Mary Kay Babyak has been the Consortium’s Executive Director since 2016. She was appointed to the post after serving as Senior Director of Programs & Organization. In that capacity, she led several key initiatives and helped plan and implement the Consortium’s overall strategy.
Since assuming her current role, Mary Kay established an organizational focus on “future readiness.” As part of it, she has put programs in place to support school districts in helping students access the opportunities and experiences they need to explore and prepare for post-secondary education and careers.
A strong believer that partnerships with employers play a critical role in preparing students, she has encouraged collaboration between businesses and schools and expanded business engagement in Consortium programming as well.
Prior to joining the Consortium in 2007, Mary Kay was co-director of the APEX Consortium. Based at Duquesne University, APEX provided professional development for K-12 educators. For 12 years before founding APEX, she worked at the Council for Basic Education in Washington, directing its national program of Fellowships for Independent Study in the Humanities.
In her off hours, Mary Kay can most likely be found reading, hiking, or enjoying the company of her family. Learn more on LinkedIn.
Jackie Foor is the Consortium’s Director of Organizational Advancement. Throughout her career, she has been focused on workforce development both in schools and nonprofit organizations. One of her earliest posts, working with adults who’d lost jobs amid the region’s industrial decline, made her want to help kids build the skills they need so that they’d be able to adapt throughout their lives to economic and job market changes.
In her current role, she is responsible for planning and overseeing fundraising and for helping develop overall strategy, programming, and partnerships. Prior to joining the Consortium in 2013, Jackie had worked for the Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Pittsburgh and the Mt. Lebanon Education Foundation. She also had worked previously with the Consortium’s predecessor organization, the Mon Valley Education Consortium (MVEC), writing grants and coordinating a statewide advocacy project around No Child Left Behind. Additionally, she has experience in adult education, both through the Allegheny Intermediate Unit and Altoona Area School District.
When she’s not at work, Jackie might be found reading, taking walks or biking. But her favorite pastime is food – cooking and exploring festivals, restaurants, and breweries all around the Pittsburgh region. Learn more on LinkedIn.
Aaron Altemus has worked in education for 10 years, including as a teacher in the Wilkinsburg School District, and now as a Consortium Program Director. His experience has committed him to helping build a more equitable and sustainable learning community in the region that is grounded in empathy and collective problem-solving. Aaron enjoys collaborating with educators to create authentic learning experiences for students using Project-Based Learning (PBL) and Human-Centered Design (HCD). He studied PBL at the Buck Institute and earned certification as an HCD trainer through the LUMA Institute. In his spare time, Aaron can be found digging for old vinyl records, hiking across Pittsburgh’s many neighborhoods, or enjoying a cup of coffee and a good-hearted debate on his front porch in Dormont. Learn more on LinkedIn.
Gina Barrett brings an organizational background gained through previous work as a film production assistant and office manager to her Consortium role as a Program Director overseeing our exploration program for high school students, The Future Is Mine (TFIM). She also oversees the Be a Middle School Mentor program that we offer in partnership with United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania. A colleague who connects easily with others, Gina has a talent for reaching into the community to continually expand the network of individuals, businesses, and organizations that can bring opportunities and experiences to the youth in our partnering districts. When she’s off duty, she’s having fun with her family that’s often centered on food or travel. She’s a terrific cook, an avid reader, and is first on board for almost any ocean cruise. Learn more on LinkedIn.
Sarah Brooks came to the Consortium with a background in education and workforce development. As a Program Director, she applies perspectives from both to help educators understand employer expectations and how to best prepare students. She also applies her six years of experience as a high school teacher to a variety of Consortium programs, including the Project-Based Learning experiences that we offer in partnership with local companies through Student Powered Solutions. Sarah also assists with our training programs, giving workshops in PBL and Human Centered Design (HCD). She studied PBL at the Buck Institute and earned HCD certification from the LUMA Institute. When she’s not at work, Sarah has her hands full with two delightful kids. She’s always up for adventures with her family and friends, whether on hiking trails, on the water, or athletic fields of any description. Learn more on LinkedIn.
Director of Finance & Human Resources
Leslie Collette is our Director of Finance & Human Resources. A longtime veteran of the Consortium, she joined us fresh out of college and has been keeping us on budget ever since. Les has seen her responsibilities grow with the Consortium and has grown along with them. They now include all the headaches that come with keeping tabs on payroll, benefits, and employment policies for our staff. As you might expect, she’s a whiz with numbers. But Les also likes leaving higher math at the office to kick back at home with her family or in the dog park with her Husky-Lab mix, Oakley. Learn more on LinkedIn.
Vicki Corwin has been with the Consortium almost since its founding. As our Office Manager, she is our “front line.” Hers is the first voice most people hear when they call and the last pair of eyes on most of the written communications that come from us. She not only brings the institutional memory and insights that only someone with her tenure can offer, she also brings the meticulous attention to detail of someone who has worked as an administrative professional throughout her career. She’s a world-class proofreader and NO she’s NOT looking for a new job! When she’s not busy catching our mistakes, fixing them, and keeping us organized, she’s having fun with her family and playing with her big, beautiful Yellow Lab, Shelby. Learn more on LinkedIn.
