Executive Team
Kathryn Connell-Espinosa, Executive Director

Kathryn Connell-Espinosa is the Executive Director of the SUNY Charter Schools Institute. Ms. Connell-Espinosa joined the Institute in 2013 as an Administrative Analyst, eventually advancing to the role of Chief of Staff, wherein she assisted with the oversight and management of Institute core functions to ensure fidelity to internal policies, procedures and operations central to strong Institute operations. Previously, Ms. Connell-Espinosa spent four years as the Compliance Specialist for the Educational Incentive Program, a scholarship program within the Professional Development Program. She received her B.A. in Psychology from the University at Albany. 

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518-445-4250
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Carrie Gee, Esq., Chief Counsel

Carrie E. Gee is the Chief Counsel for The State University of New York’s Charter Schools Institute where she provides general legal counsel to the SUNY Charter Schools Committee and the Institute. Prior to joining SUNY, Carrie was an associate with Whiteman, Osterman, and Hanna working in their education and labor practice groups. She previously worked with the same education practice group at Hinman Straub, P.C. in Albany.

Carrie has spent her career working in education law at the elementary, secondary and university levels.  Ms. Gee has of Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Theater from Colgate University and Juris Doctor from  Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University.

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518-445-4250
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Jeff Wasbes, Executive Deputy Director for Accountability

Jeffrey Wasbes is the Executive Deputy Director for Accountability at the SUNY Charter Schools Institute. Mr. Wasbes is responsible for defining and directing the Institute’s school accountability authorizing work; ensuring timely, high quality quantitative and qualitative analysis and reporting of SUNY authorized charter schools; serving as the Institute’s chief data expert responsible for the design, production and distribution of analyses related to charter school performance; overseeing the Institute’s application review team and ensuring the high quality of the Institute’s new and renewal application review processes; and serving as the Institute’s data and accountability partner with other SUNY PreK-12 focused projects, the state education department and local school districts. He most recently served as the Project Manager at Research Works, Inc., an Albany based organization providing program evaluation, data management services and a wide range of related technical assistance support to the education and public services sector. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University at Albany, a Master of Public Administration degree from the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the University at Albany, and holds New York State Teacher Certification in K-12 music education.

Contact:
518-445-4250
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Academic Evaluation & Accountability
Andrew Kile, Managing Director of School Evaluation

Andrew Kile is the Managing Director of School Evaluation with the Institute.  As lead for the Institute’s evaluation team, Andrew supports the development of Institute practices and protocols for school evaluations, supports school visit teams, and oversees the production of evaluation and renewal recommendation reports.  Before joining the Institute, Andrew served as an academic dean and lead of operations at DREAM Charter School in East Harlem.  He has also worked as a consultant, providing technical assistance to schools and conducting school quality review visits in a variety of school systems throughout the U.S.  Andrew received his Master of Education in School Leadership from the Summer Principals Academy at Columbia Teachers College.  He has his Master of Science in Education from Pace University and his Bachelor of Arts from The Ohio State University.  Andrew is also well traveled having volunteered with youth programs in Japan and Egypt.

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518-445-4250
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Sinnjinn Bucknell, Director of Performance and Systems

Sinnjinn Bucknell is the Director of Performance and Systems at the SUNY Charter Schools Institute. Mr. Bucknell is responsible for managing the Institute’s data and providing performance analyses that support the Institute’s work through: monitoring and coordinating the development of school Accountability Plans and school data reporting; analyzing individual school performance; and providing evaluation and analytic support to the school evaluation teams. Before joining the Institute, Mr. Bucknell served as a Research Assistant at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, contributing to work on community organizing and engagement. Prior to that, he worked as a College Access Advisor in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. He has additionally worked in schools as a teacher and debate coach. He holds a B.A. in History and M.A. in Urban Education Policy from Brown University.

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518-445-4250
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Katy Clayton, School Evaluator

Katy Clayton is a School Evaluation Analyst with the SUNY Charter Schools Institute. In this role, she supports the Institute in the monitoring of charter school performance and managing the requirements of the evaluation process. After completing a B.A. in American Studies from Yale University, Katy worked for several years as a high school English teacher at different charter school systems in New Orleans. Most recently, she completed a Master of Public Administration degree with an emphasis on education and social welfare policy while working as a research assistant at the Rockefeller Institute of Government.

