The Founders

  • Fun Facts

    Favorite Quote
    "Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play." —Heraclitus, philosopher (500 BCE)
    Inspiration
    The teachers and children that we work with at Tools.
    Most Unusual Job
    I worked in a vineyard in Bordeaux before I went to college.
    Deborah Leong, Ph.D.
    Co-founder and President

    Dr. Deborah J. Leong is the Executive Director of Tools of the Mind and Professor Emerita of Psychology at Metropolitan State University of Denver, where she taught for 36 years in the Psychology Department and in the Department of Education.  Dr. Leong developed the Tools of the Mind approach with Dr. Bodrova with whom she has written numerous books, articles, and educational videos on the Vygotskian Approach to Psychology and the development of play. Dr. Leong has written several books on early childhood assessment with Drs. McAfee and Bodrova.  She has her Ph.D. from Stanford University in Psychological Studies in Education, her M.Ed. from Harvard University, and her B.A. from Stanford University.  She was a Fulbright Fellow to the University of Patagonia, Argentina.

    Dr. Deborah J. Leong is the Executive Director of Tools of the Mind and Professor Emerita of Psychology at Metropolitan State University of Denver, where she taught for 36 years in the Psychology Department and in the Department of Education.  Dr. Leong developed the Tools of the Mind approach with Dr. Bodrova with whom she has written numerous books, articles, and educational videos on the Vygotskian Approach to Psychology and the development of play. Dr. Leong has written several books on early childhood assessment with Drs. McAfee and Bodrova.  She has her Ph.D. from Stanford University in Psychological Studies in Education, her M.Ed. from Harvard University, and her B.A. from Stanford University.  She was a Fulbright Fellow to the University of Patagonia, Argentina.

  • Fun Facts

    Bucket List Items
    Travel to Asia, Europe, and Australia
    Favorite Place
    The Mountains
    Most Surprising Thing About You
    In middle school, I had to pass a test taking apart and assembling an AK-47.
    Elena Bodrova, Ph.D.
    Co-founder and Tools Knowledge Advisor

    Elena Bodrova, Ph.D. is currently the Director for Research and Development at Tools of the Mind and a Research Fellow at the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. In collaboration with Dr. Deborah Leong, she developed Tools of the Mind program based on Vygotskian and post-Vygotskian theories of learning and Luria’s theories of brain development. Dr. Bodrova’s work on applying Lev Vygotsky’s theory to education began in Russia where she worked in the Institute for Preschool Education, and continued in the US where she worked as a Visiting Professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver and later as a Principal Researcher at Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning. Dr. Bodrova is the coauthor with Dr. Leong of multiple articles and book chapters on early literacy, assessment, play, and self-regulation. Dr. Bodrova holds Ph.D. in Child Development and Educational Psychology from Russian Academy of Pedagogical Sciences and M.A. in Child Development and Educational psychology from Moscow State University, Russia.

    Elena Bodrova, Ph.D. is currently the Director for Research and Development at Tools of the Mind and a Research Fellow at the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. In collaboration with Dr. Deborah Leong, she developed Tools of the Mind program based on Vygotskian and post-Vygotskian theories of learning and Luria’s theories of brain development. Dr. Bodrova’s work on applying Lev Vygotsky’s theory to education began in Russia where she worked in the Institute for Preschool Education, and continued in the US where she worked as a Visiting Professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver and later as a Principal Researcher at Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning. Dr. Bodrova is the coauthor with Dr. Leong of multiple articles and book chapters on early literacy, assessment, play, and self-regulation. Dr. Bodrova holds Ph.D. in Child Development and Educational Psychology from Russian Academy of Pedagogical Sciences and M.A. in Child Development and Educational psychology from Moscow State University, Russia.

The Leadership Team

  • Fun Facts

    Bucket List
    Seeing a moose, northern lights and grandchildren!
    Favorite Place
    Anywhere by the ocean.
    Coveted Superpower
    Teleportation, so I could spend more time with the ones I love (and more time by the ocean!).
    Barb Wilder-Smith
    Executive Director
  • Fun Facts

    Most Unusual Job
    Sesame Workshop on a study that led to Sesame Street's Healthy Habit Initiative.
    Weekends Spent
    Hiking, snowshoeing and/or rock climbing. Sometimes it's spent binge-watching Netflix though!
    Bucket List
    See the northern lights in Iceland
    Megan Spacciapoli
    Director of Evaluation and P3 Partnerships
  • Fun Facts

    Describe yourself using three words.
    Passionate, enthusiastic, and thoughtful
    What inspires you?
    Watching children play and interact
    Who has been the most influential person in your life?
    My mother
    Giordana Cote
    Director of Partnership Development

The Content Development Team

  • Fun Facts

    Favorite Quote
    “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.” — Don Draper
    Most Unusual Job
    Teaching English in Italy to 11-year-olds.
    Coveted Superpower
    Touch a book and know everything inside.
    David Brooke
    Creative Development Manager
  • Fun Facts

    Who has been the most influential person in your life?
    My mom, hands down.
    What is the most surprising thing about you?
    I wrote a published book about fairies for children.
    What talent or superpower would you like to have (not including flight or invisibility) and why?
    To be in several places at once...so I can explore and learn about everything I want to!
    Angela Robinson
    Content Specialist
  • Fun Facts

