NCEA Board of Directors
The NCEA Board of Directors brings valuable experience and expertise from leaders in Catholic education, including clergy, superintendents, lawyers, educators, accountants, CEOs and university professors. NCEA's bylaws
have been adopted to reflect the new board structure which aligns with the organization’s mission to lead, learn and proclaim the good news of Catholic school education.
Most Reverend Gerald F. Kicanas, D.D., Ph.D.
Diocese of Tucson
MOST REVEREND GERALD F. KICANAS, D.D., Ph.D., was appointed chair of the NCEA Board of Directors in 2018. Bishop Kicanas served the Diocese of Tucson since 2003 and became Bishop Emeritus in 2017. Before his assignment in Tucson, Bishop Kicanas was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago on January 24, 1995 and served as Episcopal Vicar of Vicariate I of the Archdiocese of Chicago. He was ordained a bishop on March 20, 1995. Ordained a priest on April 27, 1967, Bishop Kicanas currently serves on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Catholic Education Committee, chair of the Subcommittee on Accreditation, consultant to the Subcommittee on the Church in Africa and is a member and consultant to the USCCB Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs. He has chaired and served on several other USCCB committees. He served as the secretary and vice president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He is a board member of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, known as CLINIC. He also is the former chairman of the board of directors of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the U.S. bishops' overseas relief and development agency. He continues his involvement with CRS as a member of its Foundation Board. He is vice-chancellor of the Catholic Extension Society serving mission dioceses throughout the United States. Bishop Kicanas completed post-graduate work in several areas and earned a Ph.D. in educational psychology, a M.Ed. in guidance and counseling from Loyola University and a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, Mundelein, Illinois.
NCEA President/CEO (Ex Officio)
National Catholic Educational Association
Prior to his appointment at NCEA, Mr. Snyder served as the superintendent and executive director of schools for the Diocese of Sacramento since 2015. He has been the chair of the California Catholic Schools Superintendents Conference since 2019. Before his assignment as superintendent, he was a teacher and board chair at Christian Brothers High School in Sacramento. Mr. Snyder also has served as vice chair of the NCEA NSBECS Council (NNC) and has been a member of several Catholic school boards.
Mr. Snyder achieved notable accomplishments during his tenure as executive director. Three stand out: the transition of diocesan elementary schools to a unified governance model under three regional school boards and two high school boards, resulting in a consistent system with stronger schools; the introduction of a virtue-based character curriculum, Disciple of Christ / Education in Virtue, across all elementary schools of the diocese; and the successful stewardship of diocesan schools through crises like the Camp Fire and the COVID-19 pandemic. He also implemented innovative programs in K-8 schools, including Dual Language Immersion, Project Lead The Way (STEM), and autism inclusion in preschools. His business experience includes international work as a global key account and project manager for Can-Pack SA, in Krakow, Poland, and domestic work in facilities and development as vice president of Snyder Commercial Real Estate.
Mr. Snyder holds a bachelor’s degree in international politics from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. He received a master’s degree in Lasallian Leadership from St. Mary's University of Minnesota.
Tom Buckley, J.D.
Archdiocese of St. Louis
TOM BUCKLEY, J.D., is the general counsel for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. He has a demonstrated history of working in the religious institutions industry. He is skilled in torts, litigation management, trial practice, dispute resolution and trials. Mr. Buckley has served as the general counsel for the Archdiocese of St. Louis for 9 years. Along with an associate general counsel, a paralegal and a legal assistant, Mr. Buckley’s general counsel office oversees the archdiocese’s legal affairs, including those at parishes, schools, agencies and ministries. From 2011 to 2017, he served on the NCEA Board of Directors. In this capacity, he played a crucial role in assisting with the restructuring of the board and its bylaws and was a transitional board member from the previous board of representation to the current governing board. Mr. Buckley is a graduate of St. Louis University School of Law.
Lauren Casella, Ed.D.
