Personnel Improvement Center
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Former Personnel Improvement Center Staff and Major Service Providers

Dr. Phoebe Gillespie spacer
Dr. Phoebe Gillespie

Dr. Phoebe Gillespie was Director of the Personnel Improvement Center, where she managed all technical assistance services to states and directs and coordinates national dissemination activities and collaborative work with other centers and professional organizations. She had 34 years in the field of special education professions, as a paraprofessional, K-12 classroom and early childhood teacher, early intervention specialist, education director at a day treatment facility, high school building-level program administrator, educational diagnostician and, most recently, recruitment/retention outreach manager for CEC’s OSEP-funded Professions Clearinghouse, before becoming Center director at NASDSE in 2003. Her expertise is in working with SEAs, LEAs, and IHEs to craft contextually relevant solutions to on-going statewide personnel needs. She received her B.S. in Education from Baylor University, her M.Ed. in Special Education from Sam Houston State University and her Ed.S. and Ph.D. in Education Policy, Planning and Leadership from the College of William and Mary.


Dr. Bill East spacer
Dr. Bill East

Dr. Bill East was the NASDSE Executive Director and Principal Investigator for the Center. He had over forty years experience in the fields of education and mental health. He has been a high school teacher, supervisor in the Alabama mental health system, adjunct college professor and educational specialist in the Alabama State Department of Education. Dr. East was the State Director of Special Education in Alabama from 1990-1998 and was honored by the Alabama Federation Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) as the Outstanding Special Educator in Alabama. Dr. East has served on the Board of Directors and as President of the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE). He joined NASDSE as the Deputy Executive Director in 1998 and was appointed the position of Executive Director in 1999.

Dr. Lisa Churchill spacer
Dr. Lisa Churchill

Dr. Lisa Churchill was a service provider for the Center to State, local programs and IHEs to assist them in developing and implementing partnership plans that meet local needs for special education, Part C and related services personnel. She is a retired Professor of Special Education at California State University, Chico. Dr. Churchill has been the recipient of numerous OSEP-funded personnel preparation program grants, where she worked with local school districts to craft programs that responded to the needs of both community members and school districts. She has facilitated the SPDG-funded Special Education Personnel Taskforce for the CA DOE for the past eight years to assist them in developing and implementing solutions to special education personnel shortages in the state. Dr. Churchill received her B.A. from UCLA, her M.A. in Education from California State University, Los Angeles, and her Ph.D. in Special Education from UCLA. Her doctoral cognate area was Organizational Psychology. Merrill/Prentice Hall recently published Dr. Churchill's book, "A Practical Guide for the Special Education Professional."

Dr. George Ann Rice spacer
Dr. George Ann Rice

Dr. George Ann Rice was a service provider for the Center to SEAs, Part C agency and LEAs to assist them in increasing their capacity to hire, develop and retain the most qualified teachers for hard-to-staff positions in their highest need areas. She is the former (retired) associate superintendent and human resources director of the Clark County School District, Las Vegas, NV and is a nationally recognized expert in the field of personnel development at the local level. She has presented at national conferences on recruitment and retention for the past ten years and has particular expertise in creating connections between local school districts and their surrounding communities. Dr. Rice earned her B.A. from the University of Nevada–Reno, her M.B.A. and Ed.D in educational administration from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and her J.D from UCLA.

Leila Richey spacer
Leila Richey
Leila Richey was the Communications Manager for the Personnel Improvement Center. She assisted the PIC state service providers in implementing strategies that utilize technology and social media tools to recruit and retain personnel. Part of her work focused on building online communities of practice at the state and national levels to build their capacity to share information and best practices for recruitment and retention of special education teachers, early interventionists and related services personnel. Ms. Richey also writes the PIC’s bi-monthly newsletter and assists with facilitating the PIC’s bi-monthly webinars. She is a former high school team leader and taught social studies for five years. Ms. Richey pursued her Ph.D in teacher education and preparation at George Mason University. She received her B.S. in education from Central Connecticut State University and an M.A. in reading specialist and education policy from Teachers College, Columbia University.


Kelly J. Grillo

Kelly earned her Ph.D at the University of Central Florida (UCF). Kelly was the lead graduate assistant for the UCF/Lockheed Martin Mathematics and Science Academy and a Project LEAD scholar, an OSEP funded preparation grant.  Her dissertation entitled An Investigation of the Effects of Using Digital Flash Cards to Increase Biology Vocabulary Knowledge in High School Students with Learning Disabilities compliments her mission of supporting content and digital literacies for students with language-based learning difference. Kelly began her journey into National Dissemination work by serving as an intern at the Personnel Improvement Center at NASDSE in the summer of 2010. Later she joined the UCF faculty on a visiting line. More recently, Kelly joined the faculty in Specialized Curriculum at High Point University in North Carolina. Kelly’s primary research focus is on the use of instructional technologies and the achievement of students with disabilities in secondary science. Kelly served as the Vice President for the Florida Council for Exceptional Children (FCEC) board. Kelly has been honored with awards ranging from CEC Chapter #563 Co-Teacher Team of the Year, nomination of Home Town Hero in Daytona Florida, honored as a nominee in Washington as a STEM Champion for Change and the recipientof the 2012 Landis M. Stetler Award.  Her enthusiasm for supporting the mission of improved outcomes for persons with disabilities in STEM is a personal one; Kelly has become a national advocate for persons living with Learning Disabilities so that she herself can accept her own disability.

The National Center to Improve the Recruitment and Retention of Qualified Personnel for Children with Disabilities (Personnel Improvement Center). A Cooperative Agreement, H325C080001, between the US Department of Education and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education. Project Officer: Maryann McDermott
NASDSE | 225 Reinekers Lane, Suite 420, Alexandria, VA 22314

Phone 703.519.3800 | Fax 703.519.3808