President & CEO
Mark Hyatt is President and CEO of the Character Education Partnership (CEP). He leads the national effort to “help parents, schools and communities develop students of good character for a just and compassionate society.” Prior to coming to CEP, Mark was Executive Director of the Colorado Charter School Institute (CSI). Under his leadership CSI grew 50% to more than 10,500 students at 36 locations statewide in its portfolio of schools. Mark led CSI’s first strategic planning effort to transform CSI into a “model authorizer” for charter schools throughout the state and nation. He also served on the Colorado Governors P-20 Education Council on school reform and on the Colorado Education Commissioners Leadership Academy Board. read more
Much of Mark’s passion for education stems from almost eight years as President of The Classical Academy (TCA) and from his service as a senior leader in the United States Military. From June 2002 until leaving for CSI, Mark was President of TCA, the largest family of K-12 “brick and mortar” public charter schools in Colorado with just under 4500 students, staff, and faculty. TCA included three elementary schools, junior and senior high schools, K-8 home school, and College Pathways secondary school. This experience deepened his dedication to preparing all children to be college or workforce ready and his commitment to helping them become citizens of character. In 2009 he was named “Educational Innovator of the Year” by the University of Colorado.
Mark’s almost 29 year career in the United States Military helped lay the foundation used to elevate TCA and CSI to success. After graduating from the USAF Academy with a BS in Political Science, he later earned a master’s degree in Public Administration from Arizona State University. Mark was an Air Force fighter pilot and served nine years overseas in combat ready units. He commanded a frontline combat squadron in Europe with 350 personnel and $600 million in assets including aircraft and related equipment. Mid-career, he became Director of Honor and Ethics at the USAF Academy and later served at the Pentagon in Washington D.C. as advisor to the Secretary of Defense on command and control issues. He was also Vice Commandant of the USAF Academy. Before becoming President of TCA, he served for six years as the Director of the Center for Character Development at the USAF Academy. His Center developed, taught, and administered character education and training programs for 4,300 students in ethical decision-making, student honor system, diversity, gender, racial, and religious tolerance. He oversaw the alcohol, drug, and substance abuse prevention program, while also responsible for community service activities, character assessment, research, and experiential learning. Lastly, he integrated character education across student life, including 21 academic departments and 27 NCAA Division One athletic teams. Earlier in the decade, he served as the President of the Center for Academic Integrity at Duke University for two years.
In 2000, he received the Citizenship and Character Award from former President Gerald Ford for his leadership of the “cutting edge” character development program at the USAF Academy. The John Templeton Foundation also recognized his Center as one of the top character-building programs in the nation. CEP named TCA a National School of Character in 2004. He currently serves on the National School Climate Center advisory board in NYC. In January 2014, he starts as one of the columnists for School Administrator magazine’s monthly Ethical Educator column. Additionally in his role as President of CEP, he’s been published in several newspapers nationwide and in many Educational Magazines on the subject of Character and Leadership. Lastly, since starting his service at CEP in Jan 2012, he’s been invited to the White House three times. Most recently, in 2013 he served on the White House School Violence Task force in the wake of the Newtown Connecticut tragedy.
Mark’s recent articles:
- The Content of Our Character
- Creating Safe Spaces that Nurture Learning
- Does ‘Teaching to the Test’ Actually Encourage Cheating?
- How Can We Avoid These Senseless Shootings
- Cultivating Character
- A Legacy of Character – McDonnell-Douglas CEO showed nice guys can finish first
- Leadership Failures are Character Failures
- Third Grader’s Story
- Interview with The McGraw-Hill Research Foundation
Joseph W. Mazzola
Joe Mazzola came to CEP in August of 2006, following nearly thee years as Director of the Center for Character Development at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He holds a master’s degree in education from George Washington University, a master’s in public administration from the University of Texas at San Antonio and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of West Florida. He is married to the former Laura DeJohn, and they have a daughter and two sons. Joe was appointed CEP’s Vice President on January 1, 2012.
Chief Operating Officer
Becky Sipos became chief operating officer at CEP after serving for five years as director of communications. She joined the organization in February of 2007. She coordinates the National Forum on Character Education and directs various writing projects. Prior to starting at CEP, Becky, a reading specialist, taught English and journalism for more than 30 years. At her last school, she directed various character education programs that led her school to recognition as a National School of Character finalist. She also has worked as a news reporter, freelance writer and editor. Becky has received numerous awards, including Teacher of the Year, Thomas Jefferson Award for Lifetime Achievement, and the Journalism Education Association’s Medal of Merit. Becky holds a master’s degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, as well as a bachelor degree in English from Drake University. She serves on the advisory board of the Center for Scholastic Journalism at Kent State University. She is married to Larry Sipos, and they have two grown children and four grandchildren.
