Joel Zarrow

Chief Executive Officer

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. Most recently, Joel launched and led the New Jersey Department of Education’s efforts to effect an academic turnaround in 220 of the state’s lowest-performing schools. Under his leadership, New Jersey established six Regional Achievement Centers, staffed with a range of educational experts focused on providing direct support to schools and districts.

Prior to that, Joel was in the private sector as a management consultant working with global Fortune 1000 firms on leadership and performance issues. Joel is a founding board member of Envision Schools, a charter management organization in the San Francisco area. He earned his doctorate at Stanford University and has presented at national and international conferences with multiple publications to his credit.

Frank Grossman

Deputy Executive Director and Chief Academic Officer

Frank joined the CLI team in June 2015. Frank leads all aspects of school services including internal and external professional development, service delivery, and the design and development of programs. For over two decades, Frank has dedicated his career to improving the educational opportunities for all students.  Prior to coming to CLI, Frank served as the Executive Director for New Jersey’s Regional Achievement Center serving school districts in four counties, including Trenton Public Schools.

Frank’s deep commitment to educational equity began as classroom teacher, science department chairperson, and football coach in a public high school Los Angeles.  He has also served as an education professor at Swarthmore College and coordinated a project at the National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools and Teaching (NCREST) that illuminated how practitioners utilize and conduct research to close the academic achievement gap that existed between white students and African American and Latino students. Frank holds a Ph.D. from the Department of Leadership, Policy and Politics from Teachers College, Columbia University. He has presented at national and international conferences, and has multiple publications to his credit.

Pat Federman

Co-Founder & Lead Regional Manager

With a background in teaching and a passion for the field of literacy, Pat co-founded CLI in 1988. Pat provides constant insight on CLI’s development and promotes the mission and strategic planning in her day to day activities. While serving as co-founder for the past 26 years, Pat’s other role at CLI is as a Regional Manager. In this position she, manages relationships with school districts, designs projects with clients, and supervises the Professional Developers.

Prior to co-founding CLI, Pat taught Pre-K and Kindergarten and served as Principal of Greene Towne School in Philadelphia. In addition to her time spent at CLI, Pat is a Reading Specialist and continues to tutor elementary school students in reading.

Pat holds a BS in Early Childhood Education from Drexel University and a MA in Elementary Education and Reading from St Joseph’s University.

Cynthia Roberts

Cynthia E. Roberts

Director of Finance & Facilities

Cynthia joined the CLI team in July 2012 and brought with her over 10 years of non-profit accounting experience. In her role as Director of Finance & Facilities, Cynthia manages the overall financial operations for CLI as well as, facilities management.

Prior to joining CLI as the Director of Finance & Facilities, she worked at The Philadelphia Foundation as a Controller where she was responsible for the overall accounting function and internal controls. She also worked at the Free Library of Philadelphia as a staff accountant and Mitchell & Titus, LLP as an auditor.

Cynthia holds her BS in Accounting from the University of Delaware and MBA from Holy Family University. In addition to her work at CLI, Cynthia is very active in her church and sorority, Delta Sigma Theta. She is also on the Board of Directors at Christ Church Preservation Trust.

Jen Weikert

Jen Weikert

Director of External Relations

Since joining CLI in 2009, Jen has held a variety of leadership roles related to fundraising and was an invaluable member of the team that led CLI’s successful bid for a $26 million Investing in Innovation grant in 2010.  Utilizing more than a decade of non-profit experience, she currently serves as CLI’s Director of External Relations. In this capacity, Jen works to design, direct and deepen CLI’s range of significant relationships with individual donors and strategic partners that result in more revenue, more externally-focused opportunities and more awareness of CLI as a leading national organization providing and promoting effective, evidence-based early literacy professional development.

In addition to her nonprofit work, Jen has served as adjunct professor at Temple University teaching courses on the Sociology of Gender and is currently a member of the Advisory Board of the Women’s Center at the Community College of Philadelphia. She holds a BA in English, a MA in Women’s Studies from the National University of Ireland at Cork and a Certificate in Fundraising from University of Pennsylvania.  Jen is an involved parent at Green Woods Charter School and resides in Philadelphia with her husband and son.

