Public Works’ team for every engagement involves experienced high-level professionals with expertise in the problems they’re addressing. Our team includes former gubernatorial chief-of-staff, policy directors, state and local government agency heads, state chief state school officers and school district superintendents, chief financial and budget officers, and top federal officials. Team members are experts in education and workforce, economic development, poverty and equity, health care and human services, corrections and policing, government reinvention and efficiency, finance and budget, strategic planning and implementation—and virtually every other area of policy, management, and strategy.
We’re recognized as experts nationwide—by organizations like the Council of State Governments and National School Boards association, publications ranging from Governing to The New York Times, and academic institutions where we teach like Brown, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Chicago, among others.
And unlike some firms, with us what you see is what you get. Public Works is a firm of dedicated career public servants, in both government and public education. When you partner with us, these are the seasoned professionals you will see doing the actual work.
Eric B. Schnurer, president of Public Works, has been helping governors and other high-level government decision-makers to make government work more efficiently and effectively since 1993 when he served as chief-of-staff to the Acting Governor of Pennsylvania.
As chief-of-staff, Mr. Schnurer personally oversaw the design of the Acting Governor’s budget proposal, including detailed savings across state government to pay for a large business tax cut. He founded Public Works in 1995 to bring governments the public-focused consulting he expected in government, and since 2003 has overseen Public Works’ provision of consulting services to government agencies across the country, including Governors, Mayors, agency heads, and legislators in over half of the states in the United States. He has since helped make Public Works one of the leading firms in the country offering structured performance reviews of government agencies.
He also served, by the appointment of governors of both political parties, as a Commissioner of both the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, and the Delaware River Port Authority—a bi-state commission charged with the economic development of the ports of Philadelphia, PA, and Camden, NJ, as well as oversight of four interstate bridges and an interstate high-speed transit line; he was profiled in the Philadelphia Inquirer for his work in that role in fighting giveaways of taxpayer money in the guise of “economic development” projects.
A former civil rights attorney, Schnurer has worked with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and oversaw the Supreme Court filings for the national ACLU; for both of these organizations, he worked on legal theories promoting government responsibility for reducing poverty. As Deputy General Counsel of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, he crafted the executive order creating the state’s affirmative action and MBE/WBE program, and as a private civil rights lawyer represented the Philadelphia Latino community in the city’s councilmanic redistricting process. He served on the boards of Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia, and the Homeless Advocacy Project of the Philadelphia Bar Association, as well as the Public Interest Law Foundation of his alma mater, Columbia Law School. Schnurer also served as president of the Drum Major Institute, a think tank founded by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Mr. Schnurer has written and lectured extensively on government efficiency and reorganization, including for Demos, Governing Magazine, the Council of State Governments, and the Aspen Institute. He also is now a regular contributor to both The Atlantic, for which he is writing an on-going series on government efficiency and effectiveness and STRATFOR, an international strategic consulting publication based out of Texas. He has written on government reform, and the changing global economy, for publications ranging from US News & World Report to CNN online and The New York Times, and taught at the Harris School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, Temple University, and, most recently the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs and the Taubman Center on Public Policy at Brown University—where he taught a course in the 2019–20 academic year on “Poverty, Redistribution, and the Future of Work.”
Linda Rhodes is a former Secretary of Aging for Pennsylvania, directs the Hirtzel Institute on Health, Education and Aging at Mercyhurst University, and is Senior Vice President of Policy and…
...Practice for Public Works.
Rhodes has consulted a wide range of strategic planning projects and authored numerous public policy reports for government and non-profit organizations throughout the country. She has just finished writing a 170-page report and year-long planning effort on the impact of technology on health care jobs for one of the largest unions in the country. Emerging technologies reviewed were: AI, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, Deep Learning, Big Data, Digitalization, Internet of Things, Robotics, and Systems of Intelligence. Commensurate “tech-savvy” skills needed among nine health care occupations along with food service and housekeeping positions in hospitals were identified. This also included identifying the training needs of health care workers to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The project included gaining insights from 1,300 front-line workers in health care via an online survey that Dr. Rhodes designed.
Her client list includes the State of Delaware Long Term Care Commission facilitating the study and policy analysis of nursing staff ratio legislation for skilled nursing facilities, New Mexico’s State Department of Education’s strategic plan, California State University System workforce development initiative, Georgia Department of Corrections legislative healthcare policy report on correctional health, and Louisiana’s first-ever statewide report on grandparents raising grandchildren.
