Joel Zarrow, Ph.D.

Chief Executive Officer

Joel Zarrow, Ph.D.

Dr. Joel Zarrow was appointed in 2014 as CLI’s Chief Executive Officer. Joel has dedicated his nearly 20-year career to improving the quality of education in public urban schools. He earned his doctorate at Stanford University and has presented at national and international conferences with multiple publications to his credit.

Frank Grossman, Ph.D.

Deputy Executive Director & Chief Academic Officer

Frank Grossman, Ph.D.

Dr. Frank Grossman joined CLI in 2015. He leads all aspects of school services including internal and external professional development, service delivery, and the design and development of programs. Frank holds a Ph.D. from the Department of Leadership, Policy & Politics from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Reina Prowler

Chief Financial Officer

Reina Prowler

As Chief Financial Officer, Reina Prowler is responsible for developing and implementing CLI’s long-term financial strategy. She leads all financial administration, planning and budgeting. Reina earned her B.A. in Business Economics and American Civilizations from Brown University and her M.B.A., with concentrations in Accounting and Strategic and Operations Management from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Caryn Henning

Managing Director of Program Design & Professional Development

Caryn Henning

Caryn is a 17 year veteran of CLI. In that time, Caryn has also been a Regional Manager and a Professional Developer. As the Director of Program Design & Content Development, Caryn is responsible for ensuring CLI has the right program “scope and sequence” in place, as well as the professional development to build the necessary expertise to build teacher capacity and accelerate student early literacy learning.

Jill Valunas

Senior Regional Executive Director

Jill Valunas

Jill oversees the implementation of projects in the Eastern Region, leads & guides Regional Managers/Associate Regional Managers, provides support to district leaders, and strives to expand our work to reach more children. She ensures that both the learning objectives and outcomes stipulated in all client and donor contract expectations are met. Over the past 20 years, Jill has served as an educator and educational leader in urban education. Jill provides her expertise in school improvement and strives to transform education by tending to the needs of each individual represented in the school culture.



Todd Gehling

Director of Technology Strategy

Todd Gehling

Todd joined CLI in 2019 with a passion for delivering innovative technology solutions that empower organizational and employee growth. He directs all aspects of the technology strategy including identification of opportunities, product and partner selection, solution delivery, ongoing service support, and planning future capabilities to align to the organizational vision. Todd has 20 years of experience working as a technology expert and leader across several industries and approaches technology transformation as a continuous, collaborative effort that promotes new ideas and the courage to test them out.

Mary List

Regional Executive Director

Mary List

Mary has dedicated her career to improving quality teaching and learning in public elementary schools. In her role as the Regional Executive Director for CLI’s central region, Mary oversees the quality implementation of projects including Chicago, Denver, and Houston area schools. In this position she manages district and school relationships, provides support to school and district leaders, designs projects with clients, and supervises the locally based CLI regional managers and professional developers while ensuring that both the learning objectives stipulated in client contracts and all donor expectations are met.

Brian L. Johnson

Director of Diversity & Inclusion

Brian L. Johnson

Brian L. Johnson joined CLI in June of 2020. He leads our efforts to integrate diversity, equity and inclusion into everything we do at CLI. Serving as a teacher and school administrator the last 29 years in public, charter and independent schools, has allowed him to see and experience education from various perspectives. Brian earned his BA in Psychology and his MA Ed. at Wake Forest University.






David J. Bloom

Senior Vice President

Merrill Lynch


Gerald Mosely
CP&P Development, LLC


Victoria Raivitch
CliftonLarsonAllen LLP


Mary Klein
Retired Educator


Richard Berkman
Of Council
Dechert LLP


John Bonow

Managing Director & CEO

Public Financial Management
Henri Crockett

Co-Founder & President

Crockett Foundation

Nelson Flores

Assistant Professor

University of Pennsylvania

Frank Gettridge

Executive Director

National Public Education Support Fund


Sandra LaFleur

Director, Social Change Initiatives

Miami Dade College

Steve Piltch, Ed.D.
Senior Fellow
Director, School Leadership Program
Graduate School of Education
University of Pennsylvania
Adam Spector
Managing Partner
Brandywine Global Investment Management, LLC

Lori Taylor

Senior Counsel

Foley & Lardner LLP


Jacqueline Woolley

Attorney & Counselor at Law

The Ezold Law Firm, P.C.

