William H. Guenther
Chairman, CEO & Founder
Bill founded Mass Insight Education in 1997. Mass Insight organizes partnerships of states, districts, schools, business and universities with two high-impact goals: using Advanced Placement® as a lever to attain excellence in math and science achievement and to transform 6-12 school culture, and the successful turnaround of consistently under-performing public schools. Bill has led Mass Insight’s work in three areas: (1) Research—as co-author of The Turnaround Challenge (2007) which has received national attention and is credited with shaping state and district strategies on turnaround of chronically underperforming schools; (2) Performance-based partnerships—Bill and Mass Insight have organized research-based initiatives incorporating comprehensive services, including staff and leadership development programs and consulting for states, school districts and schools; (3) Policy facilitation and communication—Bill and Mass Insight have served as advocates, conveners and catalysts for education policymaking. Mass Insight’s national work grew from its successful campaigns and field work that contributed to the success of Massachusetts education reform.
Bill is also president and founder (1989) of Mass Insight Global Partnerships, a Boston-based consulting and research firm that shapes talent- and innovation-based economic development strategies, builds strategic alliances between higher education, industry, and government within the Commonwealth, and seeks opportunities to connect Massachusetts’ assets to the global economy with a special focus on building US-China leadership networks.
Bill, a graduate of Harvard College and the New York University Law School, lives in Beverly with his wife and two children. Previously, he served as chairman of the Salem Redevelopment Authority.
President of Mass Insight Education
Justin C. Cohen is president of Mass Insight Education. Mass Insight Education works with state education agencies, school districts, and partner organizations to develop the organizational strategies and capacity necessary to turnaround our nation’s lowest performing schools. Prior to launching the School Turnaround Group, Justin was director of the office of portfolio management, and senior advisor to the Chancellor at the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). While at DCPS, Justin led the district’s work in creating long-term strategies for fostering quality, innovation, and growth in the schools portfolio. His office managed a diverse selection of school reform models, and upon his departure, almost half of the district’s schools had adopted at least one of those models. Before that Justin was director of industry support and development for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and spent time at Edison Schools. Justin has served on the national boards of the Yale Alumni Fund and Students for Education Reform, and he is a trustee of the Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools in Washington, DC. His writing on school turnaround has appeared in the Stanford Social Innovation Review and the NationalJournal.com. Justin has a B.A. in cognitive science from Yale.
Senior Field Consultant
Michael Contompasis recently retired after two years as Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools. Previously he served as the district's Chief Operating Officer from 1998 through 2005. Before moving to a district leadership role, Mr. Contompasis was the Head Master of Boston Latin School, the state's top performing 7-12 secondary school, where he was honored as a Milken Educator in 1997. From 1996 to 1998, he also served as a cluster leader overseeing and mentoring the principals of ten K-12 schools in the district. He began his career in education as a Biology teacher in 1966. He was presented with a Distinguished Service Award by the Council of Great City Schools in 2006. Mr. Contompasis currently serves as an unpaid advisor to the Mayor of the City of Boston in addition to his role as Senior Field Consultant for the School Turnaround Group.
Deborah J. Abbott, CPA
Deb Abbott is responsible for all financial aspects of the organizations including budgeting, reporting, and projecting cash flows. She has more than 19 years of experience in accounting, the majority of it with not-for-profit organizations. Prior to joining Mass Insight, she was the Controller for a privately-held rare coins and collectibles business for almost 2 years. Before that, she was the Controller for BWH Anesthesia Foundation, Inc. for 6 years. Deb has her B.S. in accounting from Bryant College and an M.B.A. with a concentration in finance from Clark University.
Vice President, Business and Information Systems
Joanna Manikas is responsible for information and office systems. She has over 25 years of experience in project management, information technology, print and electronic design, and operations. Prior to joining Mass Insight, Joanna was a business integration project manager at CMGI where she developed toolkits and cross-functional systems to assimilate newly acquired companies into the corporate organization. She has a B.S. from Babson College.
