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

Director of Operations

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

Talent Manager

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


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.

Elisa Corrao

Office 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.

Amaris Jones

Marketing Associate & Lead Facilitator

Amaris has a passion to provide a learning experience where children can celebrate their differences, feel empowered, and achieve their learning goals. Through her 12 years of experience in the educational field, Amaris has worked in an Autistic Support classroom, a trauma-informed care classroom, and was a director over the children's ministry at a local Cleveland church. Amaris also participated in a NASA Pre-Service teacher program during her undergrad at Hampton University where she learned to incorporate technology and science into the classroom.

Sydnei Sellers

Dream On Foundation Coordinator & Lead Facilitator

Sydnei has a passion for community-based leadership, diversity and inclusion. She takes pride in her proven ability to encourage and empower the minds of youth which helps ignite their confidence to discover their voices, gifts and talents. Sydnei has over the years played a very important role in giving voices to youth and young adults. Her goal everyday is to help at least one young person feel heard and valued.

Kaye Wolfinger

Community Relations Coordinator

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.

Jake Hastings

Lorain County Coordinator & Program Facilitator

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.

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.

Nick Acevedo

Program 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.

Tanika Jackson

Program 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

Program 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 Formula 1. He recently spent a year living in Ecuador working for the Ecuatoriano government. Finishing his Master's degree and moving to Cleveland to be a history teacher are his future goals.

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.

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.

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.

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.