Management Team

Barbara Dreyer, President and CEO

Mrs. Dreyer is the president, CEO and co-founder of Connections Education which she has led since January of 2002.  She also serves as the president of its Connections Academy division.  Previously, she founded two other technology companies and she was also a special partner and CFO for New Enterprise Associates, one of the world's premiere venture capital firms.  For 12 years, Mrs. Dreyer was a member of the Board of Visitors for the University of Maryland University College, the largest public international provider of distance learning degrees, and served for 6 years on the Board of Visitors of Towson University, known for its teacher education programs, where she remains an emeritus member.  In 2010, she was honored for “Outstanding Leadership by an Individual in the field of Distance Learning” by the United States Distance Learning Association. In 2011, she received AdvancED’s Corporation and Distance Learning “Excellence in Education Award” and now chairs this international accrediting body’s Corporations and Distance Education Council. Mrs. Dreyer is a member of the Digital Learning Now advisory council, an initiative being led by former U.S. Governors and education reformers, Jeb Bush and Bob Wise. She has served on 15 corporate boards of directors, including 3 publicly traded companies. Her professional certifications include the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) and CPIM (Certified in Production and Inventory Management). She holds a business and economics degree from Towson University and an MBA from Loyola College.

Dr. Patricia Hoge, Senior Vice President Curriculum and Instruction and Chief Academic Officer

Prior to joining Connections Education in 2006, Dr. Hoge served as Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Catapult Learning, overseeing the development of their K–12 instructional and teacher training programs. Additionally, she was Executive Director of Education for eSylvan, where she directed the development of the curricula for synchronous online delivery. Dr. Hoge spent over 15 years in the public schools as a speech-language pathologist, curriculum developer, and supervisor of reading/language arts. As a certified speech-language pathologist, she provided services to PreK–12 students. Dr. Hoge has served as a clinical supervisor and adjunct faculty member at Loyola College and adjunct faculty member at Towson University, and serves on several K–12 and higher education school boards and advisory councils including the Towson University Board of Visitors. She has co-authored numerous resource materials for teachers and speech-language pathologists. Her academic credentials include a B.A. in Speech Pathology and Audiology, an M.S. in Speech Pathology, and a Ph.D. in K–12 Educational Leadership..

Ted Ochs, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer

Mr. Ochs began his career as an industrial engineer with Corning and Black and Decker where he held both project management and production supervisory roles. He subsequently held financial management and executive positions in health care and retail. Most recently he served as Executive Vice President of Jordan Kitt’s Music and previously was the CEO and CFO of The VNA of Maryland and the Regional Finance Director for Manor Care, Inc./In Home Health, Inc. In addition to these corporate positions, he has served for almost fifteen years as an officer on the board of the Hearing and Speech Agency in Baltimore, a provider of services to individuals with communication difficulties. Mr. Ochs’ academic credentials include a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Lehigh University and an M.B.A. from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business.

Marc Guerrasio, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer

Mr. Guerrasio was one of the co-founders of Connections Education and brings 15 years of software and Internet technology experience to Connections Education. He most recently served as the CTO of Versient, an online marketing services company. He was also VP of Engineering and CTO of Ntercept Communications, an online market research company that developed a standards based language for the creation of interactive, online surveys. Mr. Guerrasio was responsible for the technical development of SpeakOut.com, a political portal site that served over 350,000 users during the 2000 elections. He has held other senior engineering positions with OutReach Technologies and VideoGrafects.

Susan Fancher, Senior Vice President, Marketing

Ms. Fancher has more than 25 years of marketing and analytics experience in a range of fields. Prior to joining Connections Education, Ms. Fancher served as director of marketing at Barnes & Noble, Inc., where she launched and managed the company's loyalty program, Barnes & Noble Membership. She also led marketing programs integrating the in-store and online customer experience. Prior to Barnes & Noble, Ms. Fancher held marketing and analytical positions with financial services leaders, including the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, American Express, JP Morgan Chase, and Harley-Davidson Financial Services (HDFS). While at HDFS she helped develop and launch the Harley-Davidson Chrome Card credit card. Ms. Fancher earned a B.S. in Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an M.B.A. from New York University’s Stern School of Business. She has served on the board of a Maryland animal welfare organization and currently is a member of the economics advisory board at the University of Wisconsin.

