Bringing together committed and passionate leaders for a better Elkhart County.
Brian Wiebe, President/CEO
In November 2009, Brian joined 200 other Elkhart County leaders to determine the best response to the Great Recession’s negative impact on our community. Beginning in 2011, he became the lead visionary for what would become Horizon Education Alliance, and then in 2012, was selected by the new HEA board of school superintendents and business CEOs to be the organization’s first Executive Director. Since that time, he has overseen growth in staffing, governing board, budget, and countywide influence as HEA has launched the effort to raise educational attainment in Elkhart County.
Prior to HEA, Brian worked as a educator for 25 years in early childhood, middle education, high school, and higher education as teacher, professor, and administrator, including 10 years as founding Executive Director of the Goshen College Music Center. During these 25 years, he conducted orchestras, choirs, operas, and a dozen performances of Handel’s Messiah.
Brian has a Master’s Degree in music from Northwestern University and a Master’s in Arts in Intercultural Leadership from Goshen College. He has served on local, regional and national boards, and was one of the initial co-chairs of the South Bend | Elkhart Region’s “Education and Workforce Committee.” When he’s not working he enjoys training for marathons, and in mid-2019, he survived the swim and bike portions of his first triathlon and completed a Half Ironman.
Dr. Aliah Carolan-Silva, VP of Research and Integration
Aliah received her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Michigan State University. She has conducted multiple research and evaluation studies in the areas of education and community development, educational equity, family-school relationships, and college access. Aliah taught elementary students in rural Paraguay, migrant youth in Michigan, and pre- and in-service teachers at Michigan State University.
During her graduate studies, Aliah was awarded both a Spencer Fellowship and a Fulbright Fellowship to conduct research on improving educational outcomes for disadvantaged youth. Prior to coming to HEA, she spent three years as a post-doctoral fellow with the Center for Intercultural Teaching and Learning at Goshen College.
Steve Brenneman, VP of External Relations
Steve Brenneman joined HEA in October 2019 to direct the organization’s efforts in external relations, including fundraising, partnership development, and public relations.
Steve earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Eastern Mennonite University in 1994. In 1999, he founded Aluminum Trailer Company in Nappanee, growing it to $65 million in revenue by 2018, when he transitioned from CEO to board chair and Lean Management System Coach. He led a full-scale implementation of the Lean system at ATC and began coaching local business leaders who wanted to implement Lean in their own operations.
Steve also has experience in local community fundraising efforts including campaigns for Mennonite Central Committee and Goshen Health.
Sarah Metzler, VP of Foundations for Learning
Sarah’s educational journey has led to diverse experiences and perspectives on child development. As an 8-year old, she was immersed in a public elementary school in Paraguay, where she later returned to volunteer for a year in a children’s shelter. After graduating from Goshen College with degrees in art and conflict resolution, Sarah served as an Americorps volunteer with the Juvenile Justice Department and Victim Offender Reconciliation Program in Boulder, Colorado. She has also instructed young adult English language learners in Chile and taught at the high school and middle school levels in Colorado before returning to Elkhart County, where she served as a TAP Master Teacher and Instructional Guide in Goshen Public School System.
Sarah has been an integral part of three systemic school and district-level reform programs: Standards-Based Education in Colorado and TAP and EL Education (Formerly Expeditionary Learning) in Goshen Public Schools. She holds a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction and is a National Board Certified Teacher.
Dr. Bruce Stahly, Senior Advisor for Finance
Dr. Stahly is a graduate of Goshen College majoring in mathematics and chemistry and attained his Masters’ Degree and Doctoral Degree in Education from Indiana University. His doctoral research was on the Equity of School Finance in Indiana from 1973 to 1990.
