Executive Team
Susie Miller Carello, Executive Director

Susie Miller CarelloSusan Miller Carello serves as Executive Director of the State University of New York’s Charter Schools Institute, a position she has held since 2010. Under her leadership, the number of SUNY authorized charter schools across New York expanded from 72 to 212 active charter schools with approved enrollment of 113,000. Eighty percent of students choosing SUNY authorized charters come from economically disadvantaged settings. Those students and over 6,000 very dedicated teachers produce high-quality academic outcomes. Ninety-one percent of SUNY authorized charters outperform their districts of location in mathematics and 88% outperform in English language arts. Under Susan’s leadership, the Institute also secured the first operational and philanthropy-based resource increases since its founding in in 1999. SUNY’s Charter Schools Institute receives national and international recognition as the mightiest authorizing team in the land.

Before arriving at the Institute, Susan was founder and CEO of Smart Hounds Solutions, LLC. She founded the National Association of Charter School Authorizer’s (NACSA) first research division serving as their first Vice President for Research and Evaluation and led NACSA’s research, evaluation and accountability initiatives as well as designed NACSA’s first national data project on authorizer practices. In addition, Susan authored NACSA’s first “State of Charter School Authorizing” report in 2008. Ms. Miller Carello is also the former Associate Commissioner of Education for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts where she served on the Commissioner’s Cabinet and headed up Massachusetts’ school accountability and charter authorizing work.

Susan also served as a visiting lecturer at Columbia University and Butler University and was Vice-President of the Modern Red Schoolhouse at the Hudson Institute. A proud native Hoosier, Susan was a founding staff member at Indian Creek Discovery Science and Technology Magnet School in Indianapolis, a national blue-ribbon award winner; and in 1990, she was recognized with the Indiana’s Excellence in Education Award. A lifelong supporter of education reform, Miller Carello was the founding board chair at True North Troy Preparatory Charter School in Troy, New York. Miller Carello holds a B.S. and M.S. from Indiana University as well as an Ed.M. from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, where she has completed all doctoral coursework in Administration, Planning and Social Policy and was awarded the 1999 Edward J. Meade, Jr. Fellowship.

Contact:
518-445-4250
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Ralph Rossi II, Esq., Executive Deputy Director and General Counsel

Ralph Rossi II, Esq. joined the SUNY Charter Schools Institute in 2004 as its General Counsel. He currently oversees all legal, charter and fiscal compliance issues for, and is an Executive Deputy Director of, the Institute. He also serves as counsel to the SUNY Trustees’ Education, College Readiness and Success Committee. Mr. Rossi is nationally regarded for his expertise in charter school law and is frequently consulted by charter schools, other school authorizers and charter-related organizations from across the country. He has been instrumental in developing and refining Institute policies throughout his tenure. Prior to joining the Institute, Mr. Rossi served as the General Counsel for the Office of the New York State Inspector General for six years, and as Director of Industrial Finance and Special Counsel for the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation for two years. Mr. Rossi was previously associated with the law firm of Chadbourne and Parke LLP where he practiced in the firm’s litigation and white collar groups. Mr. Rossi is a graduate of Columbia College in the City of New York and Rutgers School of Law – Newark. He is admitted in New York, New Jersey and several federal district courts.

Contact:
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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Kathryn Connell-Espinosa, Chief of Staff

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

Contact:
518-445-4258
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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.

Contact:
212-364-5780
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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.

Contact:
212-364-5813
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Kerri Rizzolo, Senior Analyst

Kerri Rizzolo is a Senior Analyst at the SUNY Charter Schools Institute. She supports the Managing Director of School Evaluation in the monitoring of charter school performance and managing the requirements of the program evaluation process for schools. Prior to joining the Institute team, Rizzolo worked as a process engineer at Procter & Gamble and later served as a Teach For America corps member and taught middle and high school math and science at Uncommon Schools.

Contact:
518-445-4250
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Vickie Masséus, School Evaluation Analyst

Vickie Masséus is a School Evaluation Analyst with the SUNY Charter School Institute. In this role, Ms. Masséus supports the Institute in the monitoring of charter school performance and managing the requirements of the evaluation process for schools. Prior to joining the Institute team, Ms. Masséus was an Editorial Consultant and graduate adjunct instructor at various colleges and universities in NYC such as Barnard College, St. John’s University, and CUNY. She has also taught English Language Arts and literature at the middle and high school levels in central Florida. Ms. Masséus currently holds a master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Dayton and will soon complete her Ph.D. in English Studies at St. John’s University, in Queens, New York.

Contact:
518-445-4250
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Xuan Pu (Viola), Performance and Systems Analyst

Xuan Pu (Viola) is the Performance and Systems Analyst at the SUNY Charter Schools Institute. In this role, she is responsible for producing school performance analyses, maintaining student achievement data, ensuring the accuracy and completeness of school- and student-level data, and supporting the Institute in school evaluation. Before joining the Institute, Ms. Pu worked with an education start-up where she helped international high school students with their academics and college applications. Prior to that, she served as an intern at multiple educational non-profit organizations, such as Center on U.S.-China Relations in Asia Society, World Savvy and Confucius Institute for Business in SUNY Global Center. Ms. Pu holds a M.A. in Comparative and International Education from Teachers College at Columbia University, and a B.A. in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language from Wuhan University.

