Catholic Education Leadership Corner

In response to the requests made by superintendents at the Catholic Leadership Summit, NCEA has brought back this special section to house Catholic school education leadership announcements such as staff changes, news and other updates. We invite you to share your contributions with NCEA by emailing Lucy Shufflebarger at Updates will be made on this page the first week of the month.

A note about the Diocesan Catholic School Leaders Directory: Please note that the directory is a “snap shot in time” of the NCEA Catholic school leadership and it is intended to be continuously updated. We hope that you will add corrections and updates to your own copy as we announce them in NCEA Talk throughout the year. If you have any corrections to the Directory, please send them to Lucy who will correct our internal database as well as announce the changes in our next edition.

June 2017

In Remembrance of Dr. Anthony J. Sabatino

Tony was a longtime friend of the NCEA and worked tirelessly for the cause of Catholic education. His presence, warmth, and sense of humor will be greatly missed on our NCEA Leadership Advisory Council.

November 15, 1950 – May 22, 2017 Anthony “Tony” Joseph Sabatino, 66, died Monday, May 22, 2017, in Los Angeles, CA. He was born on November 15, 1950, in Chicago, Illinois, to Ruth (Stocks) and Anthony Sabatino. Spending his childhood in Chicago, Tony then went on to earn his Bachelor of Science in Education and Master’s degree in Educational Administration both at Northern Illinois University. After beginning his career as an educator in several Catholic elementary and public schools in Illinois, Tony moved his family to Southern California in 1987. There, he flourished in Catholic school administration, including 11 years as Associate Principal at St. Augustine High School in San Diego and eight years as Headmaster of Villanova Preparatory School in Ojai. He earned his Doctorate in Education in 2010 from Cal Lutheran University. That same year, he joined the faculty at Loyola Marymount University as a Clinical Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Director of Catholic School Leadership Programs. His commitment to Catholic educational organizations was unequivocal; he served on many Catholic school boards and his leadership, consultation, and outreach expertise benefited local and national Catholic organizations. Tony loved his family above all else, and he is survived by his wife Connie (Steward), whom he married in Rockford, Illinois, on November 20, 1976; a daughter, Lisa Lange (and son-in-law Eric), two sons, Peter (and daughter-in-law Sara), and Nick (and daughter-in-law Michelle), and three beautiful grandchildren, Maisie, Benjamin, and Luisa. He is also survived by his sister Janis Collins and her family, of Westport, Connecticut. He will be greatly missed by all who loved him and whose lives he touched. Memorial services will be held at Sacred Heart Chapel on the Loyola Marymount University Campus on Tuesday, May 30, at 11:00am. There will be visiting hours before the service, at the same location, from 9:45-10:30am. Burial will be private. Expressions of sympathy may take the form of donations to the Anthony J. Sabatino Scholarship in Catholic School Leadership at Loyola Marymount University. Donations can be sent care of Alma Vorst, 1 LMU Drive, Suite 2800, Los Angeles, CA 90045.

May 2017

Dear Leaders of Catholic Education,

My name is Matt Russell and I am excited to be able to serve Catholic schools as NCEA’s Interim Director of Leadership Development.  I have had the pleasure of working with many of you in my continuing role as Director of Advancement and my previous role of Executive Director for Secondary Schools at NCEA.  I have been in Catholic education for 18 years and have had the privilege to serve at all levels of Catholic education as a diocesan administrator for secondary schools, elementary principal as well as teacher and high school coach.

In April 2017, NCEA commenced a search process for a new Director of Leadership Development. We are grateful to Jim Pavlacka for his service to NCEA in the role since July 2015. Our search is going well and we look forward to sharing updates with you..  During this transition period, however, I am pleased to be able to help guide the department and ensure the continued delivery of products, resources and services critical our shared mission of serving our nation’s Catholic schools.

We have a host of wonderful professional development opportunities that our staff is diligently working on.  At the top pf the list of our annual Institute for Catholic School Leaders (ICSL), at the Westin Waltham Boston Hotel in Waltham, Massachusetts from July 16-19, 2017.  ICSL is designed for current and aspiring elementary and secondary school principals, presidents, pastors and school board leaders to enable networking, conversation and collaboration with their peers. In addition to a spiritual leadership retreat and an inspiring keynote address, there are more than 30 breakout sessions on topics such as promoting mission and Catholic identity, professional growth mindset, marketing strategies, enrollment management and successful sustainability, just to name a few. Additionally, our professional development department will be hosting the Wisdom and Witness conference for campus ministers at the University of Dayton and the Exceptional Learners Conference in the Archdiocese of Chicago in June.  Please see the NCEA website for more information and registration details.  We are also continuing to produce our valuable enewsletter and webinar series and have several new publications out for your benefit. Finally, National Catholic Schools Week 2018 is January 28-February 3, 2018. Look for your year-round marketing kit and CSW guide in the coming months!