Contact:

518-445-4250
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Desree Cabrall-Njenga, School Evaluator

Desree Cabrall-Njenga is a School Evaluator with the SUNY Charter School Institute Evaluation Team. As School Evaluator, Desree supports the Institute with conducting charter school visits and evaluations, contributing to the development of evaluation and charter recommendation reports, and supporting with general development of the Institute’s Evaluation Team.   Prior to joining the Institute, she served as Chief Academic Officer at a New York City CMO leading academic programing, school leader management, training, and oversight.

After completing an undergraduate degree in Journalism and Media Studies, she worked for several years as a teacher with New York City Department of Education while earning MS Degree in Education, before serving as instructional leader, principal, deputy superintendent, and educational consultant with charters in New York and Massachusetts. In her free time, Desree enjoys competitive ballroom dancing.

Contact:

Contact: 518-445-4250
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Kathleen Haywood, School Evaluator

Kathleen Haywood is a School Evaluator at the SUNY Charter School Institute. As a School Evaluator, she conducts charter school renewal and evaluation visits, analyzes school data for performance monitoring, interviews school constituents, contributes to the development of evaluation and renewal reports, reviews new charter school applications, and supports the general development of the Institute’s Evaluation Team. Before joining the Institute, Kathleen worked as a special education teacher with the New York City Department of Education. She also served as an academic support department chair at an independent school, and held several positions at a charter school, including intervention coordinator, assistant director of academic support, and director of academic support.

Ms. Haywood holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies from Yale University. She also earned a Master of Arts in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from CUNY Brooklyn College, and a Master of Science in Education (Special Education) from CUNY Hunter College. Ms. Haywood will soon complete an EdD in Curriculum, Teaching, Learning, and Leadership from Northeastern University.

Jenna Wilkinson, Program Analyst

Jenna Wilkinson is the Program Analyst at the SUNY Charter Schools Institute. She is responsible for providing direct support to the academic staff with planning school site visits, renewal report finalization, new applications, ongoing academic performance evaluations and site visit reports. She also assists Institute staff with producing materials to be used to analyze school performance. Prior to joining the Institute, Ms. Wilkinson served as the Director Assistant with Cengage Learning. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Communication from Keuka College.

Contact:

518-445-4250
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Saadia Santos, Performance and Systems Analyst

Saadia Santos is the Performance and Systems Analyst at the SUNY Charter Schools Institute. In this role, she conducts quantitative analyses to support school evaluation. Before joining the Institute, Ms. Santos worked as a scheduler and legislative aide in the New York State Senate and as community liaison in a senate district office. While finishing her undergraduate degree, Saadia worked as a camp counselor and Program Coordinator at the Girl Scouts of Greater New York’s Camp Kaufmann where she was also a certified high ropes instructor. Ms. Santos holds a B.S. in Public Affairs from the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College (CUNY).

Contact:

518-445-4250
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Ciani Jones, Senior Analyst

Ciani Jones is a Senior Analyst with the SUNY Charter School Institute Evaluation Team. As Senior Analyst, Ciani supports the Institute with conducting charter school visits and evaluations, contributing to the development of evaluation and charter recommendation reports, and supporting with general development of the Institute’s Evaluation Team.   Prior to joining the Institute, she worked at the New York City Department of Education leading program evaluation efforts for its alternative teacher certification programs and has worked in charter schools as both a special education teacher and data analyst.  She has a M.A. in Education Policy from New York University and a M.A. in Special Education.

Contact: 518-445-4250

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Jeff Schmidt, Senior Data Analyst

Jeff Schmidt is the Senior Data Analyst at the SUNY Charter Schools Institute. In this role, he conducts quantitative analyses and helps ensure data accuracy for the Institute’s school evaluation reporting. Prior to joining, Jeff interned at for the National Renewable Energy Lab while receiving his master’s degree where he created dashboards and analyses to help the organization track a broad set of initiatives.  Before enrolling in his graduate studies, Jeff spent several years at Kantar where he worked as market research analyst. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Western Connecticut State University and a Masters in Applies Statistics from Colorado State University.

