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Ace Consulting Team

Representing ACE Consulting in its Partnership with the Archdiocese of Milwaukee


Stephen Perla, M.Ed., Senior Director of ACE Consulting, will serve as co-leader for the project. Steve has more than 25 years of experience in Catholic school education as a former superintendent, teacher, and public policy advocate and has served on numerous national committees and has presented at various national conferences regarding a myriad of Catholic school-related matters. In his leadership roles, he has successfully executed new Catholic school governance models, leveraged school assets to alleviate operational expenses, doubled federal fund allocations for Massachusetts Catholic schools, and secured public policy support for a variety of services ranging from early education vouchers to special education services.

Sr. Kathleen Carr, CSJ., Ph.D., Director of Planning and Operations of ACE Consulting, will serve as co-leader for the project, bringing 35 years of experience in a variety of Catholic education leadership positions. Initially an elementary school principal, Sr. Kathleen worked at the archdiocesan level where she served as Regional Director for Schools, Director of Marketing and Public Relations and as Superintendent of Schools in a large archdiocese. Her most recent work has been as an educational consultant conducting strategic planning processes in various (arch)dioceses across the country. Sr. Kathleen earned a M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision at Boston College and a Ph.D. in Educational Administration from The Catholic University of America. She has conducted research on Catholic School leadership participating in the Future of Catholic Schools Project, funded by the Lilly Foundation and is the author of “Leadership Given the Religious Mission of Catholic Schools”, a chapter in The Catholic Character of Catholic Schools, published by University of Notre Dame Press.

Rev. Tom Doyle, CSC, MBA, Senior Financial Analyst for ACE Consulting, will provide financial management and leadership consultation services to the project. Fr. Tom has served as the Vice President of Student Affairs at the University of Notre Dame, Executive Vice President at the University of Portland, and Chief Financial Officer for the Indiana Province of the Congregation of Holy Cross. Fr. Tom commenced his career at Deloitte and Touche as a consultant. He holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame and an M.B.A. from Harvard University.

Brandy J. Ellison, Ph.D., Associate Director of Research for ACE Consulting, will serve as principal investigator of the research and data for designated cohorts in the project. She earned her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Notre Dame. Her research has focused on educational assessment and issues of inequality in educational outcomes using both quantitative and qualitative data. She has worked at Notre Dame’s Center for Research on Educational Opportunities and currently serves as an adjunct professor for the Alliance for Catholic Education. Dr. Ellison’s research on Catholic schools has been published in Catholic Education: A Journal of Inquiry and Practice and as a chapter in School Sector and Student Outcomes.

Cristina Espino, MBA, Financial Analyst for ACE Consulting, will provide support for the financial management domain. Cristina has held a number of financial management positions. Most recently, she worked at Granite Creek Partners, a Chicago based investment firm. At Granite Creek, Cristina focused on regulatory research and compliance, strategic planning, data analysis and financial modeling. Prior to Granite Creek, she worked as a financial reporting associate at Wrightwood Capital where she prepared financial statements for investment properties and collaborated with departments to develop and monitor annual budgets. Notably, Cristina began her career in the assurance & advisory services practice at Deloitte performing audit testing for insurance, investment management, and not-for-profit clients. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University of Notre Dame and earned a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Loyola University Chicago.

Shannon Stackhouse Flores, Ph.D., Research Associate, ACE Consulting, will serve as principal investigator of the research and data for designated cohorts in the project. She has held research and policy positions in educational and government institutions for the past 5 years, including the Texas Legislature, Texas Education Agency, and the State of Georgia, where she served as Senior Strategic Analyst. She earned a Master of Education degree through the Alliance for Catholic Education at Notre Dame and has teaching experience in Catholic schools in the United States and abroad. Prior to working for ACE Consulting, she provided research support to a nonprofit research organization in India, specializing in nation-wide survey research on school-aged children in rural communities. She received her Doctorate in Educational Administration from the University of Texas at Austin, with a focus on educational policy and particular interest in improving educational outcomes for impoverished students.

Matt Gelchion, M.Ed., Associate Director for the Program for K-12 Educational Access (PEA), will provide research support on this project. Matt graduated summa cum laude from the University of Notre Dame, and as a member of the ACE Service through Teaching Program, he taught high school Social Studies and Religion at Resurrection Catholic School in Pascagoula, Mississippi. He now works for ACE Consulting in the Program for K-12 Educational Access, a program dedicated to empowering low-income families with access to a quality education, with a particular focus on parochial schools.