Dr. Rhodes co-authored, “The Quiet Dismantling of Public Health” with the Keystone Research Center, a study on the public health risks and effects of proposed privatization of Pennsylvania’s 60 state health centers. She also developed a Needs Assessment and Strategic Plan for the HIV/AIDS Coalitions for Pennsylvania.
She authored, “Front & Center: The Role, Trends, and Future of Practical Nursing in Pennsylvania,” a landmark report for the PA Association of Practical Nursing Administrators. She has spearheaded numerous Pennsylvania policy initiatives as a cabinet secretary and as a consultant, one of which successfully preserved the state health centers throughout the Commonwealth. She has guided Mercyhurst University’s strategic direction among nursing and allied health programs focusing on adult learners and oversees their student evaluation process.
Dr. Rhodes also authored a book for the PA Breast Cancer Coalition funded by the CDC, “Breast Cancer: Covered or Not? A Guidebook on Insurance” advising women how to navigate insurance and public programs to finance their treatment and wrote the national award-winning book, “The Essential Guide to Caring for Aging Parents” (Penguin Books). Dr. Rhodes has received numerous state and national awards for her work in public policy and public service. She holds a doctorate in education from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Homer has over 35 years of experience in government finance and administration. She was the Delaware State Capital Budget Director for 4 years, Chief of Administration, and then the Cabinet Secretary for the Delaware Department of Administrative Services…
...during which time she was responsible for all aspects of state procurement, contracting, fleet management, capital programs, state printing, strategic planning, and other state administrative responsibilities. Ms. Homer oversaw a budget of over $100 million and created the first Delaware Office of Minority and Women Business Enterprise, and oversaw Delaware's first cross-agency efficiency study.
While responsible for the Department, Ms. Homer conducted several performance reviews of agency operations and services, resulting in several improvements. Most notably, she consolidated fleet management, saving the state $7 million in the first two years of operation, and restructured the Printing and Publishing Unit resulting in a positive cash flow. She also identified growing demands for services and was able to position the division to meet those demands. Previous to her budget and finance responsibilities she worked in the Delaware Development Office as a small business advocate, SBA loan liaison officer, and IRB officer for state businesses. She has received numerous awards for leadership and management, including having created the first Delaware Office of Minority and Women Business Enterprise and a national award for leading state government’s successful modernization of its procurement laws and procedures.
Ms. Homer was the Project Manager for our City of Chicago, State of Louisiana, and NYNJ Port Authority Efficiency Reviews, and was a key member of our Colorado, Iowa, West Virginia, and Travis County (TX) Organizational Reviews, where she also was responsible for administrative functions, professional licensing, human resources, fleet management, DOT, and procurement.
Dr. Cox, the project manager for our school district reviews, is one of the nation’s leading public education consultants with a 35-year track record of improving outcomes and generating savings, extensive experience managing large, complex projects similar in scope…
...to this one. Her expertise spans the full continuum of school district performance needs, including strategic planning, operational efficiency, district organization and management, curriculum and instruction, low-performing schools, and parent and community involvement. She has led over 150 performance reviews and strategic planning projects across the country, including school improvement projects with the Michigan, Hawaii, and South Carolina Departments of Education; the Clark County, Nevada School District; and all 20 regional educational service agencies in Texas. Dr. Cox has led and/or participated in over 30 school district efficiency performance reviews for the Texas Legislative Budget Board alone.
Dr. Cox is the previous Director of PK-12 Education for MGT of America, a national consulting firm, and is the previous Executive Vice President of Futures Education. Over the past 15 years, Dr. Cox has earned a national reputation as one of the most accomplished consultants on improving outcomes and generating savings for financially challenged organizations. She has extensive experience leading performance reviews including state department of education school improvement projects with the Michigan, Hawaii, and South Carolina Departments of Education. She also conducted a performance review of the Utah Department of Education. She has expertise in school district operational efficiency, district organization and management, strategic planning, curriculum and instruction, low-performing schools, and parent and community involvement. In addition to her state-level work, she has led the review of Clark County Nevada School District, all 20 regional educational service agencies in Texas, nine regional service agencies in New Mexico and Washington, 10 simultaneous reviews of Virginia school districts, and most recently four school district efficiency and effectiveness reviews for the state of South Carolina Education Oversight Committee.
Dr. Cox also has:
Dr. Cox holds her doctorate in educational leadership from Florida State University.
