Syntiro Staff Bios

Leigh Alley, M.S.Ed, ABD

GEAR UP Regional Facilitator for Washington and Hancock Counties

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Leigh received her B.A. in English and writing from the University of Maine at Machias and her M.S.Ed. in Instruction from Saint Josephs College. She was the former Executive Director of the Washington County Consortium for School Improvement, and a longtime instructional strategist. She understands the challenges and needs unique to rural Maine's educators and students. Leigh is currently enrolled in a doctoral program in educational leadership. Whether serving on the Board of Directors for Maine ASCD, the Board of Editors for the Journal of Maine Education, traveling the Downeast region working as a "teacher teacher," or offering professional development opportunities at workshops and conferences statewide via GU, Leigh keeps the people of this place she loves—and feels privileged to serve—at the heart of her efforts. A servant leader and proponent of Celebratory Learning, Leigh’s heart feels at home with Syntiro.


Sally Beaulieu, M.Ed

GEAR UP Regional Facilitator for Central and Western Maine

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Sally received her B.S. in Secondary Education from the University of Maine Farmington and her M.A. in Educational Leadership from the University of Southern Maine. Sally was a middle school teacher for over 23 years. She started her career at Solon Elementary School. Her last 18+ years in the classroom were spent at Maranacook Community Middle School where her focus was on students who needed an alternative pathway. Sally also serves as an adjunct associate professor at UMF and Thomas College teaching graduate courses on organizational behavior and change.


Beth Bordowitz, J.D., M.A.

Vice President and General Counsel, Forman S. Acton Education Foundation

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A native of New Jersey, Beth earned a B.A. from Rutgers College, a M.A. in Public Policy from the Eagleton Institute of Politics of Rutgers University and a Juris Doctor from Rutgers School of Law-Camden.  She has over 20 years of experience in business finance and higher education finance and access. After a short time in private legal practice representing small businesses in Portland, Maine, Beth joined the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME), an independent agency of the State of Maine providing innovative financial solutions to assist businesses in accessing capital and in assisting students and families in accessing and financing higher education.  After serving for many years as counsel to the Authority, Beth was appointed by Governor John Baldacci, first as the Acting Chief Executive Officer, then as the Chief Executive  Officer of FAME.  While at FAME, Beth was instrumental in the development and implementation of numerous programs, including the State of Maine’s venture capital fund and the state’s Section 529 College Savings Program, the NextGen College Investing Plan. Under her leadership, FAME developed an array of matching grants to assist individuals in saving for college and partnered with the Harold Alfond Foundation to provide a college savings account for all babies living in Maine.  Beth has served on the Board of Directors of the National Council of Higher Education Loan Programs and of the Maine Development Foundation and currently is a Trustee of the Portland Public Library. Beth is thrilled to have the opportunity to provide resources for individuals to access and achieve success in education.


Mary Callan, Ed.D, M.

GEAR UP Program Director

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Mary received her Ed.D. in educational leadership and change from Fielding Graduate University and her M.Ed in supervision and evaluation of teaching from the University of Maine Orono. Mary was born, raised and has lived in Maine all of her life. She has been an educator (teacher and principal) in several Maine communities including schools in Athens, Bingham, Solon and Readfield. Under Mary’s leadership, schools have been recognized nationally for programs of excellence for early adolescents, integrated curriculum, standards-based learning and collaborative leadership. Most recently, Mary has worked as a Senior Professional Development Specialist for Apple with the MLTI project where she worked with several Maine  leadership teams to create district visions and action plans for leading transformative learning with technology in their schools. Mary has been an adjunct professor for the University of Maine at Farmington and Thomas College for several years. Her educational and life experiences continue to offer her the opportunities to learn about Maine and the people that live here. Mary truly has a love for learning and all things Maine!

Eleni Margaronis, M.EdL

GEAR UP Administrative Assistant

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Eleni received her Masters of Education in Educational Leadership in 2014 from University of Maine at Farmington. As a national exchange student, Eleni studied Elementary Education at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington and completed her B.S. in Sociology, with a minor focus in Elementary Education from University of Southern Maine in 2009. Eleni is currently enrolled at University of Maine at Farmington to receive a certification in Educational Technology. Her prior experience includes working with grants designated by the State of Maine that focus on education and civic engagement in addition to special education from the elementary level to adults. Eleni is a first generation college student and has lived in the north (county), central, southern, and now western Maine, Eleni brings her work and personal experience to the GEAR UP team.


