Open Sky Education inspires, equips and supports serving leaders to pursue full potential, live flourishing lives and serve Greater Purpose. Whether in the classroom, school leadership, or a support role, we work together as a team to create more opportunities for more children.
- Dan Depies, Chief Operating Officer
- Jeremy Ehlers, Chief Financial Officer
- Erica Neuberger, Executive Assistant
- Andrew Neumann, Ph.D., Executive Chair and CEO
Dan Depies, Chief Operating Officer
Dan is our newest team member joining our team and family in January 2021 as Chief Operating Officer. He is working with us to ensure we provide a consistently high quality full and lasting education to our existing scholars while working to prepare the organization for continual improvement and growth. Dan brings his passion for serving others, his purpose driven mindset, and his talents of leadership, stewardship, and eagerness for learning to us.
Dan previously was Chief Mission Officer at Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin and Metro Chicago. At Goodwill, Dan led the core Mission Services and Mission Operations of more than 1,450 employees which served over 45,000 individuals and helped individuals into almost 8,000 jobs annually across government, education, healthcare, manufacturing, and service industries. He managed a $120M budget across two states that serves a diverse population of individuals with disabilities and other barriers to employment. Dan has been with Goodwill for 10 years, joining in June 2010. Previously, Dan spent 14 years in Management Consulting supporting clients in Manufacturing, Health Care, and Financial Service industries with IT systems, process, and new product launch projects. Dan has a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting and Management Information Systems from University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.
Jeremy Ehlers, Chief Financial Officer
Jeremy joined the team in January 2014 and served as the schools controller before taking on the role of CFO. Previously at CliftonLarsonAllen, a top ten CPA and consulting firm, Jeremy focused on providing assurance services to clients in the nonprofit, construction and employee benefit plan industries. In addition, Jeremy worked with several national clients that participate in school choice programs.
Jeremy received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He is a member of the Wisconsin Institute of Certified Public Accountants (WICPA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Jeremy also serves on the board of 4C For Children Milwaukee and previously volunteered his time as a basketball coach at HOPE Christian High School.
Erica Neuberger, Executive Assistant
Erica shares her gifts of communication, organization and efficiency with the entire national office team and assists the chief officers with scheduling, communications, and project management. She also coordinates committee meetings, travel arrangements, board documentation and various other projects.
Erica’s background includes 12 years at Mount Mary University where she held various leadership positions within the marketing and public relations office. Her primary responsibilities included recruitment publications, website management, advertising and communications. Erica’s efforts helped secure record enrollment for the college for many of the years she served the institution. Erica also worked for two years in public affairs at two Milwaukee area hospitals upon her graduation from college.
Erica holds a business administration degree with emphases in human resources and marketing from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
Andrew Neumann, Ph.D., Executive Chair and CEO
Andrew is an educational entrepreneur who believes we are living at the most opportunistic time in the history of the world to be in the field of advancing Christian education. Through his work he aspires to chase God’s vision enjoying the adventure, privilege and responsibility of serving Him by serving His kids.
He is driven to ensure all children have access to excellent learning opportunities which maximize their potential to fulfill Greater Purpose and live flourishing lives. His passion is to contribute to building an educational ecosystem which will close global and national achievement gaps, build deeply held, internally driven character, and provide faith formation as an integral part of education for all who desire it regardless of a family’s income or where they live.
Committed to this mission, he began his career as a teacher serving students at the high school and college levels while finishing his Ph.D. in educational mathematics. In 2006, he joined what has now become Open Sky Education and serves its Executive Chair/CEO. Through his time at Open Sky, he has supported the growth of the HOPE Christian Schools network and has helped to launch and grow multiple new divisions including the EAGLE College Prep charter schools, Compass after school programs, the Character Formation Project, School Services and the Microschools Initiative.
In addition to his work at Open Sky Education, Andrew works to advance this mission for children by participating in a variety of speaking engagements as well as serving on the boards of mission-aligned organizations including School Choice Wisconsin, School Choice Wisconsin Action, the Institute for Missional Visioning.
