Dreama Gentry provides leadership and vision as the executive director of Partners for Education at Berea College. Gentry is committed to shamelessly advocating for rural students living in poverty and tirelessly works to ensure that the national dialogue around educational success includes the voices of rural students. A first-generation college graduate from rural Appalachia, Gentry holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Berea College and a juris doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law.
Penny Jordan serves as the chief strategy and finance officer for Partners for Education. Jordan has more than 12 years of experience working in leadership positions in grant development, finance, operations, compliance, auditing and strategic planning for non-profit organizations. Prior to her work in the non-profit sector, Jordan spent 10 years working in the banking industry in rural Appalachian Kentucky counties. Jordan holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in management from Indiana Wesleyan University and a doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from Eastern Kentucky University.
Mike Hogg serves as the chief operating officer for Partners for Education. Hogg has more than 20 years of experience working in public school leadership positions in Appalachian school districts including superintendent, assistant superintendent and principal. Prior to serving in leadership roles, Hogg was a middle school science and social studies teacher. Hogg holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in middle grades education from Eastern Kentucky University and school leadership certification Eastern Kentucky University. Hogg is a first-generation college graduate who feels a deep responsibility to pay forward that which has been paid forward to him.
Katie Basham serves as the director of rural impact for Partners for Education. Basham has nearly 15 years of experience in higher education, where her various roles have focused on interfaith cooperation, civic engagement, diversity and inclusion, and program development. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Berea College, and a master’s degree from the Lexington Theological Seminary.
As a director of programs, Jenny Ceesay brings over 17 years of experience in education and grant management to Partners for Education. Ceesay oversees a portfolio of programs including AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps VISTA, Talent Search, Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math and Science. A first-generation college graduate from Rockcastle County and an alumna of Upward Bound, Ceesay is committed to providing students and families access to programs and services to help eliminate the opportunity gap. Ceesay has a bachelor’s degree from Berea College and a master’s degree in education from Georgetown College.
Heather Dufour has been with Partners for Education since 2010, currently serving as the director of grant services. Before joining Partners, she directed Union College’s special programs and served as an adjunct professor of business and finance. Dufour holds bachelor’s degrees in business and mathematics, a master’s degree in business and a doctorate in management with an emphasis in finance.
As director of Family Partnership, L. Rochelle Garrett, MSW, CSW, provides leadership and vision to a suite of family engagement and early childhood programs. Garrett has over 25 years of experience in social work and education. A first-generation college graduate, she holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from Eastern Kentucky University and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Kentucky.
As director of oversight and assessment, Kevin Hall leads Partners for Education’s focus on enterprise risk management and compliance. He brings 15 years of experience in higher education and federal grant management to his position. Before joining Partners for Education, he served as the director of GEAR UP at Morehead State. A first-generation college graduate, Hall holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in business administration from Morehead State University.
J. Morgan brings 20+ years of experience in higher education to the role of director of communications at Partners for Education. For most of his career, Morgan taught composition and literature at colleges and universities in central Kentucky, eastern Kentucky and West Virginia. More recently, he served as the director of publications and media relations at Berea College.
Heather McNew Schill serves as the director of operations for Partners for Education where she oversees training and development and the many aspects of keeping the organization operations standpoint. Schill brings over 18 years of experience in managing the day to day operations of community service and college access programming designed for young people to her work. Schill graduated from Berea College where she majored in Psychology with an emphasis in Sociology and Child and Family Studies. She also holds a M.Ed. in College Student Affairs from Azusa Pacific University.
As a director of programs, Sherry L. Scott provides leadership and oversight to a portfolio of programs and services, cradle to career, within southeast Kentucky. A first-generation graduate, Scott earned both her bachelor’s degree of business administration in marketing and her master’s degree in corrections and juvenile services from Eastern Kentucky University. Scott brings more than 25 years of leadership experience in the non-profit and education sectors where she has dedicated her career to working with vulnerable populations.
Elmer Thomas serves as director of programs. Thomas has over 25 years in public school education and leadership including superintendent, principal, and teacher leader roles. As a teacher, Thomas taught Spanish, journalism, and reading. A first generation college graduate from Appalachia, Thomas holds a doctorate in education from Eastern Kentucky University where he also earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
As a director of programs, Sara White provides leadership and oversight to four federally funded college access programs serving students in 33 school districts. She has worked with college access programs at Berea for 20 years. A first-generation college graduate, White holds a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in student personnel services for higher education from Eastern Kentucky University.
Shane R. Williamson serves as the director of finance with Partners for Education at Berea College. Williamson carries eight years of experience in both non-profit and private sectors of finance, compliance, grant management, budgeting, auditing and forecasting. A first-generation college graduate from Pike County, Williamson is dedicated to contributing to Partners for Education’s mission—all Appalachian students succeed in school. Williamson holds a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Kentucky University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Pikeville.