Our Staff

Great Lakes Comprehensive Center Staff

Center Management

Lisa Palacios, Director

Lisa Palacios is the Director of the Great Lakes Comprehensive Center and a Senior Technical Assistance Consultant who joined AIR in 2004. The Great Lakes Comprehensive Center provides technical assistance to the state education agencies in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. This assistance is tailored to each state’s individual needs and addresses the priorities of the U.S. Department of Education. Great Lakes Comprehensive Center is one of the 15 regional comprehensive centers funded by the U.S. Department of Education, and its work is administered by American Institutes for Research.  Previously she has lead Common Core State Standards work for the state of Indiana through the Great Lakes East Comprehensive Center, and has done curriculum work in unpacking CCSS as well as writing a CCSS based mathematics curriculum K-12 for an Illinois school district.  She leads data work in district and school improvement and for the Surveys of Enacted Curriculum. She has done work in schools in the areas of data (conducting two day data retreats that build school capacity in interpreting data and making data based decisions), and audits (helping schools prioritize a list of findings that if addressed would increase student achievement, and building staff capacity by teaching them to create a SMART action plan to make improvements.)  She has served as a team lead for six high schools and seven districts (in the state of New York and New York City) undergoing the New York State Education Department Audit of the Written, Taught, and Tested Curriculum, all of which (districts) have since come off corrective action. Palacios was instrumental in the evolution of the curriculum audit process and has done the fieldwork, the process facilitation, and the management of large-scale audits.

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She mentors and trains AIR personnel in the audit and school improvement processes as well as data work. She also worked with the Eisenhower Math and Science Consortium and the North Central Regional Technology Education Center, delivering math and technology services through Learning Point Associates, and continues work with Intel, aligning the Elements courses to the Common Core State Standards as well as the 21st Century Framework.  She has also help design and deliver training on Delaware’s Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS) to all districts in the state.  Previously, Palacios was an elementary and middle school teacher for nine years (Conservation Teacher of the Year, 1990).  She then moved to administration and worked as the director of instructional technology and director of information technology for a total of eight years at two Illinois school districts—Wheaton, IL and New Trier High School, Winnetka, IL. She was responsible for an annual multimillion-dollar budget; instructional technology projects and grants (securing multiple competitive grants worth over a quarter of a million dollars); technology professional development for certified and classified staff; employee, financial, and student management systems; the districtwide data network; cable and telephony, (including cabling schools being remodeled and pulling fiber optic cable throughout Winnetka); purchase and maintenance of all computer equipment and peripherals, software, and technology; curriculum adoption in mathematics and technology; and creation of district technology plans and websites.  Palacios earned bachelor’s and master’s degree in education (Curriculum and Instruction) from Illinois State University.


Gary Appel, Deputy Director

Gary Appel is the Deputy Director of the Great Lakes Comprehensive Center and a Senior Consultant on the Education team at American Institutes for Research. As deputy director of Great Lakes, he focuses on managing capacity building technical assistance to the state education agencies in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.  Previously, Appel worked for the Michigan Department of Education, where he was a professional development coordinator for a statewide mathematics and science systemic reform initiative. Prior to that, he directed the Life Lab Science Program, an elementary science curriculum and professional development initiative.  

From 1990-1993, Appel was a Kellogg Foundation National Leadership Fellow. Appel earned a master’s degree in science education from the University of Michigan and taught elementary science in Santa Cruz, California. Appel is the co-author of Leading Lesson Study: A Practical Guide for Teachers and Facilitators and The Growing Classroom.


State Managers

Frank E. De Rosa, Great Lakes State Manager – Indiana

Frank E. De Rosa is the Great Lakes State Manager for the state of Indiana and a senior consultant at American Institutes for Research. He provides technical assistance and consultation for the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE).  He is currently assisting IDOE on major initiatives including college and career readiness , Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) education, academic standards alignment and implementation, English language learners, Response to Intervention, and Formative Assessment, .  De Rosa has served in Illinois  on topics including educator evaluation models, using data for school improvement planning,  school board finances and  family and community engagement.  De Rosa has also provided technical assistance and consultation to the Minnesota Department of Education on their High School Redesign project, to the Ohio Department of Education concerning their new “credit flexibility” policy, and to several state and regional offices and school districts involved in the school improvement process. From 2007 to 2009, he served as team lead for audits of the English language arts curriculum for districts in No Child Left Behind corrective action, under contract with the New York State Education Department.

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De Rosa was principal (2003-2007) and associate principal (1993-2003) of Elk Grove High School, with a student enrollment of 2000+, in a diverse inner suburb of Chicago.  Under his principalship the high school experienced four consecutive years of improvement on composite ACT scores; with multiple subgroups, made adequate yearly progress according to the Prairie State Achievement Exam and the federal No Child Left Behind legislation; in two subgroups, Hispanic students and students from low-income families, its scores were the highest in the district; with an emphasis on advanced placement participation, brought a 24 percentage point increase in participation and a 9 percentage point increase in students scoring 3 or higher in one year.  De Rosa has 36 years of experience in public school education as a teacher and administrator. He has extensive experience in school administration, including a position as principal of a large high school in a diverse suburban district. De Rosa has a strong background in school improvement, high school reform, and leadership team building.


Bersheril Bailey, Great Lakes State Manager – Michigan

Bersheril Bailey is the Great Lakes State Manager for the state of Michigan and a senior consultant at American Institutes for Research (AIR) in the Education division. She works with state education agencies and intermediate school districts to develop systems that increase academic achievement for all students. She provides technical assistance to build their capacity to design statewide systems of support as well as to ensure alignment and coherence of all components of the system. She works closely with the Michigan Department of Education to facilitate a collaborative, cross-office team to develop a Michigan High School Roadmap to Success website and guidance document for high schools across the state. As a member of the department’s Dropout Challenge team, she has presented on the topic of dropout prevention at state and national conferences. Bailey has worked in elementary, middle, and high schools as a special education teacher, teacher consultant, assistant principal, director of alternative programs, and high school principal.

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She implemented and supervised Smaller Learning Communities and a magnet program for mathematics, science, and engineering. Her most notable accomplishments include creating and supervising innovative high school programs for students who struggled to succeed in traditional high school settings. Bailey has extensive experience and training in classroom management and school improvement and in creating positive school climate and culture. She was chose Employee of the Year in 2006 by the superintendent and school board in her district. Bailey earned a master’s degree in educational administration from Michigan State University.


Mark Mitchell, Great Lakes State Manager – Ohio

Mark Mitchell is the Great Lakes State Manager for the state of Ohio and a senior consultant on the Education Division at American Institutes for Research.  Mr. Mitchell has 16 years experience designing and facilitating professional development, and working at the state, regional, district, and school level to improve student outcomes.  In his present position as state manager for the Great Lakes East Comprehensive Center, he manages a group of six consultants, staff, and subcontractors who provide technical assistance to the Ohio Department of Education focused on high-priority, statewide educational initiatives.  As manager, he works collaboratively with leadership from the Ohio Department of Education and other stakeholders in Ohio to advance important work.  This work includes the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of the Ohio Improvement Process, restructuring and evaluation of the statewide system of support to districts and schools, common core state standards implementation support, and adoption and implementation of credit flexibility policy and opportunities for students across Ohio. 

Mark Mitchell also develops the technical assistance plan with Ohio, provides written reports and documentation, and monitors the budget and the scope and quality of work.