Debbie Gilmer, M.Ed.

Executive Director of Syntiro

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Debbie Gilmer is the Executive Director of Syntiro and the Project Director of the Employment for ME Workforce Development System funded by Maine DHHS and VR to certify, support, teach and mentor Employment Specialists across the state. She directed the recently concluded Maine HEP program, a statewide high school equivalency program serving migrant and seasonal farmworkers. She previously served as the co-director of the Healthy & Ready to Work National Resource Center funded by the federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau as well as the 2005 Maine State GEAR UP program funded by the US Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education. She has served as a special education teacher, transition coordinator and directed Maine’s statewide inclusive schools project, LEARNS for ten years while at the University of Maine. She is a board member of Disability Rights Maine, past president of Maine APSE and serves on the national APSE public policy committee. She has provided technical assistance and consultation to the Think College National Resource Center and served on their Advisory Committee. She has conducted technical assistance and training on transition and employment across the country for many years. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and a Master’s Degree in Special Education from the University of Maine. 

Kayla Hopkins, B.A.

GEAR UP Communications Specialist

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Kayla earned her B.A. in public relations from Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts. Kayla designs, develops and maintains promotional materials, websites and social media platforms for Gear Up and Syntiro. Prior to coming to Syntiro, Kayla was the public relations specialist for Tri-County Mental Health Services in Lewiston. Kayla has a gift and a passion for photography and singing--key attributes for the creative and innovative work of Syntiro. She lives in Minot and enjoys spending as much time outside as she can, taking advantage of the beauty Maine has to offer.


Curtis Jack, B.S

GEAR UP Regional Facilitator

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Curt secured his B.S. in Elementary Education from the University of Maine at Farmington. Curt has been an educator for 35 years. Spending 25 years in the classroom, he then moved on to building level administration. Working first as a K-8 assistant principal in Litchfield, he then helped develop and implement a new middle school for RSU 4. During these years, Curt developed an interest and a passion for moving education in Maine forward. Consulting with over twenty districts in the state on the new evaluation system has allowed him to continue to be a part of the education community. Curt is very excited to be part of the Gear-Up Maine initiative and to be able to further serve the students and districts of Maine. Curt lives in Lewiston with his wife, Sonia, and spends as much time as possible with his grand-children.


Corda Ladd Kinzie, M.A GEAR UP

GEAR UP Parent/Student Services Coach

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Corda received her B.A. from the University of Denver and her M.A. in Education/Special Education from the University of Maine. Corda is an educational consultant/coach who is fun to work with, and passionate about learning and teaching. She has worked with individuals, teams, teachers, schools, school committees, districts, health care, and businesses. Her mission is to facilitate the change process with care, thought, and purpose. She is a master teacher/coach who has conducted many professional development activities designed to enhance teaching and student learning by differentiating instruction using Celebratory Learning attributes and strategies. Corda’s areas of expertise include: wellness coaching, using current brain research to inform learning, understanding the change process, generating strategies for teaching ALL learners, social skills and team development. She has a systems view of the change process which allows her to create transformative learning environments. At Syntiro, Corda has worked on Positive Behavior Supports and Interventions, Content Area Teaching, Cooperative Learning, Celebratory Learning and Life Coaching programs. Corda raised 3 sons, Brooks, Spencer, and Arthur. She is proudly grand-parenting 4 grandsons, MacKenzie, Roland, Nathan and Matthew. She loves "camp" in Oakland where she watches eagles and osprey and listens to loons with all the boys!


Joyce Lang

Office Assistant

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Joyce  has been with Syntiro since 1994. She plays a critical role as Project Assistant for the Maine HEP program and the Workforce Development System. She assists with other Syntiro initiatives as needed.


Kate Leveille, M.S.

Project Coordinator for MaineCAN

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Kate earned her B.A in Communication from the University of Southern Maine and her M.S in Leadership from Duquesne University. As a lifelong Maine resident, Kate is passionate about helping to raise the aspirations of Maine students. Her primary role with MaineCAN will be to help bring together college access opportunities for Maine citizens. Previously Kate has worked to bring a college and career exploration program to students and families in Maine. She has an extensive college planning background having served as the Director of College Counseling at Bridgton Academy. Currently she serves as the co-chair of the Jump$tart Coalition of Maine’s Board of Directors.  


