Participant Comments

How Do EPFP Alumni Describe the Program?

Educational leaders today have to deal with a number of issues that are increasingly complex and often political in nature. The EPFP provided presentations from highly regarded experts on a wide range of topics that not only broadened my understanding from a national, state and local perspective, but also demonstrated how to apply effective leadership in order to move forward positive change within my school district. It’s been one of the best learning experiences in my career, and one I would highly recommend.
Tracy E. Smith (EPFP 2016-2017)
 Assistant to the Superintendent for Operations
Parkland School District

The Fellowship Program has been instrumental in my development and growth as a school leader. After each session, I genuinely felt that I’d gained a deeper insight and understanding of the issues that face public education and higher education and the plausible solutions needed.
Siobhan Leavy, Ed.D. (EPFP 2016-2017)
Director of Pupil Services, Coatesville Area School District
Chester County Intermediate Unit

After serving 18 years on my school board, the EPFP was exactly what I needed to motivate and inspire me to continue my strong, active commitment to public education. I also have a much better understanding of policy advocacy. The opportunity to network with so many education leaders is unique. The topics we covered included guest speakers who were all highly qualified in their areas of expertise. The Washington Policy Seminar and the two days in Gettysburg and at the U.S. Army War College were invaluable.
Art Levinowitz, Ph.D. (EPFP 2016-2017)
President, Board of School Directors, School District of Upper Dublin

President, Joint Operating Committee, Eastern Center for Arts and Technology
Pennsylvania School Boards Association, Region 11 (Buxmont) Director

One of the best things about this program is the diversity of the participants. People work in a wide range of positions and for a wide range of organizations. I work in the world of early childhood education and found it very enjoyable to be in a program with people who are not a part of that world and work in other parts of education.
Stephanie Siegel-Mock (EPFP 2016-2017)
Director of Public Policy & Outreach
Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children

The EPFP has allowed me to experience more divergent points of view than in my 30 years working in education. I’ve learned to think globally and understand multiple points of view, which helps to move education policy forward.
Michael D. Pawlik (EPFP 2016-2017)
East Lycoming School District

The EPFP has been a great experience for me. The wide ranging topics covered by panels and experts have greatly broadened my understanding of the issues confronting educators in Pennsylvania. The new friendships I’ve developed with the other fellows from around the state have been particularly compelling.
Charles E. Daane (EPFP 2016-2017)
Chief Financial Officer
Propel Schools

The EPFP has provided a forum to learn more about the political landscape that, for better or worse, shapes and shifts my role as an education leader. The presentations, networking, project development, and Washington seminar provided many stimulating conversations that challenged perspectives. This was learning experience that has increased my ability to navigate the ever-changing world of education.
Melanie M. Calender, Ed.D. (EPFP 2016-2017)
Assistant Superintendent
Warwick School District

From my perspective as an executive director of a non-profit organization, EPFP provided a wealth of information on education policymaking, players, school funding issues (K-12 and higher education), school choice, and advocating for change. The sessions on leadership, with the visits to Gettysburg and Washington, DC were extremely valuable. Networking opportunities provided contact with many professionals with a wealth of knowledge. It was a very valuable experience and I would highly recommend participation.
Joan Stitzinger (EPFP 2016-2017)
Executive Director
Warren/Forest Higher Education Council

I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting, interacting with, and hearing from professionals in fields other than mine. The program has enhanced and expanded my perspective immensely. As a result, I have a renewed, and altered, sense of urgency about the work we all do.
Kelly K. Cartwright, Ed.D. (EPFP 2016-2017)
Director of Elementary Education
Conestoga Valley School District

This program has been extremely valuable to me as a practitioner and has provided me with a network of professionals beyond the scope of K-12 public education. The emphasis on political advocacy will be something I absolutely will carry forward and apply in my role as an administrator.
Alan Hack, Ed.D. (EPFP 2015-2016)
Assistant Principal
Warrior Run School District

The EPLC experience has helped me to look differently as ways to lead and motivate teams. This opportunity has given me many contacts to build coalitions and to continue my work in education policy.
Roni J. Russell, M.Ed. (EPFP 2015-2016)
Education Consultant
Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN)