Lauder joined Public Works a decade ago from 13 years of private consulting preceded by more than 13 years in state government, where his experience included conducting internal audits and performance reviews, including…
...an eight-month review of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Bob has either directed or participated in numerous reviews for various public safety departments and the divisions/units by which a given department is organized. He has extensive knowledge of law enforcement, corrections, and community corrections organizations and operations and is highly effective at analyzing staff deployment models and how they meet or don’t meet community needs. As a CPA and a CICA (Certified Internal Controls Auditor), he possesses extensive knowledge and experience with accounting, budgeting, financial analysis, state and local tax revenue forecasting, and performance auditing. Bob graduated from the University of Texas and received his MBA from Texas State University.
In addition, for most of the past 28 years, he has led or participated in numerous studies, assessments, reviews, and other consulting engagements with law enforcement organizations and corrections/detentions systems at the local, state, and federal levels. Among the larger local law enforcement agencies, he has provided consulting services for are Nashville/Davidson County, City of Miami (FL), Miami/Dade County (FL), City of Austin (TX), Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (AZ), and Tulsa (OK), El Paso (TX). In 2016, he was appointed to the city of Austin’s Citizen Review Panel, which worked with the city’s Office of Police Monitor to provide oversight of the Austin Police Department (APD) in concert with the Police Monitor. Bob has worked with numerous large counties including Bexar, El Paso, Harris, Hidalgo, Tarrant, Travis in Texas, and Maricopa, AZ, King, WA, Miami-Dade, FL, Fulton, GA, Nashville-Davidson, TN, Wake, NC, and Santa Clara, CA.
Dawn Wilson served five years as a senior advisor to the Iowa Governor and Lt. Governor, and five years as Deputy Chief of Staff. Throughout her tenure, Ms. Wilson provided legal counsel and served as a lead budget, policy, and communications advisor…
...to the administration. In conjunction with the Chief of Staff, Ms. Wilson managed the operations for 27 state agencies and a $5 billion state annual budget. In addition, she served as the governor’s primary advisor in the areas of homeland security, emergency management, public safety, labor/workforce development, and youth development issues, with direct oversight of all state agencies in these areas. Ms. Wilson also served on the Governor’s Leadership Team for Budgeting and Reinventing Government.
Ms. Wilson has served in a variety of roles in state and federal government, including work in the offices of US Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA), the Georgia Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs, and the Assistant Chief Counsel’s Office of the Federal Aviation Administration. Since joining Public Works, she has both participated in and led comprehensive performance reviews.
Brennan Bratton, a recipient of the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award, has over a decade of experience in public health, including community-based participatory research, health policy analysis, and applied experiences in…
...intervention design, implementation, and evaluation.
Ms. Bratton worked as a case manager and outreach organizer for UNITY of New Orleans, where she helped to employ innovative strategies leading to an unprecedented humanitarian effort after Hurricane Katrina, rehousing over 300 individuals in 30 days. Her experience in New Orleans forever shaped her understanding of public health and spurred a desire to gain a more rigorous theoretical understanding of health disparities and effective interventions to reverse them.
As a result, she attended Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She worked as a data analyst for the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons’ Center for Family and Community Medicine and a graduate research assistant on the Black LIFE study (Linking Inequality, Feelings and the Environment), undertaking data collection through fieldwork, data entry, coding and organization, and key informant interviews. She also conducted a rigorous public health “intervention mapping model” for Pathways to Housing, Inc., a national leader in combating homelessness, including a needs/assets assessment, two focus groups, and a literature review.
After completing her Master of Public Health degree, Brennan was offered the Assistant Community Program Manager position of the community-based participatory study, Project HEED (Help Educate to Eliminate Diabetes), an NIH-funded study in East Harlem. Brennan recruited study participants, administered surveys in English and Spanish, collected biological data, managed a caseload of over 120 participants, conducted community outreach, and organized recruitment events and peer-led workshops.
Brennan continued her efforts in community-based participatory research and outreach as the Community Outreach and Research Translation Program Coordinator at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health, where she developed a holistic educational campaign based on mixed methods research methodologies including surveys, key informant interviews, and focus groups, which has been featured at four national conferences. During her doctoral traineeship in the Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity, at Columbia, she worked as a research assistant on several different research projects and spearheaded a community-based participatory research project that required extensive field notes, conducting key informant interviews, in-depth interviews, and focus groups. Brennan presented the project at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting.
Brennan is a member of a working group in the Mailman School’s Epidemiology department and a consultant for Public Works. She is currently conducting a mixed-methods investigation of the role of food practices and dispositions play in cardiometabolic health in a neighborhood undergoing gentrification. This work requires a systemic synthesis and critique of the literature to understand the current landscape and possible gaps for innovation, key informant interviews with an array of stakeholders and experts, in-depth interviews with participants, focus groups with young adults, ethnographic interviews, and comprehensive longitudinal data analyses.
