The National Charter Schools Institute’s mission is to transform public education and power performance, productivity and accountability breakthroughs that help people win for kids. Our team is made up of passionate professionals who are committed to excellence and known for their integrity. We envision a day when all students will have access to a diverse marketplace of exceptional schools where they can learn, grow and prepare for success in college, work and life.
The Institute is governed by a nine member board of directors and is led by its President & CEO, James N. Goenner, Ph.D. Jim is highly respected in the education reform community and was inducted into the National Charter Schools Hall of Fame in 2010. Under his leadership, the Institute is focused on winning hearts and minds, influencing policy and practice and delivering great programs, tools and services designed to power breakthrough, rather than incremental improvements.
We see the charter schools movement as a way to expand choice and competition and drive the transformation of public education into a more market-based system of schools. We believe this emerging educational marketplace needs transparent and trustworthy academic, fiscal and operational performance measures that parents can use to make informed decisions, and the public can use to ensure accountability.
The Institute was founded in 1995 as the Michigan Resource Center for Charter Schools by former Michigan Governor John Engler and Central Michigan University. Its original mission was to support and guide the implementation of Michigan’s newly adopted charter schools law. Based on its impact and the need for its services nationally, the United States Congress provided $1 million in 2001 for the Institute to legally separate from the University and expand its scope of services. The Institute is a Michigan non-profit corporation with federally recognized 501(c)(3) status.
Dr. James N. Goenner, President and CEO
Leading the way toward a day when all students have access to a diverse array of exceptional schools where they can learn, grow and prepare for success, Jim Goenner serves as President and CEO of the National Charter Schools Institute. Jim joined the charter schools movement in 1995, and has played a prominent role in developing and strengthening the performance of the charter schools sector in Michigan and across the nation ever since. In 2010, Jim’s pioneering efforts and commitment to excellence earned him an induction into the National Charter Schools Hall of Fame. Prior to joining the Institute, Jim served as the Executive Director of The Center for Charter Schools at Central Michigan University, where he led the first and largest university authorizer of charter public schools in the nation. Under Jim’s leadership, CMU became known as the “gold standard” for charter school authorizing. Jim currently serves on the board of directors of the Charter Schools Development Corporation. He helped found the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and chaired its board of directors (2007-2010). He also helped found and chaired the board of directors of the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers (2002-2010), and served as the first President of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies (1996-1998). Jim earned his Doctorate in Educational Administration from Michigan State University, Master of Arts from Central Michigan University and Bachelor of Business Administration from Grand Valley State University. Jim and his wife, Theresa, have seven children.
Joseph B. Urban
Joe Urban serves as Vice President and General Counsel for the National Charter Schools Institute. He is also a practicing school lawyer as a member of the Education Law Practice Group of the law firm Clark Hill PLC. Joe has worked with schools and education-related stakeholders for nearly two decades. He counsels them on their operational needs, including resource capacity, procurement, contracts, human resources, labor, employment litigation, and municipal finance.
Joe also routinely serves as a facilitator and trainer to schools and their stakeholders. Joe’s work in this arena centers on organizational growth and capacity building. Joe is regularly asked to advise on adapting to organizational change, and he has been sought out to resolve conflicts among stakeholders. Joe’s approach to the legal and facilitative aspects of his practice is to build a common understanding among stakeholders about the enterprise so that proactive steps may be taken to predict and manage change and opportunities. Among the educational entities Joe has coached are traditional public school districts, charter school boards, authorizing bodies, and intermediate school districts. Joe also works with charter school service providers of all sizes.
Joe is motivated by a desire to have a profound impact on the education marketplace and focuses on empowering boards and school leadership to govern for breakthrough results, so that as educators and stakeholders, they may realize their core mission—preparing students for success in college, work, and life. Through his strategic coaching and consulting work with the Institute, Joe is enabling leaders to differentiate between governance and management, to assess operational needs, and to ensure that their school fulfills its mission with fidelity and stands the test of time.
Joe speaks regularly on topics of proactive management, governance, and legal compliance. Since 1997, Joe has served as a member of the faculty of Oakland University’s School of Education and Professional Development.