I want to again thank Dr. Tom Burnford for this wonderful opportunity and having the chance to partner with all of you in our vocation that is Catholic education.

I hope your school years are coming to a quiet and peaceful conclusion and that you have a wonderful summer of relaxation and renewal planned. In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to me if I can be of any assistance.


Charles M. Russell
National Catholic Educational Association


January 2017

Congratulations to Dr. Matt Vereecke who began his position as the superintendent for the diocese of Dallas one year ago! Click here for more information about Dr. Matt Vereecke.

October 2016

The following post is contributed by Ronald D. Fussell, Ed.D, Associate Superintendent of the Diocese of Manchester, NH. Dr. Fussell is a frequent presenter on the topic of lay education formation and preparing lay educators for ministry in Catholic education: *Reprint of Bridging the Gap.

September 2016

Patrick Slattery will present two sessions during the NCEA Catholic Leadership Summit and Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent Academy.

On Saturday, October 22 during the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent Academy, Mr. Slattery will present “School Sustainability,” with David Faber and Nicholas Regina. Providing a national overview of successful strategies, this session will give our Academy attendees a broad picture on which to build their own sustainable models.

Mr. Slattery will be joined by Dr. Kevin Baxter and David Faber to present,”Shared Best Practices, Leadership and Enrollment Growth” on Wednesday, October 26 during the NCEA Catholic Leadership Summit.

The Archdiocese of Omaha adopted best practices shared at NCEA professional development gatherings including Latino outreach, parent ambassador programs, partnerships with universities and grant programs. Bolstering these strategies, and Omaha’s “Awaken Greatness” campaign, has been a new vision and growth mentality modeled after Los Angeles and Grand Rapids. The presenters will discuss their shared experiences as they shifted from maintenance to growth.

Mr. Slattery is the superintendent for the Catholic Schools Office of the Archdiocese of Omaha. A Connecticut native, he has served in administrative roles in the Archdiocese of Omaha since 2004. The Catholic school culture in Omaha is among the strongest in the country and by implementing an aggressive strategic plan, Mr. Slattery continues to build upon that strong culture.

For more information, please click here.

NCEA is pleased to announce that Father John Belmonte, SJ, will present two sessions during the NCEA Catholic Leadership Summit and Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent Academy.

On Sunday, October 23 during the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent Academy, Father Belmonte will present “Process and Communication with Chancery,” a topic requested by many arch/diocesan leaders with three or fewer years on the job.

The Catholic School Superintendent Toolkit will be presented on Monday, October 24 during the NCEA Catholic Leadership Summit.

This workshop will provide practical tools that every superintendent can use to erect the seven pillars of operational excellence needed to create a vibrant network of Catholic schools. Topics and program takeaways will include: increasing Mass attendance in families, using a dashboard for data-driven decisions, developing the devotional lives of children, Catholic standards for hiring and setting mission expectations for Catholic school teachers.

Father Belmonte is the superintendent for the Catholic Schools Office of the Diocese of Joliet and the creator of You can follow him on Twitter @Father_Belmonte.

For more information, please click here.

The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) announces its new corporate partner, The Pacific Institute (TPI) – a global consultancy dedicated to empowering institutions and individuals by changing mindset.

TPI’s approach is rooted in aligning mindset, beliefs, and culture to maximize organizational performance that produces measurable results.

Helping organizations reach their full potential, TPI customized a four-step method to guide its clients through change.  Based on the principles of cognitive and social science, TPI’s approach to helping organizations effect change is centered on assessment, alignment, engagement and sustainability. With a customizable approach informed by scientifically-based principles, TPI focuses on uncovering obstacles and developing positive outcomes to help organizations and individuals improve performance.

For more information about TPI, please visit:

To learn more about all of NCEA’s corporate partners, please visit our website

July 2016

Margaret Lyons who served as Secretary for Catechetical Formation and Education/Superintendent for the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland for over ten years retired June 30, 2016. During her tenure under Bishop Richard Lennon, the catechetical formation requirements for all school and parish catechists were strengthened and, the Cleveland Diocese moved from the sixth to the fifth largest Catholic school system in the United States.

Brandi Borries will officially begin her reign as the Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois on July 1, 2016. Brandi held the position of principal at St. Anthony Grade School in Effingham, IL for four years prior to taking on the role of superintendent. Her career in education began by teaching students with special needs, followed by an administrative role as a special education coordinator prior to coming into Catholic education.