    What three things are on your bucket list?
    Camping under the Aurora Borealis, touching the Egyptian pyramids, and experiencing zero-G
    What inspires you?
    The way young children experience the world around them
    What talent or superpower would you like to have (not including flight or invisibility) and why?
    Teleportation (is that cheating?)
    Jillian Sullivan
    Content Specialist
  • Fun Facts

    Favorite Quote
    The only way to have a friend is to be one.
    Theme Song
    Canon in D Major by Pachelbel
    Inspiration
    Music
    Ruth Hensen
    Content Advisor

The Operations Team

  • Fun Facts

    Most Unusual Job
    Body toning exercise instructor.
    Favorite Food
    Dessert.
    Coveted Superpower
    Healer.
    Carolyn Erhart
    Program Assistant
  • Fun Facts

    What is your favorite quote?
    "Never lose your sense of wonder."
    How do you spend your weekends?
    Exploring, trying new foods, and writing. (Relaxing and watching Netflix, too!)
    Describe yourself using three words.
    Adventurous, empathetic, passionate
    Tatianna Plefka
    Partnership Development Administrator
  • Fun Facts

    What is your favorite quote?
    "The tool is the love." -- Japanese bike designer
    What inspires you?
    People driven to make the world a better place, nature, transformation
    What talent or superpower would you like to have (not including flight or invisibility) and why?
    Omniscience
    Mara Viana
    Program Coordinator
  • Fun Facts

    Who has been the most influential person in your life?
    My mom
    Describe yourself using three words.
    mother, environmentalist, passionate
    How do you spend your weekends?
    Camping, hiking, biking...or anything educational.
    Cyndi Cadigan
    Finance and Administration Manager
  • Fun Facts

    Favorite place in the entire world?
    Being on any mountain.
    How do you spend your weekends?
    Taking my dog out on an adventure, exploring different neighbourhoods & restaurants in Toronto, cooking a batch of food for the upcoming week, unwinding with a nice workout class.
    What is your favorite quote?
    The mind is like a parachute, it only works when it’s open
    Jasmine Lam
    PowerTools Segment Manager
  • Fun Facts

    Who has been the most influential person in your life?
    My parents
    Favorite place in the entire world?
    Ogunquit, Maine--in the summer!
    What is your favorite quote?
    "Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think." Christopher Robin
    Diane Root
    Sr. Marketing Specialist

The Training Team

  • Fun Facts

    Bucket List
    Hike Machu Picchu, travel Europe by bicycle, qualify for the Boston Marathon.
    Favorite Food
    Veggie Pizza.
    Weekends Spent
    Running, doing yoga, hiking with my husband, walking my pup Teal, and cooking.
    Aisha O’Donnell
    Partnership Development Manager
  • Fun Facts

    Three Words
    Inquisitive, reflective, persistent.
    Favorite Place
    Laguna de Iguaque, Colombia.
    Most Surprising Thing
    I am not allowed to go by myself to any toy store (no self-regulation).
    Luis Gallego
    Partnership Development Manager
  • Fun Facts

    Bucket List
    Travel to Italy.
    Most Unusual Job
    Working at Casa Bonita as a photographer in the jail.
    Most Surprising Thing
    I love to watch Seinfeld.
    Kim Wilson
    Partnership Development Manager
  • Fun Facts

    What are three things on your bucket list?
    Fly an Airplane, Write A Book, Cliff Dive With a Wing Suit
    What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning?
    Coffee and Sunshine
    What is your favorite quote?
    "Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better." - Albert Einstein
    Jennifer Martin
    Partnership Development Manager
  • Fun Facts

    Favorite Quote
    "If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun." —Katherine Hepburn
    First Thought Upon Waking
    Coffee.
    Weekends Spent
    Walking, reading, and rowing my rowboat.
    Maggie Sullivan
    Partnership Development Specialist
  • Fun Facts

    Describe yourself using three words.
    Thoughtful, empathic, curious
    What is your favorite food?
    Berries and breakfast sandwiches
    How do you spend your weekends?
    Hiking, cooking and working on home projects.
    Alina Russo
    Partnership Development Specialist
  • Fun Facts

    Three Words
    Tall, curious, helpful.
    Favorite Quote
    "I knew when I met you an adventure was going to happen." —A.A. Milne
    Bucket List
    Cross-country road trip, eating my way through Italy.
    Carol Carroll
    Partnership Development Specialist
  • Fun Facts

    Describe yourself using three words.
    Curious, persistent, nurturing
    Favorite place in the entire world?
    Oregon coast
    What talent or superpower would you like to have (not including flight or invisibility) and why?
    I wish I could telepathically transmit a calming energy to others.
    Megan Blair-Cabasco
    Partnership Development Specialist
  • Fun Facts

    Describe yourself using three words.
    adventurous, gregarious, sincere
    What is the most surprising thing about you?
    I did Outward Bound for 21days in Utah when I was 17. They confiscated my curling iron upon arrival. It ended up changing my life.
    What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning?
    my to do list, then my kids :)
    Kristen Contis
    Partnership Development Specialist
  • Fun Facts

    If you had a song that played whenever you walked into a room what would it be?
    Happy . by Pharrell
    What inspires you?
    A smile.
    What is the most surprising thing about you?
    I'm an eclectic artist
    Susan Coopersmith
    Partnership Development Specialist