It has been a privilege to participate in the Fellowship Program this year. The experience can best be described as enlightening! The cohort has helped me to gain a greater understanding of specific policies, legislation and factors that impact education and our schools today.
Malinda McKillip (EPFP 2015-2016)
Elementary Principal
Owen J. Roberts School District

This has been one of the best professional development experiences of my career. All of the topics were interesting and timely. Also, the opportunity to interact with education professionals from different areas and backgrounds was invaluable. I highly recommend this program to anyone who is interested in the future of education.
Caroline Johns (EPFP 2015-2016)
Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning
Moon Area School District

As a director of a non-profit education organization, I found the program challenging and extremely informative about policy, how laws, resolutions, and initiatives move forward within our local school districts and our state government. The make-up of the 2016 class was diverse in our backgrounds that brought a wealth of knowledge, interesting discussions and important networking opportunities together. I totally enjoyed the materials, the experiences outside the classroom, as well as within. The small group work to research, compile and present potential policy change was invigorating. All in all it was an invaluable experience and I am so pleased to have been an active participant.
Linda Woods Huber (EPFP 2015-2016)
Executive Director
Pennsylvania State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance

This has been a great experience for me. It gave me an opportunity to meet and interact with people that were not in my normal circle. It definitely foster teamwork to the highest level. It was an honor for me to participate because my supervisor and several co-workers have attended, they all spoke very highly of the program.
Monique R. Williams (EPFP 2015-2016)
Division Manager, Data Analysis, Assessment & Contracts
Bureau of Career and Technical Education
Pennsylvania Department of Education

I truly enjoyed being a part of the EPFP Fellowship Program. I applied to the program because of my interest in education policy and not necessarily my experience or knowledge with it. I graduated from the program with extensive knowledge about education policy, how those policies directly affect Early Care and Education, and a desire to be more active in the ECE community when it comes to policy development.
Joyel Weems (EPFP 2015-2016)
Programs Director
Philadelphia Head Start Partnerships

Understanding the impact of public policy within education is essential to being an effective leader. The EPFP broadened my understanding of how I can influence the policy decisions that will affect the education of all students in Pennsylvania.
Andrew M. Godfrey, Ed.D. (EPFP 2014-2015)
Assistant Superintendent
Lampeter-Strasburg School District

As a school board member, it was very enlightening to participate in the program. Hearing and sharing experiences with education professionals gave me a deeper understanding of the education system. The Fellowship Program is a very worthwhile experience.
Chad M. Salsman (EPFP 2014-2015)
School Board President
Wyalusing Area School District

The Fellowship Program has provided a thorough study of education policy and the dynamics of policymaking at the state and federal levels. The group policy project was a powerful way to apply what I’ve learned from my colleagues in the program as well as the state and national experts who present during the monthly sessions. This experience has invigorated me to advocate for all students to have access to a high-quality, well-rounded, and well-funded public education.
Ron Sofo (EPFP 2014-2015)
City Charter Public High School

This program has been invaluable in my growth as an educational leader. It has pushed me beyond my comfort zone, helped me hone skills for successful advocacy, and enabled me to strengthen my network. The EPFP has energized me and provided insight to ignite change.
Dr. Michelle Saylor (EPFP 2014-2015)
Assistant Superintendent
Bellefonte Area School District

The Fellowship Program has provided me a deep understanding about how policy affects and influences education. The EPFP content, presenters, and opportunities to network have served as valuable learning experiences and I would encourage others who are interested in the education and policy world connection to participate in this program.
Christine Anne Royce, Ed.D. (EPFP 2014-2015)
Professor and Chairperson, Department of Teacher Education
Shippensburg University

From the Gettysburg Battlefield to meeting with legislative staff on Capitol Hill, each Fellowship Program experience provided a new window into some aspect of education policy. The culminating group policy project brought it all together in a powerful way. I will be revisiting the learning from this experience time and time again in the future!
Rachel Holler, Ed.D. (EPFP 2014-2015)
Director of Secondary Education, 9-12
Quakertown Community School District

