TeamUP Volunteer & Partnership Council Biographies
Dr. Sue Gordon, President: Sue Gordon received her doctoral degree
in sociology from the University of Chicago. After teaching at Ithaca
College and then Boston University for ten years, she was principal
investigator for a number of research projects and program evaluations
in the Boston area. She has a daughter and son. When her son was
diagnosed with dyslexia, her attention turned from health administration
to special education. In 2013, she was granted emerita status
from Fielding Graduate University's Program for Educational Leadership
and Change at where faculty members are called “Mentors” and the average
age of the students is 46. She has volunteered in the Gulf Gate, and
Wilkinson schools, for Dance the Next Generation, and currently
volunteers in the ballet box office and with SCTI students in Newtown.
Dr. Tom Buchanan, Vice President: Tom is a recently retired principal from Sarasota County
Public School District. He earned his bachelor and master’s degrees from Kent
State University. While in Kent, Ohio, he taught remedial reading until he
completed his educational specialist degree in School Psychology. Tom worked as
a school psychologist in Akron, Ohio, Orange County, Sarasota County, and Palm
Beach County School systems for seventeen years. While working as a school psychologist, Tom
furthered his passion for leadership by earning his doctorate in educational
leadership from Nova Southeastern University. Tom then worked as an assistant
principal for nine years at both the middle and elementary levels. He was
fortunate to be selected as principal of Tuttle Elementary School in 2004 where
he spent the last 10 years of his career. During these 10 years, Tuttle
Elementary was rated as an “A” school the last eight consecutive years. Tom was
named Principal of the Year in Sarasota County in 2009. Tom is married to his
supportive wife, Pam, the current principal at Gocio Elementary School. They
have a daughter who teaches gifted students in Jupiter Florida and three
grandchildren. Together they enjoy boating, entertaining friends, traveling,
and spending time with family. Tom currently provides educational consulting to
the school board on a variety of special projects and serves as a mentor for
Dr. Judy Snodgrass, Recording Secretary: Dr. Judy
Snodgrass has dedicated her life to educating and helping others. For
30 years she taught Special Education and was Director of Special
Services for three school districts. During her distinguished career as
an educator and advocate in Michigan, Dr. Snodgrass also served on the
board of directors for the Council for Exceptional Children, Genesee
County Special Education Administrators and the Consortium on Child
Abuse and Neglect. After retiring to Sarasota in 2000, Dr. Snodgrass has
continued to serve her community. She volunteers as a tutor for the
Sarasota County schools. In addition, she holds board positions with
the Michigan Association of Retired School Personnel, the General
Federation of Women’s Clubs of Sarasota, Del Sol Homeowner’s
Association, and at her church, St. James UMC. In her leisure time, Dr.
Snodgrass enjoys spending time with her grown children and five
grandchildren, reading, and walking her dog, Indy.
Kathryn Coleman, Corresponding Secretary: Bio coming soon.
Thomas Watson, Treasurer:
is retired and has lived with his wife Gwen in the Sarasota area for nine
years. He grew up in Oklahoma and completed degrees in Physics and Earth
Science at Davidson College and the University of Pittsburgh, respectively. His
career was spent primarily working in oil and gas exploration, taking him and
his family to Venezuela, Norway, and New Orleans. He has three sons who are
scattered from Virginia to Colorado. Tom serves as a part-time tutor at Alta
Vista Elementary School. His interests include golf, kayaking, tennis, and
travel. He was formerly a youth soccer referee and administrator and holds
memberships in the Society of Exploration Geophysicists and American
Dr. Patricia Williams, Immediate Past President: Pat has resided in Sarasota since 1977. A lifelong educator, she holds a bachelor’s degree from the state University of New York, and a master’s degree and doctorate in education from Nova Southeastern University. She retired after 27 years in Sarasota County, serving as a middle school teacher and staff development specialist. Currently, she works part-time as an educational consultant. She also serves as the treasurer and scholarship chair for the Sarasota County Retired Educators Association. Pat is married and has two children. Three of her grandchildren attend Sarasota schools. In addition to spending time with her family, Pat enjoys painting, drawing, and playing the piano.
