Board Of Directors

We are delighted to have a board with such a wonderful mix of skills.  The students of Menlo Park Academy will always be at the center of this board's goals and objectives.

Quick page links:

2015-16 Strategic Goals & Key Result Areas

2014-15 Key Result Areas & Goals

2013-14 Strategic Plan

2012-13 Strategic Plan

Feel free to contact all board members at or individual members with email address listed in the Board Member Biographies below.


Introduction & Board Responsibilities

Menlo Park Academy is governed by a Board of Directors, a policy-making body that holds the school’s charter and is responsible for all fiduciary, legal, regulatory, and compliance issues. It provides valuable leadership to the school and is comprised of volunteers who do not receive any compensation for their service.  The members of the Board represent a diverse set of professional backgrounds and have expertise in the areas of finance, education, technology, operations, non-profit organizations, strategic planning, and fundraising.  They are responsible for educational goals and establishing policies for the school based on state laws and our school's charter.  

Board members do not manage the day-to-day operations of the school, but make policy decisions on a wide range of issues and provide the overall governance.  No one member has the authority or power to make a decision regarding the operation of the school.  All decisions are made in public at open board meetings.  The main duties of the Board are to:

Biographies - Board of Directors

Cathy Aldrich, Board Secretary

Cathy Aldrich is originally from the Washington, D.C. area, and settled in Cleveland in 1995 via the California Bay Area. Mrs. Aldrich holds a B.A. in Political Science from Mary Washington College, Fredericksburg, Virginia and a M.Ed. from Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. Prior to obtaining her Master's degree, she received her Paralegal Certificate from The National Center for Paralegal Training in Atlanta, Georgia. She practiced as a Paralegal in the areas of lobbying, telecommunications, corporate and banking law.
After receiving her teaching degree, her family relocated to northern California where she taught third and fourth grades. After the birth of her first child and moving to Lakewood, Ohio, she stayed at home with her children, both gifted students. Mrs. Aldrich taught Art at Menlo Park Academy for the first two years of the school’s existence.
Mrs. Aldrich has served on the boards and held offices for a variety of civic organizations including the Virginia Young Democrats, Jaycees, Lakewood Early Childhood PTA, Taft PTO in Lakewood, Junior Women's Club of Lakewood and Trinity Lutheran Church in Lakewood. She just completed a year as President of Church Council for Trinity where she had previously served as Education Director for ten years. Through service to these organizations, Mrs. Aldrich has amassed experience in fundraising, event planning and grant writing.
She also served as Director for Trinity's School Age Child Care program for three years. Duties included supervising staff, developing programs and compliance with licensing laws and procedures. Additionally, she has coached and/or managed her son's soccer teams for the Lakewood Soccer Association for seven years. She has also served as a Girl Scout leader, committee chair for Cub Scouts and is currently involved with Boy Scouts.

 J.D. Deir, Board Vice-Chair

 Jehad “JD” Deir and his wife Kelley are the parents of two lovely girls, one a current student at MPA and  the other planning to join the MPA family in 2016. JD was born in Amman Jordan and came to the United  States at the age of 3 as his parents sought better opportunities including education for their children.

JD holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cleveland State University. He spent the first 20 years of his professional life working for Swagelok in various engineering roles. Whether in the role of a products support engineer, a new product development engineer, or as a quality engineer, JD’s problem solving skills regularly focused on quality improvements and cost reductions which over the years helped the company improve customer satisfaction.

After spending so many years working with products in the corporate world, JD made the transition to helping people re-engineer their lives in 2011. After the sudden loss of both of his in-laws, JD and his wife took over ownership of The McIntyre Center, one of Ohio’s oldest private counseling agencies focused on helping those suffering with drug and alcohol addictions. In his role as the Program Director, JD oversees the day to day operations of the agency and has been able to utilize his skills to improve the overall quality and cost of the practice while expanding the agencies offering to meet the current demands of the community. Wanting to be more than just the administrator, JD went back to school and now holds a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Capella University and is an Independently Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor as well as a Licensed Professional Counselor. 

