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Archive for the ‘Academia’ Category

John Brucato, Executive Director of Development of Advanced Math & Science Academy Charter School

John Brucato’a BIO

John Brucato has contributed at almost every level throughout his 36 years as an educator. A secondary school teacher, coach, and student leadership advisor for 17 years, Brucato has successfully performed a number of school leadership roles in public, independent and charter schools as a dean of students, athletic director, assistant principal, principal, executive director and executive director of development. Brucato coached men’s and woman’s varsity athletic teams in Football, Wrestling, Cross Country and Track & Field. A number of the young people he coached became successful collegiate scholar athletes. He coached Pop Warner youth football for 9 years as well.

Believing that effective school leaders must be committed to professional growth and lifelong learning, Brucato authored “Creating a Learning Environment: an Educational Leader’s Guide to Managing School Culture”, (2005) and co-authored “Questions and Answers about Block Scheduling: an Implementation Guide”, (1999). Since becoming an educational leader, Brucato has mentored a number of school leaders and consulted with schools throughout the nation.

Brucato has been actively involved with the Massachusetts Secondary School Administrators Association, was President of the organization in 2007 and has been a member of the Board of Directors since 1999. Active with the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association as well, Brucato served as Chairman of the State Wrestling Committee for three years and Vice President of the MIAA in 2010.

A 2003, Massachusetts Distinguished Educator, Brucato was named the Massachusetts State Principal of the Year in 2007. In 2013 he was given the Voice of Hope Award by Employment Options for his advocacy and commitment to assisting individuals afflicted with mental illness in becoming employed.
Brucato remains a staunch supporter of choice education for public school children and continues to pursue business and education partnerships for the Advanced Math and Science Academy in Marlborough Ma in his new role as Executive Director of Development. Brucato served as the schools Executive Director for three years from 2011 to 2014. In 2013, AMSA was rated the 3rd best school in Massachusetts by US News and World Report. In 2014, the school moved to second in the same annual poll. Recently, Boston Magazine named AMSA 4th among their top 50 public schools in Massachusetts.

In the Spotlight Interview

1. Please share with us your involvement in the Advanced Math and Science Academy.

John: I became involved with the Advanced Math and Science Academy in 2011 while looking for an opportunity to complete my career as an educator in a new role. They were looking for an Executive Director with leadership experience and I was looking for the challenge they had to offer. Having been a teacher, coach, student leadership advisor, Dean of Students, Athletic Director, Assistant Principal and Principal, the role of Executive Directory seemed like a good place to finish. As it turned out, a new beginning evolved from there. After three years in the role, I have recently transitioned to the Executive Director of Development.


2. Take us through a typical day, start to finish.

John: There are no typical days for Executive Directors of a grade 6 through 12 school as there are an array of responsibilities.

Supervising a central office staff, leadership team and facilities while remaining accessible to faculty, staff, parents, Board of Trustees members and business partners makes every day interesting. Most days will start early and end late and always involve correspondence, a meeting or two, budgetary matters, trouble shooting, problem solving and that which is not expected. Each day promises a number of challenges and transitions. Evening school events, committee and Board meetings, make some days and weeks longer than others, but ten hour days are typical. As an educational leader, you are always on call. While school is in session, be it a weekend or holiday, you must always answer the call and often times make difficult decisions spontaneously.


3. What was the best advice you received as you began your professional career?

John: The best advice I received when I began my career was that hard work, persistence and honesty, especially, would result in ongoing professional growth, meaningful relationships and satisfaction. By far the best advice I ever received.


4. What are your strategies for building awareness of Advanced Math & Science Academy Charter School for the short term and the long term?

John: Putting AMSA on the map was a priority from day one.

Initiative began with establishing traditions, assisting the students in finding an identity and celebrating student and faculty achievements in both curricula and co-curricular related activities. The web page, especially, needed to be taken out of the nineties and the school needed to demonstrate that it was an important part of the community. Building partnerships with local schools, colleges, universities and the business community remains an ongoing priority.


5. What is your proudest achievement?

John: I have been fortunate. Surrounding myself with successful people has brought me some wonderful honors. I would consider being named the Massachusetts 2007 State Principal of the Year one of the achievements I am most proud of.


