Our Coaches

Subject Matter Experts and Coaches

Subject Matter Experts and Coaches

These national subject matter experts and coaches have extensive knowledge in:

  • stackable credits and credentials,
  • prior learning assessments,
  • competency-based learning assessments,
  • micro-credentials,
  • universal design principles, and
  • targeted wrap-around supports.


Michael Cruse
Subject Matter Expert

Michael is an online, community moderator for the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Career and Technical Education’s LINCS platform. LINCS is ED’s professional development platform for adult educators. Michael moderators the Career Pathways and Disability and Equitable Outcomes communities on LINCS. He is also a Career and Technical Education Resource Teacher, in Arlington Public Schools (VA), and a contracted vocational evaluator with the Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services.

Areas of Expertise

  1. Universal Design for Learning
  2. Americans with Disabilities Act
  3. Vocational Rehabilitation
  4. English for Speakers of Other Languages
  5. English for Specific Purposes


William S. Durden
Subject Matter Expert

William S. Durden is the Policy Associate for I-BEST and Pathway Development in Basic Education for Adults at the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. His primary responsibilities include supporting and scaling up I-BEST and guided pathways with Adult Education as the foundation of those pathways, with the ultimate goal that all adult learners will have access to innovative, high-quality education programs that provide the knowledge, skills, and credentials necessary for securing living wage employment. He supports the development and expansion of I-BEST nationwide, having provided I-BEST training and technical assistance to 33 states and counting. A former I-BEST instructor, William served as English faculty at Clark College for six years. He earned an MA in English Studies from Western Washington University (2008) and a BA in English from Washington State University (2005).

Areas of Expertise

  1. I-Best
  2. Guided Pathways
  3. Pathway Design
  4. IET
  5. IELCE


Echell Eady
Subject Matter Expert

Dr. Echell Eady is the Senior Director of Adult Education & Career Services for the YWCA of Nashville & Middle Tennessee. She is a nationally certified Career and Education Advisor. Dr. Eady has developed successful strategies for reducing barriers and increasing adult student attainment of high school equivalency diplomas, as well as post-secondary certificates and degrees. She has been recognized for Outstanding Professional Service to the Career Guidance Center (Region 8), Illinois State Board of Education – Adult Vocational and Technical Education, and has served on the Tennessee State Workforce Development Board. In 2016, Dr. Eady received the designation of Faculty Fellow from Middle Tennessee State University. She is married and the proud mom of three sons: Tony, Ryan, and Ross.

Areas of Expertise

  1. Adult, Non-traditional Populations
  2. Workforce Development
  3. Career Development
  4. Work-based Learning
  5. Wrap-around Supports
  6. Retention
  7. Recruitment


Marty Finsterbusch
Subject Matter Expert

I have over 30 years experience within adult literacy education. My experience incorporates expertise at the local, state and national levels. I organize and promote adult learner involvement with programs. Finally, I oversee and conduct trainings to educate staff and adult learners to engage adult learners to enhance the program success.

Areas of Expertise

  1. Student Involvement/Leadership
  2. Trainer/Presenter
  3. Event organizer for adult learners
  4. Executive Directors of a national organization
  5. Live the life as an adult learner/learning disabilities
  6. Involved in local, state and national organizations


Kevin Hunt
Subject Matter Expert

In 2001, Kevin made a decision that would be the catalyst for changing his entire life, he enrolled in Shorter College GED program. After earning his GED in 2001, Kevin courageously enrolled in Philander Smith College in 2002, where he not only received a Business Degree in 2006 but also graduated with honors. He went on to receive a master’s degree in December of 2015 from Webster’s University. Upon graduating from Philander Smith College, Kevin volunteered for then-Attorney General Mike Beebe’s campaign for governor. Mike Beebe won the election for Governor (2006), and Kevin was hired on as full-time staff. He is the son of a very strong mother and father, and a proud father of one son, Kevin Hunt Jr. He is married to the number one woman in his life, Maggie F. Hunt.