Joel Zarrow
Children's Literacy Initiative

Regional Managers

Sharon Weldon - Northern New Jersey

As a Regional Manager, Sharon guides the implementation of CLI’s mission in a variety of Northeastern school districts. Her prior 17 years of experience as a CLI Professional Developer lends direction and depth to her current role, as she cultivates partnerships with school districts, oversees professional developers, and supports project implementation of effective literacy practices. Sharon coordinates with a network of colleagues to ensure that the delivery of trainings, coaching and materials provide educators with instructional practices and resources to empower students as they become powerful readers, writers and thinkers.

With a commitment to impact and sustainability, Sharon contributes to CLI’s vision of transformational instruction, combining efforts of all involved to ensure children become successful, life-long members of the literacy community.

Claire Mueller - Houston, TX

Claire guides the implementation of CLI’s mission in the Houston Metro area. She has been a literacy educator for over 30 years in both public and private schools. Her experience as a teacher, instructional specialist, literacy coach and principal serve her well as she cultivates partnerships with school districts, oversees professional developers and supports project implementation of effective literacy practices. Working with a network of colleagues, Claire works to ensure that training, resources and coaching combine in a powerful way to help students reach their potential as readers, writers and thinkers.

Claire has a passion for children and literacy education particularly with under-served populations. She holds a BS in Curriculum and Instruction from Texas A & M University and a M. Ed. in Administration and Supervision from University of Houston.

Sarah Koenen - Denver, CO

Sarah joined CLI in 2016 as Denver’s Regional Manager. Sarah’s experience as a 1st grade teacher is what drives her passion to support students, teachers, and school leaders in the hard and rewarding work of teaching students to read and write. She believes that teachers deserve high quality professional development and coaching experiences that draw upon their professional knowledge and experiences with students.

Previous to working at CLI, she was a teacher, coach, mentor, and presenter for 18 years. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education, both from Northern Arizona University. In 2009, NAU also awarded Sarah an Honorary Doctorate for her work in education and advocacy for the teaching profession.

Francesca Cerabino - Philadelphia, PA

Francesca is the Regional Manager for the Philadelphia region supporting a passionate team of District Leaders, Supervisors, Coaches and Teachers.

Her work is guided by the following key values: that literacy is a right of all children; that every teacher has the ability to grow and strengthen their literacy expertise; that we all lead by example; and that fostering relationships are a necessary building block for the growth and sustainability of CLI’s mission.

Francesca started at CLI as a Professional Developer in 2011 where she has been a literacy coach, facilitator, mentor, supervisor, and associate regional manager before taking on the role as Regional Manager. Prior to joining the CLI team, she taught grades K-3 for over 9 years. Francesca holds a BS in Elementary Education from Brooklyn College and a MA in Applied Educational Psychology: Reading Specialist from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Michelle LaCoursiere - Broward County, FL

Michelle leads the implementation of CLI’s mission in Broward County, FL, supporting an amazing team of Administrators, Principals, Coaches, and Teachers.

She believes that good instruction = good results and knows that championing teachers and their professional growth is the key to changing the face of education. In her 19 years as an educator, she has served as a teacher, reading specialist, student services coordinator, assistant principal, and interim principal.

Michele has built her passion for literacy, curriculum, teaching, and learning throughout each experience. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Florida Atlantic University. With an unwavering commitment to CLI’s mission, Michele builds meaningful relationships with all stakeholders to ensure that teacher and student success is the top priority!