Monte Kalisch, Senior Vice President, Development

Mr. Kalisch has been with Connections Education since November, 2002. With over fifteen years experience in technical positions spanning multiple industries, Mr. Kalisch has spent the last twelve devoting his attention to web-based application solutions. He was most recently the Director of Technology for Versient, an online marketing services company. He has also served as the Director of Web Site Engineering for Ntercept Communications, a marketing research firm, and SpeakOut.com, a political portal organization. Mr. Kalisch was a technical lead for the development of the first web-based crop management system for VantagePoint Network, a John Deere subsidiary. Mr. Kalisch holds degrees in computer science and mathematics from the University of Northern Colorado, as well as an MBA from Colorado State University. He has taught both graduate and undergraduate courses at both universities while working on his master’s thesis, “Supplementing Traditional Education with Internet Technology.”

Yvonne Kisiel, Senior Vice President and General Counsel

Ms. Kisiel has over 25 year experience as an attorney and business executive. She has served as General Counsel for Ameritrade Holding Corporation as well as WisdomBuilder, LLC, a privately held software company. Ms. Kisiel spent several years handling intellectual property and technology related matters at United States Fidelity & Guaranty Company and was Chief Counsel and Vice President of Business Development for Tenfold Insurance Systems Group. She served as legal counsel for Prime Computer, GmbH at its international headquarters in Munich, Germany after spending several years in private practice, including as a Partner with a Baltimore area law firm. Ms. Kisiel is a graduate of the George Washington University National Law Center. Prior to attending law school she was a Russian linguist with the U.S. Air Force.

Pat Laystrom, Senior Vice President, State Relations

Ms. Laystrom has been with Connections Education since October 2001 and has over 25 years of experience in education. She has taught in the classroom, managed a series of educational learning centers and held senior management positions with leading educational companies including AHA!interactive, a cutting edge online curriculum provider;  Scholastic New Media, where she helped launch Scholastic Network, an early teacher web portal; and Educational Resources, a national distributor of educational technology and professional development programs. Since 2011, she has been leading the State Relations team focused on identifying new opportunities, building key relationships, and working on legislative activities across the country. Ms Laystrom earned a B.S. in Education from Indiana University.

Deane Turner, Senior Vice President, Operations

Mr. Turner has been with Connections Education since May 2002 and has over 20 years experience in various facets of technology, business process, and operations management. Prior to Connections Education he was Vice President for Operations at Ntercept Communications LLC, an online market research company, where he developed and managed the technology infrastructure, client support, and event production departments. As a Senior Network Engineer at PrimeNet LLC, Mr. Turner chaired an information technology advisory committee and oversaw major data communications projects performed for the firm’s largest client, Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Mr. Turner earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He is certified in numerous computer, communications, and engineering technologies.

Earl W. Grier, Jr., Vice President of Schools

Mr. Grier brings a wealth of hands-on educational experience to Connections Education with more than 44 years in teaching, school level administration, district level administration, educational consulting, and computer training. In 2003, Mr. Grier was appointed the founding CEO for Commonwealth Connections Academy (CCA). After three years of leading CCA, he was appointed Senior Director of Schools where he provided leadership support for all of Connections Academy public schools, as well as principal training and leadership workshops. He also developed a training program for future school leaders and helped design the Career Ladder Program for teachers to develop the skills necessary to become successful virtual school leaders. Additionally, Mr. Grier has spoken at various local, state and national education conferences. He has a B.S. degree from Lock Haven State College and a Master of Education degree from West Chester State College. Mr. Grier earned his principal certification from Temple University and has completed graduate coursework in education at Villanova University.

Dr. Donna Hutchison, Vice President, State Relations

Dr. Donna Hutchison is Vice President of State Relations for Connections Academy in the Western states, having served in this position since 2010. She has over 15 years of experience in online education, beginning with her work for Boise State University’s Department of Educational Technology, where she trained teachers in a DOS-based bulletin board in the mid-’90s. Prior to joining Connections Academy in 2010, Dr. Hutchison served from 2002 to 2010 as the Chief Executive Officer of the Idaho Digital Learning Academy, a state virtual school. Her passion is for creating quality online learning environments and providing access to and parental choice for education for K–12 and postsecondary students. She received her doctorate in Education from the University of Idaho, her master’s degree in Educational Technology from Boise State University, and her bachelor’s in Marketing and Management Information Systems from the University of Virginia. She is a certified teacher of business, social studies, professional technical education, and mathematics.