Areas of Expertise

  1. Organizer
  2. Leader
  3. Team Player
  4. Self-starter
  5. Finisher
  6. Thoughtful
  7. Wise


Todd Hunter
Coach and Subject Matter Expert

Todd Hunter is an Arkansas native born in El Dorado and resident in Searcy for over 30 years. He graduated from Harding University with a BA in Business Management and later graduated from Webster University with a MBA in Business Administration. Todd’s job experience includes retail distribution, construction, training and development, teaching, and most recently grant writing and administration. Todd is the grant writer for the Adult Education Division seeking grant funds through awarded applications. He embraces change and encourages resourcefulness. Todd has developed many relationships across the State of Arkansas with business and industry leaders. Todd is very familiar with developing collaborative partnerships involving multiple interests from both the public and private sectors. Todd has been married to Cindy for more than 32 years and they have two married daughters and three grandchildren. Todd likes to enjoy the outdoors by hiking, fishing, hunting, and playing golf.

Areas of Expertise

  1. Collaborative partnerships
  2. Program design
  3. Fundraising
  4. Grants
  5. Program planning
  6. Program organization
  7. Program implementation


Shauna King-Simms
Subject Matter Expert

Shauna King-Simms, Chancellor’s Office, Director of Transitions and Pathways, Kentucky Community and Technical College System Ms. King-Simms is the Director of Transitions and Pathways at the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS), where she works with policy and program development targeting economically disadvantaged and educationally under-prepared students. Prior to joining the KCTCS staff in August 1999, Shauna administered post-secondary education TANF contracts for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services and served as staff for the Cabinet’s task force on post-secondary education. Prior to joining KCTCS Ms. King-Simms spent 10 years as a state level administrator of Kentucky’s adult basic education and literacy initiatives, 7 years as a student services administrator in a two-year college and 2 years as a regional administrator for the Job Training Partnership Act program. Shauna initially joined the KCTCS Chancellor’s office staff to implement a statewide TANF funded initiative aimed at recruiting, transitioning and supporting Kentucky’s public assistance recipients in the Community and Technical College System. This nationally recognized effort, “Ready to Work”, proved so successful that the state TANF agency requested a parallel initiative targeting the state’s adult education population. This transitions model integrates campus-based targeted case management with a TANF funded work-study component. Additionally, she has assisted in the design and supported the implementation of innovative transitioning collaborations among KCTCS colleges and local adult education providers statewide. Shauna also supported and facilitated the KCTCS statewide Career Pathways pilots developed as Kentucky’s strategy to support the Ford Foundation Bridges to Opportunity Initiative. All sixteen KCTCS colleges developed and implemented at least one Career Pathway in an employment sector identified in collaboration with their local stakeholders. Shauna facilitates and supports the KCTCS statewide Assessment and Placement Workgroup and the English, Reading and Math Curriculum Committees. These Workgroups and Committees are currently working on math pathways and co-requisite supplemental education models. Shauna is currently working with the state SNAP agency to develop SNAP Employment and Training models to serve Kentucky’s SNAP population and with the state Vocational Education agency to deliver statewide pre-employment transitions services through the KCTCS colleges. Shauna has a BA from Eastern Kentucky University and an MA from the University of Cincinnati in Organizational Behavior and Communications.

Areas of Expertise

  1. Meaningful collaborations/engaging stakeholders
  2. Adult Ed to community college transitions
  3. Designing academic pathways
  4. Blending public resources including TANF/SNAP/Pell
  5. Work-based learning/work study


Debbie Mills

Mills currently serves as the Director of the National Career Pathways Network (NCPN) and has expertise in career pathways, curriculum development, staff development, linkages between secondary and postsecondary institutions, community engagement, apprenticeships, stackable credentials, and partnerships with business, industry, and labor. Extensive expertise includes the development of standards-based curriculum at a state level; assisting community colleges with strategic professional development plans for staff and faculty; building partnerships in communities; development of adult career pathways projects; and numerous keynote speeches for state education conferences.