Brandi holds a Master’s of Science in Education in Administrative Leadership and a Bachelor’s of Science in Special Education from Eastern Illinois University. She has also attended Northwestern Illinois University Chicago for a Kellogg School of Management seminar focusing on Leading Successful Schools, attended the University of Dayton for a STREAM Academy sponsored by the National Catholic Educational Association, and attended the University of Notre Dame’s Principal’s Academy sponsored by the Alliance for Catholic Education. Brandi is a member of the Illinois Principals Association.

“I am honored to represent and support the 47 schools int eh Springfield Diocese. I’m looking forward to working with administrators, teachers, pastors and parents to continue to build on the great privilege of leading our students into the brightest future possible…one filled with faith, hope, compassion and endless possibilities.”

June 2016

NCEA wishes all the best to Dr. Marie Williams, who will be leaving the director of education position for the Diocese of Lafayette in Indiana on July 15 to start full time as principal of Reitz Memorial Catholic High School in the Diocese of Evansville. Dr. Williams has been the director since 2007.

NCEA joins with the Diocese of Lafayette Pastoral Office for Education in bidding Dr. Peg Dispenzieri a warm welcome when she becomes Associate Superintendent in July. Dr. Dispenzieri has been Assistant Principal and Director of Academics for Guerin Catholic High School since 2008.

God bless the work of both of these servant leaders as they embark on new and exciting journeys.

Jean Johnson, Superintendent of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, retired on June 30 after 17 years of service at the diocesan level (superintendent the last 10 and associate previously) and a total of 41 years in education (all but 5 of those in Catholic education).  Among her accomplishments are the formation  of Catholic Athletes for Christ chapters in all of the Catholic high schools in the diocese, the development and implementation of the educational review process used by diocesan schools, and the development of numerous school board resources.

Brandi Borries has accepted the position of Superintendent in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. Previously, Ms. Borries was Principal of St. Anthony School in Effingham, IL for four years and Special Education Coordinator for two years. She has eight years’ experience as a Resource Teacher for students with special needs.

We offer a warm welcome to Ms. Borries as she assumes her new role and a fond farewell and Godspeed to Ms. Johnson as she enjoys her retirement.

The Diocese of Manchester is pleased to announce that Bishop Peter A. Libasci has appointed David A. Thibault to serve as the Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Manchester. Dave will join the diocesan staff on Monday, July 1, 2016.

Dave graduated with a degree in education from Franciscan University in Steubenville in Steubenville, OH and obtained his Master of Education degree from Northwestern University in Boston. He served as a teacher at Holy Name School in West Roxbury, MA and Marshall Simonds Middle School in Burlington, MA. He was the Associate Principal at Newport Middle School, Newport, NH and the Headmaster of Mount Royal Academy in Sunapee, NH before he was named as Executive Director of Diocesan Camps for the Diocese of Manchester. Dave lives in Newport, NH with his wife and nine children, and they are parishioners at St. Patrick Parish in Newport.

Most Reverend Leonard P. Blair of the Archdiocese of Hartford has appointed Dr. Michael S. Griffin, Ph.D., from the Diocese of Fall River, as the new Superintendent of Catholic Schools. Effective July 1st, Griffin who has strong ties in the Archdiocese, will serve as Acting Superintendent. He will officially begin his tenure as Superintendent of Catholic Schools on August 3, 2016.

Updates to the Diocesan Catholic School Leaders Directory as of June 2016:

  • Page 11: Kevin Dean Kijewski, J.D., contact information: Please update the phone and fax numbers. Phone is changed to (303) 715-3200. Fax is changed to (303) 715-2007.

May 2016

Congratulations to Chris Knight who was recently named Superintendent and Secretary of Education for the Diocese of Cleveland. He currently works as Superintendent in the Diocese of Toledo.

On behalf of Bishop Loverde

I’m pleased to share with you that he has announced the appointment of Ms. Jennifer Bigelow as Superintendent of Schools, effective July 5th.  The full announcement is available at the Arlington Catholic Herald and at under ‘press releases’.

Updates to the Diocesan Catholic School Leaders Directory as of May 2016:

April 2016

“Please keep Patrick Haggarty, Ed.D., Superintendent of the Archdiocese of Seattle in your prayers.  He is recovering from significant surgery that occurred on April 18th.”

On Behalf of Sister Mary Grace Walsh

Dear Colleagues in New England CACE:

As many of you know, I had the distinct privilege of chairing the Search Committee for my successor in the Diocese of Bridgeport. While I served as Secretary of Catholic Education and Faith Formation and Superintendent, the position has been split and today the new Superintendent of Schools is being announced. Bishop Caggiano asked me to share this good news with you! I am sure you will join me in welcoming Steve Cheeseman to New England!

