Our staff is a collection of business leaders, educators, coaches and determined problem-solvers who believe every child has the potential to unlock their inner leader and become the very best version of themselves. We truly do! Get to know us a little bit better.

Flo Brett

ELA Founder & Executive Director Flo BrettFounder & Executive Director

Since serving as the Training and Development Lead and Clinical Governance Manager at University Hospitals of Leicester United Kingdom, Flo has built a reputation for developing and implementing action-based, team-building strategies, goal achievement plans and positive attitude programs that help individuals and teams reach their full potential.

Flo’s LinkedIn

Sue Zawacki

Effective Leadership Academy Director of OperationsDirector of Operations

With three decades of experience working as an administrator in higher education at Hamilton College, Amherst College, the University of Chicago, and the University of New Haven, Sue has established a proven track record of implementing broad-based visions, creating effective logistical structures, and matching team strengths with program needs.

Sue’s LinkedIn

Sara Luehring

Effective Leadership Academy Alumni DirectorCurriculum Director

As a licensed teacher, a former high school intervention specialist, and a mentor for the National Leadership Conference, Sara has spent her career empowering students by developing engaging and functional lessons that help students discover their own potential.  When not developing program curriculum, Sara keeps ELA connected our network of 12,000+ alumni.

Sara’s LinkedIn

Faith Boone

Effective Leadership Academy Marketing DirectorMarketing Director

Faith brings website development, content writing, graphic design, media relations and marketing expertise to ELA. Her experiences as a newspaper reporter, public relations account executive, social media specialist and broadcast TV web producer helps to expand ELA’s reach across Northeast Ohio and beyond.

Faith’s LinkedIn

Cathy Papp

Effective Leadership Academy Coordinator of Education & TrainingCoordinator of Education & Training

A former crisis counselor with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and social worker with Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, Cathy uses her experience working in high-pressure environments to help develop and expand the skill sets of Effective Leadership Academy team members.    

Cathy’s LinkedIn

Michael Biedenbach

Effective Leadership Academy Director of Finance Mike Biedenbach
Director of Finance

Michael came to ELA through the Cleveland Encore program, sponsored by the Cleveland Foundation.  As a retired finance executive, he was looking for a meaningful opportunity to utilize his experience and talent to support a community organization that is positively impacting young people. 

Michael’s LinkedIn

Laura Boone

Effective Leadership Academy IT Coordinator
IT Coordinator

Laura brings a combination of education, finance, sales, technology, and project management skills to her role at ELA. A certified teacher and an administrator with a demonstrated record of bringing essential leadership skills to her schools, she joined ELA to further expand the scope and reach of ELA’s vital and exciting programming. Her background enables her to support ELA in optimizing its use of evaluation resources to share the impact ELA programming has on students and the community.

Laura’s LinkedIn

Traci D. Shed

Effective Leadership Academy Outreach Coordinator, Lorain County Traci Shed
Outreach Coordinator, Lorain County

Traci is working to build our presence in the schools and community supports systems within Lorain County.  She is the local liaison to leaders, educators and supporters of the ELA mission and will be working with youth and leaders in the Lorain County community.  Traci has an extensive education and training background and has worked with young people and adults of all ages.

Traci’s LinkedIn

Melanie Twomey

Effective Leadership Academy Regional Director, Mid-Atlantic Melanie Twomey
Regional Director, Mid-Atlantic

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.

Melanie’s LinkedIn

Torey Stroud

Lead Facilitator

Torey taught high school for five years before joining the ELA team. Originally from the Sandusky area, he gained experience with a wide variety of different student populations from his time teaching in Nashville and Chicago. Prior to starting his career in education, he was an Army medic for eight years. He has a wife who is just as passionate about education as him and a 9 year old who keeps them grounded in reality.


Torey’s LinkedIn

Ruth Mardell

Program Coordinator

Ruth brings 17 years of public school teaching experience to ELA.  Ruth is passionate about favorably impacting schools and their students.  In addition to bringing ELA’s curriculum to schools across NE Ohio, Ruth helps ELA stay current on educational trends and coordinates programming in conjunction with local municipalities.


Ruth’s LinkedIn

Rachel Leonard


Rachel comes to ELA from the Holden Forests and Gardens, where she worked as the Manager of Public Programs. Before working at Holden, she was the Manager of Schools and Groups for Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Rachel also taught K-5 for 10 years in Vermont and North Carolina. Rachel received her undergraduate degree in archaeology from the University of Maryland and her master’s degree in education from Antioch New England.


Rachel’s LinkedIn

Susan Romano

Effective Leadership Academy Office Administrator Susan Romano
Office Administrator

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.


Susan’s LinkedIn

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