Contact:

518-445-4250
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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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Legal & Finance
Carrie Gee, Esq., Associate Counsel

Carrie Gee, Esq. is Associate Counsel at the SUNY Charter Schools Institute. Ms. Gee is responsible for supporting the Institute’s Executive Deputy Director and General Counsel on legal, charter and fiscal compliance issues. Prior to joining the Institute Ms. Gee was an Associate with Whiteman, Osterman and Hanna working in their education and labor practice groups. Ms. Gee has spent her career working in education law at the elementary, secondary and university levels. Ms. Gee holds a B.A. in English and Theatre from Colgate University and a J.D. from Hofstra University School of Law.

Contact:
518-445-4250
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Barb Acenowr, Managing Director for Finance and Operations

Barbara Acenowr is the Managing Director for Operations and Finance at the SUNY Charter Schools Institute. She is responsible for providing leadership in the area of finance by suggesting, designing and implementing regulatory and fiscal policies and procedures that strengthen the Institute’s oversight of SUNY authorized charter schools as well as fiscal performance and compliance of individual charter schools. Barbara also oversees the administration of the SUNY Fiscal Dashboard of operating schools, reviews applications for new charter schools, renewals and revisions. In addition, Barbara oversees the administration of state grant funds, which includes the development of Requests for Proposals and disbursement of funds. Barbara first joined the Institute in 2001, during its infancy, as the Director of Charter School Fiscal Accountability and remained to see 22 charter schools open and operating. Barbara left to work in the private sector and returned to state service in 2008 with the New York State Police as a Senior Budget Analyst and Senior Internal Auditor. Previously, Barbara had work experience in Public Accounting and forensic auditing with the NYS Inspector General’s Office. Barbara received her B.S. in Accounting from SUNY Oneonta and is working towards a Masters in Public Administration at Marist College. She is a member of the Association of Government Accountants, the Institute of Internal Auditors, and the National and Local Associations of Certified Fraud Examiners and is in the process of completing the certification process to become a Certified Fraud Examiner.

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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Maureen Foley, Director for New Charters

Maureen Foley is the Director for New Charters at the SUNY Charter Schools Institute. In this role, Ms. Foley leads the charter school request for proposals process and serves as the primary reviewer for all proposals. Prior to joining the Institute, Ms. Foley was the Director of Talent at Excel Academy Charter Schools in Boston, where she oversaw talent acquisition and human resources for the network’s four schools. Previously at Excel Academy, Ms. Foley served as the Director of Special Projects and a 6th grade math teacher. Ms. Foley began her education career as a Teach For America corps member in New York City, during which time she taught 7th grade English at Middle School 256 in Manhattan. She holds a B.A. in English and history from Boston University, a Master of Science in Teaching from Pace University, and a Master of Education in Policy and Management from Harvard University.

Contact:
518-445-4250
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Connor LeClair, School Finance Analyst

Connor LeClair is the School Finance Analyst at the SUNY Charter Schools Institute. He is responsible for assisting in the ongoing evaluation of fiscal performance and compliance of charter schools authorized by the SUNY Trustees as well as the fiscal review of new school applications, renewals, revisions, closure monitoring and facilities financings. Prior to joining the Charter Schools Institute, Mr. LeClair served as a Staff Auditor at Raymond G. Preusser, CPA P.C working yearly on the audits and preparation of financial statements of over 30 school districts across New York State. He is a graduate of the Gabelli School of Business at Fordham University where he received his B.S in Public Accounting with a secondary concentration in Finance.

Contact:
518-445-4250
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Malik Dare, School Operations Data Analyst

Malik Dare serves as the School Operations Data Analyst at the SUNY Charter Schools Institute. Prior to this role, he served as the Executive Assistant to the Executive Director of the Institute. In this position, Mr. Dare exhibited his adept organizational and leadership skills through management of conference calls, coordination of travel arrangements and scheduling appointments and collaborations. Former to joining the Institute, Malik worked as an intern for the SUNY Research Foundation and the SUNY System Administration. He is a graduate of Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, New York with a degree in Business Administration. During his four years at Roberts Wesleyan, he was a decorated student, a recipient of the Rochester Area Business Ethics Foundation Award and was a significant  member of the varsity basketball team.

Contact:
518-445-4250
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Jean Porterfield, Legal Administrative Assistant

Jean Porterfield is the Legal Administrative Assistant at the SUNY Charter Schools Institute. Ms. Porterfield is responsible for providing direct administrative support to the Institute’s Executive Deputy Director and General Counsel. Ms. Porterfield also provides administrative support to the Institute’s legal, finance and new application teams.  In addition to administrative support, Ms. Porterfield manages all complaints calls related to charter schools authorized by the Institute. Prior to joining the Institute, Ms. Porterfield was a Legal Administrative Assistant in the litigation department at Goldberg Weprin Finkel Goldstein LLP. Ms. Porterfield received her Bachelor of Arts from The New School in New York City.

Contact:
518-445-4250
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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.

Contact:
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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Keegan Prue, Director of Leadership Team Operations

Keegan Prue is the Director of Leadership Team Operations at the Institute. In this role, he supports cross-office strategic initiatives, and assists with the oversight and management of internal policies, procedures, and operations central to carrying out effective authorizing. 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 at Success Academies, Mr. Prue was 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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Dilek Ulukaya-Ak, Administrative Analyst

Dilek Ulukaya-Ak is the Administrative Analyst at SUNY Charter School Institute. She is responsible for assisting the management of fiscal, operational and administrative matters for the Institute. Dilek serves as one of the main points of contact with all Institute staff, Research Foundation and SUNY offices. Prior to joining the Institute, Dilek served as an Executive Director at Chobani Foundation, overseeing all operational and financial matters,  development of educational programs and nonprofit partnership. Dilek holds a Masters of Public Administration from the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at University at Albany and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at City University of New York.

Contact:
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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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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