Executive Team
Kathryn Connell-Espinosa, Interim Executive Director

Kathryn Connell-Espinosa is the Interim Executive Director of the SUNY Charter Schools Institute. Prior to assuming this role in August 2022, Ms. Connell-Espinosa served as Chief of Staff of the Institute, assisting 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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Carrie Gee, Esq., Interim Chief Counsel

Carrie E. Gee is the Interim 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.

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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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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Erin Allen, Senior Analyst

Erin Allen is a Senior Analyst with the SUNY Charter School Institute.  As Senior Analyst, Erin 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 State Education Department assisting Local Education Agencies with federal grant applications and school evaluations.  Erin also taught biology at SUNY Albany and Troy Prep Charter School.  She has a M.A. in Biology Instruction and M.S. in Biodiversity, Conservation and Policy.

Contact:

518-445-4250
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Katy Clayton, School Evaluation Analyst

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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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), Senior Performance and Systems Analyst

Xuan Pu (Viola) is the Senior 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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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:  212-364-5835
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Legal & Finance
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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Jean Porterfield, School Operations Data Analyst

Jean R. Porterfield serves as the School Operations Data Analyst for the State University of New York’s Charter Schools Institute. In this role Ms. Porterfield 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. Ms. Porterfield 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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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
Email