Assistant Clinical Professor
Loyola Marymount University
LAUREN CASELLA, Ed.D., is an assistant clinical professor at Loyola Marymount University in the department of educational leadership and administration, and the director of the Catholic School Leadership Academy and co-director of the Master of Arts in Educational Leadership. She is a school board member at St. Anastasia Catholic School in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Additionally, Dr. Casella is a leadership mentor in NCEA’s New Leaders Academy and was president of NCEA’s Catholic Higher Education in Support of Catholic Schools (CHESCS) until the start of her board term at NCEA. Additionally, Dr. Casella is a curriculum writer, presenter and session lead with the LMU/Los Angeles Unified School District Leadership Academy and Equity for Principals (LEAP) collaboration supporting principals through the Black Student Achievement Plan. Before entering higher education, she taught in Catholic elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago and was an administrator and principal. Dr. Casella holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal studies from LMU, a master’s degree in leadership and supervision from Loyola University Chicago and a Doctor of Education degree in educational leadership and teacher education from the University of Southern California. She holds an Illinois general administrative credential, an Illinois teaching license and a California teaching credential & BCLAD.
Chief Financial Officer
Academy of Holy Angels
DAVID DEVINE is the chief financial officer for the Academy of Holy Angels. He has more than 17 years of experience in finance and accounting, including time spent with the Chicago Public Schools as a capital budget manager and the Minneapolis Public Schools as an accountant supervisor. He began his finance career with Marquette Partners in Chicago as a senior financial futures trader. Most recently, Mr. Devine was the senior finance director of the Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ), an organization dedicated to permanently closing the achievement gap and ending generational poverty in North Minneapolis. Immediately out of college, he spent two years as an AmeriCorps volunteer, teaching math, history and coaching basketball at Cathedral College Preparatory High School in Los Angeles, CA. Mr. Devine received his B.A. from the University of St. Thomas in finance and economics. He obtained a Master of Business Administration from DePaul University in Chicago.
Mary Pat Donoghue
Executive Director of the Secretariat of Catholic Education
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (Ex Officio)
MARY PAT DONOGHUE is executive director of the Secretariat of Catholic Education for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Over her 29 years of service to Catholic education, Ms. Donoghue is perhaps best known for her tenure as principal of St. Jerome Academy in Hyattsville, Maryland, where she led the effort to move the parish school from near failure to a now thriving and growing institution. Before then, she served as a vice principal and as a teacher in the classroom; since then, she has consulted nationwide with superintendents, pastors, and principals, sharing her experience in teacher formation and supervision, curriculum implementation, and financial stability, in conjunction with the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education.
President, CEO and Co-founder
Raza Development Fund
TOM ESPINOZA is president, CEO and co-founder of Raza Development Fund (RDF). He is a prominent architect of Latino community and business development policy and programs, with more than 45 years of experience that span the breadth of the public, private sector and nonprofit spectrum. Mr. Espinoza spent his early days organizing youth groups in Phoenix’s low-income neighborhoods, helping young Latinos escape the self-defeating treadmill of poverty and crime through educational programs. He then worked with Latino families to gain access to affordable housing through Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC), where 11 years later as president and CEO, he transformed CPLC into one of the country’s most dynamic forces for Latino empowerment and economic well-being. While at CPLC, Mr. Espinoza was selected by the White House to advise President Jimmy Carter as a member of the Mexican American Advisory Council. Mr. Espinoza currently serves on the Catholic University of America Board of Visitors for the School of Arts and Sciences, LISC National Board of Directors, the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders National Board and the Greater Phoenix Leadership Board of Directors.
Henry P. Fortier
Secretary for Education/Superintendent of Catholic Schools
Diocese of Orlando
HENRY P. FORTIER is the secretary for education/superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Orlando and also responsible for diocesan mission efforts in the Diocese of San Juan de la Maguana, Dominican Republic. His responsibilities also include the supervision of the San Pedro Spiritual Development Center in Winter Park, Florida. Previously, Henry was associate superintendent for public policy, government programs, special education, early childhood and information systems in the Archdiocese of New York. He was an adjunct professor at Fordham University and was associate superintendent for government programs for the Division of Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. He began his teaching career in 1994 at St. Mark the Evangelist School, Harlem, New York, and then moved to Baltimore City, Maryland, as a mental health counselor at the Charles Hickey Juvenile Detention Center and then worked at New All Saints Catholic School in West Baltimore, where he was a teacher and later principal. Henry graduated from St. Thomas Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut, and was affiliated with The Most Holy Name of Jesus Province of the Friars Minor. He received a bachelor’s degree from Central Connecticut State University, a master’s degree in educational leadership from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland and took doctorate courses at George Washington University. Henry also is a member of the NCEA Advisory Committee on Racism.
