Meet Our Team

The movers & shakers behind the scenes.

ELA surrounds ourselves with the brightest, most talented educators in the industry. Our team members share a passion to make a difference in the lives of all students we connect with. Our team's background in leadership and education, and a passion for supporting youth on their path to successful futures.

Flo Brett

Founder & Executive Director

Since serving as a LEAD ICU Nurse Manager, Training and Development Lead and Clinical Governance Manager at a hospital within the United Kingdom, Flo has been guided by her education with degrees in Nursing and Leadership Development. She has built a reputation for her work around managing complex cultural change, merger and acquisitions and has driven quality initiatives across large organizations. She has developed and implemented leadership and development programs in many diverse settings from corporate to nonprofit organizations, from board to operational level, university-level teaching, prison environments and teaching within many Pre K – Grade 12 establishments. She became a disruptor in the Leadership Training Agenda having the opportunity to blend her two passions and founded The Effective Leadership Academy in 2008.

Heather Lee

Senior Director of Business Development

Heather joined ELA after leading the charge in developing dynamic programs for the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. With a master’s degree in education and over 18 years’ experience in education and nonprofit management, Heather has a passion for supporting students and educators in their journey of personal growth and development and she is dedicated to ELA’s mission. Heather has a significant impact on mission performance, financial success, internal team collaboration, and school relationships.

Jessica Vaughn

Director of Programs

Jessica is a dynamic leader in youth advocacy with over a decade of professional experience. She has a background in an array of culturally diverse leadership and academia from kindergarten through the collegiate level. She earned her Masters in Special Education and her Batchelor's of Arts in Elementary Education both from Kentucky State University. Jessica has a passion for equipping leaders, empowering learners, and cultivating collaboration that impacts communities.

Melanie Twomey

Director of Advancement

Melanie has over twenty years’ experience creating and supporting non-profit programs as a teacher, program coordinator and development officer. Her passion is creating sustainable programs that enrich child development. Located in the Washington DC metro area, she is both passionate about the ELA program offerings and looking forward to expanding its reach to new communities.

Kaye Wolfinger

Community Relations Manager

Kaye earned her Master's in the Art of Teaching from Marygrove College and obtained her Bachelors of Arts in English and Education from Kent State University. She has a passion for teenagers, encouraging them to live into their gifts and passions for their success. Kaye taught in the public school system, then followed a calling into youth ministry for 10 years. Next she served for 12 years in church development, consulting and event planning focused on young people. She has written curriculum for teens as well as developed and led numerous trainings for church leaders of all ages. She has done extensive training around generational differences and the impact these have on our institutions. Kaye is a trained coach through the International Coaching Federation. She has spent numerous volunteer hours in her local school system and church community.

Elisa Corrao

HR and Finance Manager

With over 17 years of experience in business operations management, human resources, and process optimization, Elisa joins ELA with a proven background in finance, AP/AR, collections and the Human Resource spaces. She earned BA in English from John Carroll University and is currently pursuing a MS degree in Mental Health Counseling. She has a proven background procedural audits, efficient process development, workflows, and policy creation to ensure business goal achievement and best practices. Elisa is passionate about employee relations, team engagement and serves as a strong business operations support to our facilitators and management team.

Jake Hastings

Head of Talent Acquisition

Jake earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Cleveland State University, focusing on Public Relations and Communication. As Director of Hospitality for 11 years, he helped build Cleveland’s own Kringle’s Inventionasium, a STEM-accredited, toy-inventing laboratory, where they hosted families from all over the world. He also has more than 10 years of experience instructing in classrooms and after-school, extracurricular programs from PreK-8th grade. Jake is dedicated to helping anyone and everyone unlock their potential within and improve their lives in any way possible.

Ariel Hill

Office Administrator and Scheduler

Ariel brings her extensive background of scheduling and office management, including 5 years of customer service experience. She has worked directly under the Chief Compliance Officer at Skylight Financial and held the position of executive assistant to the CEO of Ascent Financial. She is a family portrait photographer and has owned her photography studio The Office Studios going on 3 years. Her future goal is to own a music and art recreation center for youth in her hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.

Nick Acevedo

Evaluations Coordinator & Lead Facilitator

Nick joins ELA with a Bachelor's Degree in Science from Kent State University. It was there that he cultivated a passion for Health and Physical Education. Nick brings his experience working in schools, camps, and ministry-based organizations to the team, hoping to make an impact on students in his first professional venture. Whether it be through his student teaching of 7th graders at Harmon Middle School, his facilitation of bible studies for H2O Church at Kent State University, or his mentoring of high schoolers at Camp Carl, he continuously seeks out intentional, teachable moments with youth. Nick effectively uses his conscientious and analytical, yet empathetic and down-to-earth outlook on life to best impact those that he interacts with for years to come.

Rachel DePriest

Alabama Coordinator & Lead Facilitator

Rachel earned two bachelor’s degrees in General Education and Integrated Language Arts from Kent State University before obtaining her master's in Curriculum and Lesson Design. She worked in the public school system in Stark County for 7 years before moving on to ELA. During that time, Rachel worked with students of diverse backgrounds and focused heavily on community service. Recognizing that education extends beyond textbooks and exams, Rachel is passionate about imparting essential life skills to students. She firmly believes that a well-rounded education should not only focus on academic subjects but also equip students with the tools they need to succeed in life. Her ability to connect with students on a personal level and create a supportive learning environment has been a hallmark of her teaching approach.