Johnny J. Mack brings 35 years of multisectoral executive leadership experience directing accounting, finance, and personnel management, financial management systems implementation, and internal auditing. He has served as Director of Administrative Service…
...Deputy Director, Children’s Services Board/Sanitary Engineering Department, Montgomery County (Columbus, OH), Office of Management and the Budget; Vice President for Finance/CFO of Hadley Memorial Hospital, Washington, D.C.; and Vice President/Controller of the Inter-City Mortgage Corporation.
Mr. Mack is also the former director and CFO of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. He founded Communities Without Boundaries, International, an NGO that works to build peace through development, research, education, and technical assistance in under-privileged, conflict, and post-trauma-conflict communities around the globe. He has served as Managing Director of the Atlanta office of Mercury, LLC, the international high-stakes public strategy firm. He has also served as president of the Drum Major Institute, a New York-based NGO founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He is also a founding member of the board of directors of Realizing the Dream, Inc., with Ambassador Andrew Young and Martin Luther King, III.
A certified public accountant, he also holds a certificate from the National Forum of Black Public Administrators’ Executive Leadership Institute.
Bob Furman has broad experience in facilities management, leased property management, energy conservation, and fuel efficiency techniques, centralized energy procurement, operating and capital budgeting and purchasing.
His experience includes eight years as Director of the Division of Facilities Management for the State of Delaware, managing the maintenance, improvement, design, engineering, construction, and utilization of state-owned and leased facilities. Mr. Furman worked with state agencies and related stakeholders to optimize the utilization of state-owned and leased facilities resulting in reduced leased space and reduced facility operating costs. He also consolidated the statewide procurement of electricity and natural gas, implemented reverse auctions for energy, and implemented a statewide energy conservation program using energy performance contracts.
Mr. Furman conducted internal efficiency audits applied his knowledge of engineering, operational, and fiscal practices to author legislation that improved efficiencies and outcomes for Delaware agencies. He was a key consultant and review team member in Public Works’ efficiency studies for the State of Louisiana and for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and was a senior consultant on Public Works’ Continuous Improvement fleet evaluation for the Port Authority. To each efficiency study in which he is involved, Furman applies robust data analysis and data analytic skills to the business processes under study.
Furman has leveraged his experience and data-driven insights into the operational analysis of fleet, procurement, energy efficiency, facilities management, and other business process and practices and has been able to recommend and document significant savings opportunities for Public Works’ clients.
Jennifer Wall brings 20 years of public- and private-sector experience in policy analysis and government affairs, in addition to a strong economic development and business administration background. As a project manager, she facilitates close collaboration across…
...multidisciplinary teams to produce the strongest possible products. Jennifer has successfully managed diverse and complex projects for public sector clients including for Port of San Francisco’s Resilience Program, San Francisco International Airport, the U.S. EPA, U.S. Department of Labor, and for large municipal agencies including the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.
In her 10 years with Public Works, Jennifer has led multiple local government study teams—including for the Los Angeles Department of Public Social Services, Chicago Department of Buildings, and Seattle Office of Economic Development—and has served as a key member on performance review teams for state and commonwealth entities including Louisiana, Alaska Department of Legislative Audit, and the Puerto Rico Senate, and for the Travis County (Texas) Commissioners Court.
Jennifer was previously Director of Communications at OneRoof, Inc., a San Francisco-based public-access computing enterprise linking rural communities with a range of technology-enabled goods and services, including renewable technologies and solar-powered appliances. Earlier in her career, she worked as an environmental policy analyst and project manager at Computer Sciences Corporation in Alexandria, VA/Washington DC, where she supported federal clients including the U.S. EPA in program implementation and assessment, including work on Brownfields and Superfund policy implementation. She also served as a congressional relations assistant at the U.S. Department of State, Office of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. She also coordinated community, government, and philanthropic affairs at the New York Mercantile Exchange, where she conducted legislative and regulatory analyses related to energy futures trading.
She graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Development Studies (Honors) and holds an MBA from Thunderbird Global School of Management.
Dr. Smith brings more than 35 years’ experience in education program evaluation, efficiency studies, and needs assessments, working with state education agencies, school districts, and regional education centers in Texas, Tennessee, Florida, Illinois, Utah, Arizona…
...and Wisconsin. She has worked with ethnically and economically diverse populations and special populations in districts ranging from 1,000 or fewer to over 214,000 students and in inner-city, suburban, rural, high-growth, and high-performing as well as low-performing districts, and districts going through reform and redesign. She has participated in more than 30 efficiency studies of school districts.