The Most Reverend Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv
Archdiocese of Atlanta
ARCHBISHOP GREGORY J. HARTMAYER, OFM Conv., is the seventh Archbishop of Atlanta, installed on May 6, 2020. Prior to his installation in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Archbishop Hartmayer was the fourteenth Bishop of the Diocese of Savannah, appointed by Pope Benedict XVI on July 19, 2011 and consecrated and installed on October 18, 2011. He joined the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, commonly known as the Conventual Franciscans, and took his simple vows in 1970 at the St. Joseph Cupertino Friary in Ellicott City, Maryland, before making his solemn profession in 1973. He received a Master of Education in Secondary Catholic School Administration from Boston College in 1992. Archbishop Hartmayer also has been a member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Administrative Committee and the Committee on Priorities and Plans, and currently serves on the Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe.
RaeNell B. Houston, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Catholic Schools/Executive Director
Archdiocese of New Orleans
RAENELL B. HOUSTON, Ph.D., is the superintendent of Catholic schools and executive director of faith formation for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Prior to joining the Department of Catholic Education and Faith Formation, Dr. Houston was an instructor in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Southeastern Louisiana University and an assistant professor in the Education Department at the University of Holy Cross. She is a certified reading specialist and former elementary and middle school teacher. Dr. Houston attended Louisiana State University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. She also received a master’s degree in business from Southern New Hampshire University, and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from the University of New Orleans.
Father Ronald R. O’Dwyer, SJ, Ed.D.
DeSmet Jesuit High School
FATHER RONALD R. O’DWYER, SJ, Ed.D., serves as the president of De Smet Jesuit High School in St. Louis, MO. Father O’Dwyer holds a doctorate in educational leadership and policy from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education. He earned a licentiate in Church history from Boston College, where he studied the reception of Vatican II in Jesuit High Schools in the USA, 1963-1973. Father O’Dwyer served at Saint Louis University’s School of Education as an assistant professor, the assistant to the dean for Catholic School Initiatives, and the director of the Billiken Teacher Corps. After his ordination to the priesthood in 2015, Fr. O’Dwyer was missioned to St. Peter Claver Parish in Punta Gorda, Belize, which oversees operations for over thirty village churches and rural Catholic elementary schools. His scholarship and practice focus on fostering the operational vitality and the ecclesial mission of Catholic schools.
Karen Rauenhorst, RN, MPH
Mark and Karen Rauenhorst Foundation
KAREN RAUENHORST, RN, MPH, serves the Catholic Relief Services Foundation as vice chair, and is the former chair of St. Catherine University’s governing board, serving a four-year term. Mrs. Rauenhorst was acting president of St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota, from June - August 2016 and is a trustee on the Foundation and Donors Interested in Catholic Philanthropy (FADICA) board in addition to serving on several other boards and foundations. After receiving a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Creighton University, Mrs. Rauenhorst then received a Master in Public Health from the University of Minnesota.
Sister Mary Grace Walsh, ASCJ, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Archdiocese of New York
SISTER MARY GRACE WALSH, ASCJ, Ph.D., an Apostle of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, was appointed superintendent of schools of the Archdiocese of New York by His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan and began her new role on July 17, 2023. In this position she is responsible for the education of students in 170 Catholic schools in Manhattan, Staten Island, the Bronx, Westchester and the upper counties that comprise the archdiocese. Before becoming superintendent of schools, Sr. Mary Grace served as president of Cor Jesu Academy located in St. Louis, Missouri. In her tenure as president, Sr. Mary Grace served as the chief executive officer and provided overall leadership and vision for the integration of faith and learning. Sr. Mary Grace served as the provost for education, evangelization and catechesis and the president of Saint Thomas Seminary in the Archdiocese of Hartford, where she was responsible for the continuum of Catholic education and formation for all the faithful of the archdiocese and the supervision and coordination of the offices which served Catholic schools. From 2006 through 2015 she served as superintendent and later secretary of Catholic Education and Faith Formation in the Diocese of Bridgeport. She has also been an elementary and secondary school teacher and administrator in seven arch/dioceses throughout the country in parochial, diocesan, and congregation-sponsored schools and just completed her service as a provincial councilor for the Mary, Queen of Apostles province of her religious community. Sr. Mary Grace holds a B.A. in English from Albertus Magnus College, an M.A. in educational administration and supervision from Saint Louis University and a Ph.D. in educational administration/church leadership from Fordham University.
Board Members Emeritus