Founder and Managing Director
Michael started his career in 1978 working in the educational community providing financial services to educators. After moving to Dallas in 1980, he quickly attained regional, divisional and national sales leadership positions. In 1990, Michael branched to educational technology working with curriculum, assessment and data management companies in leadership capacities.
School Technology & Educational Program Services, LLC was formed in 2000 as an educational consulting firm to better assist companies in their strategic sales and marketing efforts. Additionally, he works closely with many superintendent and school board associations around the country as a liaison for their corporate partner programs.
Michael studied at Tennessee Technological University where he was collegiate baseball All–American and currently resides in Dallas, Texas.
Founder and Managing Director
Eric spent ten years in the North Carolina State Senate where he chaired the Senate’s technology committee, served as chair of Human Services Appropriations and on the Education Oversight Committee. Prior to the Senate, Eric served on the Raleigh City Council for two terms and has spent most of his professional life focused on public policy issues.
In addition to public policy, Eric served as the General Counsel and Director of Public Affairs for SchoolDude.com, the nations largest provider of online facility management software tools for schools.
Eric’s interest in SchoolDude is directly related to school infrastructure needs and learning environment issues. Eric also advises and consults with government oriented technology companies and nonprofit organizations on issues ranging from criminal justice, curriculum, assessment, student management, and, health and human services.
Eric received his undergraduate degrees from Duke University and his law degree from Wake Forest University. As a 2002 Eisenhower Fellow, Eric studied EU internet economy competition strategies.
Dr. Gabe Soumakian
Dr. Gabe Soumakian earned his doctorate at Azusa Pacific University (APU) in Educational Leadership focusing on technology staff development and change leadership. He has taught at the doctoral level at APU on organizational change and building communities, as well as, courses for teacher and administrator preparation for using instructional technology. He has been actively involved and presented at numerous leadership organizations, including ACSA, AASA, CSBA, CALSA, Partnership for the 21st Century, TICAL on topics of Personnel, 21stCentury Learning, eLearning Summit, Personalized Learning Summit, and Linked Learning Convening.
Most recently, Dr. Soumakian serves on the CoSN Superintendent’s Advisory Council, Future Ready Leaders Panel of Visionary Educators in August, and EdSurge CDE “Tech for Schools” Summit in August. Dr. Soumakian was recognized as one of ten Superintendent who was accepted as a Lexington Education Leadership Award (LELA) Fellow in conjunction with EdElements. Dr. Soumakian was a feature speaker on High School Redesign at the Model School Conference this summer in Atlanta.
Dr. Soumakian has over thirty-eight years of experience in education, including 14 years of service at Loyola and St. John Bosco as a high school teacher and a coach. His public education experience has been primarily serving as a High School Principal and as an Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources in Burbank USD prior to serving as Superintendent in the Oxnard Union High School District.
Dr. Joe A. Hairston
A visionary and progressive leader, Dr. Joe A. Hairston has served since 2000 as Superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools, the nation’s 26th largest school system. In his first year, Dr. Hairston Charted a direction for the school system through the Blueprint for Progress, which presents key strategies and concrete performance indicators. Dr. Hairston’s results-based leadership has yielded a growing list of achievements including increased academic rigor for all students, greater student participation and success in Advanced Placement, and greater accountability and resource conservation. He is renowned for his use of technology to support classroom instruction, prepare students for new career opportunities, and increase the efficiency of school system operations.
Under Dr. Hairston’s leadership, Baltimore County Public Schools has been recognized by Education Week for having the fourth highest overall graduation rate among the nation’s largest school districts and by the Schott Foundation for having the third highest graduation rte for African American males among large school districts. The Washington Post has named 13 BCPS high schools – more than half of the county’s traditional and magnet high schools – among the top seven precent in the nation. Twelve BCPS schools have been named National No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon Schools.
Dr. Hairston’s latest achievement is the formation of a groundbreaking partnership of major defense contractors and area universities and software developers to explore new ways to use virtual environments and other technology in classrooms. The group’s first project, a virtual learning environment in a Baltimore County high school has received praise from National Public Radio, eSchool News, CNBC, and the International Society for Technology in Education.
For his achievements, Dr. Hairston has been honored with dozens of local, national, and international awards, including the 2006 Graduate Alumni Achievement Award from the Virginia Tech Graduate School and Alumni Association. Additional recognitions have included: International Society for Technology in Education Outstanding Leadership Award; eSchool News Top 10 Tech-Savvy Superintendents Award; Education Technology Think Tank Technology to Empower Community Champion Leadership Award; Maryland Instructional Computer Coordinators Association Outstanding Technology Leader in Education Award, and Washington Post Outstanding Distinguished Educational Leadership Award.
