Staff

Arthur L. Bettencourt, Ed.D.
Executive Director
abett@nesdec.org

Danielle Chin
Business Manager
dchin@nesdec.org 

Carol Diesel
IT/Admin
pd@nesdec.org

Melissa Hovde
Administrative Assistant
ep@nesdec.org 

Christina McGonagle
Executive Assistant
search@nesdec.org


Associate Staff

Anthony J. Bent, Ed.D.
Staff Associate, Executive Searching, Planning

Carolyn J. Burke, Ed.D.
Staff Associate, Executive Searching, Planning

Jeanne Colachico, Esq.
Staff Associate, Legal Services

James A. Connelly, C.A.G.S.
Staff Associate, Executive Searching

Joseph F Connors, Ph.D.
Staff Associate, Executive Searching, Planning

Joseph M. Cronin, Ed.D.
Staff Associate, Planning

Anna Cross, Ed.D.
Staff Associate, Planning

Kenneth L. DeBenedictis, Ed.D.
Staff Associate, Executive Searching, Planning

Sally L. Dias, Ed.D.
Staff Associate, Executive Search, Planning

William G. Erickson, Ed.D.
Staff Associate, Executive Searching, Planning

Margaret Frieswyk, Ed.D.
Staff Associate, Executive Search, Planning

Donald G. Kennedy, Ed.D.
Director, Planning
dkennedy@nesdec.org

John H. Kennedy, M.A.
Team Leader, Planning
jkennedy@nesdec.org

Elizabeth M. Osga, Ph.D.
Staff Associate, Executive Searching

Michael J. Palladino, Ph.D.
Staff Associate, Executive Searching, Planning

Bruce E. Willard, Ed.D.
Staff Associate, Executive Searching

Joseph L. Wood, Ed.D.
Staff Associate, Executive Searching, Planning


Arthur L. Bettencourt, Ed.D.
Executive Director

Dr. Bettencourt received his B.A. from Salem State College, his Master’s degree from Tufts University, and his Doctorate from Boston University.  He served as a Superintendent of Schools in Massachusetts for twenty-one years.  Prior to working as a Superintendent, he held several administrative positions in public schools.  Dr. Bettencourt has been a Lecturer at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts, and is active in the training and preparation of educators at   the graduate level.  He also serves on the Boston University Pre-k-12 Educational Advisory Board.  Dr. Bettencourt has offered numerous professional development workshops in school governance, planning and organizational development, leadership entry, career path development, and curriculum design.  While serving as a superintendent, Dr. Bettencourt administered several school construction and renovation projects at both the elementary and secondary levels.  He is on the Board of Directors of the National School Development Council and recently served as the organization’s president.  He is also on the editorial board of the Journal for Leadership and Instruction, a peer-reviewed international research journal for educational professionals.  Dr. Bettencourt coordinates all of NESDEC’s executive search and planning projects, and has worked for the firm since 2004.

Anthony J. Bent, Ed.D.
Staff Associate, Executive Search Program, Planning Services
Dr. Anthony Bent received his Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral degree from Boston College.  He served as a Superintendent of Schools for the Shrewsbury School District for 15 years and, recently, as an Interim Superintendent for two school districts in Massachusetts.  He has held several administrative positions in public schools, including Director of Curriculum and Instruction (K-12).  While serving as a superintendent, Dr. Bent oversaw four new school facility projects.  Dr. Bent is also active in the coaching of area superintendents for the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents. 

Carolyn J. Burke, Ed.D.
Staff Associate, Executive Search Program, Planning Services
Dr. Carolyn Burke has been a public school educator for over thirty-five years. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from Boston State College, a Master’s degree in special education and a Master’s degree in administration from the University of Massachusetts, Boston.  She earned a Doctorate from Boston University in Policy, Planning and Administration.  Dr. Burke has worked as a school principal for over 18 years and as an assistant principal, head teacher and teacher of all grades 1-6, including special education inclusion and grade six math/science.  She served as the Associate Program Director for the Rural Small Schools Network at NESDEC, adjunct faculty at Salem (MA) State College, Graduate School of Education, and most recently, as a senior instructor in the Department of Educational Leadership at Cambridge College, Cambridge, MA.

Jeanne M. Colachico, Esq.
Staff Associate, Legal Services

Jeanne M. Colachico, Esq. & Associates is the legal advisor to New England School Development Council.  She is an attorney and employment and labor law specialist who heads a Legal/Human Resources Management consulting firm in North Andover, Massachusetts, offering advice to corporate management and educational institutions.  Topics includeemployment and labor matters, internal investigations, Title IX training and investigations, workplace assessments, employment-related training, employee handbooks, and executive coaching.  Prior to establishing the firm, Ms. Colachico held both Senior Legal Counsel and Senior Human Resources Management roles for 25 years at FleetBoston Financial Group, Arthur D. Little, Textron, U.S. Department of Defense, and Massachusetts Attorney General.  She holds advanced certifications in conducting Title IX Investigations, K-12 Investigation Administration, and Climate Assessments from the Association of Title IX Administrators (ATIXA).  Ms. Colachico is a member of the Massachusetts Bar and is admitted to the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts and the U.S. District Court of Appeals.

