About Us | Board of Directors

Partners for Educational Leadership’s Board of Directors brings passion, deep expertise, and eclectic experience to school and district improvement.  The board members have served as top leaders drawn from the worlds of not-for-profit, business, government, philanthropy, and higher education.

Mendi Blue-Paca

Board Chair

Mendi is Chief Community Impact Officer at Fairfield County’s Community Foundation. Mendi leads grantmaking, programs, advocacy, community engagement and data science and evaluation for the $220 million regional funder. As the key liaison for cross-sector collaborations with nonprofits, funders, external constituent groups and local elected officials, she oversees the $17 million Fund for Women & Girls; Center for Nonprofit Excellence, Fairfield County’s largest capacity-building hub that serves 400+ nonprofits annually; and systems change initiatives to close the opportunity gap in education, employment, housing and health.

Prior to joining the community foundation, Mendi had diverse, cross-sector experience. She has been a strategic consultant to more than 40 of the largest U.S.-based philanthropic organizations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates, Ford, William and Flora Hewlett, W.K. Kellogg, Robert Wood Johnson, David and Lucile Packard and Walton Family foundations.

Her experience in the private and nonprofit sectors includes work at Goldman Sachs & Co., Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, which has repeatedly been ranked the country’s top law firm. Mendi has also served in public sector leadership positions, most recently as the Director of Development and Policy for the City of New Haven, where she secured $15 million in competitive funding for the city and developed strategies for innovation, advocacy and process improvement.

Mendi has a bachelor’s in economics cum laude from Harvard College, a Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School and a Master’s in Business Administration from Harvard Business School. She is passionate about entrepreneurship and reproductive and mental health, and loves trying new recipes. Mendi is a board member of Harvard Business School Community Partners of CT.. She lives with her husband, daughter and doodle in Trumbull, CT.

Mendi Blue-Paca

Erin Haberman

Vice Chair

Erin L. Haberman is director of Community Relations for Travelers and a senior program officer for the Travelers Foundation. In this role she is responsible for the company’s charitable giving volunteerism in Connecticut, as well as community resilience programs, including Travelers Fortifies Homes and the Travelers Excellence in Community Resilience Award.

Previously, she was the director of Public Policy Initiatives for the Travelers Institute, where she was responsible for all aspects of the development, promotion and implementation of Travelers Institute initiatives. In her first role at Travelers, she worked in Corporate Communications, managing external communications for Community Relations and the Travelers Foundation, Travelers Championship, Investor Relations, Human Resources and other corporate activities. Prior to joining Travelers, she worked as an account executive at Teak Media Communications in Boston, where she conducted public relations for numerous accounts, including Brandeis University and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Erin holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Trinity College. She currently serves on the steering committee for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Connecticut Working Cities Challenge. She also is the co-chair of the Connecticut Council of Philanthropy’s Hartford Funders Group. Erin is a graduate of the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship’s Leadership Academy.

Erin Haberman

Len Miller


Len Miller, a Certified Public Accountant, founded Miller & Company in 1970, which is the predecessor to O’Connor Davies. In 1990 he founded SoundWaters, an environmental education organization focusing on science education and Long Island Sound. Len was chair of Stamford Achieves, an organization helping to close the achievement gap in Stamford, Connecticut

Len served as treasurer for Governor Malloy’s gubernatorial campaigns in 2010 and 2014, is treasurer of Partners for Educational Leadership, and is currently chair of Discovering Amistad. He is a graduate of University of Connecticut.

Len Miller

Steven Hernández


Steven Hernandez, Esq. is the executive director for the Commission on Women, Children and Seniors.  Mr. Hernández previously served the CT state legislature as director of public policy and research for the Connecticut Commission on Children.  Prior to joining the Commission, Mr. Hernandez served seven years as legislative and budget director in the office of Washington, D.C., Councilmember Jim Graham.  Mr. Hernández served as a clerk to two judges in the District’s Court of Appeals and as a consultant to the Washington law firm Baker & Miller, PLLC. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Bennington College in Vermont in 1995 and a juris doctor degree from the Washington College of Law at American University.

Steven Hernandez

Robert Blakey

Rob Blakey is the Controller for CONNSTEP, the designated Manufacturing Extension Partnership (“MEP”) center for Connecticut.  Rob has fifteen years of non-profit accounting experience as well as several years working with small businesses.  Prior to joining CONNSTEP, Rob has served as the CFO, and Interim CEO, of the Connecticut Association for Human Services where he guided the organization through a merger with AIDS Connecticut to form the umbrella agency Advancing Connecticut Together.  He also has experience conducting economic demographic analysis as a consultant prior to entering the field of accounting.

Rob has earned as a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and a Master of Science in Accounting from the University of Connecticut. He has also earned a Master of Arts in Economics from the American University in Washington, DC.

David Nee

David Nee has held a variety of positions in corrections at the municipal, federal and state levels, culminating in his service as director of the Office of Program Development for the Massachusetts Department of Corrections.  During his career in philanthropy, David has exercised national leadership in a variety of fields.  He was a founding member of the board of the National Community Aids Partnership, now the National AIDS Fund. From 1981 to 1993 he served the Florence V. Burden Foundation and then the Ittleson Foundation as executive director.

Starting in 1993, David helped to co-create the National Collaborative for Violence Prevention. He co-chaired the governing board of the Collaborative, now incorporated as the Institute for Community Peace. David became the first executive director of the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund in 1993.  The Memorial Fund works collaboratively to improve education for Connecticut’s children by supporting school change, informing the public debate on educational issues and strengthening the involvement of parents and the community in both K-12 education and predominately, in early care and education.

David graduated from Harvard College, holds a master’s degree in English from Yale University, and a master’s degree in business administration from Boston University.

David Nee

Elsa M. Núñez

Dr. Elsa M. Núñez is president of Eastern Connecticut State University.  She joined the University in 2006 following more than 20 years as a senior administrator at such institutions as City University of New York (CUNY) and the University of Maine System. She has firmly established Eastern’s reputation as Connecticut’s only public liberal arts university, and under her leadership, Eastern is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 25th top public regional university in the Northern United States.

Elsa has been a tenured faculty member of English at Ramapo State College, the College of Staten Island (CUNY), and Lehman College (CUNY). She also holds a faculty position as Professor of English at Eastern. Author of two books “Pursuing Diversity” (1992) and “Hanging Out and Hanging On: From the Projects to the Campus” (2014), she also has published numerous articles on language acquisition, diversity and other education issues.

Elsa received her B.A. from Montclair State College, her M.A. from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a doctorate from Rutgers University.

Elsa Núñez

Ted Sergi

Ted Sergi has spent 50 years in education and public policy in Connecticut.  He is the former Connecticut Commissioner of Education and founding president of the Connecticut Science Center. He serves on the Boards of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and the Connecticut Science Center.

Ted Sergi