Luke Hobson

Lead Facilitator & Chamber Coordinator

Luke has been working in the education field for the past 10 years.  He began his career in education working with Americorps and Teach for America. He has worked as an elementary teacher in some of Ohio’s largest school districts, and he brings that experience and his passion to the ELA team. During his years in the classroom he saw the need for student leadership training and interpersonal skill development firsthand. He believes that the experiences and training that ELA offers will provide students with the chance to gain skills that will be invaluable in the years ahead. Luke is so excited to help execute the mission of ELA and to help individuals unlock their fullest potential!

Tanika Jackson

Special Projects Coordinator & Lead Facilitator

Tanika received her bachelor’s degree from Howard University. She has over 16 years of experience working in the mental health field. Twelve of those years involved providing case management and counseling services to adolescents with a wide variety of mental health diagnosis.  Tanika has a commitment to helping empower the youth to overcome their obstacles by providing them with the tools to improve their mental health.

Joe Brett

Marketing / Social Media Coordinator & Lead Facilitator

Joe is originally from England, but grew up on the East side of Cleveland. Joe is currently a student at DePaul University in Chicago, studying political science and education. Joe enjoys running and watching the Premier League (especially his favorite team Arsenal). After High School he spent a year living in Ecuador working for the Ecuatoriano government. After receiving his Bachelors in political science from DePaul University in Chicago, Joe decided to move back to Cleveland and continue the work that his mother, Flo started.

Gabrielle Tillman

Program Facilitator

Gabrielle is a recent graduate of Kent State University, receiving a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics. With three years of experience working with underprivileged and underrepresented middle and high school students, she has made a meaningful impact. Gabrielle has had the privilege of working with organizations such as Limitless Ambition and Upward Bound. Throughout her undergraduate studies and various program involvements, she has developed a deep appreciation for the transformative power of student support and guidance. She is thrilled to join the ELA team and looks forward to contributing to the continued success of transforming students' lives.'

Josh Carey

Program Facilitator

Josh, a graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor's in Education, brings a deep passion for teaching and connecting with students to Effective Leadership Academy. His journey includes working with youth at summer camps and church groups, as well as teaching experiences at Akron Public Schools and Northwest High School. Through these experiences, he discovered his passion for leaving a lasting impact on students' lives. Josh aims to impart valuable skills to students in a fun and engaging way, combining his calm demeanor with a passion for teaching students. He loves spending time in nature and exploring national parks. He even likes to watch scary movies before going to bed

Cesurian Champagne

Virtual Facilitator

Cesurian’s goal is to help kids from diverse backgrounds, identify their “WHY”. She has 15 years of experience (K-12) in the educational field and earned her Bachelor of Science from Charleston Southern University and Master of Art in Teaching (Kinesiology) from the Citadel Military Graduate College. Cesurian has a background of working with kids with different learning styles, she has always been passionate about helping kids identify their purpose.

Lydia Rivers

Virtual Facilitator

With her experience living in several different countries, Lydia joins ELA with a zeal to enhance a learning environment that embraces the beauty of diversity and ignites community through servant leadership. As a professional basketball player and former collegiate athlete, she whole-heartedly believes in the team approach. She earned an undergraduate degree from Radford, as well as a Master’s degree in Leadership from Virginia Tech. Driven by faith and inspired to help the next generation, Lydia hopes to make a positive impact on the mission of ELA.

Kris Wolfinger

Virtual Facillitator

Kris is a seasoned educator with over 15 years of dedicated teaching experience. Graduating from Ohio University with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, Kris has cultivated a deep passion for nurturing the growth of young minds. She is committed to empowering youth with the essential skills they need to thrive and make meaningful contributions to their communities.

With a passionate belief in the power of education, Kris has actively volunteered with various youth civic organizations, contributing her expertise in event planning and project management. Her dedication to serving young people extends beyond the classroom, as she strives to create opportunities for their holistic development.

As a proud member of the Effective Leadership Academy, Kris is thrilled to continue her mission of inspiring and guiding the next generation. Through her unwavering commitment and expertise, she remains steadfast in her pursuit of fostering leadership and excellence among today's youth.

Juliet Twomey

Virtual Facillitator

Juliet received her bachelor’s degree of Arts & Science from University of Dayton. She is passionate about working with communities to build strong rapport and empower individuals. Through her community engagement with local Ohio schools and experience teaching English abroad, she values the importance of education and investing in students’ futures. Juliet is looking to expand her experience in the non-profit sector and is excited to be part of the ELA team.

Darla Hill

Virtual Facillitator

Darla Kay Hill has been in the global virtual learning space for over two decades.  Her journey has taken her through working within higher education, to education technology consulting and into virtual corporate training.  As a Certified Master Virtual Facilitator and Producer, an academic and corporate coach and faculty for a global teacher preparation curriculum, the intersection of learning and connecting virtually is where she finds her passion.  She is an advocate for the rich, diverse learning experience that can result within effective virtual learning spaces, especially with teachers and students.  Darla has an MA in Journalism and an MS in Education Media Design and Technology.  She is a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®) Certified Practitioner and Project Management Professional (PMP). When not working remotely from her home office in Michigan, Darla enjoys fitness, gardening and writing.

Susan Romano

Office Volunteer

Susan started with ELA in its beginning stages. She joined the team in 2010 as the office administrator. Susan is the linchpin behind supplies and equipment organization for programming.