The Vera Institute of Justice is pleased to announce the launch of a new Corrections Education Leadership Academy (CELA) with the support of the Ascendium Education Group.

CELA is an annual leadership academy for current and future state corrections education leaders to examine core issues in the field in depth. Vera’s goal is to provide professional development opportunities for an annual cohort of correctional education and college in prison leaders that will help expand and develop educational programs.

This year’s members include 13 corrections education directors and three college faculty and administrators. The members of the 2021–2022 cohort of CELA are:

  • Andrea Buttross, education director, Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections
  • Samantha Carlo, associate professor, Miami Dade College, Florida
  • Michael Deiana, education program manager, Arizona DOC
  • Cris Fanning, education director, Kansas DOC
  • Heather Gay, state assistant administrator, Michigan DOC
  • Katy Grant, manager of education and vocational services, Maine DOC
  • Laura Hardwick, education director, New Hampshire DOC
  • Tracie Hightower, education and training administrator, Oregon DOC
  • Benjamin Jones, education director, Wisconsin DOC
  • Aaron Kinzel, professor, University of Michigan-Dearborn
  • Kimberly Petersen, education program professional, Nevada DOC
  • Roseanne Propato, corrections education supervisor, Hawaii Department of Public Safety
  • Ravonne Sims, education director, Kentucky DOC
  • Sandra Smith, education director, Iowa DOC
  • Melissa Smith, education program administrator, Colorado DOC
  • Lauren Solina, coordinator of special programs for correctional education, TN Board of Regents

Applications for the 2022–2023 academy will be available in November 2021, with applications due January 15, 2022. Please contact Brian Walsh, senior program associate, at for more information.