2017 SUNY New Paltz Women's Leadership Summit

2017 SUNY New Paltz Women's Leadership Summit
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School of Education

Lori Beer '94

Physics Teacher, Arlington Central School District

Major: Education 7-12: Mathematics


Lori Beer attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, graduating cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in engineering science and a concentration in biomedical engineering in 1986. After graduation, she got married and had her son, then went back to school to become a teacher. She finished her teaching certification program in the spring of 1990 and graduated with a Master of Education degree in physics from SUNY New Paltz in 1994. Lori started working for Arlington school district in the fall of 1990 and has been there ever since. She started out teaching biology and physical science at the high school, and technology at the middle school. After a couple years, Lori began teaching physics, and for the past 17 years she has taught physics only, both Regents and advanced placement.

Lori has also been the advisor to her school's LGBTQ club for the past 15 years. That has changed her life in too many ways to ever fully describe, but it is suffice to say it gives her purpose and makes her hopeful for the future. These remarkable young people she works with are changing the world, and she is in awe of their courage and wisdom every day. Arlington has an ongoing commitment to raising awareness and understanding of the issues faced by the LGBTQ community. Lori’s group has been very active, attending conferences and pride marches, in addition to holding many high school dances. They have raised money for local charities as well, to give back to the community.

In 2006, Lori took an inservice class at SUNY New Paltz with Nancy Schniedewind called promoting educational equity for all classrooms and schools. Seeing her passion in promoting diversity inspired Lori, and she wanted to do something more. That's when she decided she could give back in some small way, by contributing to a scholarship program at SUNY New Paltz. For the last ten years she has been giving to the School of Education Diversity Scholarship Program and hopes that it has helped to change a few other lives as well.


Rebecca Sela

Executive Director of Western New England, The Achievement Network

Major: Biology


Rebecca Sela earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology from SUNY New Paltz, and subsequently earned a Master of Arts degree in science education from the University of California, Davis. She began her career in education by teaching high school science in a small rural district in Northern California, armed with a love of science and a passion for educational equity. During her ten-year tenure in the classroom, Rebecca served in multiple leadership roles including the science department chair and the interdisciplinary literacy coordinator. In addition, she received competitive grants to conduct teacher research, joined visiting teams to schools seeking accreditation, and evaluated instruction for a major Gates Foundation funded study of teacher effectiveness. Rebecca returned to the east coast to work as a director of school support with the Achievement Network in 2013, coaching and supporting a portfolio of 12 urban schools to improve student-learning outcomes.


Rebecca is currently the executive director of western New England for The Achievement Network. In this role, she develops school and district leaders to improve instruction to impact student learning. She also develops and leads a team of directors of school support to directly influence 62 schools and three school systems through data-driven interventions. Additionally, Rebecca sits on the board of trustees of Veritas Prep, a successful charter school in Springfield, MA as the chair of the academic achievement committee. She continues to be fascinated and encouraged by multiple effective school models and disseminating the best educational practices across diverse contexts to best serve students, in particular with student populations that have been historically underserved.


Ellen Swartwout Weston '72

Founder, Children’s Educational Consulting

Major: Secondary 7-12 Education, French


In November 2016, Ellen Weston founded Children’s Educational Consulting (CEC) to provide parents with insightful educational strategies to improve their children’s long-term academic performance. This guidance results in students who are better adjusted, more confident, and perform their best in school. CEC is unique in that its strategies speak to building parents’ educational know-how to better assist their children during the formative academic years—from four years old to the eighth grade. The consulting practice is the exciting apex of multiple careers.


Following her graduation from SUNY New Paltz, Ellen attended New York University Stern Graduate School of Business in the evenings and earned a Master of Business Administration degree in finance. Simultaneously, she held a position at European American Bank, arranging loans and international trade instruments for French conglomerates and multinational companies, spoke French daily, analyzed French financial statements, and enjoyed exquisite dinners hosted by the French Chamber of Commerce. She held subsequent positions at Crocker Bank, Security Pacific International Bank, and Seafirst Bank where, as vice president, she managed a $16 million portfolio concentrated in healthcare, utilities, and aerospace. While in San Francisco, CA, she wrote a business plan for a transitional assisted living facility and marketed it as a partnership to Pacific Presbyterian Medical Center (Northern California’s largest hospital). The hospital instead hired her and she served as chief financial officer for the Continuing Care division. During this time, Ellen served as president of the San Francisco County Young Republicans. Together with her husband and their two small children, they relocated to the Northeast and settled in Connecticut. Remaining at home for a few years to raise her children, she attended architectural engineering school, wrote a patent for a homeopathic remedy, researched and completed to present day her paternal grandfather’s published ancestral history spanning 1338-1899. Parlaying a chance introduction with a private school principal into a position, Ellen began a new career as a math teacher. Two years later, she was appointed Head of Admissions by the school’s Advisory Board. She served for 13 years as an administrator responsible for admissions, enrollment, marketing, and public relations, while maintaining her teaching role. In her classroom, math was taught with real-life application, including architectural design and building. Ellen built the school’s retention rate and increased new enrollment to the highest levels in the school’s 60-year history. Throughout her careers, she successfully reapplied business concepts and skills as appropriate to the enterprise and tailored marketing and public relations strategies. She believes, though, that strong people skills, relationship building, professionalism, and excellence in all that is associated with one’s name and reputation are key to one’s success.


Dr. Michele Winchester-Vega '82

Owner, Dr. Michele Winchester-Vega & Associates

Major: Sociology


Dr. Michele Winchester-Vega graduated from SUNY New Paltz in 1982 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology and a minor in women's studies. She was the recipient of the Outstanding Sociology Student Award. The following semester, she entered Columbia University School of Social Work and graduated with a Master of Social Work degree in 1984. She credits her New Paltz professors Dr. Herman and Dr. Schwendinger for their mentoring throughout her education.


From 1984 to 1992, Michele worked as a psychiatric social worker in outpatient mental health and addiction clinics, taught sociology as an adjunct professor at SUNY New Paltz and Orange County Community College, and provided workshops on a variety of mental health topics. She became director of clinical training at Pius XII Youth and Family Services, which is now Catholic Charities.


In 1987, Michele entered the doctoral program and in 1992 obtained her Doctor of Social Work degree from Yeshiva University Wurzweiler School of Social Work. She then accepted a full time teaching position with master and doctoral level students, which she did for over eight years. Michele was the recipient of the 2010 National Association of Social Workers' Hudson Valley Division Lifetime Achievement Award. She has mentored many professionals over the years. She now runs the largest outpatient group private practice in Orange County. Michele has also received numerous awards for her volunteer efforts in giving back to the community. She has been coined "The Million Dollar Woman" for helping to raise over $2 million dollars for a variety of causes, including Kidz4Causes which she founded with her daughter, Natasha, and husband, Felix.