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Our Leadership

The Davis Foundation recognizes that it cannot accomplish the goal of reading proficiency for Springfield’s children alone. While the Foundation's Reading Success by 4th Grade campaign has established the importance of this academic milestone and continues to make progress towards this ambitious goal, there is much more work to be done. The leadership and accountability for this work cannot sit solely at the Foundation. The community as a whole must embrace and own this goal and commit to holding all of us accountable for its success. To this end, a Leadership Advisory Committee was created in 2014.

The Leadership Advisory Committee has engaged a diverse group of leaders in the community who work with the Davis Foundation to increase the number and strength of powerful voices for children in Springfield.

Leadership Advisory Committee Members

Sally Fuller
Project Director
Sally Fuller joined the Davis Foundation after a career in communications and marketing to head the Cherish Every Child initiative, the Foundation’s strategy developed to focus on early childhood education and other critical early childhood issues.
Since its inception, the Cherish Every Child Initiative has been a critical ally in the successful passage of universal Pre-K legislation in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The initiative has also successfully engaged the workforce development and family literacy establishment in recognizing the long-term return on investments in early education.
Fuller has played a leadership role for the Davis Foundation in launching the Read! Reading Success by 4th Grade initiative, an outgrowth of Cherish Every Child. She plays a project management and convening role in the initiative that has engaged early educators, public school representatives, families, other foundations, business leaders and public policy officials in the effort to improve reading proficiency in Springfield.
Fuller is currently involved in the promotion of and funding administration for volunteer programs on a statewide level as a director of the Massachusetts Service Alliance and locally for Springfield School Volunteers. She is the proud grandmother of four toddlers, to whom she reads aloud regularly!
Tim Allen
Tim Allen has been an advocate of early childhood education since majoring in it in college over 40 years ago. Currently a member of the Springfield City Council and a professor at Springfield College, his background includes teaching young children and managing at MassMutual for over 20 years.
Mary-Beth A. Cooper PhD, DM
Dr. Mary-Beth A. Cooper became the 13th president of Springfield College in August 2013, bringing to the College her experience from a long and distinguished career in higher education administration and community service and leadership.
With her leadership, Springfield College has experienced a rededication to the community service and civic engagement for which it is so well known, and has committed itself to building an inclusive campus that encourages engaged and diverse populations. She has fostered an internal environment that reflects shared governance among its faculty, staff, and students, and an external environment that is safe and welcoming for the College community and its city neighbors.
John Davis
John Davis serves as Senior Trustee of the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation, one of the largest family foundations in the state. He has overseen the Foundation's charitable contributions to numerous community organizations, especially those concerned with education and child development.
He is cofounder of the Healing Racism Institute of Pioneer Valley. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership, a state-appointed organization to lead the turnaround of the middle schools in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Kate Fenton Ed.D.
Dr. Kate Fenton is the Chief Instructional Officer, Springfield Public Schools. Her educational background emanates from her experience at Westfield State College (Bachelors in Science and Education), Lesley College (Masters in Curriculum and the Arts) and her Doctorate in Leadership from American International College.
Paul Foster
Paul Foster is the Chief Information Officer for the Springfield Public Schools. In that capacity, he oversees the Office of Information, Technology, and Accountability which is responsible for ensuring that schools have the data and technology necessary to be successful.
Ellen W. Freyman
Ellen W. Freyman is an attorney/partner with Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, P.C. in Springfield. Ellen, a former teacher, remains involved in issues relating to education, particularly working to help the local refugee and immigrant population.
Sue Gosselin
Susan Gosselin is the Director of Literacy for the Springfield Public Schools and has been employed in the district for 30 years, holding the positions of teacher, Kindergarten Mentor, Early Literacy Coach, Supervisor of PreK-3rd and now the director. She has a B.S. in Early Childhood Education and a Master's Degree in Education with a focus on Reading and English Language Learners.
Mike Knapik
Hon. Michael R. Knapik serves as the Executive Director for Advancement, Alumni, and University Relations at Westfield State University.
Prior to his service at Westfield State, he served as a member of the Massachusetts State Senate (1995-2013) and the Massachusetts House of Representatives (1991-1995).
Laura Mendes
Laura Mendes is the Supervisor of PreK-3rd Grade, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment in Springfield Public Schools. Laura’s background as an elementary educator includes specializing in reading instruction, second language learning, and instructional leadership coaching of other teachers. In her current role, Laura is also the Preschool Expansion Grant Program Coordinator.
Jay Minkarah
Jay Minkarah is President & CEO of DevelopSpringfield, a nonprofit redevelopment corporation dedicated to stimulating economic development and revitalization in the City of Springfield. He received a Bachelor of Urban Planning from the University of Cincinnati, a Juris Doctor from University of New Hampshire School of Law and has worked in planning and economic development in New England for more than twenty-five years.
Dr. Molly Senn-McNally
Molly Senn-McNally is an attending pediatrician at Baystate Medical Center and the school physician for the Springfield Public Schools. She has strong interests in early literacy, community medicine, and caring for children living in poverty.
Jamina Scippio-McFadden
Jamina Scippio-McFadden is the Director of Marketing & Community Relations at the UMass Center at Springfield. In addition to her connection to higher education, Jamina supports early literacy programs by engaging other school-aged parents and caretakers, faith-based organizations and community service focused groups.
Richard K. Sullivan Jr.
Richard K. Sullivan, Jr. is the President & Chief Executive Officer of the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts, a private nonprofit corporation that provides resources and information to businesses operating in or entering the region by aiding in expansion, relocation and networking.
Before he became President & CEO of the EDC he was Governor Deval Patrick’s top advisor and worked with all members of his Cabinet to advance the Administration’s agenda.
Mike Sweet
Michael Sweet is a business attorney and partner of the Springfield law firm of Doherty, Wallace, Pillsbury & Murphy, P.C. Mr. Sweet’s pro bono and community work over his career has been focused on education in Springfield as a key to the future success of Springfield and the entire region.
Devonia Thomas
Devonia Thomas is a retired educator of Springfield, Massachusetts who is a certified principal, past vice principal, teacher, and parent all within the Springfield Public School System.
She has a BA from Elms College and MA from UMASS.
Mary Walachy
Mary Walachy is the Executive Director of the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation. Under Mary’s leadership, the Foundation works to improve the lives of Springfield’s children and families, with a strong focus on early education and literacy.
Dan Warwick
As Superintendent of Springfield Public Schools, Daniel Warwick oversees every aspect of the District, which encompasses nearly 26,000 students, approximately 5,000 employees and 60 schools and an annual operating budget of about $450 million.
Warwick began his career with Springfield Public Schools more than 40 years ago and has a wealth of experience as a teacher, principal and administrator. Rising through the ranks, Mr. Warwick’s keen expertise, spirit of collaboration and unwavering commitment have earned him a national reputation as a leader in education.
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