I am sincerely grateful for the opportunity that the EPFP has proven to be. It is a one-of-a-kind experience offering education leaders the opportunity to expand their understanding of policy while gaining a practical “in the trenches” experience. I have benefited in many ways, including improvement of my leadership and administrative skills, expansion of my professional network, a broadened perspective of various education institutions, and a growth in my understanding of policy as it pertains to my field.
Donna Lee Archer (EPFP 2014-2015)
Business Manager
Avon Grove Charter School

I would recommend this program to future school administrators, current administrators, board members, local and state elected representatives, and state-level education decision-makers. This program provides the good, the bad, and the ugly on education policy at the local, state, and federal levels, and it provides the knowledge needed to impact education policy.
Wesley T. Doll, Ed.D. (EPFP 2013-2014)
Upper Adams School District

The EPFP has truly expanded my toolkit of resources and contacts to use in my advocacy work as a local union leader and advocate for the community and students my Association’s members serve.
Jolene Vitalos (EPFP 2013-2014)
Teacher and President, Bethlehem Education Association
Bethlehem Area School District

The EPFP has been an invaluable opportunity to gain a first hand look into policymaking and policy practice in all areas of education, and it has provided me the tools and know-how necessary to advocate for the policy changes I wish to see.
Michael F. Gehringer (EPFP 2013-2014)
Principal, Kernsville Elementary School
Parkland School District

The EPFP helped me gain a deeper understanding of public education in Pennsylvania. It provided me with the skills to effect change through policy making, and offered perspective on critical topics ranging from education funding to the Pennsylvania Core Standards. I gained an extensive network of contacts through this program, who will be invaluable to me as I continue my career in education. I highly recommend the EPFP program.
Leah Spangler  (EPFP 2013-2014)
Executive Director
The Learning Lamp

In the lexicon of the athletic world, this Fellowship Program is a “blue-chipper”! The speakers gave me an “eyes wide open” perspective on the education system in Pennsylvania. The networking and cultivation of new relationships with key stakeholders and peers across the state has been invaluable.
John R. McCarthy, Jr., Ed.D. (EPFP 2013-2014)
Associate Dean, College of Education
Kutztown University

As a Fellow, I have been encouraged to take a broader view of education and the components that impact state and national education policy.
Dr. Phyllis Miller (EPFP 2011-2012)
Education Certification Coordinator
Alvernia University

The EPFP has been a dynamic professional development opportunity which has broadened my learning experiences. The quality of policy and leadership topics and the dialogue among a diverse group of educators have enhanced my leadership skills and abilities as a superintendent of schools. I encourage EPFP prospectives to experience the professional growth and networking opportunities for a better understanding and working knowledge of education policy and leadership.  In doing so, you will be more engaged and passionate about doing what is best for all students in your locale and across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
William H. Kerr, Ed.D. (EPFP 2012-2013)
Superintendent of Schools
Norwin School District, Westmoreland County, PA

From the perspective of an urban public school district official, the EPFP Program was an invaluable resource of relevant and timely information; providing invaluable perspective on a wide variety of key educational issues. More importantly, however, the EPFP Program entirely transformed my behavior as a citizen; compelling me to advocate for my beliefs and empowering me to engage the political process with zeal and fervor.
Dr. Robert W. Culp (EPFP 2010-2011)
Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction
Allentown School District

As a person who has entered  the field of public education through an unusual path, the EPFP was an invaluable source for me to get in touch with the issues, the jargon and the complexity of public education. Meeting so many bright and interesting Fellows has brought a huge diversity to our discussions and helped me see our issues from many perspectives. Now, when I am sitting in leadership meetings in our school district, I am able to add positively and knowledgeably to the conversation. Finally as an Art Director, I was able to help other districts who might have been struggling with their programs and show them how to create new opportunities for students. It was a great journey and I feel like I am part of a very exclusive club.
Mark A. Stutz (EPFP 2012-2013)
Director of Visual and Performing Arts
Parkland School District

The opportunity to network with top educational professionals across the state is not one to be missed. Having said that, the most valuable benefit to the Fellowship Program was the complete analysis of education in Pennsylvania. Highly qualified panelists present about K-12, Higher Education, Education/Community Partnerships, and Governmental Affairs as they pertain to education in Pennsylvania. This is a must for educational and governmental leaders across the state.
Dr. Erin Carlin (EPFP 2012-2013)
Campus President
YTI Career Institute

