Mr. Michael D. Piscal Founder and Chief Executive Officer


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With unending passion for learning and with unwavering optimism, Mr. Piscal’s leadership is the heart of CAPS. A long-time educator and New Jersey native, Mr. Piscal worked together with local business leaders and educators to create CAPS as a choice for parents who want to prepare their children for college and career. Since its inception, the organization has grown quickly and steadily under his continued leadership.

Mr. Piscal is a pioneer in the charter school movement. He previously founded the Inner City Education Foundation, the first charter school management organization in Los Angeles, California. Founded in 1999, this network of 15 high-performing public charter schools has sent over a thousand students to the best colleges and universities in the nation, including Stanford, Brown, Dartmouth, Duke, MIT, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UCLA, Bryn Mawr, Bowdoin, Pitzer, Howard, Morehouse, and Spelman.

Mr. Piscal’s work has been featured in the New York Times, NY Daily News, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and Good Morning America. His schools have received support from leaders in the community, including Magic Johnson and New Jersey’s own Brian Taylor of Perth Amboy and Princeton University fame.

Dr. Gemar Mills Chief Academic Officer and Executive Director, Paterson

Dr. Mills, born and raised in Paterson, New Jersey, always possessed a fervent affection for providing urban youth with an alternative perspective on life. As a high school student, he quickly acknowledged the significance of becoming an educated African-American male in his community. He sought empowerment through education, discovering its significance to personal and societal development.

After earning a B.S. degree in Math Education from Montclair State University, Dr. Mills began teaching math at East Side High School in Newark, New Jersey. While working full-time, he earned a Master’s of Educational Leadership at American Intercontinental University and later a doctoral degree in administration, policy, and curriculum from Seton Hall University. Later, at Malcolm X Shabazz High School in Newark, Dr. Mills served for two years as Math Department Chairperson and one year as Vice Principal. At the age of 27, Dr. Mills was made Principal of this school, one of the most troubled in the Newark Public Schools District. With a history of low-test scores, MXS was threatened with the possibility of closure. Dr. Mills formulated a strategy of education reform, using his strengths as an accessible and relatable leader to recreate a safe school atmosphere where students and staff believed again in themselves, their school, and in education. Under his leadership, test scores drastically improved. School pride and a sports culture were also restored. The school’s turnaround has been featured in the Sports Illustrated award-winning series “Underdogs,” NBC’s “Positively Black,” an Emmy award-winning documentary “Saving Shabazz” produced by, and articles by The Atlantic, Fortune, and Crain business magazine.

Dr. Mills not only serves as Executive Director of CAPS Paterson but also leads Academics across the CAPS network.

Dr. Bari Anhalt Erlichson Chief Performance Officer

As Chief Performance Officer of CAPS, Dr. Erlichson oversees the collection and analysis of a wide range of data about our scholars, their learning, and our programs and services. She also initiates dialogue within the CAPS community about that data and collaborates with leaders and teachers to help them formulate effective plans in response to it. After, she helps steer those plans and evaluate their effectiveness, continuing the cycle.

Dr. Erlichson is very highly respected in the New Jersey education world. Alongside her role at CAPS, she serves as a Visiting Lecturer at Princeton University, teaches as part of the NJExcel program with the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, and serves on the Board of Trustees for ArtsEdNJ.

As Assistant Commissioner at the New Jersey Department of Education, Dr. Erlichson oversaw the development of the state’s assessments, longitudinal data systems, public reporting of student outcomes, and data use amongst a broad spectrum of stakeholders. She has also worked as a Chief Performance Officer in both the Trenton School District and the Asbury Park School District, assisting educators in improving student outcomes. She was once an assistant professor in the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University and a classroom teacher in Plainfield, NJ. Dr. Erlichson holds a Ph.D. and M.A. from Stanford Univeristy and a B.A. from Dartmouth College.

Ms. Nadia Bennett Executive Director, Central

Ms. Bennett is a woman driven by her passion to see children and communities – often scarred by the effects of poverty and oppression — not just surviving, but thriving. She earned her undergraduate degree at Dillard University, received her Master’s degree in Education Administration and Policy from Howard University, and recently completed the Urban Superintendents Academy through AASA. Ms. Bennett has served in education for over 12 years, most recently as Principal of one of the few successful high school turnarounds in the city of Philadelphia. As a leader in education, Ms. Bennett has developed a unique set of skills and has a proven track record of strong adult management that leads to strong student outcomes. Under her leadership, student attendance increased more than twenty percent and state test scores doubled, as did the number of students scoring a twenty-one or higher on the ACT exam. These results are due not only to Ms. Bennett’s ability to develop teachers, but her keen ability to analyze data and make data-driven decisions.