6. What are Your Top 3 book recommendations?

John: From a professional standpoint, Jim Collins’ “Good to Great”, Eli Broad’s “The Art of Being Unreasonable”, and Dr. Ben Chavis’ “Crazy Like a Fox” are three books which inspire educational leaders to become self reflective and creative.


7. What other charitable causes are most meaningful to you and why?

John: I have always been a big supporter of the Special Olympics, but over the past few years he been more intimately involved with Employment Options, a nonprofit agency located in Marlborough, Massachusetts. The organization provides programs and employment opportunities for individuals looking to overcome mental health problems. Given that 45.9 million Americans experienced mental illness in 2012, I believe it to be critical that more people get behind the cause.


8. Who has been most influential toward your career successes with Absolutely Music?

John: Both my parents were educators and my siblings, a lawyer, teacher and nurse, were all influential in my career success. As the youngest of four children, I had excellent role models who also succeeded in the task of taming the wild child in me.


9. What is your advice for entrepreneurs who are 1-3 months away from launching their business?

John: Over the years I have mentored a number of aspiring educational leaders. Fortunately, most have been successful and all followed the same advice; place the best interest of the students in your care first, be prepared to be forever unprepared and understand that doing the right thing will not always be popular.


Noah Greenfield, Co-Founder and President at InGenius Prep

Noah Greenfield’s BIO


Noah Greenfield

Noah Greenfield is the co-founder and president of InGenius Prep, a global admissions consulting company. He is also a JD/PhD candidate at Yale Law School and the University of California, Berkeley, where he is a Mellon Fellow.



1. BSO: You are Co-Founder and President at InGenius Prep. Please share with us how you got into admissions counseling.

NG: I have been working in education for many years (including  pursuing a doctorate at UC Berkeley) and understood that there was both a need and a demand for reliable, high quality, professional admissions counseling.

It got to the point where I was turning students away for lack of bandwidth. But how could I scale myself? I was talking this over with a fellow classmate of mine, Joel Butterly, at Yale Law School and, more or less immediately, the ideas about admissions counseling and consultation started flowing.

That is when InGenius Prep was conceived. Over the next few weeks, we put together a business plan and built a partnership and friendship that has been the backbone of all our success. It has been a roller coaster ride ever since!


2. BSO: Take us through a typical day, start to finish.

NG: Work starts around 9AM after I drop off my son at school.

I usually work from home or my local office in Brooklyn, NY but am occassionally at our headquarters in New Haven, CT and spend a few weeks each year in China or elsewhere for business.

I work until about 7PM, have an hour with my family, put the kids to bed, and then am back on at 8PM until about, depending on the night, 1AM, 2AM or 3AM, working with students who seek admissions counseling and members of the InGenius Prep team around the world.


3. BSO: What was the best advice you received when you co-founded InGenius Prep?

NG: We were given conflicting advice.

One mentor told us that we would have to work insanely hard to build our company into anything resembling success.

Another mentor told us that if we worked too hard, we would burn out.

They were both right, of course!.

The best way I have found to work impossibly hard but to avoid burnouts is Sabbath observance. I work 6 days a week and observe the Sabbath from Friday afternoon at sundown until Saturday night. On my Sabbath, my phone and computer are off and I am fully immersed in my family, my friends and the delight of my day of rest.

There are no exceptions. It is my day of heaven each week, and my opportunity to step back, reflect and be grateful for what I have and what is to come.


4. BSO: What are your strategies for building awareness of InGenius, short term and long term?

NG: We have a robust marketing effort that utilizes traditional and digital media to reach very targeted demographics. We have learned to tailor our marketing to different markets, so do things rather differently in China than we do in Canada, for instance. We also made the very wise decision to bring early on an extremely talented and devoted director of marketing, Yosepha Greenfield, and she has taken our marketing to the next level.

At the end of the day, we have the most expert, thoughtful, and engaged admissions counselors in the world and we have the largest team of former admissions officers from the top universities in the world. They all write high quality articles and are featured in high quality videos, webinars, and workshops, most of which are offered entirely free through our website for anyone who wants to benefit from them.

Our long term plan is very simple: As more and more students work with us, maximize their opportunities, get in to the best schools, and achieve their dreams, more and more families will learn about us and realize that we have something that no one else can offer them.


5. BSO: What is your proudest achievement?

NG: From the very beginning, before we were making any money or had any students, we agreed that we would be a mission driven company. So, from the very beginning, we offered financial aid to anyone who needed it and have never turned away a single student who couldn’t afford our services.

