John D. Gray - President
John Gray, CIA, President, contributes tremendous practical experience to the management consulting team and serves SSC’s clients by conducting fiscal health analyses, providing collective bargaining assistance, performing multiyear financial projections, performing school district efficiency studies, conducting internal control reviews, conducting district office organization reviews, and directing executive search services. Prior to joining SSC, John served as the Director of Fiscal Services for the Fresno Unified School District. Prior to joining Fresno Unified, he served as Audit Supervisor for the Ticor Title Insurance Company and Auditing Officer for Union Bank. He has also performed consulting work for the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team (FCMAT). John received his Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from California State University, Fresno, and his Master’s degree in Administrative Leadership from Fresno Pacific University.
Ronald W. Bennett - CEO
Ron Bennett, Chief Executive Officer, is responsible for projects ranging from facilities issues and district organizations to factfinding and executive search services, as well as legislative services and strategic planning. He is a recognized expert in the areas of collective bargaining, leadership development, school district governance, and financial management. He is involved in shaping the state’s most critical public policy issues, but is also a key participant in resolving issues within school districts both large and small. Ron’s consulting experience includes participation in a Management Information and Financial Systems Review for the Oregon Department of Education, an Education Finance Reform Study for the Wyoming Legislature, and scores of school business engagements in California. He is sought out as a public speaker on education issues. Ron previously served as Chief Financial Officer and Deputy Superintendent in Long Beach, Fresno, and ABC Unified School Districts. He earned his Bachelor of Business Administration at the University of Oklahoma and his Master’s in Business Administration from Michigan State University.
Debbie Fry - Director, Management Consulting Services
Debbie Fry, Director, Management Consulting Services, provides support to school districts, charter schools, county offices, and community college districts in school finance and budgeting, collective bargaining, employer-employee relations, human resources, special education, and general consulting. Debbie brings a wealth of experience in the area of school finance, employment, personnel management, and special education. Debbie completed the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) CBO Mentor Program, earned her Chief Business Official (CBO) certification from the California Association of School Business Officials (CASBO), and is a certified Administrator of School Finance and Operations from Association of School Business Officials (ASBO) International. She has served in increasingly responsible fiscal positions in California school districts for more than 20 years and most recently served as the CBO and Director of Human Resources at the Metropolitan Education District. Debbie graduated from Ashford University with a Master’s degree in Business Administration.
Brianna García - Director, Management Consulting Services
Brianna García, Director, Management Consulting Services, has worked with school districts to strengthen their organizations by conducting organizational reviews, comparative analyses of school district resources and staffing, facilities reviews, and charter petition reviews. She has provided guidance to school districts as they work through the Local Control and Accountability Plan process and also has extensive experience related to planning and development of charter school facilities, including Proposition 39. She has over a decade of professional experience in public K-12 education, worked as Facilities Development Manager for the Los Angeles Unified School District, and completed the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education School Business Management Certificate Program earning designation as a certified Chief Business Official. Brianna graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Architecture, a Master of Planning, and a Master of Real Estate Development.
Dave Heckler - Director, Technology and Governmental Relations
Dave Heckler, Director, Technology and Governmental Relations, provides clients with valuable information on what is happening in the State Capitol regarding legislative and State Budget matters. Dave also shares his expertise in education funding as a consultant to several statewide education coalitions, providing detailed revenue analyses and funding projections for special education. Prior to joining SSC, Dave served in the legislative and constituent affairs office for the Secretary of State and represented the Secretary before policy committees. In addition, while working in the Legislature, one of Dave’s major accomplishments was successfully working out various changes to the 2005 federal special education conformity bill (Assembly Bill 1662 [Chapter 653/2005]). Dave is a graduate of California’s public school system and received his Bachelor of Arts degree from San Jose State University.