Robert D. Pouliot, Vice President of Operations

With more than 30 years of management experience, Mr. Pouliot has a broad base of knowledge in operations, finance, and law gained from working with private sector, military, and government organizations. Mr. Pouliot held a variety of key positions while serving in the United States Air Force, most notably as Chief Financial Manager for a large weapons system training program under congressional oversight. After leaving the Air Force, he held positions as a contracts attorney and as the senior program manager for an in-flight entertainment and broadband program. Immediately prior to joining Connections Education, Mr. Pouliot served as CFO and General Counsel for a national third-party logistics firm, turning the company around from a loss to a profit position.  Mr. Pouliot holds a B.S. in Business Management from the University of Maryland and a Juris Doctorate from Capital University Law School. Mr. Pouliot also earned an M.B.A. from the University of Montana and a Master’s certificate in IT Project Management from George Washington University. 

Peter Robertson, Vice President of Schools

Mr. Robertson joined Connections Education in 2009 and is Vice President of Schools. Mr. Robertson was previously Vice President of Education Services at SchoolOne where he lead the redevelopment of a web-based student information system. Prior to that, he was Executive Director of Elementary and Secondary Education Product Management & Development for the Educational Testing Service, where he was responsible for the integration and on-going development of System 5, a standards-based, assessment-focused suite of School Improvement products and services. Prior to that, Peter served as Chief Information Officer for the Cleveland Municipal School District where he was responsible for student assessment, educational research, and program evaluation; and for the management of information technology resources and infrastructure system-wide. Peter spent four years as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company; worked as an educational researcher at the National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools, and Teaching; and served as a social studies and Communication Arts Program teacher at Montgomery Blair High School in Montgomery County, Maryland. He served on the Shaker Heights (Ohio) School Board from 2007 to 2011 and on the Montgomery County (Maryland) School Board from 1983 to 1984.  He has an MBA from Columbia Business School, an MA in Educational Administration from Teachers College, Columbia, and a BA from Harvard College. 

David Schmidt, Vice President, State Relations

Mr. Schmidt has over 20 years of executive experience in marketing, strategy, business development, and operations with Fortune 100 companies, including Time Warner (AOL), Intel, Gateway, and Westinghouse. Most recently, he was the Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer for the Capitol Equity Group. He served for six years in the U.S. Navy’s nuclear submarine force, including two years as an officer instructor at Naval Submarine School. Mr. Schmidt has extensive experience in developing and delivering curriculum and instruction, working in this capacity for virtual school provider K12 Inc., the Navy, Westinghouse, Gateway, and The Wharton School. He holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an M.B.A. from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

Susan Stagner, Vice President, State Relations

Ms. Stagner currently serves as the Vice President of State Relations for Connections Education and has served in that role since 2011. She has more than 25 years of diverse education, business, and technology experience. She began her career in engineering and subsequently held positions in program management, consulting and Internet strategy, including stints with the Ford Motor Company and Libbey Inc. In education, Ms. Stagner has previously served as the Director of the Toledo Technology Academy, Head of School for Ohio Virtual Academy, and VP of Schools for both K12 Inc. and Connections Academy. She is a graduate of the Ohio Superintendent Leadership Institute and is a co-founder and board member of the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Ms. Stagner holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Detroit and an M.B.A. from the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

Darci Viens, Vice President, Support Services

Ms. Viens brings a wide array of strategic and hands-on perspectives to her role with over 35 years of experience in multinational pre- and post-sales support, customer service, and operations for high-tech companies, financial institutions, and commercial organizations. Prior to joining Connections Education in 2008, she served as Vice President of Service Center Operations at UMB Financial Corporation, a diversified financial holding company offering complete banking services, payment solutions, asset servicing, and investment management to commercial, institutional, and personal customers nationwide. Ms. Viens also held senior customer service and operations support positions with EGS Electrical Group, a division of global technology and engineering leader Emerson Electric, as well as with Wang Laboratories, Xerox Corporation, and Digital Equipment Corporation. A graduate of Tufts University, Ms. Viens also attended l’Université Paris–Sorbonne and earned her MBA at the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management in Chicago.

 

View the Connections Learning Management Team.