But, we wanted to do more to be able to give students more access to the best in higher education.

This year, through our partnership with Team for America, we teamed up with a charter school in Los Angeles to provide our admissions counseling services to their college bound seniors. It has, thus far, been a great success and we are now hoping to expand to many more charter and public schools throughout the United States. We are working on setting up our non-profit which will give us the institutional resources to do even more to equalize the playing field in higher ed. .


6. BSO: What are Your Top 3 book recommendations?

NG: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It isn’t just helpful for business – it is helpful for life.

The Book of Psalms. If you don’t pray yet, you will start when you start a business.

Instead of reading a book, I schedule lots of meetings with our students and their families to learn about their needs and wants, their hopes and dreams. There isn’t a book that can give you their insights.


7. BSO: What other charitable causes are most meaningful to you and why?

NG: Anything that can fix the many “education problems” in the US. There are so many people who want to get into a good college but are not getting the education they deserve, not getting the opportunities that can help them soar and reach their potential as a result.

More than that, they lose out and we, as a society, lose out. Organizations that we partner with, like Teach for America, do great work. We want to continue to partner with like-minded schools, organizations, educators, policy-makers, to do our part to make a difference.


8. BSO: Who has been most influential toward your accomplishments, professional & personal?

NG: My wife, Nava, has been completely supportive of InGenius Prep from day one. Whether time or love or a sleepless night, she does everything in her power to support our growth and success. My many students who have gone on to great schools owe much of their success to her because of her tireless devotion.

The same goes for Joel’s fiancee, Emily Ulrich. She is utterly selfless and a source of joy and optimism whenever we encounter rough spots.

But we have such a profoundly talented and hard working team of admissions experts and graduate coaches at InGenius Prep – some of the smartest, boldest, most thoughtful, caring, and good people – it is an inspiration to work with them every day.


9. BSO: What is your advice for entrepreneurs who are 1-3 months away from launching their business?

NG: Launch before you are ready.

Get ready for no sleep.

Make sure you are driven by mission, not just money.

Find and keep the best people you know and give them the ability to make things happen.

Risa Mish, Faculty Member in the Management and Leadership of Organizations at Cornell’s Graduate School of Management

Risa Mish’ BIO

Risa Mish

Risa Mish is a member of the Management and Leadership of Organizations faculty at Cornell University’s S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management, where she teaches courses in team leadership and critical and strategic thinking, and serves as Faculty Director of the Johnson Leadership Fellows program. She is the winner of the Apple Teaching Award, given by the MBA graduating class to honor a faculty member who exemplifies “outstanding leadership and enduring educational excellence”; the Executive MBA Globe Award for Teaching Excellence, given to a faculty member by the EMBA graduating class on the basis of “enduring educational influence in motivating students to achieve and excel”; and the Stephen Russell’61. Distinguished Teaching Award, given by the Johnson 5th Reunion Class to a faculty member “whose teaching and example have continued to influence graduates five years into their post-MBA careers.”

Prof. Mish is an honors graduate of Cornell University and Cornell Law School, is admitted to practice law in New York and before the U.S. Supreme Court, and runs her own consulting firm through which she trains and advises companies and senior executives on a range of leadership and employee relations topics, and serves as a keynote speaker and workshop leader at regional, national and global conferences. She is a member of the boards of directors of SmithBucklin Corporation, TheraCare, Inc., and the United Way of Tompkins County (NY), and is a Trustee of the Tompkins County (NY) Public Library.


In the Spotlight Interview

1. BSO : You are a faculty member in the Management and Leadership of Organizations at Cornell’s Graduate School of Management. You are also the Principal of a human capital practice. Please share with us your path to receiving these roles.

RM: So many life stories have an element of Serendipity to them, and that includes mine.

I started my career as a lawyer with a focus on labor and employment law issues, first practicing with a global law firm based in New York City, and then later as a partner in a boutique law firm, also in New York City. The big change in my life path came courtesy of my older child, Daniel, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when he was five years old.

My husband and I agreed that my current law firm partner life was not a good fit with what Daniel was likely to need from me, and so we started brainstorming alternatives. John and I had met at Cornell when I was a 3L and he was a PhD student, and we thought that perhaps Ithaca might be the right place in which to rear a special needs child. I cast around for job opportunities, and found that the one that best met our family’s needs was in Alumni Affairs & Development at my alma mater, Cornell Law School.

