Our Team

Senior Leadership Team

Michele Baird Michele Baird Rollover

Michele Baird

CEO

Michele has worked in the education space for 35 years. Her career began in sales and marketing at Pearson and Cengage Learning. Michele went on to build a content services organization at Cengage Learning that developed over 1,000 customized online courses for Higher Education customers. Michele led the custom solutions line of business at Cengage and brought the first outcomes-based online course product to market, winning IMS and CODIE awards. More recently, Michele spent six years at Six Red Marbles, managing content development, instructional design, project management, and creative teams, and serving customers in K12, Higher Education, ed-tech, corporate and non-profit channels.

Jason Howe Jason Howe Rollover

Jason Howe

VP, Business Development

Jason Howe joined Freedom Learning Group in October 2021 and serves as our Vice President of Business Development. Jason comes from a family of service members as his father is a Coast Guard Academy alum, his father-in-law is a Vietnam War Marine Veteran and both of his grandparents served in World War II. He brings years of sales and leadership experience in both the educational technology industry and the SaaS Applications sector. Most recently, Jason served as the Applications Sales Manager for ERP Cloud Applications at Oracle. Prior to that role, he was the Director of Digital Solutions at Cengage and Sales Leader at Pearson.

Jason is a graduate of the University of South Carolina, double majoring in Business Management and Marketing with a minor in Advertising. He also studied abroad at the University of Queensland in Australia, which sparked his interest in travel. In his time away from work, Jason spends as much time outdoors and with his family as possible. He is always looking for ways to stay active. Coaching his kids’ sports, home improvement projects, hiking, basketball and golf are common activities. Jason and his family love to travel and experience new places every year.

Mary Plese Headshot Mary Plese Rollover

Mary Plese

Executive Director, Human Resources

As one of its first employees, Mary has worked with Freedom Learning Group since 2017. Partnering with the FLG Co-Founders, she provided operational support in several areas. In 2020 Mary moved into Human Resources becoming SHRM-CP certified. Mary is the Executive Director of Human Resources and enjoys working with the fantastic FLG team.

Chris Mobley Chris Mobley

Chris Mobley

Director of Operations

Chris joined FLG in September 2021 and serves as the Director of Operations.

Chris has 13 years of experience working in higher education. He earned his Masters in Education with a focus in Higher Education Leadership/Business Administration from the University of South Carolina. He has directed processes to ease transactional barriers and that lead to transformational outcomes for military families and veterans. He has worked intensively with VA and DOD compliance regulations while enhancing student support programs.

His grandfather and dad both served in the Army. He’s grateful to continue honoring their service through FLG’s social mission while providing an exceptional experience to our customers and colleagues.

He lives in rural SC with his wife and four children. When they’re not at home, they can be found at the beach or in the mountains.

Melissa Sanderson Melissa Sanderson Rollover

Melissa Sanderson

SVP of Global Talent Acquisition

Melissa joined FLG in December 2020 bringing her Talent Acquisition expertise to further the organization’s mission and vision. Joining from a Fortune 500 company and a fierce advocate for our diverse and military communities, Melissa brings years of knowledge around hiring in this space. Melissa is a US Army Military Spouse.

Natalie Skadra Rollover

Natalie Skadra

EVP of Learning Content Operations

Natalie Skadra joined FLG in August 2022 as the Executive Vice President of Learning Content Operations. Natalie’s commitment to learner-centered design spans over 25 years in adult and higher education.

Natalie began her career as an English as a Second Language and English composition instructor before turning to instructional design. Most recently, she spent nearly 15 years in educational publishing and technology leading teams of learning and instructional designers, educational technologists, project managers, and accessibility specialists collaborating with faculty and institutions to develop accessible, engaging, and inclusive learning content and curriculum.

Natalie’s recent interests are in the processes and practices of equity in design and design that creates a sense of belonging for learners. This passion for DEI undoubtedly stems from her life experiences growing up in a biracial Air Force family. Natalie holds degrees from The George Washington University and the University of Illinois at Chicago, and certificates from the University of Wisconsin and University of South Florida. Natalie also spends her time mentoring other women in technology and supporting the needs of first-generation college students. She resides in Kansas City with her husband and their two rescue dogs.

Our Team

Melissa Al-Shaer Melissa Al-Shaer

Melissa Al-Shaer

Executive Director, Content Operations

Melissa currently serves as the Executive Director of Content Operations. She joined Freedom Learning Group in 2019 as an Information Technology Subject Matter Expert. She has also served as a Project Manager and a Senior Project Director for FLG.

Melissa is a retired US Air Force veteran where she worked in the Information Technology field. While on active duty, she was assigned to various IT sections before being assigned as the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of a training department. It was here that she found her passion for content development and training. She also enjoyed working in IT Operations with a focus on continuous process improvement.

Melissa holds a Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Management and Leadership, and several Information Technology certifications.