- Jack Preus, Ed.D., Soaring Education Services National Director
- Beth Steele, M.Ed., Education Model Specialist
Jack Preus, Ed.D., Soaring Education Services National Director
Dr. Jack Preus is an educational leader with a passion for engaging teachers, school leaders, and ministries in advancing Christian education through innovation and creating sustainable models. Jack strives to leverage creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit to bring the Gospel to students in communities who do not currently have access to faith-based schools.
Committed to this mission, he began his career as a teacher, coach, and administrator serving students at Orange Lutheran High School in Orange, CA, while finishing his Doctorate in Educational Leadership at UCLA. In 2014, he joined Open Sky Education as a National Director. He has since supported the team to advance its mission nationally by growing its school networks (HOPE Christian Schools and EAGLE College Prep public charter schools) and its Christian wraparound programs (Compass Educational Programs).
In addition to his work at Open Sky Education, he also works to advance this mission for children by participating in various national speaking engagements and committees.
Beth Steele, M.Ed., Education Model Specialist
As Education Model Specialist, Beth assists the Education Committee in research, project management, technology integration and business intelligence. In this role, she is able to blend her passion for business with education.
She obtained a Master’s of Education in Educational Leadership from University of Phoenix. Throughout her career, she has held positions such as assistant principal, achievement coach, dean of instruction and middle school science and math teacher.
Arizona Regional Team
- Jeremy Jones, Executive Director
- Ximena Echeverria, Regional Director of State and Federal Programs
- Melinda Wallace, Senior Recruiter
Jeremy Jones, Executive Director
Jeremy Jones is the Regional Executive Director of the EAGLE College Prep schools in the Phoenix, Arizona region, part of the Open Sky Education network.
Jeremy holds a deep belief in the limitless potential of all children and a driving passion to serve others. Most recently, Jeremy led and managed the charter school system in Maine as the Executive Director of the Maine Charter School Commission. Before leading the state-wide authorizer of charter schools in Maine, he served in roles at the classroom, school, district, and state levels to ensure that families and students have access to vibrant, thriving schools. After graduating from Texas A&M University in 2004, Jeremy joined Teach For America as a middle school math teacher in New Orleans, Louisiana. He continued teaching in Houston after Hurricane Katrina before leading teacher and leader recruitment efforts for a high-performing charter school network called YES Prep Public Schools. In 2010, he began service in Tennessee as the state-wide communications director for the Achievement School District and in 2014 he returned to Houston to launch an innovative district-charter partnership school between the Spring Branch Independent School District and the YES Prep Public Schools. That partnership became the inspiration for state legislation that incentivized collaboration between charter schools and traditional schools. Jeremy went on to partner with the San Antonio Independent School District, launching a network of charter schools in the district. Jeremy is an alumnus of the 2021 National Association of Charter School Authorizers Leadership Program and a former Board President for the CLEAR Public Charter School in San Marcos, Texas.
Jeremy has previously lived in Prescott, Arizona, and is a graduate of the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He is a father and an avid endurance athlete, having completed multiple ultramarathons.
Ximena Echeverria, Regional Director of State and Federal Programs
Ximena Echeverria is a strong believer that provided right the opportunities, potential is unlimited. Her experience and service to inner city students and families has spanned over thirty years. Her experience includes education, training, and leadership in various roles.
With a bachelor and master degrees in Education, Ximena’s experience includes, teacher, coach, Early Childhood Director, Founding Principal, Turn-around Principal of elementary schools as well as high schools and Assistant Superintendent in the Phoenix Metro area. She began her career as a bilingual teacher and while at Wilson School District, she was sought out to become the Director of the Project Base Program for Sequoia Charter Schools in Mesa. Shortly afterwards, she became the founding Principal of Terra Nova Academy where she developed a fine arts program and was there for six years. She became the Turn Around Principal for Academia del Pueblo where she was able to move the school academically from closing to a letter “B”. In addition to the academic gains, she was able to develop a strong school culture while implementing a variety of programs from gardening, to a well-rounded sports program.