Patti F. Herrera - Director, Governmental Relations
Patti Herrera, Director, Governmental Relations, serves school districts by advocating for public policies that maintain and advance the interests of K-12 public school students, as well as providing timely information to K-12 field practitioners across the disciplines on legislative and regulatory proposals that will affect their daily work. Prior to joining SSC, Patti led the Governmental Relations Division as the Chief Governmental Relations Officer for the Riverside County Superintendent of Schools. Patti also spent more than a decade on policy development relating to public school facilities at Murdoch, Walrath & Holmes and the Coalition for Adequate School Housing, where she specialized in the State School Facility Program. Through her work in public education policy making and advocacy, Patti has worked and developed relationships with key policymakers and staff in the State Capitol and relevant state agencies. Patti graduated cum laude from University of California, Davis, with degrees in International Relations and Chinese and Russian History. Patti is pursuing her Doctorate of Education at University of California, Davis.
Kyle Hyland - Analyst, Governmental Relations
Kyle Hyland, Analyst, Governmental Relations, supports the governmental relations team by coordinating legislative and policy issues of interest to SSC's clients, including performing research and analysis, developing conclusions, preparing client communications and reports, preparing documents to support or oppose legislative or policy matters, and monitoring meetings of administrative and policymaking bodies. Prior to joining SSC, Kyle served as Special Assistant to the Executive Team at the Foundation for California Community Colleges, the statewide nonprofit supporting the California Community College system, the largest system of higher education in the nation. Kyle received his Bachelor's degree in Political Science at the University of California, Davis and is currently pursuing his Master's degree in Public Policy and Administration at California State University, Sacramento.
Nancy LaCasse - Associate Vice President
Nancy M. LaCasse, Associate Vice President, has provided legislative consulting and advocacy services on behalf of school districts and county offices of education throughout California for nearly three decades. She has been at the forefront of several major K-12 education reform efforts, including categorical flexibility, special education finance, career technical education, education technology, school safety and risk management, and the Local Control Funding Formula. She has extensive experience working with school agencies in designing legislative platforms and strategic plans, drafting legislation, analyzing bills, assisting in the development of positions, and effectively communicating those positions. She has more than a decade of experience lobbying at the federal level and annually leads a coalition of statewide education organizations to Washington, D.C., to advocate for increased education funding. Nancy serves on the Associate Member Committee of the California Association of School Business Officials (CASBO) and has served in various volunteer leadership roles in that organization.
Jamie Metcalf - Director, Management Consulting Services
Jamie Metcalf, Director, Management Consulting Services, has a wealth of experience in the areas of school finance, risk management, employment and personnel management, special education, and employee benefits. She has served in increasingly responsible human resource and fiscal positions. Prior to joining SSC, Jamie served as the Chief Business Official at Travis Unified School District and was responsible for all business and finance functions and served as a key member of the district's cabinet. Jamie is a graduate of University of Phoenix with a degree in business administration and marketing.
Robert Miyashiro - Vice President
Robert Miyashiro, Vice President, has worked with school districts on numerous consulting projects, including budget reviews, efficiency studies, district reorganizations, retirement system analyses, tax delinquency financing, and executive search services. Robert also monitors the condition of the State Budget and evaluates economic developments in the state and national economies. He tracks and projects Proposition 98 funding levels and Local Control Funding Formula implementation issues. Prior to joining SSC, Robert served as the Deputy Director of the Department of Finance (DOF) where he oversaw the DOF’s position on all pending legislation. Robert graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Political Science and from Harvard University with a Master’s degree in Public Policy.
Matt Phillips, CPA - Director, Management Consulting Services
Matt Phillips, Director, Management Consulting Services, provides support to school districts in fiscal-related issues including budget reviews, salary schedule analyses, organizational reviews, and negotiations, including factfinding services. He also participates in workshops across the state on a variety of topics including the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), advanced collective bargaining, district budgeting, and auditing. His background as a Certified Public Accountant, experience working in a school district, and completion of the California Association of School Business Officials (CASBO) Chief Business Official Certification program provide the foundation for these areas. Matt graduated from California State University, Chico, with a degree in business administration with emphasis in accounting.
Charlene Quilao - Assistant Director, Management Consulting Services
Charlene Quilao, Assistant Director, Management Consulting Services, provides extensive technical and professional services to local school agencies and community colleges to help them implement and maintain effective and efficient operations. As an integral member of our Management Consulting Services team, Charlene prepares research and data analysis in order to conduct organizational reviews, efficiency studies, comparative analyses of school district resources and staffing, statewide workshops, informative publications, and other client services. She also serves as SSC’s liaison to the State Board of Education, monitoring emerging education policy issues and providing this essential information to school districts. Charlene received her bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State University, focusing on social sciences and research and is an American Bar Association Certified Paralegal.