As a Fellow, I have been encouraged to take a broader view of education and the components that impact state and national education policy.
Dr. Phyllis Miller (EPFP 2011-2012)
Education Certification Coordinator
Alvernia University

The EPLC program has far exceeded my expectations. Not only has the program kept me informed and up-to-date with the latest educational policy news, it has afforded me the opportunity to gain the perspective of and work directly with people I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to work with on crucial educational issues affecting the Commonwealth. EPFP has been, by far, one of the most valuable programs in which I have invested my time.
Michael R. Wilson (EPFP 2011-2012)
Special Assistant to the Secretary
Pennsylvania Department of Education

Each Fellow has a vested interest in education, and EPLC provides the resources and tools to further enhance your ability to improve education for all Pennsylvanians.
Eric R. Holtzman (EPFP 2012-2013)
Business Administrator
Tuscarora School District

The speakers’ expertise and the quality of the Fellowship Program have been inspiring. The Program has opened my eyes to the importance of electing state and local leaders who value education. It has also been a wonderful experience to work with other educators on group policy projects to attempt to tackle real world educational problems.
Edward Garcia Fierros, Ph.D. (EPFP 2012-2013)
Associate Professor and Chairperson, Department of Education and Counseling
Villanova University

I knew the Fellows Program would be a professional “stretch” for me. It has not disappointed and I have learned a great deal about the inner-workings of our educational systems.
Dr. Steven T. Williams (EPFP 2012-2013)
Associate Professor of Mathematics and Coordinator of the Secondary Mathematics Education Program
Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania

PA EPFP has provided me an eye opening opportunity to learn about state and national educational policy which ultimately impacts Human Capital management efforts throughout the U.S. Because I believe that children and young people are America’s greatest asset and that public education is the key to creating and maintaining a great and civil society, it’s critical to understand how government and politics impacts education policy and programs. It’s been a privilege to participate with so many dedicated professionals who are truly committed to the importance of education in the U.S.
Colonel Julie Manta (EPFP 2005-2006)
Director, Human Resources Management
U.S. Army War College

The Fellowship Program has been an extremely worthwhile experience, which far exceeded my expectations. It gave me a greater understanding of the factors that shape and/or change education policy in Pennsylvania. The networking and relationships that I established with the other Fellows in the program was tremendous and will be very valuable to me throughout the remainder of my career.
Keith Ramsey (EPFP 2009-2010)
Chief of Finance and Operations
Eastern Lancaster County School District

The EPLC Fellowship Program is truly one of the most powerful learning experiences in the study of state educational policy that one can find anywhere. The presentations from state education policymakers combined with a highly diverse group of fellowship program participants create a program that is rich in program content and rewarding in the new friendships established.
Jim Buckheit (EPFP 2004-2005)
Executive Director
Pennsylvania State Board of Education

The Fellowship Program is an excellent opportunity to learn from the leaders and policy makers in Pennsylvania and Washington whose decisions impact the students in our classrooms every day. The exchange of ideas, the knowledge and commitment of the staff, and the relationships built throughout the year offer a rich and varied learning experience unlike any other.
W. Gerard Oleksiak (EPFP 2011-2012)
Vice President
Pennsylvania State Education Association

The EPLC program is, by far, the most valuable professional development experience that I have attended in my 15 years in public education. I have formed networks with professionals outside of public education that I did not expect to find. I have explored topics and contemplated problems that I did not expect to encounter. I have stretched my mind in ways that have caused me to open myself up to new ideas and new ways of thinking.
Amy Stewart (EPFP 2005-2006)
Director of Technology / Information Management
Warren County School District

The EPFP provides young leaders with the opportunity to learn policy, fellowship with key educational leaders around the Commonwealth and develop necessary leadership skills that will impact and influence their community.
Lisa Waller (EPFP 2005-2006)
Director, SciTech High School
Harrisburg School District

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience this year. I have grown so much as a leader, from the presentations and the group interaction. I feel much more secure in my new role as a school leader.
Camilla Kasales (EPFP 2009-2010)
Administrative Support and Curriculum Manager
Commonwealth Connections Academy