Shelly Nierman, Immediate Vice President: Shelly is the University
Department Chair and Program Director for the Bachelor of Science in
Elementary Education Program at Keiser University. She earned a
bachelor’s degree in music education and church music from Gustavus
Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. After graduating with her
bachelor’s degree, she moved to Arizona where she worked as an associate
director of church music for two years and a music teacher in the
public schools for eighteen years. While teaching, she continued her
education by earning a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from
Northern Arizona University. She is editor for Making Music Fun, a
website devoted to free music resources for elementary music classroom
teachers, private music instructors, and homeschool parents. In 2007 she
married her supportive, loving husband David. Together they enjoy
sneaking away for the weekend to various local destinations. Shelly
volunteers with the Chapter Chats program at Brookside Middle School and
volunteers at the Asolo Repertory Theatre.
Danielle Schwied, Volunteer & Partnership Coordinator: Bio coming soon.
Cindy Eley: Originally from Atlanta, Georgia and a proud graduate of the
University of Georgia, Cindy relocated to Sarasota in 2010 from Los Angeles,
California. Cindy is the proud mother to her daughter, Ashley-Michele, a
talented artist, who graduated from San Francisco State University. Cindy has
enjoyed a rewarding career in the corporate world, having held executive
management positions with industry leaders including Fedex, and Citigroup. She also
owned and operated her own highly successful concierge, catering and delivery
service for the film and television industry in Southern California for over 10
years. Cindy has long demonstrated an interest in our underserved youth. She
actively volunteers as a grant writer for WOSMOH, an organization focused on at
risk youth, serves as a Guardian ad Litem, and is also the proud Volunteer&
Partner Coordinator for Booker High School.
Garnett: Kia L. Garnett
relocated to Sarasota, Florida from Silver Spring Maryland in 2006 as a retired
educator. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Cheyney State University
in Elementary Education and a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education Administration
at American University in Washington, D.C. During her educational career, she
served for 45 years as an educator with a strong commitment to her educational
beliefs that public education must be free and appropriate for all students,
regardless of one’s life challenges. In light of this belief, Kia served in the
District of Columbia Public Schools for thirty five years as an Elementary
Teacher, Instructional Supervisor, Assistant Principal and Principal.
Following her first retirement, she served as a Staff Specialist for the State
Board of Education in Baltimore, Maryland providing technical assistance and
over-sight to low performing schools. Her educational career path would not
have been complete, unless she served in the community in which she resided.
Because of this, she worked for the Sarasota County School District as a
facilitator for the Title 1 School Improvement Office, providing monitoring and
support for the Supplemental Educational Services in the Title 1 schools as
well as facilitator for monitoring of the Title 1 students in private schools.
During her leisure time, she enjoys traveling, the arts, and now enjoys
volunteering in the Sarasota County School District Volunteer & Partnership
Office and serving on the Council.
Diane Hein: Diane worked as an executive secretary having
majored in this field at a college in Boston.
French and Spanish languages were the focus of her studies. She later received a BA from the University
of Hartford in Secondary Education majoring in English. Subsequently, she taught Language Training
classes at a private school in Connecticut.
After her move to Florida in 2005, she volunteered at SCTI in their ESOL
program and teaches English to adults.
She was awarded Outstanding Adult Volunteer in 2007 which eventually led
to her membership on the PALS Community Advisory Board from 2008-2014. In 2015, she renewed her membership on the
Volunteer and Partnership Council (formerly the CAB). She continues her ninth year of volunteer
work in ESOL at Suncoast Technical College (formerly SCTI).