Born to descendants of the Bay Island of Roatan, Honduras, and a native of New Orleans herself, Ms. Bennett developed a deep love of culture and a resilient spirit. Whether it is through her role as an Executive Director, Principal, Adjunct Professor, or Speaker, she is committed to changing the narrative for people of color in America by closing the Opportunity Gap. Daily, she works to educate not only the youth, but aspiring teachers and leaders. Ms. Bennett gleaned a wealth of knowledge during her time in Philadelphia, and while she loves the students and families in North Philadelphia, she knows that her leadership also have a transformative and profound impact on the students at CAPS Central.

Mrs. Jodi Henderson McInerney Executive Director, Asbury

Mrs. McInerney began her career outside the education world, on Wall Street. Working in the legal advisory department at Merrill Lynch Asset Management for over a decade, she held a VP role in her final years. However, having grown up in New Jersey, and having a strong desire to work with young people, she changed careers. Earning an M.A.T. at Monmouth University, she joined the staff of St. Catharine’s in Spring Lake, where she taught both grade K and middle school English. Earning a second master’s degree at Seton Hall in Education Leadership Management and Policy, she later become Assistant Principal at St. Catharine’s. She has also served as an adjunct professor at Brookdale College.

Mrs. McInerney had already been part of the Asbury Park community for many years, where she and her husband, Tim, owned and ran multiple businesses and raised their seven children. So, when the opportunity arose to lead a new school in town, entering its second year, it was an easy decision. Ever since, CAPS Asbury has been under the leadership of “Mrs. Mac” (as she is called by many scholars, family members, and staff).

An unhesitating manager and aggressive problem solver, Mrs. McInerney’s leadership is built around a strong passion to provide high-quality education to young people who live in places that are often unfairly underfunded. With a practical, down-to-earth style of collaboration and decision making, Mrs. McInerney ensures on a day-to-day basis that CAPS Asbury remains a supportive community where all staff, scholars, and families feel valued and connected, especially during difficult times. Finally, as a longtime athlete with a particular love for basketball, Mrs. McInerney is the school’s biggest sports fan!

Mr. David Corso Chief Financial Officer

As Chief Financial Officer for CAPS, Mr. Corso is responsible for all of the financial aspects of the organization as well as the coordination of all financial and operational functions at each of the three CAPS schools.

Mr. Corso has more than three decades of public sector experience, primarily in the area of Education Administration.  He has served as the School Business Administrator for the Mt. Olive Township Board of Education and was the Assistant Superintendent for Business Operations at the Parsippany-Troy Hills Board of Education.  In addition to his School District experience,  Dave worked for the New Jersey Department of Education for over 28 years in various capacities.  He served as the Director of Human Resources, Director of Administration, and Assistant Commissioner of Education overseeing the Division of Administration and Finance.  He was responsible for the supervision of 170 full time employees and managed the daily operations of the Office of Budget and Accounting and Grants Management, the Office of School Finance, the Office of School Facilities, the Office of Human Resource, the Office of Information Technology, the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action, and the Office of Administrative Services. He also served as the Ethics Liaison Officer, the Employee Relations Coordinator, and the Emergency Management Coordinator.

Prior to working at the New Jersey Department of Education, Mr. Corso worked as a Program and Budget Analyst for the Office of Management and Budget of the New Jersey Department of Treasury, providing analysis and recommendations for the New Jersey Governor’s annual budget. Dave holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Saint Francis University and a Master’s of Public Administration from Rutgers University.

Mr. David Hespe Chief of Staff

As Chief of Staff for CAPS, Mr. Hespe guides the organization on a range of issues, including policy, compliance with state regulations, school funding, and our major initiatives.

Mr. Hespe is a widely respected education policy leader and lawyer in the New Jersey education community. Mr. Hespe was twice appointed Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Education, serving between 1999 and 2001 and again between 2014 and 2016. In this role, he worked to increase early childhood education programs, opportunities in urban school districts, and use of technology in the classroom. He also sought to cut red tape, enhance teacher training, and improve professional support. Previously, Mr. Hespe served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Burlington County College from 2012 to 2014. His career includes numerous other roles, including Chief of Staff to Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf, Interim Co-Executive Director of STEM education at Liberty Science Center, Interim and Assistant Superintendent of Schools in the Willingboro School District, and other roles at Rowan / Burlington County.

Mr. James Costello Curriculum and Instruction

M. Dennis Desormier Curriculum and Instruction

Mr. Don Parry Senior Director of Facilities

Don ParryMr. Parry currently serves as the Facilities Director for College Achieve Public Schools. In this role, he is responsible for assisting with new leases and property expansion, managing maintenance contracts, and overseeing construction projects conducted at all College Achieve campuses. Prior to joining CAPS in 2018, he spent nearly 30 years working as the Property/Project Manager for the Durst Organization. In this role he was responsible for managing the construction and maintenance on some of the tallest and most energy efficient buildings in New York City!

When Mr. Parry is not at work, he enjoys DIY projects around the house and spending time with his wife and two daughters.