Ervin Knezek, Ed. D.
Founder and Chief Education Officer
dreamer of big dreams

creativity, courage, and confidence

Leading learning requires creativity, courage, and confidence. As Founder and Chief Education Officer, Ervin believes deeply in the ability of every educator to change the world- one kid at a time. He leverages his experience, his research, and his passion to help educators at all levels meet ever-increasing standards for students.

vision and trust

Leadership requires vision and leaders can count on Ervin to inspire them with this, help them frame their own, and always place trust in the experience and commitment of teachers. He inspires, motivates, and challenges educators with his creative and strategic approaches. He and the lead4ward crew play hard, work hard, and dream big! Read more–>

Clee Upchurch
Strategy and Development
idea manifester

Drawing from both education and business experience, Clee Upchurch, M. Ed, works at the intersection of education and innovation. Clee provides direction in communication, partnerships, products, and general strategy for lead4ward. Read more–>


Justin Richardson
Professional Learning
learning leader

Bringing years of district leadership experience, Justin Richardson, M.Ed., is passionate about engaging, challenging, and supporting educators to create something new and amazing! He believes our purpose as educators is to bring out the greatness in others.
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Kim Lehman
Finance and Operations
fun[d] facilitator

Kim Lehman provides financial, operational, and strategic direction for lead4ward. Kim has guided lead4ward from its infancy to become an integral partner in Texas education. She leads with an eye on service and a vision for improving educational outcomes. Read more–>

John Fessenden

John Fessenden is an experienced educational consultant who works with school districts, campuses and regional educational service centers in the areas of assessment, accountability and data analysis.
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Stephanie Camarillo-Zelenak

Stephanie is an experienced educational consultant who works with districts, campuses, and service centers in the areas of designing and implementing teaching and learning systems, curriculum development, and much more. Read more–>

Lee Rutledge

Lee Rutledge, Ph.D., manages the leading learning series for lead4ward. Additionally, Lee provides guidance to districts in the design and implementation of district-wide professional development. Read more–>


Diane Potter

Diane offers a wealth of knowledge and experience developed through her extensive educational career. As a leadership consultant and coach, Diane works with campus leaders to enhance their confidence through increased competence in their work. Read more–>

Shelby Ellis

Shelby Ellis, M.Ed., is an experienced educational consultant focusing on curriculum alignment, high-yield instructional strategies, and leadership. She is a champion for education and promotes creative instructional. Read more–>

Wade Labay

With over 20 years of service in education, Wade Labay, Ed.D., brings a unique set of skills and experiences to the lead4ward team, serving districts in the areas of leadership and data visualization/analysis. Wade has a passion for helping educators. Read more–>

Brad Gibson

Brad Gibson, M.Ed., has spent his life and professional career empowering and equipping others for success. Brad is regarded as an accomplished and engaging presenter with a knack for bringing clarity to complex processes. Read more–>

Gayla Wiggins
English Language Arts

Gayla Wiggins is an experienced educational consultant who works with school districts and education service centers in the areas of curriculum development, instruction, and English language arts and reading.
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Jayme Alexander
Special Education

Jayme’s vocation has been serving special populations for over 15 years. She has had the pleasure of learning from students with both high- and low-incidence disabilities in settings ranging from resource classrooms and inclusion to consultation and outreach. Read more–>

Nancy Crouch

Nancy is an experienced educational consultant who works with state agencies, education service centers, and school districts in developing and implementing teaching and learning systems, curriculum development, and much more.
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Jenna Shinners

Jenna Shinners, M.Ed., has devoted her life and career to sharing her passion of learning. As a lead4ward consultant, she works with school districts and education service centers in the areas of science curriculum and instruction.
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Jodi Denton
Social Studies

Social Studies enthusiast Jodi Denton, M.Ed., serves as one of lead4ward’s experienced content specialists. Jodi works with teachers and instructional support teams to meet the increasingly complex requirements for student success.
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Kathy Clapsaddle
Special Education

Kathy is an experienced consultant and special educator with almost 20 years of experience training and consulting with district professionals, both inside and outside of Texas.Kathy has worked as an instructor Read more–>

Lori Tatum
Design, Web, and Client Services

Lori brings over seventeen years of design, web development, and client service experience to lead4ward. Lori feels passionately about doing her part in supporting what is best for students. Read more–>

Marie Deasy
Professional Development Scheduling

Sandy Lucero
Resources and Special Projects

Sandy Lucero manages our existing free resources, participates in the development of new resources, and provides leadership on special projects. Believing that “more” does not necessarily mean “better,” she is driven Read more–>

Alex Kavich

Alex’s passion is finding creative ways to solve problems through technology and supporting educators in their quest to improve every student’s learning. Alex creates solutions for the lead4ward crew and the schools Read more–>

Jennifer Hill
Accounts Administration

Jennifer manages lead4wards registration and accounts receivable including invoicing and collections. Jennifer’s multifaceted and extensive background enriches her work at lead4ward, as well as her contribution to education as a whole Read more–>