About Us

President and Founder

Gary De Carolis: a wealth of experience

Gary De Carolis, M.Ed., is president of the Center for Community Leadership and author of the book, A View from the Balcony: Leadership Challenges in Systems of Care

With over 20 years of hands-on leadership experience in federal, state, and local government, Mr. De Carolis has an extensive background in designing, building and administering community-based systems of services and supports for children with disabilities and their families. He has received major awards in recognition of his outstanding service and leadership in children's mental health, including two Vice-Presidential Hammer Awards for government innovations and the first National Wraparound Award. Innovation and sharing knowledge across a broad range of stakeholders are hallmarks of Mr. De Carolis' work. He initiated, helped develop and served as a core faculty member for eight five-day Leadership Academies for professional and parent leaders in community-based mental health systems.

Mr. De Carolis was also the driving force for a series of national Policy Academies and publication and distribution of 20 Promising Practices monographs in Systems of Care. He created and chaired the influential 150-member Federal/National Partnership for children's mental health. Mr. De Carolis has written and delivered scores of keynote speeches at national conferences on topics including leadership, public policy and children's mental health, and systems of care.

Mr. De Carolis also lectures and teaches extensively on these issues at the undergraduate and graduate level.

Professional Background: Gary De Carolis, M.Ed.

Chief, Child, Adolescent and Family Branch, federal Center for Mental Health Services, Rockville, MD, 1993-2002

Deputy Commissioner, Vermont Department of Developmental Disabilities and Mental Health (DDMH), 1987-1993

Leadership positions of increasing scope managing child, adolescent and family services for Vermont DDMH, including Director, Child, Adolescent and Family Unit, 1985-1993

City Councilor (elected three terms), Burlington, Vermont, 1981-1987

Counselor, Counseling and Testing Center, University of Vermont, 1979-1985

Senior Partners

Anne Lezak, M.P.A. (Masters in Public Administration), Vermont

Anne Lezak, M.P.A., a nationally recognized consultant, specializes in policy, planning, and service issues in mental health, children's and family services, and homelessness. Anne is a skilled writer, editor, and group facilitator; over the past 20 years, her clients have included numerous national, state, and local organizations as well as federal agencies. Anne develops and writes substantive reports and monographs, technical assistance materials, grant proposals, and other products for a variety of audiences. She has also edited four books. Anne regularly teaches grant-writing workshops and classes in Vermont and nationally. Additionally, she facilitates organizational retreats, leadership development training, and board development sessions for non-profits, communities, and federal agencies.

Anne is an experienced non-profit leader, and has served as executive director of a Boys & Girls Club. She is also deeply involved in her community and in local politics, and has chaired or served in substantive roles on a number of boards. Anne was campaign manager for her husband, who successfully ran for the Vermont House, becoming the first Asian American legislator in Vermont. Earlier, she coordinated the federal government's Program for Homeless Mentally Ill Persons. She also worked as a Mental Health Financing Specialist for the National Institute of Mental Health, and spent seven years working in community-based youth programs, both in direct services and management positions.

Kenley Wade, M.M. (Masters in Management), Illinois

Kenley Wade, M.M., brings over 35 years of leadership and management skills to the work of the Center for Community Leadership. His consulting practice specializes in assessing and advising on leadership, management practices, and organizational structures of human services organizations. Areas of special expertise include strategic and sustainability planning and cultural competence. Kenley initiated his consulting practice in 1998 after 28 years as a top-level administrator in Illinois state government. Over the past 11 years he has consulted on leadership and organizational assessment and development in fourteen states, and has conducted reviews of large Federal grant programs in 26 states.

Kenley's recent community leadership has focused on creating opportunities for public discussion on key topics affecting the quality of life in his community. He has been instrumental in establishing several key organizations: a citizens group that conducts public forums and policy briefings, and an organization to inform the public about the importance of nurturing and maintaining local independent businesses in our cities. Kenley also serves as a community representative on the editorial board of the local daily newspaper, providing input to the process of influencing public opinion regarding topics of great importance to his community.

His current consulting activities include work with federal and state agencies, universities, family organizations and community-based organizations. Kenley is a resident and native of Springfield, Illinois where he attended and graduated from local public schools. In 1987 he earned a Masters Degree in Management from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.

Faculty Associates

Deborah Ann Porter

Deborah Ann Porter, B.S., is a social marketing specialist who brings over 20 years of experience in traditional marketing and four years experience as a social marketer working with national Systems of Care for non-profit agencies in the mental health arena. She serves as a consultant for community agencies, providing guidance and support in the areas of community outreach, event planning, project management, grassroots marketing, youth/parent engagement, team building, and marketing collateral development. She has demonstrated her skills in social marketing through planning and carrying out one of New York State's largest annual events involving youth, family, community, county and state-level participants in support of National Children' s Mental Health Awareness Day in Erie County.

Deborah's work has been recognized nationally by the National Systems of Care initiative through the "Caring for Every Child's Mental Health campaign." She has received numerous awards for her social marketing efforts on behalf of children, youth, and families over a three-year period. Deborah has a natural ability to bring families and youth together to work toward common goals. She welcomes challenges and has a strategic mindset in finding solutions and building bridges to meet those challenges. She is extraordinarily personable, accommodating, competent, and enthusiastic and one who inspires and motivates others.

Becca Sanders

Dr. Sanders has several years of experience providing evaluation services in academic, private, and public sector evaluation settings. She holds a Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Social Work at Portland State University. She also holds a Masters of Science, a Masters of Social Work, and is an active member of the American Evaluation Association, the Oregon Program Evaluator's Network, and the Michigan Association for Evaluation. Dr. Sanders served on Governor Kulongoski's statewide Children's Wraparound Initiative as a member of the Data and Evaluation Subcommittee in Oregon. In 2008, she was the recipient of the Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) System of Care "Excellence in Evaluation Award" at the national level for the category of "Excellence in Data Use and Dissemination."

Dr. Sanders has been responsible for conducting a number of formative, process, and outcome evaluations that vary widely in both scope and content. Her experience ranges from oversight of lengthy, standardized national evaluation protocols using a longitudinal design to cross sectional local evaluations geared to meet the specific needs of smaller, grassroots non-profits. She is known for her ability to help organizations successfully become more "data guided" in their day to day operations-regardless of their starting place-through the provision of three key components: 1) stakeholder input from beginning to end 2) quality technical assistance and ongoing coaching, and 3) provision of quality data reports wherein instrumentation and methodology used to generate information is reliable and valid, and research jargon is translated into language that is user friendly and understandable for the end reader. Her approach to evaluation is "big picture" in the sense that her main goal is to help organizations grow their capacity to use data-based dialogue in conducting their day to day business.

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