Staff

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

Christina McGonagle
Executive Assistant
search@nesdec.org

Danielle Chin
Business Manager
dchin@nesdec.org

Carol Diesel
IT/Admin
cdiesel@nesdec.org

Kair Tucker
Administrative Assistant
ktucker@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

Randall Collins, Ed.D.
Senior Staff Associate, Executive Searching

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

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

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

Nancy Gustafson
Staff Associate, Planning
ngustafson@nesdec.org

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

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

Karen LeDuc, Ph.D.
Senior Associate, Planning and Management
kleduc@nesdec.org

Elizabeth M. Osga, Ph.D.
Staff Associate, Executive Search and Planning

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 has been 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.

Randall Collins, Ed.D.
Senior Staff Associate, Executive Searching

Dr. Collins began his education career in Unity, ME as an elementary teacher, and advanced into the roles of guidance counselor, principal, special project director, and Superintendent of Schools. Dr. Collins served for 29 years as district superintendent in Wiscasset, ME; Easthampton, MA; and Waterford, CT, where he was named Superintendent of the Year in 2002. He has served on numerous Boards of Directors, including AASA, NESDEC, NEASS, NCERT, and CAPSS. His past educational consulting experience includes work with Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS) and Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE), as well as the District Administration Leadership Institute at LRP Media Group in Florida where he served as Executive Director.

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.

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.

Nancy Gustafson
Associate, Planning and Management

Ms. Gustafson is a consultant in the areas of leadership development, organizational improvement, and executive searches in PK-12 education. Nancy served as a superintendent in Millis, Massachusetts for over 12 years and as director of curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional development for an additional 10 years in various districts. Additionally, she has over 20 years of experience as an elementary principal, teacher of bilingual education, English as a second language, Spanish, and developmental reading. Nancy holds a CAGS from Lesley University in Educational Administration, an MEd from Boston University in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, and a BA from Grinnell College in Spanish and Education.

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.

Karen LeDuc, Ph.D.
Senior Associate, Planning and Management

Dr. Karen LeDuc is an experienced educator with a demonstrated history of working in the primary/secondary education industry and higher education. Her major areas of expertise are Planning and Management, Curriculum Design and Review, Educational Technology, Instructional Design, and Leadership. She is a strong business development professional with a Ph.D focused in Educational Studies from Lesley University.  Prior to her work with NESDEC, she served as the Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning for the Public Schools of Dover and Sherborn (MA) and Assistant Superintendent of the Natick, Massachusetts Public Schools.  She previously served the Framingham schools as a reading specialist, literacy and math teacher and mathematics curriculum coordinator.  Dr. LeDuc has also taught as an adjunct professor at Framingham State University, Lesley University and Fitchburg State University.

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

Elizabeth Osga is a Connecticut educator who draws on expertise from success in teaching, leading, consulting and serving. Dr. Osga holds a BS in Elementary Education (SCSU), MS in Language Arts (ECSU), a Sixth Year Diploma in Teaching the Talented (UCONN) and a PhD in Educational Administration (UCONN). Her public school teaching experience included 17 years of teaching at the elementary and middle school levels with specialization in gifted and talented programming. She served as an elementary principal and assistant superintendent before leading two Connecticut school districts as superintendent of schools for 14 years. Dr. Osga has taught educational administration at the graduate level, is currently an executive coach for Connecticut superintendents, and is a staff associate with the Connecticut Center for School Change. She has served as Chair of the CAPSS Women’s group as well as the SE CT Association of Superintendents. Dr. Osga’s current community service includes membership on the Board of Directors for the Uncas Health District and service as a corporator for the JC Savings Bank.

Michael J. Palladino, Ph.D.
Staff Associate, Executive Search Program, Planning Services
Dr. Palladino has more than 40 years of experience in public educational leadership as an Executive Director, teacher, program planner and search consultant. He received his Bachelor of Science and a Master’s Degree in Education from Bridgewater State College, a CAGS in Special Education and Rehabilitation from Northeastern University and a Doctorate in Education Administration from Boston College. He served more than 30 years as Executive Director of the ACCEPT Education Collaborative in Natick, Massachusetts providing leadership in special education program development and planning, school bus transportation, Information Technology, and high quality professional development for teachers and school administrators. His visionary leadership and broad experience resulted in the development of numerous program solutions at both the local and state level, including a professional leadership program that continues to provide best practice opportunities for more than 1,400 teachers and administrators annually. As a long time NESDEC associate, Dr. Palladino has provided numerous executive search services specifically fine-tuned to client needs, along with local special education program audits and professional development opportunities for teachers and administrators throughout New England.

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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