March 2016

Updates to the Diocesan Catholic School Leaders Directory as of March 2016:

  • Page 36: The Diocese of Nashville, Therese S. Williams, Ed.D., contact information: Please update the phone number to 615-383-6393.
  • For those Superintendents attending NCEA 2016, we look forward to seeing you at the Superintendents Breakfast, March 31, 8:00 a.m., Hilton Bayfront, Indigo 204.

Lucille Joan (“Penny”) Pendola, Ed.D. Director of Human Resources at the Diocese of Oakland, died on Tuesday, March 29, at her home in San Ramon, California. She was 68. Dr. Pendola’s career in the Diocese of Oakland spanned over 35 years, 25 of them in human resources.

February 2016

  • Currently NCEA and CARA are conducting the biennial finance study known previously in elementary schools as Financing the Mission and as Dollars & Sense for secondary schools.   The data collected and reported are the only source of information about Catholic school finances and are an invaluable source of information to assist dioceses and schools in their strategic planning for operational vitality.  We ask that you remind your principals to please look for the email requesting their input and complete the survey that has been sent to every school so that a truly representative data set can be produced and utilized.


January 2016

  • The 2016 Catholic Leadership Summit scheduled for October 23-26, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana is already in the works!  NCEA Interim President, Dr. Tom Burnford and the NCEA Leadership Development Team have been working with a group of superintendents in the planning of CLS 2016.  If you have any questions or ideas, please do not hesitate to contact Jim Pavlacka – Director of Leadership Development at or Annette Jones – Assistant Director of Leadership Development at or by calling 571-257-0010

Updates to the Diocesan Catholic School Leaders Directory as of January 2016:

  • Pages 42: Sr. Jan Dunn, SJ, Interim Director, should be replaced with Ian K. Humphreys, Director of Programs for Network of Sacred Heart Schools. The entire staff has moved to Washington, DC. The address is 821 Varnum St., NE, Washington, DC 20017. The phone is (202) 636-9300 and the fax is (202) 636-9306. Email is
  • Page 43: Please delete Randy Kurtz. Please add George V. Fornero, Chief Academic Officer and Superintendent, Cristo Rey Network. Phone number (312) 784-7212. Email is Address and fax remain the same.
  • Page 45: Please make the correction: Delete Carolyn M. Jurkowitz and replace with Br. William Carriere, FSC, Ph.D., Executive Director of Western Catholic Educational Association. Fax number is (714) 447-9846. Email is Address and phone remain the same.


December 2015

  • The Diocesan Catholic School Leaders Directory was distributed to all in attendance at the Catholic Leadership Summit. For those not in attendance, your Directory was mailed just after Thanksgiving. Please contact Lucy Shufflebarger if you have any questions at

Updates to the Diocesan Catholic School Leaders Directory as of December 2015:

  • Pages 18 and 58: Please note that Msgr. Russell Bleich, of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, has retired.
  • Page 41: Please update the Diocese of Madison information: Please delete Joseph Leppert. Please note that Michael Lancaster holds an Ed.S. Please add Dr. Michael Flanagan, Ph.D., Assistant Superintendent, The address for both members is 702 S. High Point Road, Suite 225, Madison, WI 53719. The phone number is (608) 821-3180 and the fax number is (608) 440-2812.
  • Page 61: Please add Dr. Alberto Vazquez-Matos, Ed.D., Chief of Staff for the Hillsborough County School District. He can be contacted at: 5662 Horborsick Drive, Tampa, FL 33615, (813) 507-3630,
  • Page 61: Please change the title for Rev. Msgr. Thomas Toale, V.G., Ph.D. to Vicar General.

November 2015

  • All superintendents – NCEA and CARA will again collect information from schools for finance and governance. We ask that you encourage all your schools to participate in this survey. Click here for more information.
  • Thank you to Diane Starkovich, Superintendent of Schools in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, and her team for hosting the NCEA 2015 Catholic Leadership Summit!
  • Jim King, Superintendent of the Diocese of Portland, Maine, has edited a new book:, Priestly Leadership in Catholic Schools: Reflections from NCEA Distinguished Pastors, now available for purchase.
  • Sandra Leatherwood, Director for Catholic Education in the Diocese of Charleston, has provided the following information for those interested in contributing to families affect by recent flooding in the diocese: Donations may be made at donors would like their donation to go to a school family, please put “Schools Donation” in the Comment box when submitting.


 4,251 total views,  3 views today