Meet the staff from Summit Education Initiative who support our efforts in enhancing educational experiences in Summit County.
Derran started as Executive Director in September, 2011 after completing a 32 year career in public education. His previous positions include: science/biology teacher, assistant high school principal, high school principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent. He served in Summit County, Ohio at both Copley Fairlawn City Schools and Twinsburg City Schools and in Cuyahoga County at the Berea City Schools. Derran is a graduate of Allegheny College with a BS in Biology and an MA in Education. He continued his post graduate work at the University of Akron. Derran is married to Susan and they have two sons and reside in Hudson.
Program Evaluation Coordinator
Piya Chatterjee joined SEI as a Program Evaluation Coordinator in September, 2017. She is a doctoral student in the Secondary Education, Curricular and Instructional Studies in the LeBron James Family Foundation College of Education, The University of Akron. She holds a Master’s in Assessment Evaluation and Data Literacy, MA (Ed) Educational Foundations and Leadership from LeBron James Family Foundation College of Education, The University of Akron. Ms. Chatterjee also holds a Bachelor’s with honors and Master’s in Food and Nutrition from The University of Calcutta, India.
She worked as a high school teacher in Biology and lecturer in Food Science, Nutritional Biochemistry and Nutrition & Dietetics for more than five years, in India, before joining The University of Akron in 2013. She had been a Graduate Research Assistant at The University of Akron since 2013. During her Graduate Scholarship tenure at The University of Akron, Department of Educational Foundations and Leadership & Curricular and Instructional Studies, Piya worked as a research assistant on program evaluations for LeBron James Family Foundation and other programs undertaken by the Department of Educational Foundations and Leadership. She was also an Instructor and second Instructor to several courses in Instructional Technology and Educational Implementation, as well as served various roles as an Instructional Support Assistant in both the Departments of her appointment.
With her work experience as a research assistant on program evaluations and expertise in data collection, management and skills in contributing to qualitative and quantitative research, she aims at helping SEI and the research team in improving educational attainment in Summit County. She resides in Jackson Township with her husband, Deepraj, and their toddler daughter, Anahita.
Senior Research Associate
Dr. Matthew Deevers joined SEI on August 1, 2012 as our Senior Research Associate. He earned his Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Education from Cleveland State University in 2010. Matt specializes in learning theories, motivation, program development, and program evaluation. Matt began his career as a high school English teacher and assistant principal. Later, he played a leadership role in several northeast Ohio school districts as a director of curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional development. Matt has been involved in educational policy initiatives throughout his career.
Matt resides in Streetsboro with his wife Shannon and their three children.
Early Childhood Strategy Leader
Laura DiCola joined SEI on May 31, 2016 as our Early Childhood Strategy Leader. Laura is a graduate of the Ohio State University, where she earned a BA in Psychology and a Juris Doctorate. She also holds a master’s degree in bioethics from Case Western Reserve University. After spending more than 20 years finding creative solutions to complex business problems as an attorney in the private sector, Laura left law to pursue her passion for education and community-based work. Her work at SEI focuses on the Early Childhood strategy, including Early Care, Kindergarten Readiness and Third Grade Reading.
Outside the office, Laura is a member of the Ethics Committee at Akron Children’s Hospital and currently serves on the boards of Girls on the Run of Northeast Ohio, the Women’s Endowment Fund of the Akron Community Foundation, ATHENA Akron and Groundworks Dance Theater. Laura lives in Hudson. She has four very independent daughters who live and work in Boston, Chicago, Bloomington (Indiana) and Munich (Germany).
Tech Wizard & Research Associate
Cristina González Alcalá is a native of Durango, México. She is a research associate at Summit Education Initiative, and she is the co-owner of Mango & The Prickly Cactus, makers of Not Yo’ Daddy’s Mexican Hot Sauce™. She lives in North Hill with her wife, Richelle Wardell, their daughter Isadora, and two dogs (Kaiya and Bogey).
Cristina came to the United States on a golf scholarship. After graduating from the University of Louisville, she came to Akron to be the Women’s Golf Graduate Assistant Coach for the University of Akron’s inaugural team. After a year of coaching she began working as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Institute of Bioscience and Social Research. During her time at the Institute, she earned a Master of Public Administration, a Master of Arts (Communication), and started her doctoral studies in Urban Studies and Public Affairs, which she will complete soon!
Based on her statistical and program evaluation experience, Cristina supports SEI’s efforts to increase educational attainment in Summit County. Her main projects help impact early childhood education and the work of Out of School Time Partners.
Cristina has remained engaged in academics by serving as a reviewer for the Eastern Communication Association and chair-elect of their Communication Traits Interest Group. She is also very active in her community, serving on the boards of Proyecto RAICES, ATHENA Akron and the Akron Civic Theatre.
Manager of Wow! Communications and Marketing
Lindsay joined SEI in December 2015 after several years working in corporate communications at The Davey Tree Expert Company. She earned her bachelor’s degree in public relations from Kent State University in 2012. Lindsay specializes in internal and external communications, project management, social media and event planning.
Outside of the office, Lindsay is involved with several community organizations. She is a member of the Akron Torchbearers Class of 2016 and serves as one of the 2017 Leadership and Development committee co-chairs. Lindsay also serves on the board of Let’s Grow Akron and has been involved with the 2015 connect2akron, 2016 Cuyahoga Falls Better Block and 2017 YP Summit planning committees.
Controller and Operations Manager
Kaye joined our organization in the fall of 2009 and serves as SEI’s Controller and Operations Manager. She is responsible for all of the day to day operations of the office, maintains the web site, and provides operational support to the staff with administrative responsibilities as well as technical computer assistance. In addition to her accounting duties, Kaye works with several of the Cradle to Career Alliance work groups.
Prior to being employed by SEI, Kaye was the controller for an automotive distributor in Cleveland for seven years. She graduated with honors from The Ohio State University in 1982 and has spent her accounting career in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors in the Akron/Cleveland area. She is a volunteer at St. Sebastian Church and has been an active member of the Christ Child Society of Akron for several years. She currently is serving her second term on the National Christ Child Society Executive Board as Treasurer.
Kaye grew up in west Akron. She and her husband, David resides there. They have a daughter, Allison, who graduated from Walsh Jesuit High School in 2009 and is a 2013 graduate of Miami University (Oxford, OH). She now lives and works in Cleveland.