The experience of implementing programs at a variety of levels came in handy to the positions that ensued. She had the distinct pleasure of serving as a district coach, Principal and Assistant Superintendent at Maricopa County Regional School District, the alternative school district that serves elementary and high school students in Maricopa County. Serving EL students, adjudicated youth, and high school students at one room on-line high school houses afforded Ximena to partner with organizations throughout the valley. It was during this time that she was able to look at education from a different perspective. Affording students various opportunities and fostering a community that has deep rooted values at the elementary school level is crucial to ensuring that students do not fall through the cracks.
As the Arizona Regional Director for Federal and State Programs, Ximena works closely with school principals in securing and maximizing dollars to provide students the highest quality education under Title I, EL, Homeless-Education and other programs. Ximena is passionate about the success of every school and every child and is committed to Open Sky Education and the philosophy of “building a strong foundation” for all students.
Melinda Wallace, Senior Recruiter
Melinda Wallace is the Senior Director of Recruitment for the EAGLE College Prep schools in the Phoenix, Arizona region, part of the Open Sky Education network.
Melinda believes deeply that the biggest difference for student achievement is the quality of the teacher in the classroom. As a result, she strives to find and hire the best and brightest to serve the students at EAGLE College Prep.
Melinda was a classroom teacher for 26 years in grades 3-8, and for the past seven years she has worked as a Dean of Instruction, literacy specialist and assistant principal. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, weigh lifting, golfing, and spending time with friends and family.
Compass Educational Programs Team
Mary Lou Rogers, Arizona Regional Director
Mary Lou leads the Arizona region’s Compass Preschools as well as Compass Before- and After-School Care Programs.
Mary Lou began her career as a paralegal in the insurance industry in Houston, TX and changed course when she discovered an unexpected passion for education. Having teaching experience in grades Pre K through 12, she entered administration as a Founding Principal of a Christian school in Massachusetts and then served in Phoenix, AZ as a Preschool Director and Elementary Principal.
Mary Lou has an associate’s degree in paralegal studies from Beal College in Bangor, ME, a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies, and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Western Governors University, Salt Lake City, UT. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in organizational leadership from Grand Canyon University, Phoenix, AZ.
Data and Applications Team
- Kathy Miller, National Director IT, Data & Applications
- Diamante Rodriguez, Application Support Specialist
- Steve Wolfe, Data Systems Engineer
Kathy Miller, National Director IT, Data & Applications
Kathy brings over 30 years of experience from multiple industries including defense, insurance, manufacturing, consulting and non-profit. She is passionate about finding cost effective and creative solutions to solve system integration issues. Her joy comes from implementing automated processes that free up our employees to utilize their gifts and talents in the most impactful way.
Kathy believes that we are all given gifts and talents and she quips that she was given the “gift of geek”. She works to share that gift in ways that provide data and analytics to our teams so that they can work to provide the best education to all of our students district wide.
Kathy graduated from Valparaiso University with a bachelor of science in Electrical Engineering.
Diamante Rodriguez, Application Support Specialist
Diamante is our point person for all application customer support questions. She works tirelessly to solve issues for all of our school and regional personnel and to provide them access to the training and support they need to use various applications. She works daily with many of our vendors and holds them accountable to providing timely and helpful answers to our staff.
Diamante also has a very strong attention to detail that she uses to document and fine tune the Data and Application Team’s policies and procedures. She has been foundational in getting documentation set up that allows our team to complete tasks in a timely and repeatable manner.
Diamante joined the Open Sky Education team in 2019 with a diverse background in customer service and human resources.
Steve Wolfe, Data Systems Engineer
Steve has been a Data Systems Engineer with the Data and Applications Team at Open Sky Education since 2020. His primary focus is to streamline communication between applications, integration of applications, business intelligence, data analysis, management of IoT, and vendor management. In his time with Open Sky he has assisted with integrations and automated processes with Google, Infinite Campus, and Zensell. Steve has also helped build streamlined processes for inventory management throughout Open Sky Education.
