Mary Kay Babyak became the Consortium’s Executive Director in 2016. She was promoted to the post after serving as Senior Director of Programs & Organization, leading several of the Consortium’s key initiatives and helping plan and implement overall organizational strategy. Driven by the belief that all students have amazing potential and can all develop it given the right opportunities, Mary Kay has spearheaded a pilot initiative designed to bring business and community support to school districts seeking to improve career learning and ensure students all benefit from the kinds of experiences needed to build career awareness and skills that aren’t formally taught.
Previously, she oversaw the Consortium’s The Forum, which brings together teams of educators from districts working to create cultures of excellence in their schools while developing their own leadership capabilities. As part of The Forum’s focus on personalization, Mary Kay led the Consortium’s MAPS (My Action Plan for Success) initiative, which was designed to help schools give all students a process and the adult support they need to develop viable plans for post-secondary education and careers.
Prior to joining the Consortium as Director of Initiatives in 2007, she was co-director of the APEX Consortium, which was based at Duquesne University and provided professional development for K-12 educators. For 12 years before founding APEX, Mary Kay worked with the Council for Basic Education in Washington, D.C., directing the national program of Fellowships for Independent Study in the Humanities.
Jackie Foor is the Consortium’s Director of Organizational Advancement, responsible for planning and overseeing fundraising and for helping develop overall strategy and programming. She has extensive experience working both in schools and nonprofits, especially in the area of workforce development for youth and adults.
One of her earliest posts, teaching job-seeking skills to adults who’d lost jobs amid the region’s industrial decline, made her want to help kids get those same skills and others while they were still in school, so that they’d be able to adapt throughout their lives to economic and job market changes.
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. She holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Penn State and a master’s in professional leadership from Carlow University.
Aaron Altemus is a Program Director with a hand in a number of Consortium initiatives. One of his principle roles is helping organize The Forum, which supports teams of educators in developing their leadership capabilities as they take on projects aimed at achieving “high priority” goals for their districts and schools. Aaron also helps organize and staff Opening Doors and the Refugee Youth Employment Program, which respectively aim to improve transitions students make between middle and high school and from high school to post-secondary education and jobs.
Before joining the Consortium in 2014, Aaron held a variety of positions in the Wilkinsburg School District, teaching English and social studies, as well as coordinating the Gifted and Talented program and directing the district’s afterschool program. Mr. Altemus has a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s in teaching.
Gina Barrett is a Program Director who focuses on connecting students with opportunities to explore post-secondary education and career paths. Her primary responsibility is running The Future Is Mine (TFIM), a career exploration and leadership development program for students in nearly 30 high schools and career and technical centers across several counties. Additionally, she serves as our Webmaster, provides support for other programs, including College & Career Knowledge and helps organize our annual Champions of Learning Awards celebration.
One of those people who connects easily with others, Gina has a talent for reaching into the community to continually expand the network of businesses, organizations and individuals who can bring opportunities and experiences to the youth in our partnering districts. Prior to joining to the Consortium in 2001, she served as Office Manager and Production Assistant for Quest Fore, a marketing communications firm in Pittsburgh that provided videography services, among others. She is a graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.
Sarah Brooks came to the Consortium in 2017 after working in both education and workforce development. Immediately before joining our staff, she was manager of two workforce development programs—the National Robotics League, run by the National Tooling and Machining Association and Southwestern PA BotsIQ, run by the Pittsburgh Chapter National Tooling and Machining Foundation. Both programs strive to promote manufacturing careers to high school students by engaging them in regional and national combat robotics competitions.
Sarah loves combining her background in education and applied learning to help kids discover their career aspirations. Before involving herself in career and workforce development programming, she was a high school science teacher in classrooms spanning three states. Over seven years she taught in Illinois and later in New York and Ohio, where she also earned her Master of Science Teaching in Earth Science from Wright State University.
Sarah earned her B.S. in Marine Sciences from Eckerd College and also holds a B.A. in Tourism and Recreation Management from Niagara University.
Leslie A. Collette
Director of Finance & Human Resources
Leslie Collette is our Director of Finance & Human Resources. She’s been with the Consortium since 1991, when she earned her bachelor’s degree at Point Park University. Leslie oversees the Consortium’s finances and employee benefits programs.
Vicki Corwin started working in 1990 with a predecessor organization, the Mon Valley Education Consortium. Prior to that, she worked as a temp at the Fisher Body plant in West Mifflin and attended Westmoreland County Community College.
