The Faces of Leona
The essence of Leona Group is the cumulative passion, dedication and expertise of its people. Every Leona team member is an integral part of the continued success of its students. Founded by Dr. Bill Coats, national leader in education reform, Leona continues to change the landscape of public education. When you partner with us, these faces and more than 2,000 others work collectively to bring your school’s mission and vision to life and to improve the nation’s education landscape.
Kris Ann Geeraerts
Chief of Staff, Midwest
As Chief of Staff for Leona’s Midwest Operations, Kris Ann Geeraerts has overarching responsibilities for our day-to-day corporate operations. She also serves as director of grants, provides leadership support for technology and manages company-wide communications and marketing efforts. Her grant administration responsibilities include grant applications, assistance during onsite program and fiscal audits, grant budget management and grant records retention. Kris leads the technology team as they provide support for office and school operations and network and support services for instruction. Within her communications and marketing role, Kris supervises social media, press releases, media interaction, promotional materials and supporting academies with public relations. Prior to becoming a part of The Leona Group team, Kris spent 10 years in criminal justice as a 9-1-1 dispatcher. During her 21 years at Leona Group, she has served as an executive assistant, grants coordinator and budget manager prior to her present position.
Vice President of Academics, Midwest
Jean Chlebek assists school leaders in the Midwest with improving the quality of instruction at an aggregate scope and classroom and student level. Ms. Chlebek supports instructional coaches in planning and delivering high-quality professional development by giving feedback, sharing best practices, and providing resources. She oversees all instructional systems and academic initiatives as well as supporting all schools through the reauthorization process, accreditation and turnaround planning.
Ms. Chlebek is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelor of Science in elementary education and a Master of Arts in K-12 administration. Jean is a career educator with a true passion for education reform and student academic success.
Vice President of Finance, Midwest
Melinda Benkovsky has overall responsibility for the budget and finance function supporting Midwest operations, including compliance, budgeting, financial reporting, auditing, and accounts payables. She advises members of the department on any issues, such as cash management, procurement, state and federal guidelines, procedural updates, borrowing, etc. She and members of her team work closely with school leaders and other members of the leadership team on any budget and finance issues, in order to ensure the fiscal well-being of the academies with which they work. Melinda obtained her bachelor of arts in accounting from Spring Arbor University. She has 14 years of experience in school budgeting and finance, and has been the director of budget and finance for Leona’s Midwest region since 2017.
Vice President, Midwest
Mingcoria Minter started with The Leona Group 18 years ago. As director of exceptional student services her primary responsibilities include working collectively with all stakeholders to ensure the compliance with state and federal requirements. She provides direct onsite support to building administrators and special education personnel to assure quality programs and services are delivered for a positive result in student achievement. In addition, she creates and executes targeted professional development for administration, teachers and ancillary support staff. Prior to joining the corporate team, Ms. Minter was a school social worker and an assistant school leader. She obtained her master’s degree in social work and her certification for director of special education from Wayne State University.
Vice President of Human Resources, Midwest
Wendy Willis has overarching responsibilities for Leona’s HR Midwest operations, including compliance, recruiting, payroll, benefits, compensation, labor relations, employee orientation, and employee records retention. She advises school leaders and other members of the leadership team on any HR issues such as employee relations, legal compliance, hiring, discipline and termination, etc. She obtained her bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice at Michigan State University and her master’s degree in Administration and Human Resources from Central Michigan University. She is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and has her Professional Human Resources (PHR) certification. She has nearly 30 years of experience in human resource management.
Michelle Thomas has an impressive background and comes from a family of educators. She has a B.S. from the University of Michigan, M.B.A. from Eastern Michigan University and a J.D. from Wayne State Law School. She is passionate about her work and committed to making a difference.
Vice President of Property Management
Adam Schnelker started with The Leona Group over 19 years ago. As director of special projects, Adam has overall responsibility relating to property management and development. This includes oversight for all building projects, property maintenance, as well as state and federal public facility requirements. Adam and his team also assist in identifying suitable property and buildings while working closely with architects, developers, and contractors throughout such projects. Prior to his current position, Adam worked in finance and human resources. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Supervision and Business Management from Purdue University Fort Wayne.
Brittany Corkins began her journey with The Leona Group in 2016 in the budget and finance department. In 2016, Ms. Corkins transitioned to her current role as administrative assistant to our CEO, Dr. Coats, and the executive team. In her current role, Brittany provides high-level management support to the executive team and department of academic achievement. These responsibilities encompass a variety of essential functions that support our day-to-day Midwest operations including managing the corporate calendar and schedule, coordinating executive and corporate meetings, assisting with company-wide projects and compiling school-based reports.
Ms. Corkins is passionate about ensuring the corporate office operates efficiently and making certain every guest feels welcomed!
Danielle Miller began her career with The Leona Group in July 2012, as a human resource generalist and quickly moved into her current role as an executive assistant. In her role, Danielle provides compliance guidance and oversight regarding current governing policies, external regulatory mandates and authorization/renewal requirements. Her knowledge and expertise regarding compliance ensures a high level of collaboration with our school-based teams, school boards, authorizers and corporate staff. Ms. Miller supports school boards and academies with compliance matters throughout the school year and ensures academy websites are meeting all reporting requirements. She also assists with gathering information and expediting corporate support services regarding school level inquiries. In addition, Danielle provides support to the executive vice president and various departments throughout our Michigan corporate office.
Ms. Miller holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Ferris State University.
Michelle Maidlow joined The Leona Group in July 2019, with over 15 years of experience in regulatory compliance and project management. She is the executive assistant for academies in Michigan. Ms. Maidlow provides support
in compliance and website transparency, reporting requirements, authorizer
and board documents /communications, as well as new charter applications and existing schools’ re-authorizations. Michelle works closely with school leaders when communicating with parents and addressing their concerns or
Ms. Maidlow holds a Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Psychology from Western Michigan University and a Master of Arts in Public
Relations/Communications from Michigan State University.