She has evaluated the effectiveness and efficiency of planning, implementation, operations, and outcomes of programs and systems serving kindergarten to secondary and post-secondary students. She was a team leader to improve student outcomes and the efficiency and effectiveness of school district programs and operations. Within the context of these projects, Dr. Smith reviewed legislation, policy, and operational documents, accessed secondary data, analyzed financial and operational data, and conducted individual and group interviews with district and local administrators, teachers, and support staff. Each of the efficiency studies resulted in a set of findings and recommendations. The recommendations included an estimate of savings and investments and a five-year fiscal impact projection.
She has worked with the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Texas Legislative Budget Board, the Texas Workforce Commission, the Texas Council on Workforce and Economic Competitiveness, the Illinois State Board of Education, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, the Utah State Office of Education, the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, the Arizona Hopi School System, and the Gates Foundation. At the federal level, Dr. Smith has worked with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Planning, Budget and Evaluation, Bureau of Occupational and Adult Education, U.S. Office of Libraries and Learning Technologies, and the National Institute of Education.
Lacy Cano researches human capital investment programs as an analyst for BrainStorm. She conducted a data collection and research project on rising teacher pension plan expenditures for a national education non-profit, developing a methodology…
...and analyzing the Comprehensive Annual Financial Reviews (CAFR) of each state. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, with a degree in Education Policy, with specialized coursework focused on educational funding equity, community engagement, and program implementation.
Including advocating for youth employment programs and pushing for laws banning domestic violence offenders from owning firearms, her extensive coursework and work experience in the state early childhood systems, K-12 reform, and job training and higher education programs make Lacy well-versed in thinking of these issues as interrelated and in conceiving of progress in terms of human capital investment. As a part of the program Generation Citizen, Lacy taught action civics for two years—leading a classroom of 30 students 2–3 days a week—in Del Sesto and Roger Williams Middle Schools. Through this engagement, Lacy saw firsthand issues facing the schools, including chronic teacher absenteeism, a lack of student safety in and around school and home, and unsafe drinking water and infrastructure. Lacy led students in projects of their choosing designed to enact change. Lacy’s work with Generation Citizen exposed her to programs effectively fostering community engagement and student and community empowerment in Providence schools, as well as opportunities to collaborate with local partners.
Lacy played a key role in our project developing an Equitable Poverty Prevention Plan for the City of Dubuque, developing a matrix of community nonprofits and resources, conducting extensive best practice research adapted to local residents living in poverty, supporting the facilitation of eight focus groups with community members and relevant groups, and conducting nearly a dozen key informant interviews major stakeholders. For our firm’s project redesigning LA County’s GROW welfare-to-work program, Lacy led a comprehensive secondary research process on evaluation frameworks and successful workforce programs, significantly informing our recommendations to the County.
Dr. Carl E. Harris has more than 30 years of experience working in public schools. He served as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Education and superintendent in Durham and Franklin County North Carolina.
In both districts he provided curriculum and instructional leadership focused on advancing academic achievement, fostering relationships with parents, business, and community, and improving school leadership.
Dr. Harris understands LEA support systems and the context and status of ongoing education reform. During Dr. Harris's tenure as Superintendent of Durham Public Schools, he provided leadership in implementing aligned assessments to state standards that would provide teachers individual student feedback regarding their grade level/college-ready status.
Dr. Harris’s educational contributions have been widely recognized. He has received numerous awards and distinctions for his contributions to education, including the Central Carolina Regional Superintendent of the Year award, the National Association for Gifted Children Educator Award, and the Franklin County Living Black Legend Award. He is a graduate of The Broad Superintendent’s Academy. He also received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award, the most prestigious civilian award presented by the Governor of North Carolina. Harris has served on the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Steering Committee for Advanced Certification for School Administrators, and the NC School Technology Commission. He is a past president of the North Carolina Association of School Administrators.
Nuno Couto is an IT consultant, strategist, project/program manager, speaker, and international mentor and digital transformation thought leader with a proven track record of delivering multi-million dollar projects and strategic assessments in government…
...private industry, and higher education on schedule, within budget, and according to scope. One of his recent articles on digital transformation appears here.
Nuno recently completed an efficiency assessment of IT operations across dozens of departments within the city of Chicago. He is a consultant for the government of the Azores in collaboration with Techstars, a Google partner, on technology, entrepreneurship, and international relations. He also consults for MIT/Portugal, a collaboration between MIT and the government of Portugal, and Building Global Innovators, a leading European startup accelerator.
Nuno also just recently completed managing the implementation of a multi-departmental website for the government of the Azores with a team of international consultants. Nuno is also an advisor to the Business Innovation and Research Center at UMass, which focuses on economic development in Southeastern Massachusetts.