Steve’s background includes a combination of the entrepreneurship, transportation and medical industries. Currently Steve owns a technology consulting business and an asset service management software which streamlines processes and management for over the road maintenance incidents called, RoadBays. Previously, he was an IT Manager at a Wisconsin based maintenance service provider for Class 8 vehicles. During his time there he managed servers, computers, networks, phones, software applications, and all things tech. Prior to his work in transportation he managed an implementation team for a podiatry specific EHR Software.
Steve received an associate degree in Information Technology Science at ITT Technical Institute.
Jeff Gauger, CPA, National Director
Jeff joined the Open Sky team in 2019, bringing with him the educational background, the executive experience, and the passion for excellence his role as National Director of Facilities demands.
A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Certified Public Accountant, Jeff’s initial employment experiences were in public accounting, where he attained manager level, and a nationally acclaimed real estate management and development company, where he served as Controller of Asset Management. He then served on the executive teams of three manufacturing companies—as Executive Vice President of Finance, Vice President of Sales, and Principal.
Bill Minnich, Arizona Region Facilities Director
Bill joined Open Sky Education as the Arizona regional maintenance coordinator in August 2014. He is now responsible for overseeing the maintenance program at three EAGLE locations in the Phoenix area. Bill is dedicated to providing a clean, safe, comfortable and well maintained facility for the comfort of the scholars, staff, and visitors.
Bill brings extensive management and execution experience in day-to-day preventative maintenance and repair of equipment. Prior to Open Sky, Bill worked in the retail industry for 35 years, the last nine as facilities manager of a national retailer’s Scottsdale locations. Bill was a corporate award winner for facilities standards in three of his nine years. He had oversight of the maintenance and cleaning programs in two locations, with a combined 550,000 square feet and $160 million in annual sales. Bill was also a Cub Scout Den Leader during his son’s elementary school years.
He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee.
- Trevor Burbach, National Controller
- Jacob Donnelli, School Controller
- Linda Harder, CPA, Assistant Controller
- Janet Howard, Accounts Payable Manager
- Miranda Milbrath, Financial Analyst
Trevor Burbach, National Controller
Trevor is responsible for the complete accounting cycle for all legal entities under Open Sky Education’s management. Trevor assists in creating and meeting budgets and consistently sought cost-saving measures to help reduce overall cost per student while continuing to improve the quality of services offered. In his first two years with the organization, Trevor streamlined the audit process and achieved 100 percent compliance for the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. Additionally, Trevor has created policy and procedure designed to increase efficiency and productivity within the organization and works to secure financing for multiple building projects.
Since graduating from University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2002, Trevor has developed a strong financial background working in the financial services industry as a controller for a major restaurant management company and as accountant and director of business for an H & R Block subsidiary.
Trevor is currently pursuing a master of science degree in professional accounting from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Jacob Donnelli, School Controller
Linda Harder, CPA, Assistant Controller
Linda leverages her 20+ years of accounting experience to help the finance team achieve its goals. With technical expertise in accounting for consolidations, financial reporting and forecasting, Linda plays an integral part in the annual audit as well as reporting on the day to day operations of the organization. She gained valuable skills and knowledge from her many years as divisional controller with Zilber Ltd., a national diversified real estate company in Milwaukee and before that in public accounting.
She graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee with a bachelor of business administration in accounting. Linda is a member of the Wisconsin Institute of Certified Public Accountants (WICPA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
Janet Howard, Accounts Payable Manager
Janet joined Open Sky Education in November of 2013 as an accounts payable manager specialist. Previously, Janet worked for 15 years at MillerCoors in the finance area, where she was responsible for reporting and analysis activities for planning purposes, budgeting and month-end close. Prior to that she worked five years for Wisconsin Electric Power Company as a financial analyst.
Janet leverages her cross-functional experience in managing invoice results, variance analysis and implementing processes that allow for disciplined financial management and cost transparency. Janet holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater.