A Program Director involved with both students and educators, Mary Dodaro currently co-directs The Forum and helps organize and staff Opening Doors, a transition program for 8th grade students whose schools believe they’d benefit from additional support as they prepare for their freshman year in high school.
Committed to the belief that a free, high-quality education is our children’s birthright, Mary joined us after many years in the classroom, most recently in Monessen City School District, where she taught English language arts. While there, she had participated in two of our programs, including as a team advisor for The Future Is Mine (TFIM) and as chair of one of the Leadership Design teams that were precursors to our Forum teams. Mary became such a champion of our work that she served a year as our Educator-in-Residence in 2011, then became a permanent staffer in 2015 after a brief return to the classroom.
She began her career in education in the Chicago Public Schools after earning a bachelor’s degree in education from California University of Pennsylvania. She also studied film at Columbia College in Chicago.
Director of Communications
Pamela Gaynor is the Consortium’s Director of Communications. She plans, executes and engages staff in all of our 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 must play in equalizing opportunity and breaking down socio-economic barriers.
Just prior to joining the Consortium, Pam was Manager of Media Relations & Publications for the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, a post that transitioned her nonprofit communications. Before entering the nonprofit world, she had a 2-decade career as a business journalist, most recently as a staff writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and a regular freelancer for Reuters.
She began her career in McGraw Hill’s Washington D.C. bureau after earning dual degrees from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications and College of Liberal Arts.
Patricia E. Hoke
With a lifelong admiration for the creativity teachers bring to their classrooms, Patricia Hoke is a Program Director working with school personnel and community partners to enhance learning experiences for youth. She also serves as event planner for our annual Champions of Learning Awards celebration, which recognizes individuals and groups who create or support outstanding learning opportunities for students across western Pennsylvania.
A Consortium staffer since 1988, Patti led one of the Consortium’s earliest initiatives, the Great Ideas Grants program, which, in its time, awarded more than $1.6 million to spark innovative, hands-on classroom projects. She also coordinated Journey to Learn, a multi-district professional development opportunity that foreshadowed the “unconference” style of professional development events we see being organized today.
John McGrail is a Program Director involved in numerous initiatives including The Forum, College & Career Knowledge and Career Ready. He began working with us in 2007 after retiring as a teacher of Advanced Placement economics and government in South Allegheny School District but still looking for opportunities to connect with and help kids.
John also previously worked with the APEX Consortium, a nonprofit that provided professional development for educators. He earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and a master’s in History from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a doctoral degree in international and developmental education from the University of Pittsburgh. He also has a secondary principal’s certification from Pitt and a school counselor’s certificate from Duquesne. During his graduate work at Pitt, he placed and supervised student teachers and conducted seminars for them during their practicums.
Candice Williams came to the Consortium in 2017 after working both in business and education. Most recently, she served as a Learning & Development Consultant for PNC Financial Services Group where she held a leadership role in an enterprise-wide change management initiative. She previously worked in various capacities of new program development, change management, process improvement, and team leadership in the education and business sectors.
Before joining PNC, Candice held several program management positions at Relay Graduate School of Education in New York City and at Citizen Schools in Charlotte, North Carolina. In these roles, she designed and managed nationally recognized programs, led data-driven process improvement and change management efforts, and managed partnerships across various organizations.
Candice holds a Master of Public Management from Carnegie Mellon University and a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh. She is passionate about education as a means to equip people to reach their full potential and purpose.
A former career counselor, Maureen Pedzwater is a Program Director and working to give kids hands-on learning opportunities. She’s organizes Student Powered Solutions, 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.
Prior to joining our staff in 2016, she was a Career Counselor at South Fayette Township High School from 2005-2013 and more recently had worked as an independent consultant and project-based learning coordinator. She also had previously been employed with us when the Consortium still was known as the Mon Valley Education Consortium. Maureen holds a bachelor’s in business management from Carlow University.
Jennifer Sethman is a Program Director whose primary focus is on College & Career Knowledge, which provides students with opportunities to explore college or apprenticeships. Additionally, she contriubutes to other programming including Opening Doors, which works with 8th graders whose schools believe they could use extra support as they face the transition to high school. Previously, Jenn helped a pilot group of schools implement MAPS (My Action Plan for Success), a framework and process the Consortium developed to improve post-secondary planning for students. A former classroom teacher, she joined the Consortium in 2006 and still thrills to see students gain self-efficacy and glimpse the future through their eyes. She came to us after teaching at East Allegheny School District. Prior to that, she was a high school credit recovery instructor at Community College of Allegheny County. Jenn earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education at California University of Pennsylvania.