Nuno has consulted for Harvard, Boston College, MIT, and Northeastern University, University of Massachusetts, and many others on complex inter-departmental, multi-million dollar technology initiatives.
Nuno is known for his strong aptitude for developing positive relationships with all project stakeholders including executive-level sponsors. His collaborative and inclusive approach has been shown to be quite effective in bringing together groups and individuals having diametrically opposed views for the benefit of the whole organization.
Nuno has managed projects involving a wide breadth of technologies including information security, HR systems, financial systems, infrastructure, hardware, networking, cloud/internet, Enterprise Resource Planning, learning systems, data analytics, reporting, middleware, and many other technologies. He has also led large software development efforts as well as dozens of vendor product implementations.
Helping to make the world a better place by connecting good people is Nuno’s personal passion. He believes in doing as much good for others as possible—the rest takes care of itself.
A social entrepreneur and avid traveler, he promotes mentorship for college students internationally. He has sponsored and mentored at Startup Weekend events at UMass, Dartmouth, which help inspire students to pursue their entrepreneurial ideas to fruition. He also provides mentorship for start-up companies as part of the IDEA incubator at Northeastern University
Nuno was inducted into the Azores Prestige network, an organization that brings together professionals of Azorean descent to assist the economy of the Azores. He also received the Volunteer Service Award from UMass, Dartmouth's 44th Annual Alumni Awards.
Dr. Schiller brings extensive experience as a State Superintendent, as well as serving as the Chairman of the Michigan State Board of Education, and as a Deputy State Superintendent. During the course of his career, he has been responsible for the development of…
...state education strategic plans in four states (Michigan, Illinois, Maryland, and Louisiana).
Dr. Schiller’s career as an educator spanned over 40 years at the state, district, school, classroom, higher education as well as national consulting levels. His experience at the state level includes serving as the State Superintendent of Education in two states (Illinois and MI); and the Deputy State Superintendent of Education for two states (DE and LA). His experience as a local district superintendent and deputy superintendent has been in large, medium, and smaller districts (suburban and urban, with enrollments between 3,000 and 720,000 students).
Dr. Schiller served as the superintendent of 5 school districts, and as an Assistant Superintendent as well as the (Interim) Senior Deputy Superintendent of the 720,000 students in the Los Angeles Unified School District (CA). His school-level experience has included serving as principal of a 2,500-student high school, as well as a teacher of English. At the higher education level, he has held the rank of full professor and department director.
Serving as a consultant over the past decade, Dr. Schiller has completed over 60 educational state department/district/school comprehensive evaluations including organization studies, program, and school improvement plans, strategic planning, and district finance studies, charter school renewals—including a review of the Houston Independent School District.
As a consultant, Dr. Schiller has guided the strategic process and/or authored the strategic plans for the Los Angeles Unified School District (CA), and the Baltimore City Schools (MD). He has conducted numerous executive searches and has provided executive coaching for new superintendents. Dr. Schiller is widely published, with over 40 articles and 8 novels in print. He has served on many national boards and advisory groups.
John has retired from Norfolk Public Schools (Norfolk, Va.) twice. In 2013 he retired after having served as Sr. Director of Transportation, then transitioning to Sr. Director of Planning. Following retirement, he began Hazelette Consulting with an overarching goal…
...to assist school divisions in improving operational efficiency. Drawing on proven experience in both transportation and facility planning, we are positioned to effect meaningful and cost-effective improvements.
In August of 2019, John was contacted and asked to return to Norfolk Public Schools to assist during a transition in leadership. He served as Deputy Superintendent for Operations with the following departments under his supervision: Facilities, School Nutrition, Transportation, Business and Finance, Risk Management, Athletics, Communications/Media Relations, and Human Resources until retiring again in August 2020.
His consulting work in transportation has included school divisions throughout Virginia and includes divisions in Georgia, Texas, and Idaho. The services rendered included reviews of general operational efficiency as well as developing key performance indicators, conducting bell time reviews, routing, organizational structure, fleet analyses, and transitioning between contractor-run to district-run service.
John has been active in professional organizations throughout his career. He has served as President of the Virginia Association for Pupil Transportation and was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2012. He has served on the Board of Directors of the National Association for Pupil Transportation for two terms and was the first in Virginia to receive their certification as a Certified Director of Pupil Transportation.
For 24 years, Dr. Harter served as superintendent in Corvallis, OR (92-97), Lee County, FL (97-01), Brandywine School District in Wilmington, DE (01-06), and for the final ten years in West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) in Richmond, CA (06-16).