James A. Connelly, C.A.G.S.
Staff Associate, Executive Search Program
Mr. James Connelly received his B.S. degree from Southern Connecticut State University, a Master's degree from Teachers College/Columbia University, and a Professional Diploma of Advanced Studies from Teachers College/Columbia University. He has been a teacher, administrator, central office administrator and superintendent of schools. In addition, Mr. Connelly was a Senior Specialist for the Northeast Superintendents' Leadership Council at the Education Alliance at Brown University. He was an adjunct member of the faculty at Southern Connecticut State University and is a member of Connecticut Associations of Public School Superintendent's (CAPSS) Superintendent Support Team. He has been NESDEC's associate representing Connecticut for over ten years, and has served as an interim superintendent of schools in several Connecticut school districts.

Joseph F. Connors, Ph.D.
Staff Associate, Executive Search and Planning Services

Dr. Connors received his B.S. from State College at Fitchburg, Massachusetts and a CAGS, M.Ed. and Ph.D. from Boston College.  He has over 36 years’ experience in education and served more than ten years as Superintendent for the Grafton, Massachusetts School District.  Dr. Connors also served as Assistant Superintendent of a regional high school district, a Director of Special Education and has participated in several school building projects.  He currently serves as an Adjunct Professor at Worcester State College and has worked as Director of Operations for a superintendents’ collaborative.

Joseph M. Cronin, Ed.D.
Staff Associate, Planning Services
Dr. Joseph M. Cronin received Bachelor and Masters degrees from Harvard University and a Doctorate from Stanford University.  He has been a teacher and middle school principal, and taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Education where he was associate professor and associate dean.  He served as the Massachusetts Secretary of Educational Affairs and State Superintendent (Commissioner) of Education in Illinois.  Dr. Cronin was president of the Massachusetts Higher Education Assistance Corporation and president of Bentley College.  Recently he has been a visiting scholar at Harvard and senior fellow both at the New England Board of Higher Education and the Nellie Mae Educational Foundation.  He was an adjunct at Boston University, teaching courses in Educational Policy and Budget and Finance and has taught courses at Boston College and Stanford University.  He is a former vice president of the American Educational Research Association and policy chair of the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Anna Cross, Ed.D.
Staff Associate, Planning Services

Dr. Anna Cross is a dynamic professional with passion for developing educational and support services programs focused on young children and families.  She has extensive experience creating and building effective initiatives or programs from the ground up. She received her B.A., M.S., and C.A.G.S from the University at Albany and a Doctorate in Education from Boston College.  She has worked for the Framingham Public Schools for the past 22 years in several Directorships, including Student Support Services and Family and Community Engagement.  Dr. Cross is a founding member of the Early Childhood Alliance, a member of the Metrowest Community Foundation Grant Distribution Committee, and Vice President of the Framingham Administration Association.

Kenneth L. DeBenedictis, Ed.D.
Staff Associate, Executive Search Program and Planning Services
Dr. Ken DeBenedictis received his B.S. in Education from Northeastern University, his M.Ed. from Boston University, a CAGS in Administration and Supervision from Boston University, and his Doctorate in Education from Boston College. He was superintendent of the Hollis-Brookline Schools, SAU #41 in New Hampshire and was recognized as the New Hampshire School Superintendent of the Year in 2004. He has been a classroom teacher, a district principal and a principal (recognized as Massachusetts School Principal of the Year and National Distinguished School Principal in 1989) as well as an assistant superintendent with major responsibilities for K-12 curriculum and instruction programs. He has written several articles and taught graduate level courses at Fitchburg State College and Plymouth State University.

Sally L. Dias, Ed.D.
Staff Associate, Executive Search, Planning

Sally Dias has a variety of experiences in education, industry and state government. Currently, she is an educational consultant and has worked with school districts for both the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and for SchoolWorks, LLC.  Dr. Dias was the Vice President for Programs and Partnerships in Education and Director of the Carolyn A. Lynch Institute at Emmanuel College.  She served as Superintendent of Schools in Watertown, Massachusetts and in Lynnfield, Massachusetts.  She served as Vice President and then President of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents. Other experiences include Massachusetts Department of Education Regional Center Director, Physics and Mathematics teacher, and Physicist with Avco Everett Research Labs.  Dr. Dias has also taught at Emmanuel College, Lesley College and Harvard Graduate School of Education, and is currently a member of the Board of Trustees for the Museum of Science and Fenway High School, a pilot school in Boston.  She holds an A.B. from Emmanuel College, a M.Ed. from Northeastern University and an Ed.D. from Boston University.

William G. Erickson, Ed.D.
Staff Associate, Executive Search Program
Dr. William Erickson received his Bachelor’s degree from Fitchburg State College, a Master of Education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and his Doctorate from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.  His administrative experience in education spans almost 35 years, including 14 years as a superintendent in Vermont and Massachusetts.