Dr. Wayne Blanton
Dr. Wayne Blanton was the Executive Director of the Florida School Boards Association, a position he held since 1985. Prior to that, Dr. Blanton served as Assistant Director for 10 years. During his 40 years of representing school boards, he has worked closely with local, state, and federal education officials and legislators to promote public education throughout the state of Florida. Dr. Blanton has written extensively on education issues and finance for numerous publications, and has been a vocal supporter of our schools, having given hundreds of presentations before school boards, PTA groups, legislative committees, and business groups. He is an active member of his community having served as local and state president of the Florida Association for Retarded Citizens, United Cerebral Palsy of Florida, and President of the FSU College of Education Alumni Association. He is a veteran of Vietnam and the proud father of two children who attended public schools and Florida State University.
He received his Ph.D. from Florida State University, his Masters Degree from Florida A & M University, and his undergraduate degree from Florida State University. He has received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Florida State University College of Education, and was recently awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Flagler College.
Thomas Davis has over thirty years of experience in education. After receiving his B.S. degree in Biology at the University of San Diego in 1974, he taught secondary school Life Science, Biology, Bilingual Science and Spanish courses in both private and public school systems in the Sand Diego are for fifteen years. In 1988, Tom co-wrote and managed an Eisenhower Grant from the Department of Education to help restructure the science curriculum in the Sweetwater Union High School district’s ten middle schools. That experience led to his moving into the K-12 instructional software and service business. Since 1990, Tom has worked for a number of companies in various capacities, selling and marketing educational software and service solutions. In 2005, Tom formed a consulting business, (Net4EdAccess, LLC) which focuses on connecting business to education, executive school superintendent searches, the achievement gap and providing solutions for school systems in the following areas: English Language Learners, Students with special Needs and Students At-Risk of Dropping Out. Tom currently serves as a consultant to the Board of both the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS) and the California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators (CALSA). Tom is also a Board member of Computers 2 San Diego Kids, a San Diego non-profit working to bridge the digital divide with low income families and those less fortunate. He has also worked on behalf of the National Migrant Education Association and their Bi-National Conference. Tom is married and has three children.
Dr. Bob Watkins
Bob Watkins is the Director of the Kansas/Missouri Superintendents Leadership Forum which is a professional development program for approximately 90 Superintendents from the two states. Since retiring as Superintendent from the Independence, MO school district he has conducted over one hundred Superintendent searches from Missouri School Districts. He spent thirty-four years in public education as a Superintendent, Deputy Superintendent searches for Missouri School Districts. He spent thirty-four years in public education as a Superintendent, Deputy Superintendent, high school Principal and taught school finance for the University of Missouri-Kansas City for over ten years. He has also worked with Boards of Education as a facilitator and consultant.
Sharon Hayes, PMP
Sharon Hayes has over 30 years of business and technical experience. In 2007, Sharon was named Deputy State Chief Information Officer for North Carolina’s Office of Information Technology Services (ITS). With a budget over 200M and a staff of 600, ITS provided technical services to the state’s agencies, local governments, community colleges and universities with services ranging from telephony, to mainframe and distributed hosting and enterprise applications such e-mail, common payment services, and document management
Sharon also served as Director of the Enterprise Project Management Office (EPMO) for the State of NC, which included oversight of 60 projects valued at $1 billion. The successful implementation of this office was based on being a consultative office – with offerings of PMP certification training, advisory group, and creating a public sector local interest group of the PMI North Carolina Chapter. PM Network magazine recognized Sharon as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Project Management.
Recognized for her project management expertise, Sharon directed NC’s multi-million dollar electronic commerce initiative that included implementation of a State Portal, which was recognized by The Center for Digital Government as Best of the Web, Common Payment Services, and E-Procurement projects.
Sharon’s most recent private sector experience has been working with DocuSign –the market leader in electronic signatures where she served as a subject matter expert for developing a public sector presence. In addition, she has 10 years of private sector experience in the textile environment with Hanes Knitwear and Allison Manufacturing, with a focus on statistical, market research and asset inventory analysis.
She is a certified Project Manager and member of the Project Management Institute and the International Association of Innovation Professionals. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee.
Dr. John E. SawyerExperience
• Superintendent of HCDE 2002-2014
• Superintendent of La Porte ISD 1994-2002
• Assistant superintendent for business and finance in Fort Worth ISD
• Assistant superintendent for business in Alvin ISD
• Principal and business manager at Santa Fe ISD
• Classroom teacher, assistant principal and principal
• Member of many professional organizations (i.e., TASBO, TASA, ASCD, AASA, etc.)
• Member of the La Porte-Bayshore Chamber of Commerce
• Former adjunct professor for the University of Houston, School of Education
• Formerly on the Board of Directors for the La Porte Chamber of Commerce, and the
Board for Boys and Girls Harbor
• Former member of the La Porte Rotary Club
• Oberholtzer Award — University of Houston, 1987
• National Superintendent’s Workshop, Columbia University, 1994
• Texas Superintendent’s Academy, Lamar University, 1997