Carol Relph is responsible for managing events for all of Mass Insight’s divisions. Carol has been a Corporate Event Planner for over 25 years. Prior to joining Mass Insight, Carol planned domestic and international events for Progress Software.
Michele St. Laurent
Director, Human Resources
Michele manages all aspects of Human Resources for Mass Insight including: recruiting, performance management, organizational development and staff development. Prior to joining Mass Insight, Michele held recruiting and HR operations roles in a variety of industries including consulting, investment banking and pharmaceutical/biotech. Michele has extensive experience creating comprehensive recruiting strategies to help managers hire top talent and developing internal programs for new hire assimilation and employee growth & development. Michele has a Bachelor of Science degree from Providence College.
Tom De Santes
Director, Marketing Communications Services
Tom helps provide communications, media and marketing support for all of Mass Insight’s initiatives with a particular focus on content marketing and e-communications. Prior to joining Mass Insight, Tom served as marketing communications strategist for Eastern Nazarene College where he branded and marketed both undergraduate and graduate programs. Earlier in his career, Tom was director of marketing for ConnectEDU and vice president of enrollment management at Quincy College. He also did freelance marketing work for Harvard Business School, Northeastern University and EdVestors. He holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Stonehill College and a master’s in education from Eastern Nazarene College.
Director of Publications
Charis is a writer for Mass Insight, serving the organization’s Global Partnerships and Education initiatives. Prior to joining Mass Insight, she spent more than five years as a reporter for The Standard-Times in New Bedford, Mass., covering the education and the City Hall beats. Earlier in her career, she worked for Drew School, a small independent high school in San Francisco, as a development associate, and for Booz Allen Hamilton, a management consulting company, as a business operations manager. Charis received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Williams College and a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.
Director of Development
Rudy will support our private, philanthropic, individual, and corporate fundraising campaigns as we look to expand our impact both statewide in MA and nationally. He has more than 10 years of experience as a fundraiser for education nonprofits and organizations. For the past seven years, Rudy has served as senior development officer for The Posse Foundation’s Chicago office where he raised over $10 million in private funding and helped double their annual budget. He is also an alumnus of the Development Leadership Consortium, a Chicago-based organization that mentors promising fundraising professionals throughout their careers. A native New Yorker, Rudy began his career as an AmeriCorps VISTA with New York Youth at Risk where he learned the nuts and bolts of fundraising. Rudy has a B.A. in creative and professional writing from Carnegie Mellon University.
Manager of Foundation Giving
Laura is the Manager of Foundation Giving for the Mass Insight Education development team. She joined Mass Insight Education in 2013 and is responsible for seeking and submitting funding requests for both national and local foundations. Prior to joining Mass Insight, Laura worked for 3 years as a grants manager for a neuroscience laboratory at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Partners Healthcare. Laura earned her BA degree in Psychology and Women’s Studies at Clark University in 2008.
Christina provides prospect research, event logistics coordination, and administrative support to the Mass Insight Education development team. Prior to joining Mass Insight Education, Christina was an Executive Assistant at James F. Farr Academy Inc. where she led the way with their annual appeal, grant writing, and golf tournament. Since graduating in 2008 from Northeastern University, Christina has held positions in other nonprofit organizations and public relations firms, but has ultimately determined that using her creativity and ideas to help improve classrooms around the Commonwealth is where she wants to focus. Christina holds a B.A. in Communications and a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Northeastern University.
Human Resources Associate
Prior to joining Mass Insight, Jackie was a Human Resources Coordinator at Manion Gaynor & Manning LLP responsible for recruitment, benefit administration, payroll, employee relations and policy development. She also has experience in international higher education administration through cross-cultural exchange and satellite program development. Jackie has spent time tutoring ESL and second language learners in both English and French. Jackie graduated from Northeastern University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Affairs, and minors in both Political Science and French.
Please click here to see the staff of the Mass Math & Science Initiative.
Please click here to see the staff of the School Turnaround Group.