ABOUT US

MEET THE PEOPLE WHO MAKE FUSION WORK!

Fusion leaders are a passionate group of individuals committed to changing the world, one child at a time.

Our Leadership Team

Peter G. Ruppert

President and CEO

Pete is an innovative leader with a proven record of strong results in CEO, president and general management positions. His background includes high growth success in education and health care companies and multi-industry experience in the management-consulting sector. Pete holds a BA in Economics from DePauw University and an MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business.

Pete’s previous education experience was as President of National Heritage Academies (NHA), an education management company in the for-profit charter school industry. He led the development of the company strategy and recruited the management team to grow NHA from a start-up to a leading company in the industry. Revenues increased from $5 million to $215 million and during his eight years NHA became the first and only high growth company in the industry to achieve consistent and increasing profitability. His team grew the company from four schools and eighty employees in one state to fifty-one schools and 3,000 employees across five states. System-wide enrollment increased from 1,000 to nearly 28,000 students. NHA was on the INC 500 list of the fastest growing privately held companies four years in a row while under Pete’s leadership.

Pete started his career with Procter and Gamble in various sales and sales management roles. He was the Founder and President of Landmark Consulting Group, a management consulting group. Most recently he was President and CEO of Forest Health Services, an industry leading specialty hospital chain with locations in several states across the nation.

Pete and his wife, Jessica, have four children. Pete enjoys golf, history, running and spending time with family. He is actively involved in the community and is on the Michigan Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the East Grand Rapids School Board, and the DePauw University Board of Visitors.

Jeff C. Poole

Senior VP of Operations

Jeff is a results-oriented leader with a twenty-seven year record of accomplishment with management success in sales, marketing, and operations. His extensive experience includes leading service companies with multi-location operations and fifteen years on senior management teams. Jeff has a BS degree in Food Systems Economics and Management and a MS degree in Agriculture Economics, both from Michigan State University.

Jeff was most recently President of the privately-held Spartan Oil Corporation. He provided strategic direction and leadership for improving overall company operations, revenue and gross profit. His primary focus was on strategic planning and business improvement strategies to lead the company into a new era of positive financial results and strong leadership.
Jeff held senior management positions at National Heritage Academies (NHA), a charter school management company. As VP of Operations, he oversaw all fifty-one NHA schools in five states including school operations, facility management, and board relations. He was also responsible for academic performance, compliance, enrollment, public relations/media, new school start-up activities, and line management of region directors and school principals. Jeff also served as VP of Marketing and built a new department while developing and implementing marketing programs.

Jeff held a variety of general management, sales, marketing, and operations roles with Waste Management and Dow Chemical.

Jeff currently serves on the board of National Independent Private Schools Association (NIPSA). He is also a member of the Program Committee for Catholic Charities of West Michigan.

Jeff has been married for twenty-nine blissful years and has two adult children. He enjoys travel, golf, fishing, and skiing. A follower of Michigan State University sports, Jeff is also an avid wine enthusiast and fitness buff. Jeff’s greatest joy and blessing is spending time with family and friends.

Dave Martin

Chief Financial Officer

Dave is a senior financial executive with more than 20 years of experience in the areas of management, operational and financial analysis, business restructuring, and mergers and acquisitions.

Most recently Dave served as Chief Financial Officer for Hart & Cooley, an industry leader in the manufacturing of air distribution products. At Hart & Cooley Dave implemented several process improvement and cost reduction programs which led to significant savings and business process improvement. Prior to Hart & Cooley Dave served in executive financial positions with Tomkins Ltd., Fiat, SpA, and Lear Corporation. Dave started his career as an auditor with Price Waterhouse Coopers.

Dave holds a B.A. in Finance and Accounting from Michigan State University and attended the Masters of Accounting program at Walsh College. He is a Certified Six Sigma Black Belt and has a 5S manufacturing engineering certification.

Dave is married and has four daughters. Dave enjoys playing golf, running, coaching his daughter’s soccer teams and spending time with his family. Dave currently serves on the Board of Directors of several West Michigan companies.

