Terri Martinez-McGraw, Co-Director
Terri was the Chief Officer for Student Support Services for GOAL Academy, the nation’s largest online alternative charter school. She created wraparound and mental health services for students who did their studies online. She also managed Title One, Family Engagement, Special Education, Adult Education and Experiential Education programs for students and families. Prior to her service with GOAL Academy, she was the Director of Student Support Services for Pueblo City Schools, in Pueblo Colorado. In that capacity she implemented an effective truancy reduction program that entailed collaboration with the greater Pueblo community and the 10th Judicial District Court, and created a family advocacy program called Project Respect, which was recognized as one of the top truancy reduction programs in the United States. She has authored and assisted in the writing of many successful grants to serve “at promise” students. Terri is also a certified trainer in Love and Logic for Parents and Teachers.
Ms. Martinez-McGraw received her bachelor’s degree majoring in Social Work and Spanish. She received a master’s degree in Special Education from the University of Colorado and School Principal’s Certification in Educational Leadership from the University of Northern Colorado. In addition, Ms. Martinez-McGraw’s work has included Special Education Teacher, Adolescent Mental Health Therapist, Day Treatment Teacher, Truancy Officer, and Assistant Principal for an alternative high school. Ms. Martinez-McGraw has served as a consultant to numerous school districts in addressing the reduction of school dropout and truancy rates along with improving school engagement, graduation, completion and attendance rates for ALL students. Her specialty is community engagement, encouraging community agencies to collaborate and partner with schools to provide services to families and students. Terri, most importantly, is a mother of two sons and a foster mother to 11 children in 13 years, serving the most “at promise” children in foster care.
Terri has roots in Colorado and ongoing interests in public education, online learning, family preservation and support. She is active in community programs serving on the Senate Bill 94 Committee for 12 years, is a member of the Latino Chamber of Commerce, and Board President of the Alia J. Carrillo Foundation.
Joanna (Jodi) Zorn Heilbrunn, Co-Director of the National Center for School Engagement
Jodi Heilbrunn has been the Director of NCSE since 2012. Previously, she was a Senior Research and Policy Analyst at The Partnership for Families & Children where she participated in launching NCSE in 2004. Jodi has worked in the field of education research for almost 20 years, with a longstanding focus on building school engagement among students, preventing truancy and boosting graduation. Jodi is co-author of the NCSE AAA Policy and Practice Assessment, a tool used by schools to reevaluate a host of practices with an eye toward promoting school engagement. She is the lead evaluator for NCSE, assisting educators and community groups with evaluations of myriad programs to support struggling students. She designed and teaches a number of trainings, shown on NCSE’s Training website page. Her most recent projects include evaluations of Expelled and At-Risk Student grants Colorado, and a study of minority over-representation in juvenile detention. In 2013, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges selected Jodi as a site facilitator for its Pathways to Juvenile Justice program. Earlier projects include an evaluation of Jacksonville Full-Service Schools, a qualitative study of school experiences among middle and high school students in a large urban area, a cost-benefit analysis of model truancy prevention programs in Colorado, evaluations of the OJJDP Truancy Demonstration Projects, and an examination of the practice of sending truants to juvenile detention. Prior to joining The Partnership, Jodi was affiliated with the RAND Corporation where she contributed to numerous health care, immigration policy, and military manpower studies prior to turning her full attention to education in a longitudinal evaluation of New American Schools. Jodi holds a masters degree in sociology from UCLA and an undergraduate degree in economics from Boston University.
Dr. Ken Seeley, Founder
Dr. Ken Seeley serves as a collaboration and evaluation specialist for the Denver Office of Strategic Partnerships of the City of Denver. Prior to his work with the City he served for 20 years as the President and CEO of the Colorado Foundation for Families and Children and the National Center for School Engagement. He is an experienced educator, researcher and cross system leader having extensive background with at risk children and youth in early childhood, juvenile justice, mental health, and public schools. When he served as principal of the Laboratory School at the University of Northern Colorado, he was also a professor of education at UNC. Ken was a tenured faculty member at the University of Denver, College Of Education in the areas of Education Leadership and research design. He has broad cross system policy experience as a policy analyst and consultant for the Center for Study of Social Policy in Washington, and many foundations including the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, the Colorado Trust and the Piton Foundation. He currently serves on the boards of the Colorado Association for School Based Health Centers, Qualistar Early Learning, and the Advisory Board for Sesame Street Workshop (NYC).
Judge Dennis Maes
The Honorable Dennis Maes graduated from the University of Colorado School of Law in 1972. He lives in Pueblo, Colorado where he spent his entire legal career practicing law until his appointment to the District Court bench in 1988. He was appointed by the Colorado Supreme Court to serve as the Chief District Court Judge in 1995 and served in that capacity until his retirement in May, 2012.
Judge Maes presided over a variety of dockets but devoted the latter part of his career with an emphasis on water law, mental health law, juvenile delinquency court and truancy court. The truancy court model addressed issues involving student engagement, truancy reduction, dropout prevention and the root causes of truancy. The model dedicated 3 dockets per week to truancy matters.
He was instrumental in the passage of legislation that changed the mandatory school attendance age from seven to sixteen to the present law that requires school attendance from the ages of six to seventeen. He also worked with others in the drafting and adoption of a school attendance policy and with the Colorado Supreme Court to designate truancy court as a problem solving court which enabled the court to address truancy issues in a more timely fashion.
Judge Maes is a frequent presenter on truancy issues and its causes, including a significant background in the emotional and mental health of children. He has presented locally, statewide and nationally. He also partnered with others in the production of two videos involving truancy and removing the stigma of mental health treatment. He serves on numerous boards locally and statewide.