Melissa is married to Joseph, an Army veteran, and they have one son.

Mariah Covington Mariah Covington

Mariah Covington, MS

Senior Project Director

Currently a Senior Project Director, Mariah has been with FLG since 2018 as a Subject Matter Expert and Project Manager. Mariah is a technical writer, editor, and project manager with a Master’s degree in Technical Communication from Missouri University of Science and Technology and a Bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Missouri. She also has a graduate certificate in Instructional Design from Colorado State University-Global. Mariah has developed content across STEM disciplines for the Higher Education market.

Before joining Freedom Learning Group, Mariah taught technical writing to engineering students at Missouri S&T as a Graduate Teaching Assistant and Adjunct Instructor. Before this career pivot due to military moves, she worked as a research manager performing research on medical device biocompatibility and as a research specialist creating swine models at the National Swine Resource and Research Center in Columbia, MO.

Kori Gould Kori Gould

Kori Gould

Senior Project Director

Kori has worked at FLG since 2017. She started as a Subject Matter Expert, worked as a Project Manager, and is now a Senior Project Director. Kori has worked with clients such as Wiley, Cengage, F.A. Davis, Psych Armor, Wolters Kluwer, Westchester, and Elsevier.

Angie Hood Angie Hood

Angie Hood

Manager of Talent Acquisition & Partnerships

Angie has worked at FLG since January of 2021 previously as a Recruiting Coordinator and now as Manager of Talent Acquisition and Partnerships. Before joining FLG, Angie was a non-profit grant writer, pharmaceutical representative, swim coach and teacher.

Georgia Jones Georgia Jones

Georgia Jones, Ph.D.

Manager of Talent Aquisition

Georgia Jones is an experienced content expert, curriculum and assessment author, subject matter expert, and instructional designer. She has been developing instructional content since 2018 in a variety of formats and settings, including online learning and professional development platforms.

Georgia is an experienced training facilitator, presenter, and online instructor. For nearly a decade, she has provided training and informational lectures in a wide variety of settings, including: military installations, school districts, government contractor offices, and online as a university adjunct. She has provided training to a variety of audiences in both government and private sector organizations. She has developed and facilitated new hire onboarding training in her previous role at Military OneSource, and as a contractor for the Air Force Wounded Warrior program. She has provided program and policy training to US Air Force and Department of Defense senior leaders, commanders, and unit personnel, traveling frequently to various military installations, and tailoring her presentations to specific audiences. In her most recent role as Training Specialist with the non-profit, Military Child Education Coalition, she has facilitated training to educators, counselors, and military personnel in various communities. In addition, Georgia is a Certified Resilience Training Assistant, and provides resilience training to Air Force squadrons and Key Spouse volunteers as requested. In her role as adjunct faculty at the University of Phoenix, she provides online instruction of Organizational Psychology curriculum, and fosters student learning by engaging in meaningful discussion and dialogue.

In addition to her professional accomplishments, Georgia is a volunteer leader in her community. She serves as the Key Spouse mentor for her spouse’s squadron, provides training to new Key Spouse volunteers at the local military base, and has co-authored textbook material on military spouse employment. In her free time, she enjoys travel, running, golfing, stand-up paddle boarding, and coaches classes at a local gym.

John Jordan John Jordan

John J. Jordan

Director, Strategic Partnerships

John Jordan brings nearly 40 years of publishing experience to the FLG team. John began his career New York City’s magazine business in New York City with stints at The Runner Magazine, US, Rolling Stone and Esquire. He found his true calling by moving to the Educational Publishing business Prentice Hall (later known as Pearson Education) working on textbooks in STEM disciplines and later managing a crew of nearly 30 producing print & digital products.

Later John moved to the product side as a Media Editor in the Humanities division creating A Classics in Psychology DVD series and a groundbreaking PoliSim product. Later he moved to the Health Sciences division and produced the first of its kind digital Real Nursing Skills as well as online EMT Achieve test prep products.

After a short stint at Oxford University Press’ ELT division. John moved to Wolters Kluwer Health Sciences and acquired an educational electronic medical record (EMR) iCare from the University of Tennessee. He managed the rebuild prototype to the first online educational EMR and rebranded it as DocuCare which is still sold today.

John’s final stop before joining FLG was with Second Avenue Learning, an edtech company dedicated to educational gaming where he developed multi-user simulations both in Cyber Security and Constitutional Law for American Public University as well as leading the development of VotersEd, a simulation in the US Presidential process both in the primary and electoral systems.

In 2017 John had the pleasure of hiring Freedom Learning Group to accuracy check courses for Knewton and was so impressed by FLG’s founders Nathan and Stacey Ecelbarger that he joined FLG as its Director of Strategic Partnerships in 2018. In that role he attracted following clients: Adtalem Global Education, Cengage, Coursera, Google, John Wiley & Sons, LinkedIn Learning, Mbition, OnCourseLearning, Pearson Education, Udacity, and Udemy among many others.