Dr. Pamela Houfek: Pam Houfek, Ph.D. (Bachelor’s degree in Elementary
Education from University of Florida; Specific Leaning Disabilities and
Behavioral Management Master’s degree from University of South Florida and
Doctorate in Curriculum and Interdisciplinary Instruction from University of South
Florida). Pam has more than 34 years of experience as an educator and
volunteer for Sarasota County Public Schools and multiple organizations in
Sarasota community. She is past-president of the Council (formerly known as the PALS Community Advisory
Board). Pam’s educational experiences range from teaching in elementary
and middle schools, to administrator assignments in high school and as Director
of Professional Development, Teacher Evaluation, and School Improvement. She
worked as a specialist with the West Coast Educational Leadership Network and
was a master trainer for Leadership Development for Teachers throughout the
state. Pam has supervised interns for the University of South Florida. She
retired from the Sarasota Public Schools and is a consultant working with the
Florida Department of Education and teacher performance plans for the district.
Pam resides with her husband, John, in Sarasota and North Carolina. They have
four sons in Florida, Virginia and Minnesota
Dr. Wendy Katz, B.S., M.A., Ed.S., Ed.D.: Wendy Katz
has been an educator for 38 years. Originally from Philadelphia, she
moved to Sarasota in 1977. Wendy began her career as a special
education teacher at Brentwood and then became Curriculum Coordinator at
Gocio and Pine View. She served as an Assistant Principal at Sarasota
Middle and Principal at Laurel Nokomis, and Tatum Ridge. She served
eight years as the Director of Leadership Development where she
coordinated all leadership training for educators. She created a retired
administrator mentoring program for new administrators, a Leadership
Academy for aspiring administrators and an Assistant Principal
Internship. As of June 1, 2014, Dr. Katz will serve as the Interim
Director of Temple Beth Sholom Schools. She is a graduate of the
National Staff Development Council Academy and served on the NASSP
Principal Preparation Task Force. Also, she is private educational
consultant and an adjunct professor at USF. She received her Bachelor’s
Degree in Special Education, a Master’s Degree in Reading,
certification in Gifted Education, her Specialist’s and Doctorate
Degrees in Educational Leadership.
Susan Lacey: Susan, a native Floridian, was born in Hollywood Florida and moved to the Sarasota area in 1980. She resides in North Port with her husband of 24 years, Phillip, and 14 year old daughter, Kaitlin. Susan and Phillip traveled to China in 2000 to adopt Kaitlin when she was 9 months old. Susan’s mother, Johanna McQueen, served in the educational system for over 30 years. Prior to her death in 1998, she was principal at North Port Glenallen Elementary School. Susan has worked in the credit union industry for 26 years. She currently serves as Vice President of Operations in the Sarasota area for Achieva Credit Union. Susan is a volunteer with Suncoast Community Blood Bank, hosting several blood drives a year. In addition, she facilitates fundraising events for All Children’s Hospital. Susan is also participating in the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program and is looking forward to mentoring North Port High School students in the PBD Decisions to Win program.
Sally Mancheno: Bio coming soon.
Mandy O’Malley: After returning to her hometown of Sarasota after college, Mandy began her professional career as a child advocate. For the past 13 years Mandy has proudly worked at the Child Protection Center towards the goal of ending child abuse and creating a community in which all children are safe. She is a professional public speaker, prevention and parenting educator, program director, and believer that protecting children is everyone's job. Mandy was lucky enough to meet her best friend and sweetheart in the fourth grade. Happily married for 16 years, Mandy & Shawn lovingly revolve their world around their two beloved boys, Jack & Liam. Her family is her safe place, grounding, and daily inspiration. Volunteering, reading, camping and baking are her hobbies. Sharing the company of her family and friends is her favorite way to spend time.
Lynn Tressler: Lynn
is passionate about the education and well-being of students. Lynn grew up in
Bad Axe, Michigan. She has resided in Florida since 1973, moving to the
Sarasota area in 1978. Lynn has been volunteering in the Sarasota County School
System since 1989, and has been a member of the Council (formerly known as PALS
Community Advisory Board) for eight years. Lynn has been employed
by the Sarasota County School Board since February 1989. Lynn has served as
President of Sarasota County Association of Education Office Professionals
Christopher Brantley, Associate: Bio coming soon.