Areas of Expertise

  1. Career Pathways System Development
  2. Business/Industry Partnerships
  3. Stackable Credentials
  4. Work-based Learning
  5. Apprenticeships
  6. Curriculum Development
  7. Counselors/Career Development


Judy Mortrude
Subject Matter Expert

Judy Mortrude is a senior policy analyst with CLASP’s Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success. Ms. Mortrude has more than 30 years’ experience developing, delivering, and evaluating workforce education, particularly with low-literacy and high-barrier populations. She has been a classroom teacher, school administrator, and state agency staff. Currently, Ms. Mortrude supports cross-agency state teams as they scale and sustain integrated education and training career pathway policies and practices; focus attention on racial and economic equity, and build two-generational strategies. Additionally, she analyzes federal adult and postsecondary education policy and supports organizations like the National Coalition for Literacy and the Open Door Collective.

Areas of Expertise

  1. Formative and summative assessment
  2. Data and performance accountability
  3. System alignment
  4. Career pathway policy


Kathy Olesen-Tracey

I have been involved in adult education for over 20 years. My professional roles include teacher, program administrator, curriculum director, and project manager. I work in traditional, corrections, and online environments. Last February, I was invited to speak at a Senate Round Table in DC, sponsored by Brian Schatz from Hawaii. I also moderate two Communities of Practices for LINCS and am earning my Doctorate in Educational Leadership, currently, ABD, and my area of expertise is trauma-informed practices.

Areas of Expertise

  1. Corrections Education
  2. Trauma-informed Practices
  3. Educational Leadership
  4. College and Career Practices
  5. Curriculum Development
  6. Grants and Proposal Development
  7. Public Speaking and Presentation Development


Melissa Sadler-Nitu

Melissa Sadler-Nitu is the Integrated Basic Education Skills Training (I-BEST) and Adult Education Director for Alamo Colleges in San Antonio and surrounding area in Texas (population 2.8 million). Alamo I-BEST is an initiative of the District Department of Economic and Workforce Development providing training and employment assistance to incumbent workers and students requiring academic skills development for success in technical training. Through grant writing and a braided funding system, she has created the model system for program delivery. Through employer and workforce partnerships, I-BEST helps to fill the employment gaps for high demand occupations. With funding and support Alamo IBEST provides significant middle-skill training opportunities for employer and tax payer return on investment. Ms. Sadler-Nitu ensures that programs are available to participants residing in high need areas. Currently Alamo I-BEST has scaled to 2,300 students throughout Alamo Colleges a 95,000 total student population.

Areas of Expertise

  1. Integrated Education Training
  2. Adult Education and Literacy
  3. College Enrollment Process
  4. Professional Development
  5. Contextualized Curriculum Development
  6. Economic Development in Education
  7. Collaborative Leadership Building


Suzi Shoemaker

Suzi Shoemaker is in charge of Employment Services for the Pima Community College $15 million Health Professions Opportunity Grant (HPOG). She has been with HPOG for over six years assisting low-income, TANF, first generation, ESL and refugee students enter and successfully navigate career pathways in the healthcare arena. She has over 20 years of experience working in the employment field as a recruiter, trainer, and job developer in the federal, private, K-12 and higher education sectors. Recently Suzi and her team were written up by the Department of Health and Human Services as a Best Practice for HPOG with focus on employer engagement and understanding the healthcare employment market in Tucson, Arizona. Suzi also has a strong background working with adults re-entering the workforce after coming out of our legal systems. Suzi holds a Master’s in Education Leadership, Masters in Business Administration, and a Masters in Accounting. She also holds an Advanced Certificate in Human Resources. Her greatest love is her family, program development, and helping people find employment/success while overcoming barriers in their own lives.

Areas of Expertise

  1. Career Development
  2. Healthcare Pathway
  3. Higher Education
  4. Program Development
  5. Goal Setting
  6. Curriculum Development
  7. Re-entry Programs

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