engage - collaborate - reflect - strengthen

Leadership Team

Richard Lemons, Executive Director
Richard Lemons served as deputy director for the Center for five years before taking the position as director.  Prior to that time he had a lengthy relationship with the Center.  Richard facilitated the SIIP Network for several years and coordinated curriculum and teaching for the Urban School Leaders Fellowship in Fairfield County. Richard comes to the Center with experience as a teacher, change coach, literacy coach, university professor, and policy advocate. Over the last fifteen years of his career, Richard has focused on supporting districts in large-scale instructional improvement and leadership development. Richard has served as associate director of the Harvard Change Leadership Group, director for UConn’s Institute for Urban School Improvement, and faculty member of the department of education leadership at UConn. Most recently, Richard was vice president for k-12 policy and practice at the Education Trust. He received a bachelor’s in political science from North Carolina State University and master’s and doctorates in administration, planning, and social policy from Harvard.

Jerry Belair, Program Coordinator
Jerry Belair comes to the Center after 39 years in public education. Jerry served as superintendent in Waterford and Weston. Earlier in his career, he served as assistant superintendent in Southington and as principal of a nationally-recognized Blue Ribbon Middle School during his 16 years in East Lyme. Under his leadership, Weston High School was ranked as the top high school in Connecticut and in the top 1% of high schools in the country by US News and World Report. In 1997, Jerry was recognized by the New England League of Middle Schools for his distinguished service in advancing middle level education. He served as president of NELMS and on the board of the National Middle School Association. Jerry joins the Center to support instructional improvement for all students, facilitate the development of leadership teams, coach leaders and advance systemic improvement. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University, advance degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Southern CT State University, and is an adjunct professor at UConn.

Laura Boutilier, Program Coordinator
Laura Boutilier comes to the Center after eight years as Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction in Rocky Hill. Prior to Rocky Hill, she served as principal of two middle schools, one of which was cited as a U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon Award for Excellence middle school. In 1993 Laura was recognized as Middle School Principal of the Year by the CT Association of Schools. She was president of the CT Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and served as adjunct faculty at the University of Connecticut and St. Joseph College. As program coordinator, Laura works directly with selected school districts partnering with the Center on systemic instructional improvement and instructional rounds.  She co-facilitates the Urban School Leaders Fellowship program in Fairfield County.

Roberta Kurlantzick, Program Coordinator
Roberta Kurlantzick comes to the Center with over thirty years experience in school leadership and school improvement.  Prior to joining the Center’s staff, she served as principal of two schools in Farmington. During her tenure there, she was selected as a Connecticut National Distinguished Principal.  Since her retirement, Roberta has been consulting with school districts and the State Department of Education on aspects of school improvement. As program coordinator, Roberta works directly with school districts that are partnering with the Center on systemic instructional improvement and co-facilitates a network of central office and school leaders.

Kerry Lord, Program Coordinator
Kerry Lord serves as the coordinator for the coaching program for recently-appointed school principals in New Haven. Prior to coming to the Center, Kerry served as principal of two elementary schools in Aurora, Colorado; was the director of the Rocky Mountain School of Expeditionary Learning in Denver; and consulted for the Colorado Department of Education and Educators for Social Responsibility.  She comes to the Center with training from the National Institute for School Leadership, Breakthrough Coaching, and Facilitative Leadership.

Patrice Nelson, Program Coordinator
Patrice Nelson joined the Center in September, 2003. Previously, Ms. Nelson served as a facilitator to nine Higher Order Thinking (HOT) Schools throughout the state. She also worked half-time for the Suffield School district as a district-wide coordinator. Earlier, she served as facilitator for the Understanding by Design curriculum for the Capitol Region Education Council. She began her teaching career in the Albuquerque public schools and worked for several school districts in Connecticut. Ms. Nelson provides technical assistance and coaching to districts working on systemic instructional improvement and is the co-developer of the Parents Supporting Educational Excellence curriculum.

Isobel Stevenson, Program Coordinator
Isobel Stevenson comes to the Center with eleven years’ experience in school leadership, including 9 as a middle school principal in the Boulder Valley School District, Colorado.  She then moved into district leadership, spending four years as chief academic officer.  Since leaving that post, Isobel has taught in the principal preparation programs at the University of Denver, San José State University, and now UConn.  She has extensive experience in coaching, is a professional certified coach through the International Coach Federation, has a PhD in human and organizational development, and consults with organizations in leadership development and coaching models.  She joins the Center to support the Center’s coaching and leadership development work, including the LEAD Connecticut coaching program for turnaround principals.

Susan Varuolo, Office Administrator
Susan is the Office Administrator for the Center. Susan received her bachelor’s degree from Western Connecticut State University and is certified to teach Art K-12. She has experience teaching and in administrative roles. She provides operational and administrative management in support of the Center’s programs.

Bridget Nahabedian, Executive Assistant
Bridget Nahabedian joined the Center in 2015 as Executive Assistant.  Bridget comes to the Center with experience in education and administrative support services from the corporate and non-profit communities.  Bridget received a Master of Arts in Teaching from Quinnipiac University in 2009 where she also received a certification in teaching English Language Arts grades 7-12.  Bridget is responsible for the daily administrative aspects of the Center including event coordination, staff support, and public relations.