 Dawn Doran
Dawn Doran was raised in the Cleveland area and attended Holy Name High School where she met her husband, Grant Monachino.  She graduated from Bowling Green State University with a B.A. in Political Science.  Before continuing her education at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Ms. Doran worked at a national non-profit organization as a Corporate Relations Manager.  While attending law school and then while working as a new attorney, she coached high school varsity volleyball at Holy Name.  She focused her legal practice on employment and labor law, including advising employers in all areas of employment litigation and personnel grievances, reviewing policies and participating in union negotiations.  Ms. Doran stopped practicing law shortly after the birth of her first child and currently lives with her husband and their three children.  

She joined the MPA community when her eldest daughter entered Kindergarten.  By volunteering in the classroom and in the building, Ms. Doran quickly learned how passionate and committed the teachers and staff are about providing an exemplary education to this special community.  She continued to be actively involved as her second daughter joined MPA and strongly believes in supporting the emotional and intellectual growth of the unique students MPA serves.  Ms. Doran is committed to MPA's mission of advancing outstanding educational experiences that nurture the whole child.  

Fraser Bio Photo

Fraser Hamilton

Fraser Hamilton, Sr. is a geologist by training, having a Bachelor's degree from the University of Maine at Farmington and a Masters from Temple University. He also studied at Texas A&M University and the University of Dundee in Scotland. He is currently a self-employed environmental consultant. He is the immediate past president of the Euclid Youth Soccer Organization and still organizes the Organization's annual tournament. Fraser was previously a board member of the Euclid Cooperative Preschool and President of the Environmental Division of the Cleveland Engineering Society. He has also served on the Parish Council at St. Mary's Church in Cleveland.

Mr. Hamilton is the father of three children, one recent MPA graduate and two current students. He and his wife Susan live in Euclid. Having three gifted children and experiencing the challenge those children faced in educational academic environments, Fraser appreciates the service MPA provides and is committed to serving our mission. 

Teri Harrison, Board Chair

A founder of Menlo Park Academy, Teri Harrison has more than 20 years of technology management and team leadership experience.  Early in her career she managed a large property and casualty insurance business.  She then spent over 10 years managing the messaging environment for a national law firm based in Cleveland, led a team of IT professionals for a large national bank for five years, and now works as a Messaging Design Engineer at Eaton.   She holds a BSBA in Marketing and Computer Science from Ohio Northern University and has earned several IT certifications.  

Mrs. Harrison founded the NorthEast Ohio Gifted Education Advocacy and Resources Group.  She also serves on the Curriculum Committee for the Avon local school's Continuous Improvement Plan team.  She has been an active school volunteer for many years, served as the secretary for the parent-teacher organization of Lorain Gifted Academy and was elected the President of that organization prior to the school closing.  

Mrs. Harrison is both a local advisor and national officer for her sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha, and is an active volunteer in several other community organizations.  These experiences have provided her with expertise in leadership training and team building, as well as planning and executing fundraising and family-focused events.  Her experience in the non-profit area is a true asset to the team.

Mrs. Harrison and her husband reside in Avon, Ohio.  They have two children, one who is an MPA graduate and another a current student.

Andy Hudak

Andy Hudak is a Recreation Specialist with Cleveland Metroparks where he teaches life and youth development through adventure sports.  His focus includes planning and leading a variety of sports, including sailing kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking and cross-country skiing. He provides leadership and training for seasonal staff and continually evaluates the current program for effectiveness and develops new programs. He has been providing leadership in outdoor, experiential and adventure programming for 12 years and also currently serves on the Ohio Executive Council for the American Canoe Assosiation.  Andy's passion for the outdoors started from a young age and was nurtured through positive experiences with scouting.  Andy earned the distinguished Eagle Scout award in high school and went on to major in Environmental Studies and Economics Management at Ohio Wesleyan University.  In addition to his vast knowledge of recreation, Andy excels at bringing stakeholders together to accomplish such initiatives as the building of the Susan L. Hambley Nature Center in Brunswick and the Kinsman Urban Cooperative Farm.

Andy and his wife, Natalie  have four children; three are currently students at MPA and the youngest can't wait until its her turn! The Hudak homestead is in Parma. In Andy's free time, he enjoys gardening, observing backyard chickens, sailing and paddling in Lake Erie, and repairing his wife's Volkswagen van. 