Since retiring in 2016, he was interim Superintendent in San Lorenzo Unified and interim Deputy Superintendent for Operations & Administration in the California Department of Education (CDE).
In both Lee County and WCCUSD, he led the implementation of findings from external efficiency studies/performance audits. In the first three years after the efficiency study in Lee County, cost containment measures put $15 million more annually in classrooms. In the first five years after the study in WCCUSD, we implemented 88% of the recommendations and saved $43.9 million in operations that went into the educational program. These included some of the most difficult challenges a district ever faces such as closing schools, capping benefits, and downsizing central office operations and staff.
At CDE, he was responsible for the fiscal and administrative services division (CDE budget & external contracts) as well as school fiscal services (allocation & apportionment to schools/county offices serving 6.2 million students). He monitored the school districts under state supervision for financial mismanagement as well as the districts that were in danger of losing fiscal autonomy. In every district where he was superintendent, he closely scrutinized the development and management of budgets as well as financial reporting.
Dr. Gregory Thornton’s career in education spans more than thirty years. Dr. Thornton’s career has been characterized by his unwavering commitment to children and families. His priorities include assuring equity and excellence through increased student…
...achievement and effective and efficient operations.
Dr. Thornton served as Chief Executive Officer of Baltimore City Public Schools and in superintendent positions in Milwaukee Public Schools and the Chester Upland School District. Dr. Thornton served as Chief Academic Officer for the School District of Philadelphia, as well as in leadership positions at Montgomery County MD Public Schools and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County NC Public Schools.
Beginning with his work in Winston-Salem, Dr. Thornton held positions that included responsibilities for assuring equitable, efficient, and quality facilities and operational services for students. He has overseen the renovation and construction of schools across his work in multiple districts. In Milwaukee, he was responsible for the development and implementation of a facilities master plan to assess the operational, maintenance, and renovation needs of 175 school and district buildings and create a blueprint to upgrade, consolidate and create equitable and efficient facilities for students.
In Baltimore, Dr. Thornton provided leadership and oversight of Baltimore City Public Schools’ 21st Century Schools agenda. This program was launched to provide upgrades, renovations, and replacement of aging facilities to provide students with maximum opportunities for enhanced educational opportunities. In addition, Dr. Thornton provided oversight and leadership of Baltimore City Schools’ required Comprehensive Maintenance Plan (CMP) to establish a calendar, standards, and protocols for preventive and ongoing maintenance of the district’s more than 180 schools. Dr. Thornton currently serves as Resident Faculty with the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE).
Dr. Steve Nettles has extensive experience in local, state, and federal program evaluation, including numerous statewide comparative analyses of school and district performance. He has worked with state departments of education, school districts, and…
...universities throughout the country on issues of school and district performance and accountability. His education experience includes both the school and district level positions as a teacher, administrator, district program evaluator, university researcher, and university administrator.
Dr. Nettles is an expert in modern operational evaluation methodologies designed to inform policy and practice decisions in educational settings. In particular, Dr. Nettles has conducted projects across the country in the areas of food services, transportation services, facilities, and safety and security. His experience in this work ranges from advising individual schools, to working with the largest school systems in the country on effectiveness and efficiency in these areas. He has advised numerous k-12 organizations on matters of child nutrition, including projects for Memphis, TN; Clark County, NV; Irving ISD, TX; Chicago City Schools, IL; Jackson Public Schools, MS; and Norfolk, VA among many others. Dr. Nettles also led the review of food services for a statewide review of the Texas Regional Educational Service Centers for the Texas Legislative Budget Board.
Dr. Nettles uses this collective experience and his perspective of operational strategies from school systems across the country to develop precise recommendations based on the educational and operational needs of the school district. His recommendations have resulted in numerous impactful organizational improvements, and many millions of dollars in cost savings for the organization.
John M. Petro is a seasoned policy analyst with extensive experience advising public officials. John has served as Policy Analyst for Housing for the Office of the New York State Attorney General, advising on housing policy, programs, and litigation. As part…
...of the housing unit, he worked with attorneys across bureaus and divisions to focus and initiate investigations into fraudulent or abusive landlords. John also developed memos, talking points, testimony, and other materials to support strategic initiatives related to housing policy and advised on legislation related to housing policy. In this role, he developed programs administered by the office to stabilize the housing stock across New York State, to develop and preserve affordable housing, and to protect tenants and homeowners. John has also served as Senior Policy Associate for the Office of the Public Advocate for the City of New York and a Policy Analyst for Urban Affairs at the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, a think tank founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He has written on a range of policy issues for a range of entities and publications, including Streetsblog, The Center for an Urban Future, the Community Service Society, Demos, Etsy, Next City Magazine and City Limits Magazine.