Dr. Stahly’s administrative professional career includes assistant superintendent positions at MSD of Wabash County, School City of Mishawaka, South Bend Community Schools, and Goshen Community Schools. He became Superintendent of Goshen Community Schools in 2002 and served in that role until 2012. Since 2012, he has served as a consultant for numerous school corporations and returned as an assistant superintendent for School City of Mishawaka in 2016 through 2018 and as Interim Superintendent at Fairfield Community Schools from January through June of 2019. He currently works part-time for Horizon Education Alliance as the Senior Advisor for Finance and continues with other consultant work for schools.
Breanna Allen, Director of Student Pathways
Born and raised in Terre Haute, Ind., Breanna made her way up to the South Bend-Elkhart region in 2012 as a Higher Education Administrator. Over the past six years, Breanna has worked for Harrison College and Ivy Tech Community College in various roles such as Manager of Student Services and Director of Career Development.
Breanna’s experience working in higher education includes assisting college students in preparation for the workforce, along with logistical coordination for students, faculty, staff, and external partners.
Anabel Bruner, Adult Pathways Orientation Coordinator
Anabel joined HEA in June of 2019 in the Adult Pathways office in Elkhart as the coordinator of the monthly High School Equivalency (HSE) orientations. She’s fluent in English and Spanish, which is useful as she warmly greets students and answers the phone for our organization.
Her parents are from Monterrey, Mexico, and she was born in Texas before moving north to Elkhart where she now resides with her husband and five pets. She is the only one of her four siblings to go to college and graduate. She previously worked in the medical field and is excited to be working with a group of people that want to help the community. Anabel finds it rewarding to help someone achieve their goals.
Myra Cors, PAX Coordinator
Myra graduated from Anderson (College) University and started her teaching career at Elkhart Community Schools (ECS). She spent her first 22 years as an elementary special education teacher and then the next 12 years as a Behavior Specialist with ECS, retiring after 34 years.
Besides working with Elkhart County Elementary schools as the PAX Good Behavior Game Coordinator, Myra is an adjunct professor at Bethel (College) University, teaching early childhood and elementary education classes and supervising the early childhood student teachers. Myra is also a Professional Development Specialist helping pre-school teachers who are working on their Child Development Associate Credential.
Misael Cortez, CPT and ELL Instructor
Misael is a bi-lingual English Language Learner and Certified Production Technician Instructor for adult learners.
Cindi Dixon, Director of Finance
Cindi worked for 12 years in the Dean’s office at the College of Arts and Letters at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. She then spent nine years at Learning Generation Initiative and then with HEA following the merger with HEA, where she handled the office management, purchasing, and bookkeeping and oversaw the data entry for the Adult Education state-wide database.
Currently, Cindi oversees all of the organization’s financials as well as Human Resources, office management, and IT. She manages HEA’s receivables and payables, budget and audit, as well as the grant accounting and reporting. She has her associates degree from Hesston College in Hesston, Kansas.
Kent Dutchersmith, ECoSistema Lead Teaching Artist
Playing music, teaching music, and empowering others to do music have been life-long passions of Kent’s. At Goshen College, Kent studied music, elementary education and TESOL. Kent earned his masters in music education with an emphasis in Orff Schulwerk at Anderson University.
Kent taught elementary music (and ESL) for 18 years with Goshen Community Schools, which included directing Goshen’s only Orff Ensembles for 10 years (at Chamberlain and Model elementary schools). Kent is also a performer and a multi-instrumentalist and has recorded two albums with the family oriented band, Kentucky T. Dutchersmith and the Rubber Band (find them on Spotify). Currently, Kent plays cello in the Maple City Community Orchestra, string bass in the Lost Luggage jazz trio, and electric bass in the church group Faithful Bread, which he has led for almost 20 years.
Kent is very excited to be part of a non-profit organization that uses music to empower children who may not otherwise have access to such opportunities.
Hillary Harder, ECoSistema Coordinator for Elkhart County
Hillary Harder grew up in Wichita, Kansas, where she attended a dual-language school and began making music at an early age. Hillary received her Bachelor of Arts from Goshen College in Music and Spanish.
