scholarship focuses on issues of educational leadership and organizational change particularly in chronically underperforming schools and districts. She is also interested in gender bias in educational leadership as well as issues of educational infrastructure at the local, district and state levels.

Prior to coming to UConn, she has worked for Rhode Island Department of Education on issues of school turnaround and capacity building. She was a senior research associate for the Teacher Advancement Program (TAP) at the Milken Family Foundation. Dr. Weiner holds a Master’s in Education in Administration, Planning and Social Policy and a Doctorate of Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Margaret Zacchei


Margaret Zacchei is a UCAPP internship coach. She has 28 years experience in education, first teaching at the elementary and middle school levels and then serving for 9 years as an elementary school principal. The school that she led was recognized as a CT School of Distinction in both 2016 and 2017.

Throughout her career, Mrs. Zacchei has worked collaboratively with teachers, students, parents and fellow administrators to set goals and implement plans to achieve sustainable school improvement. In addition to working with UCAPP interns, she coaches new administrators to support their transition and strengthen their capacity to lead effectively.