Who We Are

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Vice President

Thomas Kelsh is a respected educational researcher with a special focus on translating research to practice. He has directed numerous studies of national and state-level education reform while also providing executive oversight to the NYS Center for School Safety. Dr. Kelsh is a certified school and district administrator as well as classroom teacher. He formerly served as a lead researcher for the New York State Education Department Office of Higher Education. He is a former Peace Corp Volunteer having served in Chile with the Ministry of Education.



    Pre-K-20 Education

  • Statewide Systems of Technical Assistance and Support For Title I Low-Performing Districts and Schools

  • Preschool Special Education Program Quality and Child Performance Indicators

  • Special Education Preservice Research

  • Career and Technical Education Policy Analyses

  • Adult Literacy Program Evaluation

  • Early Reading First and Reading First Program Evaluation and Technical Assistance

  • Youth At-Risk Prevention and Intervention Evaluation Data-Driven Decision-Making Technical Assistance and Training


     Research and Evaluation

  • Quantitative and Qualitative Instrument Design and Analysis

  • Program Self-Assessment Systems for Continuous Improvement

  • Analysis of National, State, and Local Data



  • Ed.D. (1988), Curriculum & Instruction, State University of New York at Albany

  • M.S. (1983), Educational Psychology, State University of New York at Albany

  • B.S. (1979), Educational Psychology, Bloomsburg University

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Project Director, New York State Center for School Safety

As Director, Tina Tierney is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the NYS Center for School Safety (NYSCFSS). She oversees all aspects of the Center’s services and deliverables including: VADIR/DASA training; school site visits; technical assistance with school safety planning; review and development of Incident Reduction Plans (IRPs); school climate assessment; and professional learning opportunities. Tina has worked collaboratively with team members on regional, statewide, and international evaluation projects as well as statewide professional development projects designed to provide a safe, supportive learning environment for students.  Ms. Tierney’s project experience also includes the design and implementation of professional development to improve outcomes for students with disabilities, capacity

building of districts and schools, and use of research-based practices.  Prior to joining Measurement Incorporated, Ms. Tierney worked in community-based programs designed to improve services for children in foster care, and to assist adults with mental health and substance abuse issues succeed in their community.


Experience in K-20 Education

  • HIV and STD Prevention Programs for Youth in Illinois professional development program designed to:

    • Promote a safe and supportive learning environment for students

    • Promote policies and programs to decrease bullying and sexual harassment

    • Promote parent engagement in schools

    • Foster school connectedness for students and staff

  • Evaluation of the Homeless Education Programming for McKinney-Vento Grantee Districts in New York State

  • Evaluation of Safe Schools/Healthy Students

    • School climate survey assessments

    • Evaluation of evidence-based interventions

    • Documenting outcomes of community collaborations

  • Evaluation of Civics Education

  • Maryland Environmental Literacy Evaluation

  • Preschool Special Education Quality Indicators and Program Evaluation

  • Parent Involvement Studies: Local and Statewide

  • New York State Professional Learning Center for the RSE-TASC

  • Qualitative and Quantitative Data Collection, Analyses, and Interpretation

  • Federal Accountability Reporting



  • BA in Psychology from Siena College

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Dr. Halley Eacker brings a unique combination of perspectives to her work, including researcher, professor, field-work supervisor, and special educator.

Dr. Eacker has extensive expertise in special education and designing environments to support all students’ academic, behavioral, and social-emotional health. She has conducted quantitative and qualitative research on school-based interventions, such as literacy interventions for students with disabilities and functional behavioral assessment. Dr. Eacker has presented on topics such as positive behavior supports, connecting school-based and community mental health, and instructional environments for students with disabilities. She has taught courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels on topics such as autism spectrum disorder, emotional and behavioral disorders, special education and literacy. She hopes her contributions will help build positive school environments that enable all students to feel safe to learn and grow.


Previously, Dr. Eacker provided technical assistance around the implementation of multi-tiered systems of support (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) to specialists in regional support centers across New York State. Dr. Eacker recently directed the Safe and Supportive Schools Technical Assistance Center project. The SSS-TAC supported grantee schools to improve school climate, with a focus on Restorative Practices, social emotional learning, attendance strategies, and data-based decision making. Dr. Eacker oversaw grant activities and monitored progress on indicators such as suspension rate, chronic absenteeism rate, and incidents of bullying, harassment, and discrimination.

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Senior Consultant

Jim Dillon is a highly experienced, certified school administrator and teacher with a broad background in staff development, curriculum and instruction, and special education. This grounding in practice forms the core of his expertise in providing targeted, technical assistance that meets the needs of educators. Jim has conducted numerous workshops and been an invited presenter at regional, state, and national conferences.  He has contributed articles to various national publications and websites.