Lucy is currently earning her Master of Public Administration degree from City College of New York. Prior to joining Public Works, she was a top fundraiser for a women’s health organization, where she advocated for equitable healthcare and managed…
Before joining Public Works, Audrey was the Connecticut College Women’s Center program coordinator in the Department of Equity and Inclusion. She headed a team of ten staff members in social and educational event planning and campus advocacy. She also…
...served as a community volunteer at the Homeless Hospitality Shelter in New London, CT, and planned their annual fundraiser, the Walk to End Homelessness. She spent a year as a Visiting Scholar at the University of Oxford studying Early Modern Literature. Audrey graduated Magna Cum Laude with Honors from Connecticut College with a degree in English language and literature and a Community Action and Public Policy Certificate.
Rick Homans brings a unique blend of private, public/private, and public sector experience to Public Works. Most recently, he served as President & CEO of the Tampa Bay Partnership (2015–2021) and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development…
...Corp. (2012–2015). Previously, Mr. Homans served as Secretary of Economic Development and Secretary of Taxation & Revenue for New Mexico from 2002 through 2010. Mr. Homans recruited Sir Richardson Branson’s Virgin Galactic to establish its world headquarters in New Mexico and he led the conceptualization, funding, and initial construction of Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport. Mr. Homans has also served as a campaign manager and ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of Albuquerque in 2001. He has a background as a reporter and editor and owned his own publishing company in New Mexico for 15 years.
Jen Reiner brings expertise in human-centered design (HCD) to her work with tri-sector clients. By applying principles from social enterprise, the lean startup movement, and HCD thinking, Jen has produced user-centered experiences to refresh, renew, and…
...enhance the performance of organizations. She most recently facilitated focus groups and Solutioning Sessions for United Way Suncoast’s strategic planning and led HCD ideation sessions for Public Works’ workforce development project in Los Angeles County, CA. Jen also brings experience in collective impact from the transition of her local United Way’s funding strategies.
Reiner served as Director of Innovation for the Pennsylvania Governor’s Office. In this role, she worked with agency secretaries to identify, budget, plan, and win support for state government reform and innovation initiatives. She established and implemented a strategy to facilitate state government transformation focused on innovation and employee and citizen engagement. Among her accomplishments was the development of a new Commonwealth-wide data system for evaluating and tracking agency change initiatives, savings outcomes, and overall goal impact. She led a cross-departmental Executive Office team of Budget, Procurement, HR, IT, and General Services executives to evaluate and approve agency improvement projects. She also worked with cross-agency teams to facilitate enterprise-wide shared services partnerships such as a centralized data gathering and analysis program for Departments of Revenue and Human Services.
Jen also was on the founding team and served as Director of Strategic Program Management, of Harrisburg University, a higher education startup in Harrisburg. She led the marketing and sales effort to establish the customer base for this new university, now a recognized national leader in innovative STEM education. She worked with executives to identify and develop strategic workforce programs to give employees the skills to embrace technological change.
Jen is based in Pennsylvania, where she also teaches graduate-level courses in leadership and earned her master’s degree in Business at Penn State University.
Elizabeth Austin is a seasoned consultant who provides communications leadership and strategic insights for a wide range of government, political, non-profit, academic, and corporate….
...clients. She began her career as a journalist, writing for Time, People, Newsweek, the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, and many more national and international publications. She then served as a senior advisor and speechwriter for two governors, the chairman/CEO of a major international corporation and the director of Argonne National Laboratory. She served as a member of the Illinois Economic Recovery Commission and played a key role in the successful development of Argonne’s $815 million Advanced Photon Source Upgrade project. Elizabeth holds bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Journalism from the University of Illinois and a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of Chicago, with Certificates in Political Campaigns and Municipal Finance.
J. Joseph Cullen, Esq., has provided economic development, energy and conservation strategic policy advice to non-profit organizations and state government agencies since 2000.
Cullen previously served as a policy and budget director at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and as the Governor’s Policy Director in Pennsylvania. He also served as a Senior Policy Advisor at the Appalachian Regional Commission.
Joe’s recent work includes our Baltimore County and U.S. Virgin Islands Performance Reviews. He also serves as a Research Fellow with the Ohio River Valley Institute (https://ohiorivervalleyinstitute.org) and a policy advisor to Solar United Neighbors (https://www.solarunitedneighbors.org). Other policy engagements in 2021 included The Energy Efficiency Alliance (https://keealliance.org) and the National Association of State Energy Officials.