Following a year in Los Angeles and the completion of her Master of Arts in Teaching degree from Longy School of Music of Bard College, Hillary brought her studies of El Sistema-inspired music education back to Elkhart County. She taught with the El Sistema-inspired program at Roosevelt STEAM Academy, where she was honored to be voted Elementary Teacher of the Year for Elkhart Community Schools for 2017-18. She is also a member of the acoustic folk band Three-Legged Chair, which released its first album in 2019 (listen on Spotify here).
Since joining the HEA team, Hillary has been thrilled to be part of the countywide El Sistema-inspired movement, launching an afterschool program at the Boys & Girls Club of Goshen and helping develop a new name and brand, ECoSistema (Elkhart County El Sistema).
As ECoSistema Coordinator, Hillary enjoys connecting with ECoSistema’s local and national partners, building community among students and families in Elkhart County, and collaborating with the EcoSistema Network to work toward the program’s vision for the future.
Carol Hemund, Adult Pathways Tutor Coordinator
Carol Hemund is HEA’s volunteer coordinator, recruiting and supporting tutors in reading, writing, and math to support literacy and HSE students. She matches volunteers with students, manages their work, and provides support and encouragement to both students and volunteers. She currently oversees 60 community volunteers.
Emily Herriott, Coordinator, Triple P of Elkhart County
Emily Herriott has been the Coordinator of Triple P in Elkhart County since this initiative’s inception in early 2015 and is responsible for overseeing the implementation of this program. Emily worked closely with Horizon Education Alliance, CAPS and other partners to bring this evidence-based parenting support program to our community.
Before taking this position, Emily worked at Child And Parent Services for eight years, first as a bilingual Parenting Instructor and then as the Director of Parenting Education. Her work in the non-profit sector over the last 25 years has mostly been in adult education and her passion is helping to remove barriers so that families from diverse backgrounds can access needed services and support. Emily has a master’s in arts in Intercultural Leadership from Goshen College.
Andrew Hershberger, Director of Marketing and Communication
Andrew is responsible for marketing, communication, and promotional efforts at Horizon Education Alliance. Before joining HEA in 2019, Andrew managed communications and promotion for Triple P – Positive Parenting Program – in Elkhart County, an HEA initiative. Prior to that, he also served as head of communication at CAPS – Child And Parent Services, and worked as an editor and page designer at The Elkhart Truth.
Andrew has a Bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing and Communication from Purdue University. He and his wife call Elkhart, Ind., home.
Allison Horner, Project Coordinator
Allison Horner joined HEA in August 2019 as a three-year Project Coordinator apprentice. Allison works with the Student Pathways team and most often with her apprenticeship mentor, Breanna Allen. One of her first projects has been working on logistics for Manufacturing Day 2019.
Allison is a junior at Northridge High School in Middlebury. Allison is a straight A student, National Honor Society Member, and a second-year captain of the varsity cheer squad. In addition, Allison is in her second year of serving as a leader for the Middlebury Youth Council Leadership program. Allison spends her free time with her family and friends. She is also a frequent volunteer at Southwestern Michigan College and coaches a youth cheer team with Fearnow Gymnastics. Much of her summers are spent watching her little brother, Max, play baseball. She looks forward to attending college and plans to major in Business.
Dr. John Hutchings, Middle Education Network Coordinator
John has worked as an educator for over 40 years. He spent the first five years of his distinguished career as a special education teacher. John then moved from the classroom into a leadership position taking the job of Supervisor of Special Education with Elkhart Community Schools, where he remained for six years. He stayed with Elkhart Community Schools providing leadership as Director of Student Services for the remainder of his career.
From the time he was a teenager, John never doubted that he would devote his life to the field of education. His work with Horizon Education Alliance is another milestone in his professional journey.