Miranda Milbrath, Financial Analyst
Miranda began working with Open Sky Education several years ago as an intern. After graduating from University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, studying for the CPA exam, and working with CliftonLarsonAllen, a top ten CPA and consulting firm she accepted the open invitation back to Open Sky Education to work on our Finance Team as Financial Analyst.
Operations and Enrollment Team
- Jody Olson, National Director of Enrollment
- Erica Samz, National Director of Operations
- Haley Vance, National Marketing and Communications Manager
Jody Olson, National Director of Enrollment
Jody Olson joined the Open Sky Education team in December 2019 as our National Director of Enrollment Management. Jody is passionate about the value of education and works closely with all our schools to ensure we deliver a consistent parent experience that aligns to the outstanding education and care we provide our scholars.
Jody brings 20+ years of education experience in the areas of enrollment, admissions, marketing, branding, business development, strategic planning, training, and operations. Jody earned her bachelor of science in management with an emphasis in sales and marketing as well as her master of science in management with an emphasis in human resources degree from Cardinal Stritch University.
Erica Samz, National Director of Operations
Erica joined the Open Sky Education team in June of 2013 and currently serves as National Director of Operations focused on strategic management, project management and process improvement.
Erica started her career as a Teach For America corps member and high school teacher in New Orleans. She wanted to continue to impact education in new and expanding ways, so she moved to the operations side of schools. Erica started at Open Sky Education as Director of Operations for HOPE Christian School Fortis. She then moved into the newly created role of Regional Director of Operations for the HOPE Christian Schools WI region. Finally, she served as Senior Financial Analyst at Open Sky Education before her current position.
Erica received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her Master of Business Administration from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.
Haley Vance, National Marketing and Communications Manager
Haley Vance joined the OpenSky network in 2020 as a teacher at EAGLE Maryvale. in 2021 she moved into the School Admissions Manager Role at EAGLE South Mountain before recently transitioning to the National Marketing and Communications Manager at OpenSky Education.
Haley shares responsibility for developing communication strategies that strengthen OpenSky's integrated marketing and digital communication efforts. Haley is passionate about community, education, and integrity driven marketing. Haley is an instinctive leader who leverages those attributes in the Marketing and Communications Manager role and is ecstatic to serve our families.
- Angela Colbert-Brown, HOPE Prima Principal
- Cassandra Delgado, HOPE Via Principal
- Rebecca Hancock, EAGLE South Mountain Principal
- Jameela Lee, HOPE Semper Principal
- Edie Martwick, HOPE Fidelis Founding Principal
- Stephanie Phillips, EAGLE Phoenix South Principal
- Takeyla Sirmons, Principal, HOPE Fortis
- Omar J. Tabb, Sr., EAGLE Mesa Principal
- Julie Verlei, EAGLE Maryvale Principal
Angela Colbert-Brown, HOPE Prima Principal
Angela is a native of Louisiana and has resided in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the past 32 years. She is a wife and has three adult children and four grandchildren. Angie earned her bachelor’s degree from Alverno College in Professional Communication & Business Management and recently completed her Master’s Degree in Innovative Leadership at Wisconsin Lutheran College. Angela’s professional career experience ranges from Human Resource Management, Corporate Recruitment, Administrative & Executive Administration in the non-profit and corporate sectors and today the field of education in which she worked at Milwaukee Public Schools for 6 years in middle school special education as a Deaf & Hard of Hearing Educator and Calvary’s Christian Academy School of the Arts as the Principal.
In 2003 Angela joined Calvary Temple church, now Resurrection Power Ministries under the leadership of Apostle Rosie Harvey (King). She served in various areas of ministry as a teacher in the Children’s Church for 9-13 year olds; ministry of help, cups ministry, and continues to work on the Ministry Administrative team, prophetic and intercessory team; and has been a-part of the Special Events team since 2005.