Michael Ricketts - Associate Vice President
Michael Ricketts, Associate Vice President, is responsible for all levels of governmental advocacy, including working with members and staff in the Legislature, the Governor’s office, and state and federal agencies on education issues important to SSC clients. He is also a recognized expert in school finance and school finance reform, basic aid financing, and Proposition 98. Prior to joining SSC, he served as Deputy Director of the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA) where he was responsible for state and federal advocacy, and as Chief Consultant to the Assembly Education Committee where he managed a staff of legislative consultants in support of the policy committee. Michael brings more than 30 years of experience in public education policy and finance. He received his postsecondary education in Psychology at the University of California, Davis.
Suzanne Speck - Vice President
Suzanne Speck, Vice President, provides support to school districts, county offices, and community college districts in governance, management, collective bargaining, employer-employee relations, human resources, special education, and general consulting. Suzanne is responsible for leadership of SSC’s executive search services and brings a wealth of experience in the area of employment, personnel management, strategic planning, and organizational development. She served on the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team for human resources in South Monterey Joint Union High School District, Compton Community College District, and Inglewood Unified School District. Suzanne has served school districts in California for more than 20 years as a special education teacher, principal, and Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources. Suzanne holds a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education and Early Childhood Education from Radford University, Radford, Virginia. She received two credentials and her Master’s degree in Education Administration from California State University, Sacramento.
Kathleen Spencer - Director, Management Consulting Services
Kathleen Spencer, Director, Management Consulting Services, works with school districts, charter schools, county offices of education, and community colleges to implement effective and efficient operations through innovative strategies. She serves educational agencies in strengthening operations and resource management through organizational reviews, shared services and efficiency studies, budget reviews, comparative analyses of school district resources and staffing, total compensation studies, and facilities reviews. She specializes in the impacts of federal health care reform and the demands on employers to provide cost effective and legally compliant benefits. Kathleen also provides negotiations support to local educational agencies (LEA) and has prepared and presented many school district factfinding cases, resulting in positive and improved labor relations for both the LEA and employee group. Kathleen received her bachelor’s degree from California State University, Sacramento, focusing on social sciences and research.
Michelle McKay Underwood - Director, Governmental Relations
Michelle McKay Underwood, Director, Governmental Relations, provides advocacy services on behalf of SSC clients by representing their interests in front of the Legislature, Administration, and various state departments in Sacramento. She is actively involved in advocating on behalf of both school districts and associations, including serving as the lead advocate for the Schools For Sound Finance [(SF)2] and the Association of California Community College Administrators (ACCCA). Prior to joining SSC, Michelle served as Membership Director for the California Coalition for Youth, an advocacy association of a diverse group of youth, youth advocates, and youth-serving agencies from throughout the state. Michelle received Bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Psychology at the University of California, Davis.
Sheila G. Vickers - Vice President
Sheila G. Vickers, Vice President, provides support to school districts, county offices, and community college districts in collective bargaining, legislative issues, human resources, information systems, executive search services, fiscal health analyses, and other management consulting services. She is a presenter at statewide workshops on school finance, collective bargaining, human resources, and employee benefits. She has served on Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Teams (FCMAT) for human resources and finance, and as a county-appointed fiscal advisor for school districts in financial distress. For 11 years prior to joining SSC, Sheila served in various financial roles in both K-12 public school districts and community colleges. Sheila received her Master’s of Business Administration from California State University, Sacramento (CSUS), with emphasis on Management Information Systems. Her Bachelor of Science degree, also from CSUS, is in Business Administration with concentrations in Accounting and Management Information Systems.
Carol Wolfe, CPA - Chief Financial Officer
Carol Wolfe, CPA, Chief Financial Officer, possesses essential background and experience to provide her with the necessary skills to successfully manage all day-to-day accounting activities of SSC and help steer the company properly into the future. She has more than 28 years of accounting experience, including 9 years in Public Accounting and the remainder in private industry. Carol graduated from the California State University, Sacramento, in 1987 with a degree in Accounting and obtained her Certified Public Accountant license in 1990.