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 trust. Ervin inspires leaders, helps them frame their own vision, and reminds them to always place trust in the experience and commitment of teachers. He inspires, motivates, and challenges educators with creative and strategic approaches. He and
the lead4ward crew play hard, work hard, and dream big! Read more–>

Clee Upchurch
Chief Operations Officer

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


Justin Richardson
Chief Learning Officer

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
Chief Financial Officer

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.
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John Fessenden
Leadership & Accountability

John Fessenden is an experienced education 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
Leadership & Leading Learning Series

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

As a leadership consultant and coach, Diane Potter works with campus leaders to enhance their confidence through increased competence in their work. She also provides individually tailored leadership coaching. 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. Read more–>

Wade Labay
Leadership & Data

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. 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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Cristin Ledbetter
English Language Arts

As an ELAR content specialist, Cristin Ledbetter, M.Ed., is passionate about coaching and modeling how to implement effective strategies and best instructional practices in classrooms to create lifelong readers and writers. 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. Read more–>

Debbie Boyer
Induction Series

Debbie Boyer is wholeheartedly passionate about people, learning, innovation, and life. She is an encourager, supporter, and champion of educators who loves helping teachers grow and flourish. Read more–>

Jodi Denton
Social Studies

Social Studies enthusiast Jodi Denton, M.Ed., uses her diverse knowledge, high energy, and fresh approach to support teachers in developing and implementing innovative instructional and assessment practices. Read more–>

Kathy Clapsaddle
Special Education

Kathy Clapsaddle has over 20 years’ experience as a consultant and special educator. She feels strongly that purposeful and engaging instruction – for both educators and students – is the key to meaningful growth for all students.
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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–>

Lori Tatum
Design, Web, and Client Services

Lori brings over 19 years of design, web development, and client service experience to lead4ward. Working primarily in the education field, Lori feels passionately about supporting what is best for students.
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Marie Deasy
Professional Development Scheduling

Marie works diligently with clients to obtain the training best suited for their needs. Professionalism, attention to detail, and,
sometimes, creativity come into play when managing the schedule.
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Sandy Lucero
Resources and Special Projects

Sandy manages our free resources. Believing that “more” does not necessarily mean “better,” she is driven to synthesize and distill what is essential to create tools for teachers and leaders that are clear, useful, and up-to-date.
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Alex Kavich

Alex’s passions are 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 schools we serve and lead4ward.
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Jennifer Hill
Accounts Administration

Jennifer manages lead4ward’s registration and accounts receivable, including invoicing and collections. Her multifaceted and extensive background enriches her work and contribution to education as a whole.
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Mary Carney
Contracts & RFPs

Mary manages contracts, RFPs, and invoicing. She works with clients and procurement departments to make sure all paperwork is in place prior to professional development or consulting services.
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