Angela has been a-part of the leadership team of RPM for the past 16 years and continues to invest in leadership development by attending annual leadership conferences through Power & Light Evangelistic Church under the leadership of Apostle Benny & Prophetess Geraldine Dozier, and through the Center for Urban Teaching & Leadership program.
Cassandra Delgado, HOPE Via Principal
Casandra was recently asked to lead HOPE Christian School Via in Racine, Wis., as Principal in 2020. Casandra began her service in Racine at HOPE Christian School Via in 2015 as the founding second grade teacher. In 2017 she became the Dean of Students and then in 2019 the Dean of Instruction. While at HOPE Via, she specialized in school culture, academics, and building lasting relationships with scholars and families.
Prior to joining HOPE, Casandra completed her student teaching at a public district middle school Bridges program. It was this experience where the Lord opened her heart, and she had a passion to work in urban education. She started her first teaching job at St. Rafael the Archangel where she taught 2nd grade.
Casandra participated in numerous leadership trainings and has had the opportunity to be led by some of the best leaders in today’s education. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary and Middle School Education grades1-9th and a minor in Geography through Carthage College and received her M.Ed. Administration Leadership from Alverno College. She also holds a Principal & Director of Instruction license in the State of Wisconsin.
Rebecca Hancock, EAGLE South Mountain Principal
Rebecca Hancock has been an educator since she graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University in 2005. After earning her bachelor’s degree in Education, Rebecca taught in a variety of grade levels from Kindergarten through 8th grade and held a variety of teacher leader roles as she earned a Master of Arts in Education from Northern Arizona University. These years were very formative in her growth as an educator and provided a solid foundation as she learned about instruction and leadership. She has been a principal since 2018 and is finishing her Doctorate in Education, which has allowed her to refine her leadership skills and understanding of schools as an organization. In 2021, she was honored to accept the position of principal at EAGLE College Preparatory School South Mountain, where is eager to partner with families, educators and scholars to ensure all EAGLE scholars soar.
Jameela Lee, HOPE Semper Principal
Jameela believes that God has a purpose and a plan for every teacher and scholar at HOPE and is very fortunate for the opportunity to help each scholar and teacher reach their full potential. Jameela comes to the role after serving schools in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, bringing a wealth of experience to her new role. She began her educational career as a Teacher Assistant, then progressed to lead teacher, instructional coach, assistant principal, and now principal at HOPE Semper.
Jameela is a graduate of Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, LA where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications. She went on to earn a master’s degree in educational leadership from William Carey University in Gulfport, MS. While serving as Assistant Principal in Gulfport, Jameela also completed the National Institute for School Leadership Program through the University of Mississippi.
Edie Martwick, HOPE Fidelis Founding Principal
Edie is a graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran College where she majored in education. As a college student she was awarded the “Impact Award” recognizing her leadership and contributions to the mission of the college. As a teacher she continued to demonstrate the importance of teacher as leader, serving at St. Marcus, HOPE Christian Schools, and EAGLE College Preparatory Schools in Arizona. While at EAGLE, she completed her Master’s Degree program in Curriculum and Instruction at Arizona State University (ASU).
Edie moved back to Milwaukee in 2009 to assume another leadership position as Director of Coaching for the Center for Urban Teaching. She mentored first and second year teachers, organized regular small group mentoring meetings, and coordinated the Urban Conference in Milwaukee.
In 2011, Edie returned to St. Marcus where she served as a kindergarten teacher, an instructional coach, Director of Primary, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, and Assistant Principal. In 2015, Edie joined the HOPE team as a Founding Principal. Edie received her master’s degree in educational leadership from Alverno College in 2016.
Stephanie Phillips, EAGLE Phoenix South Principal
Stephanie joins the EAGLE College Prep team as Principal of the Phoenix South campus in the Fall of 2021. Prior to joining the EAGLE team, Stephanie was an elementary and middle school teacher, a district coordinator, a high school assistant principal, and a middle school principal. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Arizona State University, her master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University, and an Ed.S. degree in Organizational Leadership from Grand Canyon University.