So, I gave up my law firm partnership, we moved to Ithaca, and I began working for Cornell while also continuing to advise my clients on labor and employment law issues. Eventually, my work at Cornell brought me to the Johnson Graduate School of Management, and through a series of twists and turns, I got the chance to apply for a role there that combined teaching with management of the leadership program. Because my initial foray into teaching was well received by the students, the school expanded that portion of my job into a full-time teaching load that now includes teaching in the One-Year Ithaca MBA, NYC Tech Campus MBA, Two-Year MBA, Executive MBA, and Executive Education programs, and allows me to run my own human capital practice, as well.


2. BSO: Take us through a typical day, start to finish.

RM: When you work with students, and also work with clients, there is no such thing as a “typical day”!

I generally focus my early morning time on client work so that I can devote my full “regular work day” to my students.

I start my day with a short exercise routine, and then spend the rest of the early morning updating content for the keynotes and workshops that I give on leadership topics and/or communicating with one or more of the companies that I continue to advise on labor and employment law matters.

I teach all year ‘round, so during the day I am either teaching classes in leadership or critical and strategic thinking or preparing for the next day’s class or grading or meeting individually with students about coursework, career plans, and life issues. I also build into my day regular “social media breaks” so that I can keep up with and post to Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook – platforms through which I both maintain contact with my former students, and also stay current with issues of the day.

In the evenings, I spend time with my two kids and my husband, do more work for clients, and then end the day with at least 30 minutes of reading literary fiction. That is my small gift to myself. It allows me to decompress from worldly concerns and engage my imagination.


3. BSO: What was the best advice you received when you were given your role at Cornell?

RM: One of my fellow faculty members told me that when students leave my class, they should feel as if they have been given “a bag of magic beans”. What he meant by that is that what students want when they take a course from a practitioner (as opposed to a course taught by a research scholar) are very practical and effective tools that they can apply right away, and from which they can see results right away.

That turned out to be excellent advice. When I am thinking about how to shape the content that I deliver – whether in the classroom or in front of an executive audience at a conference or in a workshop – I am always thinking, “Practical, Practical, Practical. Apply, Apply, Apply.” You want to deliver insights, yes, but you want to deliver them in a way that allows your audience to apply what they’ve learned to the problems they will be called upon to solve.


4. BSO: What are your strategies for building awareness of your practice, short and long term?

RM: This is an area to which I should be devoting much more attention than I do. I have mostly been operating on the “word of mouth” strategy. The workshops and keynotes that I give usually lead to other invitations. What I should probably be doing is building a website, blogging, and getting an agent!


5. BSO: What is your proudest achievement?

RM: Being crystal clear about my Core Values, and living in a way that is consistent with those values.


6. BSO: What are Your Top 3 book recommendations?

RM: I am a serious fan of literary fiction. I think there is more to learn there about the important issues in life than you will find in a shelf full of self-help books.

It is hard to choose a Top 3, but among my very favorite novels are:

Pride and Prejudice;

Atonement by Ian McEwan;

Possession, by A.S. Byatt.

Lest your listeners think that I value British fiction above American literature, I would also very strongly recommend

“Beloved” by Toni Morrison;

 “Olive Kitteridge” by Elizabeth Strout;

and “House of Mirth” by Edith Wharton.


7. BSO: What other charitable causes are most meaningful to you and why?

RM: I serve on the board of directors of the United Way of Tompkins County and as a Trustee of the Tompkins County Public Library.

The United Way is, in many ways, the community’s “safety net”,  funding non-profit organizations that help the neediest members of our community and also ensuring that those organizations meet standards of excellence in order to operate consistently in the best interest of the people they serve. The public library – together with public schools and an independent press — is one the institutions that is most essential to a functioning democracy.


8. BSO: Who has been most influential toward your accomplishments, professional & personal?

RM: My parents, who taught me the power of perseverance (one of my Core Values), and my husband, who reminds me that a full life consists of more than one’s professional work.


9. BSO: What is your advice for entrepreneurs who are 1-3 months away from launching their new business?

RM: Be very clear about What Problem You are Solving;

Why, and for Whom, Your Proposed Solution is Optimal;

and Why You Are the Right Person to be Solving It.

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