Anthony C. Holter, Ph.D., Director of the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) Program Evaluation and Research Unit, is also a faculty member in the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program at the University of Notre Dame. Dr. Holter has published and presented in the areas of Catholic education, interpersonal forgiveness, moral education and development, and research methods. His current research efforts focus on comprehensive program evaluation and the use of data for program improvement. Dr. Holter earned a Master of Education degree from the University of Notre Dame, and Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin—Madison.

Matthew Kloser, Ph.D., Julius A. Nieuwland Director of the Excellence in Science and Math Education Initiative, is an Institute for Educational Initiatives fellow at the University of Notre Dame. Dr. Kloser’s research focuses on issues of teaching, learning, and assessment in science classrooms. His research includes the design and assessment of undergraduate biology labs, research on climate change mental models, and experimental studies that identify affordances and constraints of learning biology from different text types. His most recent research focuses on the development of instruments that identify and measure high-leverage core science teaching practices. Dr. Kloser received his M.Ed. from the University of Notre Dame and taught high school physics and math for five years prior to earning his M.S. in biology and Ph.D. in science education from Stanford University.

Patrick Lofton, Ed.S., Associate Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, will serve as a resource for this project. Patrick is responsible for coordinating the accreditation for elementary schools, developing future and current principals, and serving as a resource person for issues of leadership and governance for elementary and high schools in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.  His work is focused on strengthening the sustainability and viability of Catholic schools through enhancing leadership and governance, as well as through strategic planning, marketing, and development. He has over 20 years of experience serving Catholic schools as a middle school English and religion teacher and administrator. Patrick earned an M.A. from Marquette University and an Ed.S. In Educational Leadership through the Murray Institute at the University of St. Thomas. Patrick also completed a Van Lunen Fellowship in Christian School Leadership at Calvin College. 

Rev. Ronald Nuzzi, Ph.D., Senior Director of Catholic Leadership Programs in the Alliance for Catholic Education at the University of Notre Dame, is a nationally known speaker and author who has written extensively about multiple intelligence theory in Catholic education, the spirituality of leadership, and inclusion in Catholic schools. His book, Gifts of the Spirit, published by the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), is now in its second printing. Fr. Nuzzi co-authored the Catholic School Identity Inventory (CSII), a comprehensive suite of instruments and procedures designed to help schools assess, identify and enhance the core elements of Catholic school identity. For more than a decade, he was the editor of the research journal, Catholic Education: A Journal of Inquiry and Practice, the only scholarly publication in the world dedicated exclusively to Catholic education. Fr. Nuzzi holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and master’s degrees in theology, philosophy, and education. He has taught at The University of Dayton and was instrumental in establishing its Center for Catholic Education. He also served as the director of the Catholic Leadership Program at Saint Louis University, and since June 2002, it has been his privilege to call Notre Dame home. A regular presenter at national conventions in the U.S. and Canada, he is in demand as a speaker, educational researcher, teacher, and retreat director.

John Schoenig, M.Ed., J.D., Director of Notre Dame's Program for K-12 Educational Access, will serve as a resource for the project. John is an attorney and the inaugural Director of Notre Dame’s Program for K-12 Educational Access—a teaching, research, and outreach enterprise dedicated to empowering low-income families with sustainable financial access to a faith-based education. He received his B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and was a member of the ACE Service through Teaching program, in which he taught middle-school English and Religion at Holy Rosary School in Shreveport, Louisiana. John served on the ACE pastoral and administrative staff, supporting beginning teachers, and collaborated in the establishment of the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program for aspiring K-12 school leaders.

Steven Virgadamo, MPA, Associate Director of ACE Consulting, will serve as a consultant on the project. He is responsible for the governance, marketing/enrollment management and development domains. Steven has over 25-years of experience in leading, managing, and governing Catholic Institutions. Since 1985, he has worked directly with hundreds of schools in almost half of the arch/dioceses of the United States. Steven has provided consulting services to Catholic Educational Institutions, parishes, religious communities, dioceses and boards of education in the areas of ownership/governance, administration, strategic planning, marketing, finances, and institutional advancement. A gifted speaker and workshop leader, Steven has been a lecturer in the Catholic School Leadership Program at Boston College and at the University of Dayton.

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The Archdiocese of Milwaukee

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