Jim Kirkton, Pathways Liaison
Jim worked for over 22 years as an English classroom teacher. During this time, he served as department chair, advised for newspaper and yearbook, served as a play director, and was awarded runner-up for Indiana Teacher of the Year. Jim also served as head football coach for 17 years. Jim has over 18 years as a school administrator at New Haven High School, Heritage Jr.-Sr. High, Churubusco Middle School, and Goshen High School.
Jim has presented at conferences regionally and statewide. Jim also served as head football coach for 17 years. Jim has over 18 years as a school administrator at New Haven High School, Heritage Jr.-Sr. High, Churubusco Middle School, and Goshen High School.
He is the co-author of the book Building a School of One: One School’s Journey, which chronicles raising student performance by personalizing the school experience and raising the academic expectation.
Sarah Koontz, Project Manager
Sarah Koontz is a project manager for Horizon Education Alliance. She works in Student Pathways and helps manage the Industry-Infused Project-Based Learning, Manufacturing Days, and Career Quest.
Prior to HEA, Sarah worked as an educator for 12 years in middle childhood education as a math teacher. Her first nine years of teaching were at Goshen Middle School where she was also a mentor teacher through TAP, a system for teacher and student advancement. Sarah earned her Master’s of Educational Leadership through Ball State University in 2013. Her last three years of teaching were at Concord Junior High School.
Sarah is passionate about education and the importance of growing all children. When she is not working, you can find her spending time with her husband and three children. She enjoys being active and cooking for others.
Cindy Norman, Literacy Coordinator
Cindy began her college career at Bethel College in Mishawaka and finished her master’s degree in Mild Disabilities at Indiana University. She taught in the Elkhart Community Schools prior to joining HEA as coordinator of the adult literacy program. She enjoys seeing how important reading is to adults and how hard they work to reach their goals.
Lena Maldonado, HSE Instructor
Lena obtained a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from Baylor University and has 15 years of experience working in government, law, and medical sectors. In her role as HSE instructor, she helps people prepare for the high school equivalency exam.
Jim Siegmann, HEA Ambassador
Jim has been serving HEA “on loan” from the Community Foundation of Elkhart County (CFEC) since January 1, 2013. Jim was Program Officer at CFEC from 2004 until 2012, and prior to that owned Siegmann Printing Company beginning in 1968 until the company was merged with Impressions, Inc. in Elkhart in 1990. Jim has served as board president of the United Way of Elkhart, president of United Way of Indiana, and has served in leadership roles in many other nonprofit organizations.
Barbara Stith, Director of Adult Pathways
Barbara received her BA from Bethel College and her MA from IUSB, concentrating in English and History. Her lifelong goal was to teach college, and she has taught at Bethel, IUSB, and is currently an associate faculty member at Trine University.
Starting with HEA in 2013, Barbara furthered her goals of working with adult learners by preparing them to take their High School Equivalency exam. In 2015, she became program manager involved in the management of curriculum and development of programming. In 2019 she became the Director of Adult Pathways.
Barbara has a heart for the students HEA Adult Pathways works with and is honored to help them achieve their goals.
Sara Tam, Triple P Team Coordinator
Sara coordinates Triple P’s administrative, childcare, and event and data needs related to Triple P’s countywide implementation.
Before joining HEA in 2019, Sara served as the Triple P and Parent Clerk at CAPS Child And Parent Services. Sara officially joined the Triple P team in 2017, but she provided freelance assistance to the initiative since 2016. Prior to working with Triple P, Sara provided clerical support and childcare for the Parenting Education department at CAPS.
Sara began working at CAPS in 2012, while she was working on attaining a Bachelor’s Degree in General Studies with a Concentration in Mathematics and Science and a Minor in Psychology, which she earned in 2016.
Carl Weaver, Pathways Liaison
Carl taught for 49 years at Goshen High School before joining HEA.
Sherry Weldy, Adult Pathways Manager
Sherry is a coach and career counselor for adult students, preparing them for life and career exploration. She also manages the state data management system.