Kathryn Markovchick, PhD

President of Syntiro and Forman S. Acton Education Foundation

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Kathryn earned her doctoral and undergraduate degrees in learning and behavior disorders and experiential education from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She brings more than 30 years of experience conducting and overseeing systemic change activities.  Over the years she has worked as a special education teacher, administrator,  and university faculty member. Additionally, she has served as the President of Syntiro for over 25 years. As President and founder of Syntiro, Kathryn oversees grants, contracts and fee-for-service activities in professional development, college access projects, technical assistance and organizational development activities. The scope of Kathryn’s work is extensive, from designing and delivering statewide professional development to managing myriad state and federal contracts. Kathryn most recently launched a 30 million dollar private foundation established to support high achieving students from impoverished circumstances in Salem, New Jersey. In addition to this major initiative, she also serves as director of the Maine State GEAR UP Program under contract from the University of Maine Farmington. Kathryn is a creative educator. She is credited, with colleague Corda Ladd Kinzie, for developing the research-based Celebratory Learning model of engaged teaching and learning. Kathryn's mission is to facilitate the change process with care, thought and purpose. She is a vibrant leader, facilitator, educator and mentor who uses a balance of "hands-on/heads-on" experience and theory in all of her work.


Frank McElwain, MA., C.A.S.

GEAR UP Regional Facilitator

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Frank holds a BS in Agriculture, a MA in Public Administration, and a CAS in Education Leadership all from the University of Maine at Orono.  Following 16 years as a teacher, Frank began his administrative career as the  assistant principal at Caribou High School.  He later became Caribou’s Curriculum Coordinator helping to lead the transition to standards based education.  He recently retired from public education after 12 years as superintendent. He believes in shared leadership and the importance of school districts working collaboratively. He guided the formation of RSU 39 which combined the Caribou, Limestone and Stockholm school districts. He served for many years on the executive committee for the Central Aroostook Council for Education and helped to establish the Northern Maine Education Collaborative. 

Coleen Souza

Office Manager

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Coleen is responsible for maintaining the overall efficiency of all office operations. She brings previous office management experience to Syntiro, including human resources, payroll, and administrative responsibilities. Coleen is an integral member of Syntiro. She offers clear directives, vision and superb people skills. Her energy keeps the momentum going on Syntiro initiatives. Coleen lives in Winthrop with her family. Coleen looks forward to working on her bachelor's degree in Business Management in the near future.


Sylvia Thistle, M.Ed.

Syntiro Office Assistant

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Sylvia received a M.ED from the University of Maine at Orono and has twenty seven years of teaching experience. She is a retired social studies teacher and team leader from Skowhegan Area Middle School. For the last three years, she has worked in retail at Edgecomb Potters. She brings energy, organization, and people skills to her part time office assistant role at Syntiro. Sylvia lives in Skowhegan and enjoys golf, fly fishing, and skiing -- her real passion, however, is interior decorating and working at her home.


Rick Wilson, M.Ed.

Operations Coordinator

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Rick holds a Mus.B from Boston University and an M.ED from the University of Maine. He joined Syntiro in August of 2010 after 33 years in public education. Until his retirement in June of 2010, Rick had been Principal at Manchester Elementary School for 18 years and chaired the Professional Development Committee at the Maine Principals' Association from 2005-2009. Prior to his years in administration, Rick was a K-8 music specialist in Union 42 (Manchester, Mt. Vernon, Readfield and Wayne). Currently, he is a Regional Facilitator for the Maine High School Equivalency Program (MaineHEP). Rick also represents Syntiro on the MaineCAN Steering Committee. Previous positions at Syntiro include regional facilitation for the Maine State GEAR UP program and Professional Development in Washington and Hancock County. Rick's interests and expertise include teacher training and development, educational leadership, team building, college access initiatives, and school climate.


Syntiro | 11 South Road Readfield, ME 04355 | p: 207.685.3171 | f: 1.866.883.9271

Syntiro is an equal opportunity employer (EOE).

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