Michael Jones

Director of Marketing

Mike joined the CLI team in 2014 and brought with him a diverse background rooted in marketing and design. Mike has extensive experience developing and implementing strategic marketing plans which integrate traditional, digital and social media. In addition, Mike brings a wealth of creative design knowledge to his position, having successfully launched the new CLI visual identity in 2015.

Prior to joining CLI Mike developed award winning marketing campaigns for Panasonic, has designed and developed websites for numerous Fortune 500 companies, and created a wide variety of print collateral, videos, advertisements, and mobile applications.

Caryn Henning

Director of Program Design and Development

Caryn is a 14 year veteran of CLI. In that time, Caryn has been a Regional Manager (7 yrs) and a Professional Developer (6 yrs). Caryn has been involved in almost every aspect of CLI’s program, from creating content to directly working with teachers to make certain that implementation makes a difference for students. As the Director of Program Design and 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. As the Co Project Director for our i3 Scale Up grant Caryn oversees CLI training and coaching, the orientation and ongoing training of CLI PDs, and all data analysis.

Ify Ajuba-Ugorji

Ify Ajuba-Ugorji

Director of Operations

Ify ensures that CLI’s complex array of logistics and services are delivered at the highest quality and efficiency. She supervises staff responsible for project logistics and management, contracting with Professional Development consultants, and the ordering, shipping and receiving of books and materials. She has over eleven years of project management experience in for-profit and non-profit industries, and was CLI’s Project Manager for the East region for six years. She holds an MBA with concentration in Management from Argosy University, Washington DC, and a Certificate in Project Management from Temple University.

Mia Allen

Mia Allen

Director of ELL & Billingual Services

Mia joined the CLI team in April 2016. As Director of ELL and Bilingual services, Mia is responsible for ensuring CLI serves the culturally and linguistically diverse student populations in each district. In this capacity, Mia will work with the development of content structures as well as professional development that address language acquisition in the context of early literacy learning. For the last five years, Mia has worked as a nationally certified WIDA trainer, facilitating professional development workshops in districts in the following WIDA Consortium states; AL, AK, CO, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, ME, MS, NC, NJ, NM, OK, PA, RI, TN, & UT.

Mia is a former dual language elementary teacher, earned her master’s degrees in elementary education with an emphasis in second language acquisition form the University of Northern Colorado and Bilingual Special Education at the University of Colorado, Bueno Center. Mia is currently an EdD candidate in Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment focusing on programatic structures to ensure the academic success of the secondary SLIFE refugee student. Mia has presented at national conferences including the NABE, TESOL, Title 1, and WIDA on topics associated with equitable classrooms, authentic language development in the content based classroom, and programmatic structures to support the bilingual and biliterate student.




Jill Valunas

Regional Manager

Jill oversees the implementation of projects in Philadelphia and other sites in the eastern region, manages and guides CLI Professional Developers, provides support to principals and district leaders, and strives to expand our work to reach more children. She ensures that both the learning objectives and outcomes stipulated in client contracts and all donor expectations are met.

Jill started at CLI as a Professional Developer in 2005, where she has been a literacy coach, content developer, facilitator, and mentor before taking on the role as Regional Manager. Over the past 20 years, Jill has served as an educator and educational leader in urban education. This experience has given her a deep appreciation for teachers, principals, and district leaders. 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. She holds a Master’s in Educational Leadership from St. Joseph’s University and a Bachelor’s in Psychology and Elementary Education from Lycoming College.

Mary List

Regional Manager

Mary has dedicated her career to improving quality teaching and learning in public elementary schools. In her role as Central Regional Manager, Mary oversees the quality implementation of projects across the Central region including Chicago, Denver, Houston, and Milwaukee area schools. In this position she, manages relationships and provides support to school and district leaders, designs projects with clients, and leads the Professional Developers while ensuring that both the learning objectives stipulated in client contracts and all donor expectations are met.

Before assuming her role as Regional Manager, Mary facilitated content focused coaching and professional development in her role as a CLI professional developer for five years. Prior to joining the CLI, team she successful taught grades K-3 and served as reading specialist for nine years. Mary holds a BS in Elementary Education and a minor in Early Childhood Education from St. Norbert College and a MS in Reading from National-Louis University.

Sharon Weldon

Regional Manager

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. As a member of this non-profit organization, 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.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This