Our History and Mission
Established in 1990 as a 501(c)3, LEAF has grown from a small organization that provided services to only a few hundred students to one that provides services to over 14,000 public school students every school year in Lake County, Geauga County and surrounding areas.
LEAF began when six concerned community leaders recognized the need to increase the rate of Lake County students attending college by providing crucial information about the college application and financial aid process to the community and local high schools.
By 1999, LEAF advisors were helping students in every public high school in Lake County file Free Application for Federal Student Aid, understand student loans, apply for college admissions and obtain scholarships. By 2003, LEAF had expanded services into all Geauga County public high schools.
In 2014, LEAF trained eight staff members as Global Career Development Facilitators – furthering our dedication to provide services that help both students and local school districts. Over the years, the organization has been recognized multiple times for excellence. In addition, LEAF’s staff members have been asked to speak at statewide and national conferences.
In 2016, LEAF’s new Executive Director (only the 5th in our history) expanded LEAF’s community and services outreach by implementing the first Resource Center Guide, The Umbrella Project, the first annual Singing in the Rain benefit auction, the Differences in Learning Scholarship and middle school experiential STEM/entrepreneurial education camps.
In 2018, look for increased volunteer opportunities to mentor LEAF’s scholarship recipients as they venture on to college.
Our Board of Directors
LEAF’s Board of Directors is committed to the organization’s mission and serves as its ambassadors in the community. The common theme of their passion is that they want to help students further their education and ultimately return to Lake and Geauga Counties as caring and productive citizens.
|Board Member||Board Title||Years of Service||Title||Workplace|
|Craig Ghidotti||Board President||4 years||Vice President, Human Resource||Lake Health Systems|
|Margaret Stehlik||Board Treasurer||5 years||Corporate Controller||MUM Industries|
|Robert Malinowski||Board Secretary||3 years||Director||KPMG, LLP|
|The Honorable Mark J. Bartolotta||Member||4 years||Judge||Lake County Probate Court|
|Ray DelaMotte||Member||15 years||Architect||Burgess & Niple|
|Matthew Galemmo||Member||11 years||Executive Director, retired||Geauga County Educational Service Center|
|David T. Merkel||Member||8 years||Vice President||JP Morgan Chase Bank|
|Hallie Pallante, CPA||Member||2 years||Assurance Supervisor||RSM US LLP|
|Anthony Podojil, Ph.D.||Member||14 years||Executive Director||Alliance for High Quality Education|
|John E. Quinn||Member||12 years||Managing Partner||Quinn Advisory Management|
|Mary Jane Sanders||Member||15 years||Community Relations Coordinator||The Lubrizol Corporation|
Jane Csaszar, LEAF Advisor
Jane is a graduate of Grove City College with a BA in Business Administration. She enjoys working with students and families to help them understand the cost of post-secondary education. Being able to provide both college and career advising gives, Jane multiple resources to help students achieve their goals beyond high school.
Debby received a Bachelor’s Degree in English Education from The Ohio State University and received her Master’s Degree in Education with a Specialization in Counseling from Cleveland State University. Retiring after more than 30 years in Education, Debby began working at LEAF in 2002 and continues to enjoy working with high school students.
Mary Lynn Dixon, LEAF Advisor
Mary Lynn has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Lake Erie College and a Master of Public Administration from Cleveland State University. Mary Lynn has previous experience working with youth and adults within the areas of social service, mental health, and in a collegiate environment. She enjoys assisting and encouraging others in their pursuit toward success.
Jeff received his undergraduate degree and ED.S from Kent State University, but is also an alumnus of John Carroll University with a Masters of Arts in Secondary High School Principal Studies. He finds assisting students and families make sound decisions in choosing affordable college options extremely rewarding and believes college access is extremely important in today’s financial environment.
Kim graduated from The College of Wooster where she obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. Kim has been an advisor since 2005 and she finds it very rewarding helping students and parents make their post-secondary choices and understand funding options.
Stephanie is a graduate of the University of Akron and has been a LEAF advisor since 2010. Prior to joining LEAF, she was the GEAR UP Program Director for ACCESS Ashtabula, a college access program in Ashtabula County. In addition to being a LEAF advisor, Stephanie is also the LEAF Scholarship Manager and handles all LEAF and Community scholarships.
Renee Morgan, LEAF Advisor
Renee graduated from Boston College with a Bachelor of Science in Finance and completed a master’s degree in Education with a specialization in School Counseling at John Carroll University. She previously worked at General Electric in finance and marketing before pursuing a career in college admissions and financial aid counseling.
David Munson, Executive Director firstname.lastname@example.org
David is back in northeast Ohio as Executive Director of Lake/Geauga Educational Assistance Foundation (LEAF) after three years as a Certified Project Lead the Way engineering and STEM teacher in Buckeye, Arizona. Prior to that, David was in the non-profit Resource Development field – two years as Director of Individual and Corporate Giving at the Great Lakes Science Center and eleven years as Vice President of Development at United Way of Lake County. In those years, he was responsible for raising over $20 million for those organizations.David graduated Magna Cum Laude from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry with a degree in Environmental Analytical Chemistry. He pursued this career for twenty years, travelling the country managing multi-million dollar environmental cleanup projects.
Jamie Phillips, Administrative Assistant
Jamie graduated from Lakeland Community College with an Associate of Arts. She has worked in hospitality management for the past several years. She is excited to contribute to the success of LEAF’s mission.
Cheryl received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from John Carroll University, and earned her Master of Education degree with a specialization in counseling at Kent State University. She finds it very rewarding to provide families with the resources and assistance needed to be successful after high school.
LEAF Financial Information
LEAF has a rich history of impacting students’ lives in Lake and Geauga Counties. We have a responsibility to the next generation, not only to continue this legacy, but to expand our impact. Even with the recent drop in the number of students in Lake and Geauga high schools, LEAF has seen a more than 60% increase in the students served in school settings since 2000.
Funded through The Cleveland Foundation, Lake County Commissioners, sponsorships and generous community donations, LEAF’s Resource Center has seen a 70% increase in the number of people served since 2000.