Contact: 518-445-4250

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Legal
Alexandra Monson, Assistant Counsel

Alexandra J. Monson is the Assistant Counsel for the SUNY Charter Schools Institute. Ms. Monson is responsible for drafting legal guidance for initial and renewed charter school applications, advising on legal inquiries and compliance issues, and coordinating with other state and local education departments. Prior to joining the Institute, Ms. Monson was a litigation associate specializing in administrative law. Ms. Monson received her Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from Villanova University and her Juris Doctor from Emory University School of Law

 

Contact:
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Kishena Bruno, Paralegal

Kishena Bruno serves as the Paralegal at the SUNY Charter Schools Institute. In this role, she is responsible for providing support to the legal department, including managing complex contracts, performing research for Institute attorneys, assisting with the new charter school and renewal application process, and managing various other projects. Kishena previously worked as a Lead Complaint Investigator for the New York State Department of Health.  She earned her AAS degree in criminal justice from Hudson Valley Community College.

Contact:
518-445-4250
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Compliance and Student Information
Keegan Prue, Managing Director of Information and Compliance

Keegan Prue is the Managing Director of Information and Compliance at the Institute. In this role he oversees the Institute’s preparation for SUNY Board of Trustees Charter School Committee meetings, supports a variety of other cross-functional strategic efforts, and manages the Institute’s new charter, compliance, and IT teams. Prior to joining the Institute, Mr. Prue was Manager of Strategic Planning at Success Academy Charter Schools in New York City, where he oversaw training for over forty school-based Special Education and Data Managers. Previously, Mr. Prue was also a Vice Principal and 3rd Grade Teacher in the South Bronx and Harlem. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and a Master’s in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Contact:
518-445-4250
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Dr. Tanya Lewis-Jones, Director of New Charters

Dr. Tanya Lewis-Jones is the Director of New Charters at the SUNY Charter School Institute, where she guides potential charter schools through the application process. Prior to joining SUNY, Tanya worked with New York State Education Department, where she managed the ESF-REM Federal Grant. In addition, Tanya worked for KIPP Albany Community Charter School for many years as a teacher and internal talent coordinator. Tanya holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from SUNY Empire State College, a Master of Science in Curriculum Development and Instructional Technology from SUNY Albany, and a PhD in Curriculum, Instruction and the Science of Learning from SUNY Buffalo.

Contact:
518-445-4250
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John Flack, Director of School Operations Data

John Flack serves as the Director of School Operations Data for the State University of New York’s Charter Schools Institute.  In this role, Mr. Flack leads the Institute’s design, development, and implementation of tools, procedures, and processes to support the collection and analysis of charter schools’ operations data.  Also, he manages the administration of the New York State Charter Schools Stimulus Fund Grants (SSF).  Prior to this role, he served as the Institute’s Senior Finance and Grants Analyst with responsibilities for assisting in the ongoing evaluation of fiscal performance and compliance of charter schools authorized by the SUNY Trustees as well as fiscal review of new school applications, renewals, revisions, and facilities financings, and supported the administration of the Institute’s New York State Charter Schools Stimulus Fund (SSF) grant program. Before joining the Institute, Mr. Flack served as the Administrator of the New York Intrastate Access Settlement Pool, overseeing the administration of several New York State mandated telecommunications funds. Mr. Flack received his B.A. in Business Management from Hartwick College.

Contact:
518-445-4250
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Jean Flaherty, School Operations Data Analyst

Jean R. Flaherty serves as the School Operations Data Analyst for the State University of New York’s Charter Schools Institute. In this role, Jean is responsible for the ongoing gathering, tracking, analysis and reporting on information associated with monitoring charter school compliance, governance, handling public Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests for information from the public, and other related tasks. Jean also interacts with proposed, opening, and operating charter schools, boards, leadership and staff, and charter management and partner organizations to determine compliance status and escalate significant issues as appropriate. She also coordinates and travels to conduct hearings, pre-opening visits and other statutory and regulatory required reviews.

518-445-4250
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Taryn Cooper, Information Technology Specialist

Taryn Cooper is the Information Technology Specialist at SUNY Charter School Institute. In this role, she is responsible for the development, implementation, and support of new technologies that will help further the Institute’s ability to grow.  Prior to this Ms. Cooper was a Lead Programmer/Analyst for SUNY System Administration where she designed, implemented, and deployed code for the SUNY Finance web application. She was also responsible for the execution and planning of the Continuous Integration Server used by all web teams within SUNY Systems. Ms. Cooper holds a BS in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics from the University at Albany.