Dr. Michelle Wirth, Research Coordinator
Michelle received her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Michigan and completed post-doctoral work at the University of Wisconsin. She is a social scientist with 20 years of experience doing research on stress and emotion, including study design, data analysis, and communicating the findings to a variety of audiences – telling stories about the science that can reach people at any level of expertise.
Michelle taught college-level psychology and neuroscience at the University of Michigan as a graduate student and at the University of Notre Dame as an Assistant Professor and Visiting Professor. She also mentored undergraduate and graduate students in science.
Michelle won a research grant from the National Institute on Aging to study resilience, stress, and stress hormone biology over the lifespan. In the community, Michelle taught brain science to middle- and high-schoolers through the Riverbend Community Math Center, and co-taught a zine-making course to middle-schoolers through Goshen Youth Arts.
HEA Administrative Staff
Brian worked as an educator for 25 years in early childhood, middle school, high school, and higher education as teacher and administrator, serving for 10 years as Executive Director of the Goshen College Music Center. Prior to leadership at Goshen College, he taught at Central Christian School in Kidron, Ohio and at Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas. At the Music Center, he was responsible for all outreach community programming that grew out of the Center’s first decade, as well as overseeing operations and fundraising.
Brian played a significant role in Elkhart County’s strategic planning process beginning in 2010 that led to the creation of the HEA in 2012 and became HEA’s first executive director in October 2012.
He has a master’s degree in music from Northwestern University and a master’s in arts in Intercultural Leadership from Goshen College.
Dr. Aliah Carolan-Silva
Director of Research
Aliah received her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Michigan State University. She has conducted multiple research and evaluation studies in the areas of education and community development, educational equity, family-school relationships, and college access.
Aliah taught elementary students in rural Paraguay, migrant youth in Michigan, and pre- and in-service teachers at Michigan State University. During her graduate studies, Aliah was awarded both a Spencer Fellowship and a Fulbright Fellowship to conduct research on improving educational outcomes for disadvantaged youth.
Prior to coming to HEA, she spent three years as a post-doctoral fellow with the Center for Intercultural Teaching and Learning at Goshen College.
Carl taught for 49 years at Goshen High School before joining HEA.
Director of Foundations for Learning
Sarah’s educational journey has led to diverse experiences and perspectives on child development. As an 8-year old, she was immersed in a public elementary school in Paraguay, where she later returned to volunteer for a year in a children’s shelter.
After graduating from Goshen College with degrees in art and conflict resolution, Sarah served as an Americorps volunteer with the Juvenile Justice Department and Victim Offender Reconciliation Program in Boulder, Colorado. She has also instructed young adult English language learners in Chile and taught at the high school and middle school levels in Colorado before returning to Elkhart County, where she served as a TAP Master Teacher and Instructional Guide in Goshen Public School System.
Sarah has been an integral part of three systemic school and district-level reform programs: Standards Based Education in Colorado and TAP and EL Education (Formerly Expeditionary Learning) in Goshen Public Schools. She holds a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction and is a National Board Certified Teacher.
Dr. Jason Harrison
Director of Pathways for Students and Adults
Jason received his Ph.D. in Leadership from Andrews University. His dissertation focused on leadership development in collaborative learning environments.
Jason has facilitated team-building and leadership development experiences for numerous schools, universities, and organizations. He has worked at Camp Friedenswald as Program Director, Goshen College as Assistant Campus Minister, and Cornerstone Christian Montessori as Interim Executive Director. His passion for experiential learning grew out of leading cross-cultural learning experiences in Ivory Coast, Liberia, Colombia, Guatemala, and Mexico.
Jason received a B.A. in Business Administration from Goshen College and an M.A. in Christian Formation/Youth Ministry from Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary.
In the community, he is involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters and LaCasa Help-A-House, and is a board member at Cornerstone Christian Montessori and serves on multiple committees at Walnut Hill Mennonite Church.