Margaret Frieswyk, Ed.D.
Staff Associate, Executive Search, Planning
Dr. Margaret Frieswyk has served in leadership roles in the State of Massachusetts as a member of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, Executive Board; a member of the National Governing Board for the American Association of School Administrators; and a member of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents Task Force on Global Education. Dr. Frieswyk retired as a Superintendent of Schools in Massachusetts after fifteen years of service.  She continues to work part time as a Superintendent for the Elizabeth Island/Gosnold Public Schools.  She has her undergraduate, graduate and CAGS degrees in Education K-12 with a  minor in Special Education.  Her doctoral work is in Educational Leadership from the University of Massachusetts.  Her work in education has been as a classroom teacher, a Special Education teacher, a Director of Instructional Support Services, a Special Education administrator, an Assistant Superintendent of Schools overseeing Curriculum and Instruction, and a Superintendent of Schools for sixteen years. Dr. Frieswyk has traveled extensively with students and staff, recently as co-leader of a delegation to Finland/Sweden. She represented Massachusetts as a member of the International Education Excursion with the American-Israeli Friendship League in Israel, and was also a Fulbright Scholar to China.

Donald G. Kennedy, Ed.D.
Senior Staff Associate/Team Leader, Planning Services, Professional Development
Dr. Kennedy received his Bachelor’s degree from Colby College, his Masters from Wesleyan University and his Doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He has been superintendent of schools in Maynard and Duxbury, Massachusetts and held numerous administrative positions in the Weston, Massachusetts School District.  Dr. Kennedy has taught at the graduate level and has consulted with many school districts in matters of curriculum, facility planning, organizational development and early childhood education.  He has over 35 years experience in education with 17 years experience as a superintendent of schools. Dr. Kennedy has done extensive work in the area of school enrollment forecasting, and has served as NESDEC Team Leader for over one hundred projects for Planning Services.

John H. Kennedy, M.A.
Senior Staff Associate/Team Leader, Planning Services

Mr. John Kennedy has been an educator for over thirty years.  He received his B.A. from Villanova University and a M.A. from Boston College.  He has served as a director of curriculum, assessment and professional development and a K-12 curriculum coordinator.  Prior to that, he was a department chairperson and classroom teacher. He has had extensive experience with curriculum mapping, standards alignment and assessment, and professional development planning and implementation. He has also served as a Title I Director.  Mr. Kennedy has led several Department of Education workshops and seminars on a range of topics related to improving academic achievement. He has served as an assistant chair on an NEASC Visiting Committee, and he was a member of the committee that developed the Massachusetts Social Studies Curriculum Framework. As a NESDEC Associate since 2006, Mr. Kennedy has conducted demographic studies, strategic planning projects, and he has participated in over 100 school capacity and needs analyses.

Elizabeth M. Osga, Ph.D.
Staff Associate, Executive Search Program

Dr. Osga began her career in Stonington, CT as an elementary and middle school teacher, and advanced into the roles of principal and assistant superintendent. In this capacity, she assisted in the design and development of site-based management models of school improvement as well as comprehensive curriculum renewal processes. Dr. Osga served for 14 years as district superintendent in Griswold and Lyme-Old Lyme CT. Her service to education has continued since her retirement from the superintendency. Among her current professional activities, she is an adjunct professor of Educational Leadership for Sacred Heart University, Chair of the Women’s Group of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS), a consultant to the Talent Office of the Connecticut State Department of Education and a consultant to and project facilitator for numerous districts and organizations.

Michael J. Palladino, Ph.D.
Staff Associate, Executive Search Program, Planning Services
Dr. Palladino received his B.S. and a Master's degree in Education from Bridgewater State College and a C.A.G.S. in special education and rehabilitation from Northeastern University. He earned his Doctorate in Education Administration from Boston College. Dr. Palladino was Executive Director of the Project ACCEPT/MetroWest Education Collaborative for almost thirty years and has served as president of the Massachusetts Organization of Education Collaboratives.

Bruce E. Willard, Ed.D.
Staff Associate, Executive Search Program
Dr. Bruce Willard received his Bachelor's degree in Education from Plymouth State College, a Master's degree from Hofstra University, a Certificate of Advanced Studies from the University of Vermont, and a Doctorate from the University of Massachusetts, School of Education.  Dr. Willard has been an educator for over 40 years.  In addition to his work as a teacher and a principal, he served as a superintendent of schools for over 25 years.  He has also been a Trustee at Smith Vocational School and a member of the adjunct faculty at Smith College.  Dr. Willard has been a search consultant for NESDEC since 2001.

Joseph L. Wood, Ed.D.
Staff Associate, Executive Searc Program, Planning Services
Dr. Joseph L. Wood received his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Boston State College and his Doctorate from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Dr. Wood has been an Assistant Research Professor and Director of the the Executive Leadership Program in the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. He served as a superintendent of schools for the Berkshire Hills Regional School District in Massachusetts for nine years and in South Windsor, Connecticut for twenty years. Prior to working as a superintendent, Dr. Wood served as a principal, foreign language department chair and teacher. He has also offered numerous professional development workshops and was the 2005 recipient of the Connecticut Association of School Superintendents Presidential Award.

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