During my year as a fellow in the EPLC, my eyes were opened to the critical importance of educator involvement in policy processes. I specifically recall hearing Dr. Jerry Zahorchak and Dr. Bob Feir speak of serving as School Board Directors. As a direct result of this learning on my part, I made a personal commitment to “practice what I preach” and to follow in their footsteps. I ran for a school board position in the Brentwood Boro School District in November, 2004. I won the seat, and now serve as a Board Director for the Boro of Brentwood. Further, I am presently the Chairperson of the Policy Committee and the PSBA Representative for the board. Through serving in these capacities, I seek to contribute to the students, parents, and community members of my district and of the Commonwealth. None of this would have happened were it not for my fellowship in the EPLC.
Dr. Claudia A. Balaich (EPFP 2003-2004)
Assistant Professor
Teacher Quality Enhancement Project Director
Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

The Fellowship Program provides a forum for a variety of people in the education field. It was eye-opening to see issues from so many points of view.
Jennifer Waltz (EPFP 2005-2006)
Executive Director
Pennsylvania PTA

The EPLC Fellowship program brings together a diverse group of education stakeholders who discuss and debate issues that are important to the field of education. It is a stimulating learning experience for all participants.
James R. Weaver (EPFP 2001-2002)
Pennsylvania State Education Association

This program has not only provided me the impetus to become more proactive in the development of policy for Higher Education but has re-kindled my motivation as a public servant. Thank you for this opportunity.
Aimee Alapack (EPFP 2004-2005)
Assistant Vice President, Technology Services Research and Policy Analysis, AES/PHEAA

As a public school teacher, I sometimes feel isolated in trying to meet all of my student’s needs. The Fellowship Program has shown me that there is a wonderful network of support for my students and me. When teachers, administrators, education agencies, school board members, and the army work together, the synergism is incredible. This year provided me with one of the best professional and personal growth opportunities of my career.
Ann Schweighofer (EPFP 2004-2005)
Instructional Support Teacher
Wayne Highlands School District

The EPFP program and cohort model has been one of the most significant and relevant educational experiences I have had in my educational career of over 40 years. Being surrounded by colleagues whose expertise spans political, educational, social and civic acumen and advocacy has enabled each participant to self-reflect on their ability to become real change agents for beneficial social and political policy. I am honored and privileged to have had the opportunity to participate is such a synergistic program.
Al Grande (EPFP 2004-2005)
Assistant Professor of Educational Administration
Gwynedd-Mercy College

The EPFP brings the educator to the next level and converts conversation into commitment. No educator’s training is complete without this experience.
Tom Chapman (EPFP 2004-2005)
Reading School District

The EPFP immerses Fellows in a unique blend of education policy, analysis, national networking and leadership training. As a direct result of EPFP, I’ve developed relationships with Fellows throughout Pennsylvania and in several other states (including program alumni). Anyone serious about education policy and leadership will find EPFP benefits far exceed the required investment.
Brian Petula (EPFP 2003-2004)
Corporate Director
Future Connect

There is no better way to gain a more thorough and integrated understanding of policy options in Pennsylvania’s complex educational systems than to participate in the Education Policy Fellowship Program. It is a superb way to break down barriers of geography, specialization, and life experience in order to focus on the needs of 21st Century students.
Representative Mark Cohen (EPFP 2002-2003)
Chairman, House Democratic Caucus
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

I have participated in numerous professional development programs during my 30 years as an administrator and none of them have provided me with so much relevant information that could be immediately applicable to my administrative position.
Dr. Mary Frances Archey (EPFP 2002-2003)
Dean of Arts and Sciences
Community College of Allegheny County – South Campus

The EPLC Fellows program has been educational, motivational, and the best professional development experience of my life. It enhanced my role as a state leader and gave me the opportunity to network with so many people who believe in public education and the future of children in Pennsylvania.
Carol S. Ritter (EPFP 2002-2003)
President, Pennsylvania PTA
Board Member, Northampton School District

This program provided a wonderful opportunity to listen and learn from different perspectives as we work together to improve educational results for all children.
Dr. Frances Warkomski (EPFP 2002-2003)
Director, Bureau of Special Education
Pennsylvania Department of Education