Pamela Gaynor is the Consortium’s Director of Communications. She brings a background from both the media and nonprofit worlds to her work planning, executing, and engaging staff in efforts to raise public awareness of our mission and programs. She joined the Consortium in 2008 out of a longstanding interest in public education and the critical role it plays in equalizing opportunity. Just prior to joining the Consortium, Pam was Manager of Media Relations & Publications for the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, a post that transitioned her into nonprofit communications from a 20+ year career as a business journalist. Outside the office, you’ll most likely find her walking her Wheaten Terrier; working in her garden; trying a new recipe; reading literary fiction or teaching herself something new on YouTube, which she finds a revolutionary force for lifelong learning. Learn more on LinkedIn.
Sarah Grace Jackson joined our staff in October 2018 as Program Director for the Consortium’s Prime Time after-school program in Woodland Hills School District. An advocate and mentor for youth, she’s a natural to lead an after-school program. She tries to make kids challenge themselves and marks headway every time she sparks an interest that makes a youngster want to try harder. A 2012 alumnus of Wilkinsburg High School, she attended Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, NC where she pursued her passion for poetry as a member of the campus chapter of the Black Ink Monk P.O.E.T. (Profound Orators of Elevated Thinking) society. In her off hours, Sarah performs Spoken Word poetry, does gigs as a D.J. and enjoys photography. Learn more on LinkedIn.
Frank Kamara became a Program Associate with the Consortium in 2019 after serving as an apprentice through Public Allies’ leadership preparation program. He brings experience as a youth mentor, program facilitator, and community organizer. Driven by a desire to empower community, Frank helps organize the Be A Middle School Mentor program that we offer in partnership with United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania. He also is involved in the PartnerUp program that PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. launched in collaboration with the Consortium to provide pre-employment training directly to high school students. When he’s not at work, Frank enjoys volunteering to encourage black community achievement and networking to introduce new resources to the communities where he lives, works, and plays. And as far as play goes, he’s always up for a soccer game. Learn more on LinkedIn.
Christy Kuehn, PhD
Christy Kuehn joined the Consortium as a Program Director in September 2018. Experienced in both academic settings and the nonprofit sector, she brings more than 10 years of experience as a high school English teacher as well as seven years working at the college level as an instructor and academic advisor. Since joining our staff, she’s been involved with a number of initiatives. Most recently, she has assumed responsibility for coordinating our work with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) and begun helping to organize our Future Ready Alliance. Christy also supports our professional development programming and helps organize Educator in the Workforce. When she’s not at work, Christy loves Broadway plays and is a regular at the theater whenever they make their Pittsburgh debuts. She also loves playing with her dog, Foxy, a natty Pomeranian who she keeps fashion-forward with a bow tie around his neck. Learn more on LinkedIn.
A former career counselor, Maureen Pedzwater is a Program Director devoted to giving kids hands-on learning opportunities. She helped launch our Student Powered Solutions program, which brings schools and companies together to provide students with project-based learning experiences in which they can apply their classroom learning to authentic business challenges. With 20+ years of experience in career and workforce development both with adults and in public schools, Maureen is passionate about making sure students get the skills, knowledge, and experiences they need to adequately prepare for the workplace and careers. As a grandmother of three girls–two in Los Angeles and one in Albany–she even carries that passion over into her free time, checking in on their schools whenever she visits to make sure that “real world” learning is woven into their classroom experience. Learn more on LinkedIn.
Debbie Pixton brings expertise in professional development for educators and organizing a region-wide collaboration around college and career readiness to her role as a Program Director at the Consortium. She applies her passion for helping employers and educators make connections across sectors and silos across multiple Consortium programs. One initiative she’s focused on is Future Ready Partnerships, which we launched in 2018 to help employers and schools collaborate to improve career exploration and preparation opportunities for students across southwestern Pennsylvania. Outside the Consortium, Debbie is busy with two darling daughters. She enjoys supporting the arts, volunteering at her church, and surveying nature. Learn more on LinkedIn.
Jennifer Sethman brings experience as a classroom teacher to her work with both educators and students. Among other responsibilities, she helps organize our Educator in the Workforce program and our career exploration program for high school students, The Future Is Mine (TFIM). Jenn also serves as STEAM Coordinator for the Prime Time after-school program that we offer in Woodland Hills School District, and she is heavily involved in organizing the annual Champions of Learning Awards celebration that we host in partnership with United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania. When she’s not at work, Jenn could be the archetypal soccer mom, if only her kids played soccer. Instead, you’ll find her coaching daughter Abby’s softball games or in the stands for her son Chuckie’s wrestling matches and football games. Learn more on LinkedIn.