Contact:
518-445-4250
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Finance
Dilek Ulukaya-Ak, Director of Finance

Dilek Ulukaya-Ak is the Director of School Finance at the Institute. She oversees the fiscal monitoring program for all SUNY-authorized charter schools, including accurate and timely monitoring and reporting of the fiscal stability of all schools through review of quarterly financial and enrollment reports, annual audits, and management of the SUNY Fiscal Dashboard. Before joining the Institute, Dilek served as an Executive Director at Chobani Foundation, overseeing all operational and financial matters,  development of educational programs, and nonprofit partnerships. Dilek holds a Master of Public Administration from the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at Albany and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the City University of New York.

Contact:
518-445-4250
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Christopher Dutkiewicz, School Finance Analyst

Christopher Dutkiewicz is a School Finance Analyst for the Institute. In this role, Chris is responsible for the ongoing monitoring and evaluation of fiscal performance of charter schools, including initial analysis of school financial data and conducting initial stages of financial reviews of proposed applications for new charter schools, charter renewals, and revisions. Prior to joining the Institute, Chris served as the Project Staff Assistant for the SUNY Professional Development Program Finance Department.

Contact:
518-445-4250
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Matt Beditz, School Finance Analyst

Matt Beditz is a School Finance Analyst for the Institute. Matt is responsible for the ongoing monitoring and evaluation of fiscal performance of charter schools, including initial analysis of school financial data and conducting initial stages of financial reviews of proposed applications for new charter schools, charter renewals, and revisions. He attended Siena College, earning both a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and a Master of Science in Accounting.

Operations
Mike Lesczinski, Director of Communications

Mike Lesczinski serves as the Institute’s Director of Communications. In this role, he is responsible for all internal and external communications, including strategy, planning, messaging, writing, media relations, and content development. As the primary point of contact for external stakeholders, Mr. Lesczinski also provides timely and accurate information about the Institute and its work, the charter approval process in New York State, as well as the more than 200 schools authorized by SUNY. Prior to joining the Institute, Mr. Lesczinski served as the Chief Communications and Government Affairs Officer at Excelsior College. A member of the College’s executive staff, Mr. Lesczinski offered strategic counsel to the president, acted as Excelsior’s primary spokesperson and speechwriter, and managed both internal and crisis communications. He was also responsible for advancing the institution’s government relations agenda and actively involved with both college-wide operations and policy-making activities. Mr. Lesczinski earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Rochester and Master of Public Administration from the SUNY Albany.

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518-445-4250
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Sandy Malloy, Director of Administration

Sandy Malloy is the Director of Administration and is responsible for managing the fiscal, budgetary and administrative matters of the Institute.  Sandy has rejoined the Institute for the second time as its Director of Administration, initially serving in the same role for several years after the Institute established an Albany Office in the early days of New York’s Charter Law.  She then worked as the Institute’s Director of Grant Programs before taking time to raise a family.  Sandy has a Masters of Public Administration from Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at SUNY Albany, and a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Psychology from St. Lawrence University.

Contact:
518-445-4250
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Christine Adamczak, Executive Assistant

Christine Adamczak is the Executive Assistant at the SUNY Charter Schools Institute providing detailed administrative support to the Institute’s Executive Director.  Just recently joining the Institute in August 2020, she spent three years as a Senior Administrative Assistant with a medium-sized civil engineering firm with headquarters near Boston.  Ms. Adamczak has over 25 years of experience in the administrative professional field, is a notary public and is also the International Association for Administrative Professionals (IAAP) Branch Director for the Albany/Greater Capital Region.  She is a graduate of Spencer Business and Technical Institute as well as Cornell University’s Public Service Women’s Studies.

Contact:
518-445-4250
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Mari Hollingsworth, Administrative Assistant

Mari Hollingsworth serves as the Institute’s Administrative Assistant. For the past 10 years, Mari has been supporting the management of the Institute’s core functions. An integral team member, Mari coordinates staff travel arrangements and reimbursements, assists with job searches, and manages electronic communication and mail distribution. Mari also supports both the academic and legal/fiscal teams with drafting correspondence and purchasing office supplies.

Contact:
518-445-4250
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