Suzanne McFarland

 Suzanne McFarland is new to the MPA community and is “Nana” to her grandson who is a student at MPA.  She moved to the Cleveland area in 2006 to be close to family as she cared for her husband with Alzheimer’s.  Prior to that, she spent 40 plus years in education.

Mrs. McFarland earned her BS in Elementary Education from Millersville University in PA, a Master’s degree from Temple University in Guidance and Counseling and a Doctorate in Early Childhood and Child Development from Indiana University in Bloomington IN. She has taught preschool through sixth grade and spent 6 years as an elementary counselor. 
Mrs. McFarland spent 25 years on the teacher education faculty at the University of Toledo and after her retirement was Head of Teacher Education and Coordinator of the Master’s Program at Defiance College, where she led the department through its first accreditation. 
While at the University of Toledo, Mrs. McFarland taught graduate courses in gifted education, consulted with P-12 schools to start and enhance their gifted programs, made professional presentations at gifted conferences, and for 16 years, directed a summer program for gifted high school students. Additional professional activities include writing and implementing grants; assuming leadership roles in professional organizations; serving on governing/policy boards and local and state committees; and collaborating in the design of a multimillion dollar campus child care facility.

Now a widow, Mrs. McFarland lives in Middleburg Heights, joyfully close to grandchildren.  She works scoring Teacher Performance Assessment portfolios for Pearson Corporation.


Amanda Ross

Amanda Ross graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelors degree in History. In addition to her education, Mrs. Ross has 20 years of customer service, sales, management, marketing, development and grant writing experience.  As the child of a career Navy father, Mrs. Ross traveled the country and the world and changed schools frequently. She personally understands that a "whole-child" education is an integral part of each child's lifetime journey.

For the last 10 years Mrs. Ross has been involved in the management of NIH funded research efforts for Case Western Reserve University, first as the Administrative Manager at the Clinical Research Unit at MetroHealth Medical Center and currently as the Director of the Practice Based Research Network Shared Resource at the CWRU main campus. 

Mrs. Ross is serving on the MPA Board for the second time. Her first term was 2010-2013 and she is excited to once again be a part of the hard working team that helps to create the infrastructure necessary to support the important educational opportunities MPA offers gifted learners. 

Mrs. Ross lives with her husband, Daniel, and their three children (2 current MPA students) in West Park.  

Menlo Park Academy Advisors

In an effort to provide the best possible education to these special learners, we have created an Advisory Council to support our Board of Directors.  This council is made up of gifted education professionals, charter school advocates, corporate sponsors, civic leaders, and other community leaders who have an interest in and knowledge of ways to help our school succeed.

Susan Rakow, Ph.D.

After teaching middle school and gifted students for 30 years, Susan Rakow, PhD is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Foundations at Cleveland State University. In addition to her secondary English, Reading,  and Gifted certifications, Susan is also a National Board Certified teacher (EA/ELA) and a PRAXIS III Assessor. She is now sharing her experience and expertise by teaching courses that prepare new secondary and gifted teachers.  Dr. Rakow is directing the graduate program in gifted education.

Dr. Rakow started an AP Teacher Support network in collaboration with the GCEDC (Greater Cleveland Educational Development Center.) She was the chair of the NAGC (National Association for Gifted Children) Middle Grades Division and serves on the national Network Communications Committee. She initiated the Middle Grades Division newsletter "Middle Matters" and has served as its editor. At the state level, Susan is the Chair of the OAGC (Ohio Association for Gifted Children) Higher Education Division. 

Dr. Rakow has presented at state and national conferences around the country and has been a consultant for many of Ohio's school districts as they strive to improve their gifted programming, particularly at the middle school level.

In collaboration with CSU's Honors Program and College of Science, Dr. Rakow received grants in 2007, 2008, and 2009 from the Ohio Department of Education for Summer Honors Institutes  for gifted 9th and 10th graders. Participants  have had the opportunity to courses taught by university faculty including Flying Circus of Physics, Mathematical Kaleidoscope, Connections, Art, Creative Writing, and Political Science.  In addition, mentoring was provided by CSU  Honors Program students.

Dr. Rakow is committed to helping schools and teachers to attain the twin goals of excellence and equity by meeting the needs of all of their students, including those with gifts and talents.   She and her husband raised two gifted children who  grew into intelligent, accomplished, loving adults. She also has two delightful grandsons.


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