Takeyla Sirmons, Principal, HOPE Fortis
Ms. Takeyla Sirmons has been named Principal at HOPE Christian School Fortis for the 2022-2023 school year. Under her leadership, HOPE Fortis is expanding to a second campus. Ms. Sirmons has been a member of the HOPE Christian Schools’ staff since 2016 and has shown both great passion for educating scholars to meet their full potential and a strong commitment to scholars, staff, families, and mission.
Omar J. Tabb, Sr., EAGLE Mesa Principal
Omar joined EAGLE College Prep Mesa in 2017, bringing with him the leadership and educational background, and the passion for the success of all children.
A graduate of the Western Michigan University, Omar’s initial employment experiences were in social work, where he managed a caseload of children in various state- and privately-run child welfare facilities in Michigan. Upon returning to school to earn his master’s degree, Omar had an opportunity to substitute in a 1st grade classroom and fell in love with the teaching profession. Omar has since taught 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade scholars. He has previously served as a middle school and instructional/curriculum leader. Omar spent roughly 14 years prior to coming to EAGLE as an educational consultant working to help improve schools all over the United States including Alaska.
Omar has made it his personal mission to create an equitable learning experience for all children in his charge. As a result, he works diligently toward exemplifying EAGLE’s brand promise, Expecting Academic Greatness with a Loving Emphasis.
Julie Verlei, EAGLE Maryvale Principal
Julie joined EAGLE College Prep Maryvale in 2015 as a first grade teacher. During her time with EAGLE, she has served the Maryvale community as a teacher, Dean of Students, and Interim Principal. Julie has managed the creation and maintenance of EAGLE Maryvale’s first competitive sports program. Before joining EAGLE Maryvale, she taught kindergarten, 2nd, and 3rd grade.
Julie is dedicated to growing students in their academics and character values by developing teachers to yield results. She brings knowledge and innovation to EAGLE with 13 years of educational experience.
Julie earned her bachelor’s degree from Ashland University in Ohio in Early Childhood Education. During her undergraduate work, she had the opportunity to teach first grade aboard in Germany. She also received her master’s degree in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment from Marygrove College and is currently working through her second master’s degree in Education Leadership at Northern Arizona University.
- Samantha Custodio, National Talent Director
- Sylvia Block, Payroll Manager
- Ericka Reed, Senior Recruiter
- Kimberly Salem, Talent Manager
- Lauren Howe, Payroll/Talent Coordinator
Samantha Custodio, National Talent Director
Samantha Custodio joined the Open Sky Education Team in August 2021 serving as the National Director of Talent. Samantha has a strong passion for helping others reach their potential and brings her strategic and solution-focused perspective to the team.
Throughout her career, Samantha has helped organizations build the capacity to create high performing teams and cultures. As a key strategic partner to the leadership team, she is responsible for the talent strategy including the design and execution of talent recruitment, total rewards, organizational structure, people development and retention plans.
With over 15 years of progressive and senior leadership experience in human resources, Samantha has partnered with senior management and board level executives to construct innovative talent strategies designed to support growth. She has led talent efforts for midsize and large organizations with thousands of team members across more than 25 states as well as some international locations. She has helped organizations expand their operations across the country, managing the regulatory, structural, and talent management considerations of such diverse workforces. Most recently, Samantha served as the Senior Director of Human Resources for a national nonprofit focused on empowering young emerging artists as young as 15 years old, residing in over 30 states and internationally.
In addition to her senior level human resources certifications, Samantha holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a Master of Business Administration, both from Florida International University.
Sylvia Block, Payroll Manager
Sylvia has worked in the payroll profession for over 20 years with a wide range of experience in various industries, including manufacturing, distribution, environmental and professional services. Prior to joining Open Sky Education, she was employed as a Payroll Administrator at Fathom Manufacturing in Hartland, Wisconsin. She has a BA in Human Resources from UW-Whitewater.
