Dr. Allison Crean Davis - Vice Chair  

Dr. Crean Davis earned her B.A. in both Psychology and Spanish from Lafayette College, where she was awarded the Frank Kline Baker Prize in Spanish, and her Ph.D. in Psychology from the Institute of Psychology, Illinois Institute of Technology, where she specialized in child/developmental psychology. Dr. Crean Davis has a diverse background as a consultant, researcher, evaluator, and practitioner in education. She brings vast experience working with educators, policymakers, and funders at the national, state, district, and local school levels and across the continuum of pre-K to postsecondary institutions and has served on the boards for the Center for Research and Service at the Illinois Institute of Technology and Woodside School in Concord, New Hampshire.

Dr. Crean Davis is co-founder of New Legacy Partnerships, an education consulting firm whose clients include The Wallace Foundation, The Center on Innovations in Learning at Temple University, Reading Partners, The Tampa Bay Education Partnership aUniversity of South Florida, and TCC Group. She is also an evaluator and advisor to the Virginia STEAM Academy, a public, residential high school focusing on developing leaders in science, technology, engineering, and applied mathematics. She previously founded and led Informed Educators Consulting Group, during which time she worked with the Bureau of Indian Education, Florida and the Islands Regional Comprehensive Center, the New England Regional Comprehensive Center, and the Center on Innovation and Improvement at the Academic Development Institute. The common denominator to her work is her passion for infusing systems with a process for informed decision-making for sustainable improvement.

Prior to her work as a consultant, Dr. Crean Davis was the Program Director for Research for the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory’s (now known as “Learning Point Associates”) Center for Data Systems and Development. Dr. Crean Davis has also worked as an administrator and counselor for the City Colleges of Chicago, has taught in special education programs for emotionally disturbed youths, and has extensive experience providing psychological diagnostic assessment and treatment services to children and families. Dr. Crean Davis resides in Kennebunk, Maine with her husband and four children.


Peter Montano – Treasurer

Mr. Montano holds a B.S. in Accounting from St. John’s University and is a Certified Public Accountant in Maine, New York, Florida, Louisiana and Colorado. He is a Director at Macpage LLC, and has had a life-long interest in supporting nonprofit organizations; as such, Mr. Montano has been providing audit, consulting, and tax services to nonprofit organizations and venture funds for over 30 years. He is active in various associations, and has spoken at conferences across Maine on topics affecting nonprofit organizations and providing technical seminars on financial management. Mr. Montano works closely with Board members and management of various nonprofit organizations to assist them in implementing best practices. He is also a member of the Audit Committee for the Maine Community Foundation and is currently a member of the Advisory Committee for the Maine Association of Nonprofits after serving as their Treasurer for six years.


Peter Morrison – Secretary

Peter received his B.S. in Business Administration (Marketing) from Northeastern University in Boston. After successfully owning and operating a local wholesale distribution company in Portland for 17 years, he recently sold his business. Mr. Morrison has an extensive background in small business operations as well as a strong perspective for long-term strategic planning. Mr. Morrison is excited about contributing to the success and growth of Baxter Academy, and cares deeply about providing our youth with the best possible educational opportunities. Mr. Morrison lives in Cumberland with his wife and three daughters.


Kelli Pryor – Chair

Ms. Pryor began her career early—as a sixteen-year-old reporter at her hometown newspaper. From that lucky jump-start, she developed a keen respect for the power of letting young people do the real work of the world. That respect is what attracted her to being part of the team that helped Baxter Academy secure its charter and open its doors to students ready to get their hands on projects they love.

After graduating summa cum laude from the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Ms. Pryor pursued her career in New York City, where she worked as everything from an intern at Life magazine to head of the research department at New York Magazine. She was on the start-up team for Entertainment Weekly, an experience that deeply informs the work she is doing at Baxter in its rigorous early years.

Kelli is the author of both nonfiction and fiction books and is also a Sundance Screenwriting fellow, writing for studios such as Dreamworks, Warner Brothers, and Sony Pictures Entertainment, as well as for television.

Since 2002, she has also been the director of the CAFAM Chinese School in Portland, where she has helped engineer a program that inspires learning through meaningful explorations of Chinese innovation, art, language, and culture. Her work at the Chinese School was inspired by her twin daughters’ love for Chinese culture, and it was their interest that first brought Baxter Academy to her attention. They insisted it was the school for them. And so it has been: Her daughters will be part of Baxter’s second graduating class in 2017.

Kelli is an avid reader, baker, swimmer, and gardener.


Ruth Dean

Ruth is the co-owner of Circa Guitars in South Portland, Maine. She attended University of Maryland in Munich, Germany and later went on to receive her BA in Psychology from Evergreen State College in Washington State. She worked as a counselor in a program for pregnant incarcerated teens, the first of its kind in the US. She also has extensive experience working in the fields of domestic violence and sexual assault prevention. She went on to study midwifery and women’s health and earned her RN degree in 1997. She worked as an OB nurse, postpartum home visit nurse and lactation counselor for Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway, Maine. She served on the Board of Directors for Birthwise Midwifery School from 1999 to 2007 and was chair of that board in the later years. She also served on the Board of Casco Public Library from 2004 to 2010. For the past three years, Ruth has served on the board of the French School of Maine in Freeport.

She is the founder of Friends of Baxter Academy, an organization created in May 2012 to offer support to the founding and start-up of BA. She has also served on the school’s Advisory Board.  For the past fourteen years, Ruth has been active as a homeschool mother. Her oldest daughter will head off to Smith College this fall, her 14-year-old daughter will attend Baxter, and her 9-year-old son will continue to attend the French School of Maine. They live in South Portland.


Kim Gustafson

Kim thrives on facilitating connections between individuals and the resources that best meet their preferences and needs. She serves as Scholarship Director for the Mitchell Institute where she oversees the Mitchell Scholarship selection process, as well as career and personal development programming. Kim previously spent many years working in the admission and career development departments at Bates College. She looks forward to contributing to how Baxter Academy prepares its students not only for college but for career paths that fulfill them.  

Kim graduated from Middlebury College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in East Asian Studies, and she is certified as a Global Career Development Facilitator.


Christian Sparling

Christian Sparling currently works as a Senior Project Director at the Relay Graduate School of Education, a revolutionary educator-training program for in-service urban teachers to attain certification and master’s degrees. Prior to moving to Maine, Christian worked at Uncommon Schools as Associate Chief Operating Officer serving North Star Academy in Newark, NJ. As ACOO, Christian managed K-12 operations for North Star’s 9 schools, 3,000 students and 300 staff members. Christian directly managed all elementary school Directors of Operations and several regional support staff while also completing projects to improve school security, streamline interim assessment tools, and implement operations inspections across all Uncommon Schools. Christian also served on the Policy Development Committee to implement a universal enrollment system across all K-12 district and charter schools in Newark.

Christian began his school leadership at North Star Academy in 2007 as founding Director of Operations of North Star Academy Vailsburg Elementary, co-leading North Star’s first elementary school to achieve the highest NJASK state test results of all 1,200 elementary schools in New Jersey in its first year at scale.

Prior to becoming a school leader, Christian spent three years at Teach for America recruiting college students to join the cause. He began his career in education as a 2001 Teach For America corps member teaching 1st and 2nd grade in the South Bronx.

Christian is a graduate of Columbia University and originally hails from Detroit, MI.