Driven by a passionate belief that all children deserve a quality education, Jason Sarsfield helps lead the National Charter Schools Institute’s initiatives focused on excellence in authorizing, new school development and helping teams achieve breakthrough performance. Having served as co-founder and Chief Academic Officer at Charlton Heston Academy, Jason has walked the walk and lived the school start-up experience, firsthand. Before founding Charlton Heston Academy, Jason dedicated seven years to authorizer leadership roles at the State University of New York and Central Michigan University, where he lead or served on the teams charged with overseeing the charter application, charter renewal and school evaluation processes.
Early on the journey, Jason dedicated nearly five years to teaching and learning, where he made a difference in the lives of children, firsthand, while serving as a classroom teacher and coach. Jason brings a wealth of experience and a steadfast commitment to ensuring those children in greatest need receive the quality education they deserve. Jason has played a key role in broadening the charter sector’s capacity to influence practice and advance public education, impacting the educational opportunities for students in Michigan, New York and throughout the nation. Jason earned his Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education from Northern Michigan University, and is pursuing a Master of Arts in Educational Administration from Central Michigan University.
Vicki E. Bott, Partner
Dedicated to advancing Michigan’s charter strategy, Vicki leads our initiatives focused on connecting, aligning and expanding the supply of people, organizations and resources working to ensure all students have access to quality learning opportunities that will position them for success in college, work and life. Before joining the Institute, Vicki worked in the authorizing industry for 10 years, where she led the New School Development initiatives for The Governor John Engler Center for Charter Schools at Central Michigan University. Vicki was charged with overseeing the charter application process, served as a lead subject matter expert on state and federal data and had the privilege of serving in a leadership role on the executive board for the Michigan Pupil Accounting and Attendance Association since 2002.
Jacklyn S. Mullikin
Having an extensive background in the financial and administrative sectors of business, Jackie brings a wealth of knowledge to our fiscal and administrative operations. She is responsible for managing the business functions for the organization and oversees the budgeting, internal controls, contracting and financial operations for the Institute. Prior to joining the Institute, Jackie launched her career in the hospitality industry, where she dedicated 22 years of service to LaBelle Management. Jackie earned her Associates Degree in Business Administration from Mid-Michigan Community College.
Ray P. O’Laughlin, Partner
Fueled by a belief that successful organizations must invest in their people and offer excellence in client service, Ray leads our initiatives focused on client care, strategy and performance. Prior to joining the education sector in 2010, Ray served as an executive with a global, leading edge company for much of his career. Launching his career with McDonald’s Corporation in 1980, Ray quickly assumed leadership roles and responsibilities. As a results driven leader, Ray swiftly retooled low performing businesses and turned them into success stories, ramping up their market share and profitability through a team approach and shared vision. Having gained extensive knowledge and management experience, Ray was tapped to assume a leadership role in operations. His early commitment to client service, operations excellence, systems and people development at local, state and national levels, largely contributed to his success. Ray’s passion for people development is evident in his commitment to community and personal desire to positively impact the lives of children and young adults. His rich history of volunteering with organizations such as Junior Achievement, Ronald McDonald’s Children Charities, the Michigan Department of Corrections and the Kent County Juvenile Detention Center speaks volumes to his dedication to making a difference in the lives of those around him, and winning for kids.
Jill K. St. Onge, Chief of Staff
A faithful steward to the mission of transforming education, Jill leads our Human Resources initiatives focused on growing capacity and building a team composed of passionate professionals, known for their integrity and desire to win for kids. Positioning the team for success, Jill is responsible for providing leadership in serving as a liaison to staff and external publics and carrying out a wide range of day-to-day functions on behalf of Dr. Goenner, President and CEO of the Institute. Before joining the Institute, Jill worked in the authorizing industry for 14 years, where she oversaw the Human Resource initiatives for The Governor John Engler Center for Charter Schools at Central Michigan University, managed administrative functions for the Office of the Executive Director, and previously coordinated charter contract development initiatives. Jill earned her Master of Arts in Educational Administration from Central Michigan University and Bachelor of Arts from Michigan State University.