Outside of work time, she enjoys working out at the gym and traveling with her husband Gerry. One favorite destination is Door County. They also travel to visit their daughter, two grandsons and son-in-law, who is in the Coast Guard. The military has provided additional destinations in Rhode Island, San Diego and Washington D.C.
Ericka Reed, Senior Recruiter
Ericka Reed was born and raised in Milwaukee. She attended Marquette University for her undergraduate and graduate education. Ericka earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Education in Educational Policy and Leadership. She is passionate about serving others and the education field. During her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, watching movies and swimming.
Kimberly Salem, Talent Manager
With over 10 years of professional human resources experience, Kim possesses a comprehensive background in HR operations, employee relations, supporting people strategy, benefits administration, employee engagement, and full-cycle recruitment. Throughout her career, she has served as a trusted and influential partner to organizational leaders in developing strategies and providing dynamic solutions.
Most recently, Kim spent the past five years leading overall human resources strategy for public school districts in Milwaukee County. Including overseeing efforts that have resulted in more effective and streamlined company-wide talent acquisition practices that better utilize technology; a diversity and inclusion strategy, including initiatives to increase diversity at the executive level, and more thoughtful, comprehensive talent management and talent development programs.
Kim is passionate about changing the function, culture and impact across human resources for educational organizations. She is guided by her unwavering belief that education is the gateway to the future to break the inequities that have continuously marginalized our communities and isolated scholars from their destiny.
Kim holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resource Management as well as a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in HR Management, both from Concordia University - Wisconsin.
Lauren Howe, Payroll/Talent Coordinator
Lauren grew up in Brookfield, Wisconsin and has worked in the Human Resources field since graduating college in 2018. Lauren has a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
She is passionate about serving others and providing exceptional customer service. Lauren feels it is important to engage with employees and create a positive workplace for all. In addition, she enjoys working collaboratively with a team and giving back to her community.
When she is not working, Lauren enjoys baking, working out, traveling, and spending time with family and friends. She and her husband, Trenton, enjoy attending Green Bay Packer games, watching movies, and traveling to new places.
Wisconsin Regional Team
- Ashley Boyte, Director of Operations
- Ellen Bartling, Ph.D., Executive Director
- James Degnan, Choice Compliance Officer
Ashley Boyte, Director of Operations
Ashley Boyte is a graduate of Culver-Stockton College with a degree in Business Administration. While she majored in Business, working with students has always been a passion. Upon graduation, she joined Teach for America and was placed to teach in Milwaukee. She taught Kindergarten for two years at HOPE Christian School Caritas while attending Cardinal Stritch University. She graduated from Cardinal Stritch University in 2017 with a Master of Arts degree in Urban Education. Upon graduation and finishing her Teach for America commitment, Ashley knew she still wanted to work in a school setting. She sought a role where she could incorporate her business skills with her desire to serve children. Ashley became the School Operations Manager for HOPE Caritas and then transitioned to the role of Regional Operations Specialist and now is serving as Regional Director of Operations for HOPE Christian Schools Wisconsin Region.
Ellen Bartling, Ph.D., Executive Director
In preparation for her new role, Dr. Bartling served in the Wisconsin public education sector for 32 years. Her previous experience as a classroom teacher, district director of curriculum, assessment, instruction and staff development, elementary principal, high school principal, and district superintendent brings to HOPE Christian Schools a depth of practical knowledge about the way students learn and school climate and culture are created. Ellen has been part of the Open Sky Education team since 2014 as she helped develop and lead the Character Formation Project. Ellen earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, master’s degree from Marian University and doctoral degree in urban education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
James Degnan, Choice Compliance Officer
Mr. James Degnan is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science. While he majored in Environmental Science, ensuring scholars receive an excellent education has always been a passion of his. In addition to Environmental Science, James also has a passion for technology and business. James was the School Operations Manager for HOPE Caritas for the past 4 years. The SOM role was a perfect fit to combine all of the areas he was interested in. This year, he is starting his new role as the Regional Choice Compliance Officer. He is excited to continue to serve across the HOPE network.