Jenny DeLessio

VP of Human Resources

Jenny is the VP of Human Resources and has extensive experience in all aspects of employment law and human resources. Jenny has a BS in Architectural Studies from the University of Illinois and a JD from the University of Michigan Law School. After private practice in a law firm, Jenny “ran from the law” to lead HR teams at manufacturing and education services companies. Jenny is married to Bruce Courtade and they have a daughter and Bo, their dog named after famed Michigan football coach, Bo Schembechler. As a frustrated wanna-be architect, Jenny always has a remodeling project underway and dreams of owning her own dumpster for demolition….or a cannoli factory.

Mike VanDinther

VP of New School Development

A results-oriented leader with a proven track record in operations, new business development, and construction management, Mike is a welcome addition to the AEG team, leading the school replication efforts.

Prior to joining AEG, Mike held various Director-level positions in education management. Since 2001, as the Director of Construction and Facilities, he built and maintained schools across the country with a clear focus on systems and processes. Mike then directed real estate efforts and partner relations in Ohio and Colorado for an Education Management Organization (EMO) before joining AEG as the Director of New Business Development.

Mike’s previous experience was with a leading national environmental services company, where he started out as an Operations Manager, moved into a General Manager position, and then quickly became a District Vice President, overseeing operations for multiple locations.

Mike has served on the Boards of two private schools, one charter school, and the Construction Owners’ Association of America.

Mike and his wife, Joyce, have been married nearly 20 years and have 3 children. Mike enjoys attending his children’s events, spending time outside with his family, and fly fishing.

Steven Racelis

VP of Sales and Marketing

Steve brings a proven, passionate, and personable approach Sales and Marketing. He believes hiring, developing, and promoting people who are focused an exceptional customer service is the only way to build a sustainable model. He adores the EPIC! values that Fusion founders laid out when creating Fusion Education Group.

Steve takes pride in his continual learning approach to improving himself and his team. Some favorite inspirational books are Linchpin, Do the Work, First Break all the Rules, and anything from Jim Collins (Built to Last, Good to Great, and Greater by Choice). He also loves the work by Jack Daly and has built his career on employing his sage advice in building customer-facing teams. He has a Bachelors degree in Marketing from Indiana University and has had experience working in Sales, Marketing, Purchasing, Industrial Design, Product Management, Six Sigma, Customer Scheduling, Capacity Planning and Consumer Research.

Steve and Gail live in beautiful Holland, Michigan with their three children – Jocelyn, Blake, and Charlie. Having met and wed in Chicago over 20 years ago, they are lifelong Cubs and Bears fans. On any given weekend, you are likely to find the Racelis’ at the beach, in Steve’s prized 1965 Beetle, chasing the kids around, or golfing.

Grace Losada

Vice President of Education

Grace Losada holds a BA in Literature and Writing from UCSD, an MA in Marital and Family Therapy from USD, and an EdD from USC in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Educational Psychology. She began her career with Fusion when it was still in its humble beginnings in Michelle Rose Gilman’s home.

Grace has worked with diverse populations of students in various settings for over 20 years. She spent time as a clinician at Children’s Hospital, has been a Special Education teacher in public, private and homeschool settings, and was the co-founder and owner of Kokua Mentoring, an Educational Therapy practice serving the Boca Raton, Florida community. Most recently, Grace opened the first replication of Fusion Academy in West Los Angeles and served as Head of School for four fantastic years. She is now focused on supporting Fusionites across the country in their quest to engage students in an excellent education.

Michelle Rose Gilman

Founder

Michelle Rose Gilman, Founder, started Fusion in 1989 with six students who were transitioning out of psychiatric day treatment facilities. She holds a BS in Special Education from the University of South Florida, as well as a certification in Special Education (Emotional Handicaps K-12 concentration).

Prior to launching Fusion Academy, she spent 10 years teaching and tutoring students with emotional needs and learning differences, coordinating a special-education treatment center, and creating social-skills and self-esteem workshops for children of all ages. Michelle is the author of ten books. She also is a contributing Blogger for the Huffington Post. She sits on the board for non-profit organizations, such as The Invisible Disability Project and Rock to Recovery. Michelle is dedicated to helping women succeed through her organization The Well-Heeled Warrior. She has been honored to receive many awards during her career, including the San Diego Business Journal Most Admired CEOs, Women Who Mean Business Awards and the Inc. 500 Top Women Run Companies. Fusion Academy has placed on the Inc.500 Fastest Growing Organizations for 4 years. In her non-existent free time, she reads, writes, gardens and spends time with her family.

Regional Leaders

Heads of School

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