Dr. Russ Sojourner
Director, Schools of Character
Dr. Russ Sojourner has a BS in Behavioral Science, and MS in Industrial Engineering, and a PhD in Psychology. After graduating from the United States Air Force Academy, Russ served in the Air Force for 20 years, having completed two tours of duty at the Academy as an Instructor, Assistant Professor, and Associate Professor in the Department of Behavioral Science and Leadership, where he taught courses in Behavioral Science, Human Factors, Aviation Psychology, and Marriage and Family. Russ also served in the Academy’s Center for Character Development, where he was in charge of character and leadership development for the 4400 member cadet wing. Upon retiring from the Air Force in 2004, Russ became an Assistant Principal and Director of Character Education and Development at The Classical Academy (TCA), a National School of Character and the largest charter school in the state of Colorado. Russ spent the last seven years as TCA’s Junior High Principal, and he was recently honored as the Titan of the Year, TCA’s most prestigious annual award. Russ has devoted most of his professional life to educating and developing character in our nation’s youth, and he passionately believes in the power of role modeling, building strong relationships, positive peer pressure, and parents who are committed to developing ethical behavior in their children.
Dr. David Keller
Director of Transformation and Strategic Initiatives
Dave Keller is our Director of Transformation and Strategic Initiatives, leading efforts to expand CEP’s impact through many exciting new endeavors. Dave came to CEP following a noteworthy 20+ year career in the U.S. Air Force, where he directed all cadet character and leadership programs at the Air Force Academy, including 120 annual seminars and the Academy’s acclaimed 2-day National Character & Leadership Symposium. Dave led many of the Academy’s organizational culture/climate change efforts, to include guiding the nation’s largest collegiate peer education cohort, championing gender equality issues, and managing licensed counselors at the Academy’s counseling center. In 2009-2010, Dave served as the senior U.S. advisor to the Iraqi Air Force Academy in Baghdad, working side-by-side with Iraqi leaders to rebuild the Iraqi military. He later guided the efforts of U.S. Air Force personnel across 7 locations in Iraq, and was one of the principle authors of the initial U.S. drawdown strategic plan. Dave is a popular and engaging classroom instructor, having taught leadership and character development courses for both the Air Force Academy and Texas A&M University. He holds an undergraduate degree in Human Behavior & Leadership from the U.S. Air Force Academy, and a Master’s in Industrial/ Organizational Psychology from St Mary’s University in San Antonio. Dave earned his Ph.D. from Texas A&M, where his primary research focused on moral and ethical development of leaders.
Sora Wondra joined CEP in 2013 after several months of volunteering and conducting legislative research on character education. She assists with CEP’s development and advancement efforts. Prior to joining CEP, Sora taught psychology to gifted and talented students in the U.S. and also lived abroad in the Republic of Georgia, where she taught English as a Foreign Language and conducted research on educational reform. She has an M.Phil. in Education from the University of Cambridge and a B.A. in Psychology from Coe College. Sora is a member of the Pi Lambda Theta Education Society, has been a Cambridge Overseas Trust Scholar, and is a recipient of the Linnie E. Schloeman Prize in Teacher Education Excellence at Coe College. When she’s not working or otherwise supporting the efforts of educational improvement, Sora enjoys backpacking and mountaineering with her husband, Nic Wondra.
Webmaster & IT Coordinator
Iris Wyatt returned to CEP in July of 2007. She previously worked at CEP from 2001 to 2005. Iris oversees CEP’s website and formats and distributes the Essential Character electronic newsletter each month. She has 20 years of experience providing field service and technical support to a variety of companies and holds an associate of arts degree from the University of the District of Columbia in advertising design.
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Leon moved to New York City at age 8. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in business from Saint Peters College in New Jersey. Leon spent several years in banking, gaining extensive knowledge and experience in customer service. He is currently working towards his MBA with a focus on management, and plans to pursue a career in teaching.
Heather joined CEP as Office Administrator after graduating with an M.A. in Literary and Cultural Studies at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. She has a brief background in nonprofits but extensive experience in education and social justice work. Her main duties include office management, event planning for the annual Forum, the National Schools of Character program, and generally keeping the cogs turning. Outside of work, Heather loves to write short fiction and draw.