Volunteers and Partnerships

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 new administrators.

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:   Tom 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 Geophysical Union.

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.

Kia 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 (SCAEOP).

Christopher Brantley, Associate:  Bio coming soon.


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Volunteer & Partnership Office
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Staff Listing

8/24/2017 - Charter Review Committee

8/24/2017 - Brookside Middle Open House

8/24/2017 - Tatum Ridge Open House (Kg-2nd Grade)

8/29/2017 - Woodland Middle Open House

8/29/2017 - Bay Haven PTO Open House (K-2nd)

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