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 founding board that secured Baxter Academy’s charter and helped open the doors for 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. Her daughters will be part of Baxter’s second graduating class in 2017.
Dr. Allison Crean Davis - Vice Chair
Allison Crean Davis is a Senior Advisor to Bellwether Education Partners, focusing on issues related to evaluation and planning, predictive analytics, extended learning opportunities, and Native American education. Allison is co-founder of New Legacy Partnerships, LLC, a consulting firm working with schools, districts, state education agencies, nonprofits, and foundations to harness research and organization-specific evidence throughout the planning, execution, and evaluation phases of their work.
Allison acts as Coordinator for Evaluation at the Center on Innovation in Learning at Temple University and has provided evaluation and planning support for several summer learning initiatives, including those funded by The Wallace Foundation and The John T. Gorman Foundation. Allison has served as external advisor to the Bureau of Indian Education and guided that organization in the design and implementation of a system of support for schools across 23 states. In addition to providing evaluation services, Allison has done extensive work building the capacity of organizations to evaluate their own efforts for continuous improvement, including state education agencies, districts, schools, and foundation grantees.
Prior to her work as a consultant, Allison was the Program Director for Research at the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory’s (now part of American Institutes for Research) Center for Data Systems and Development. Allison has also worked as an administrator and counselor for the City Colleges of Chicago, has worked in special education programs, and has extensive experience providing psychological diagnostic assessment and treatment services to children and families. She earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the Illinois Institute of Technology and a B.A. in both Psychology and Spanish from Lafayette College. Allison is a mother/stepmother of four children and resides in Kennebunk, Maine.
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
Mr. Morrison received his B.S. in Business Administration (Marketing) from Northeastern University in Boston. From 1995-2012, Mr. Morrison owned, operated and successfully sold a wholesale distribution company in Portland. Recently, Mr. Morrison purchased another local wholesale distribution company and is active in the day to day operations.
Mr. Morrison has an extensive background in small business management 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.
Ms. Dean is the co-owner of Circa Guitars in South Portland, Maine. She attended University of Maryland in Munich, Germany and later received 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 earned her RN degree in 1997. She served on the Board of Directors for Birthwise Midwifery School from 1999 to 2007. She also served on the Board of Casco Public Library from 2004 to 2010. Ruth has served on the School Council of the French School of Maine in Freeport since 2010.
Ms. Dean was one of the founders of Friends of Baxter Academy, an organization created in May 2012 to offer support for the founding and start-up of BA. She has also served on the school’s Advisory Board. For the past fourteen years, Ms. Dean has been active as a homeschool mother. Her family lives in South Portland.
Ms. Gustafson 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. Ms. Gustafson previously spent many years working in the admission and career development departments at Bates College. She enjoys contributing to how Baxter Academy prepares its students not only for college but also for career paths that fulfill them.
Ms. Gustafson 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 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, Mr. Sparling worked at Uncommon Schools as Associate Chief Operating Officer serving North Star Academy in Newark, NJ. As ACOO, Mr. Sparling managed K-12 operations for North Star’s 9 schools, 3,000 students and 300 staff members. He 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. Mr. Sparling also served on the Policy Development Committee to implement a universal enrollment system across all K-12 district and charter schools in Newark.
Mr. Sparling 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, Mr. Sparling 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. Mr. Sparling is a graduate of Columbia University and originally hails from Detroit, MI.