  K-20 Education

  • Principal of the Year (2007), Greater Capital District Principal Center, NY

  • Authored The Peaceful School Bus (published by Hazelden) that is implemented in schools across the country to reduce and prevent bullying on the school bus

  • Authored No Place for Bullying and Reframing Bullying Prevention (published by Corwin) to provide the tools to inspire the cultural shift necessary to combat menacing behavior in schools

  • Administrative Leadership Award, Character Education Program, Sage College, NY

  • Educating the Whole Child for the 21st Century Award, NYS ASCD

  • Instruction, behavior management, leadership and supervision

  • Trained in Cooperative Learning, Adaptive Schools, and Coaching/Mentoring School Leaders



  • M.S. (1978), Special Education, University at Albany

  • B.A. (1974), English Education, University at Albany Certified

  • Olweus Bully Prevention Program Trainer

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Senior Consultant

Kathy Oboyski- Butler serves as a member of the NYS Center for School Safety team.  She conducts professional development in the areas of school climate and safety, provides on-site and on-line VADIR/DASA training, leads site visits in Persistently Dangerous schools, and organizes targeted technical assistance for schools and administrators.  Kathy brings over thirty years of experience in public education as a teacher, curriculum specialist, staff developer, administrator, and assistant superintendent in urban and suburban schools.  In addition to her work with state-wide professional development seminars, Kathy was also an adjunct a Sage Graduate School for over ten years.


   PK-12 Education

  • Professional Development design, delivery, and evaluation

  • NYSED data entry and review

  • Building strong leadership teams in schools

  • Curriculum and Instruction design and delivery

  • Creating and maintaining effective Data Teams

  • Addressing the needs of adult learners



  • C.A.S. School Building and District Leadership, College of Saint Rose, Albany

  • M.S. Ed. Special Education, College of Saint Rose, Albany

  • B.S. Elementary Education, College of Saint Rose, Albany

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Senior Consultant

Willie Freeman has decades of experience helping districts and schools create and maintain safe learning environments. A former New York City police officer, Willie has successfully assisted large urban districts in designing and evaluating school safety plans, performing facility audits, and initiating community-based violence prevention programming.


  • Directed and coordinated large-scale personnel and security officers in daily operations and investigations.

  • Directed enforcement of compliance with standards, codes, city ordinances, state law, federal law and court orders.

  • Determined organizational goals and objectives to prevent and reduce crime in order to promote high-quality learning environments.

  • Developed and implemented methods for monitoring emergency response, crisis management, and other special concerns for a large school district and/or organization.

  • Evaluated efficiency and effectiveness of investigative operations and objectives.

  • Act as a liaison and coordinate activities between local, state, and federal agencies.

  • Conducted reviews, evaluate security operations, and generate reports for federal, state, and local officials.

  • Developed presentations to share with stakeholders—parents and community members—at community forums to improve police and community relations.

  • Managed a multi-million dollar budget.

  • Conducted a strategic data analysis, utilize data to set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound) goals, and implement progress monitoring and benchmarks to assess progress.

  • Conducted presentations for the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, U.S. Department of Education re: REMS Grantees, Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools

  • Developed District-Wide/Local Building Emergency Plans for Schools

  • Conducted Security Risk Assessments for Schools

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Professional Development Specialist

Sarah Murphy brings to the team a decade of experience in the education field serving as a middle school teacher, professional development facilitator, and continuing education developer. Before joining the Center for School Safety team as a Professional Development Specialist for the Safe and Supportive Schools Technical Assistance Center, Ms. Murphy has worked with institutions such as the State University of New York and Pace University to develop remote professional development and continuing education for teachers across the state. Prior to her work in the professional development field, she pursued her Master’s degree in Education, Culture, and Society at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research and expertise center around civic identity and development, remote learning, and student-led community building. She looks forward to working with schools across the state to create safe and secure learning communities for teachers and students alike.

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Senior Consultant

Amy is an experienced leader in the fields of mental health, suicide prevention and education. She most recently served as Project Director for the School Mental Health Resource and Training Center, at the Mental Health Association of New York State. In this role, she developed and managed a statewide technical assistance center to support mental health education in schools, including curriculum content, family education, and professional development. Some of her most exciting professional moments include speaking engagements with the National Center for School Mental Health, the National School Boards Association and Mental Health America to share the groundbreaking work of the Resource Center with advocates and education leaders. Amy is a certified Mental Health First Aid trainer and a former School Board Member with Masters degrees in Social Work and Education.  Currently, as a trainer and consultant, Amy works with schools and organizations to promote health, safety and community through collaboration, equity and a trauma-informed lens.

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Project Assistant

As the Project Assistant for the New York State Center for School Safety, Dawn is responsible for helping to plan and coordinate statewide training events, and providing day to day operational support.  Her support tasks include maintaining correspondence with stakeholders, assisting with the implementation of professional development and technical assistance programs, and collecting evaluation data as part of the Center’s continuous improvement process.  Dawn is committed to providing the highest level of professional support.  Her recent prior experience includes working on appeals processing and account review for the New York State of Health (NYSOH) – New York State’s response to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.


  • M.B.A. University at Albany, State University of New York

  • B.S. Management, Russell Sage College