Shane Merritt Shane Merritt

Shane Merritt

Senior Project Director

Shane started as a Subject Matter Expert at FLG in 2018 developing content for Wiley/Knewton’s mathematics courses. After 3 years of developing content, Shane began working as a project manager for FLG and soon after as a Senior Project Director. Shane has worked with over a dozen clients within the corporate, publishing, and university spaces. Prior to joining FLG Shane worked in management, as a freelance content developer, and as a TA while completing his Master of Arts degree in mathematics.

Karl Michel Karl Michel

Karl Michel, Ph.D.

Senior Project Director

Karl has worked at FLG since 2021 as a Subject Matter Expert and Senior Project Director – working across many clients, such as Coursera, Walden University, Chamberlain University, University of Phoenix, Whatmatters, and Higher Ed International, with tremendous success. Before joining the FLG team, Karl worked as a dean and professor. Karl holds a Ph.D. in Organization Leadership and Management, a Master’s in Business Analytics and several certifications.

Knives Monroe Knives Monroe

Knives Monroe

Content Producer

Knives has worked with FLG since 2021 as a Video Producer – working across many clients such as Parsons, CompTIA, Keypath, PsychArmor, and Coursera with tremendous results. Before joining FLG, Knives worked as a filmmaker and content producer at various companies and independent institutions.

Ellen Prescott Ellen Prescott

Ellen Prescott, Ph.D.

Senior Project Manager

Ellen has worked at FLG since 2018 as a Subject Matter Expert, Instructional Designer, and Project Manager – working across many clients, such as Wiley, Cengage, Actively Learn, Coursera, USAAEF, Udacity, Parsons, and OCL, with tremendous success. Before joining the FLG team, Ellen worked as a curriculum developer and adjunct professor at various companies and institutions. Ellen holds a Ph.D. in Education.

Rose Richart Rose Richart

Rose Richart

Finance Administrator

Rose Richart is the Finance Administrator for Freedom Learning Group. Rose holds a degree from Champlain College and has served in various Administrative, Office Manager, and Bookkeeping roles in the following fields: Insurance, Legal, State Government, Defense Contractor, the Mortgage Industry, and currently the Horticulture Industry.  Rose originally joined FLG in October 2017 as the Bookkeeper.

Comel Rooms Comel Rooms

Comel Rooms, M.Ed.

Executive Director, Learning Design

Comel is passionate about teaching and learning, her philosophy is “meet the learners’ where they are and help them get to where they need to be.” Comel is currently the Executive Director of Learning Design at FLG but has worked in virtually every position in the company since starting with them in 2017. During her 30+ years as a Military Spouse she taught, trained, and developed curriculum since 1996 at the Secondary Level, with the Department of the Army, Penn State University, and the Department of Defense. Comel holds a Masters degree in Education.

Lisa Russell Lisa Russell

Lisa Russell

Senior Project Director

Lisa has worked as a Senior Project Director for FLG since 2020. She works across many clients, such as Parsons, MH Actively Learn, ASU, Learn to Win, USAAEF, and the University of Phoenix. Before joining the FLG team, Lisa was a high school math teacher, curriculum developer, and coach in Hawaii. She loves the Ohana feel of working with all of the amazing humans at FLG.

Liz Sandler Liz Sandler

Elizabeth Sandler

Operations Manager

Liz started working with FLG in 2019, building partnerships within the military spouse community. Liz transitioned from MarComms to Operations in 2021. Currently, Liz serves as Operations Manager.

Maureen Slotnik Maureen Slotnik

Maureen Slotnik

Talent Acquisition Manager

Maureen “Mo” Slotnick is a Military Spouse and recruiter with over 10 years of recruiting and human resource experience. Mo is the Talent Acquisition Manager for the new Solera partnership and joined FLG in the spring of 2022. She holds a BA in Psychology, an MBA (with a concentration on HR) and is working towards her MSW. For the past few years Mo and her family have lived at Fort Riley but will be moving to Boston this summer.

Christine Studer Christine Studer

Christine Studer

Training & Quality Manager

Christine has been a Military Spouse for 29 years. Her journey at FLG started in 2018 as a Subject Matter Expert and has included a variety of roles from Instructional Designer to Project Director, and everything in between. Currently, Christine is our Training and Quality Assurance Manager. Christine is all about learning and growing. She excels in developing people who are willing to learn something new and training them to be able to do it.

Anne Towsend Anne Townsend

Anne Townsend

Program Manager, Solera Transition Academy

Anne is the Program Manager for the Solera Transition Academy. She has worked at FLG since 2020 as a Subject Matter Expert and Project Manager. Anne has successfully completed projects with many clients, such as, Wiley, Cengage, OCL, CompTIA, TopHat, and Westchester. Before joining the FLG team, Anne was an Advanced Placement Physics educator. Anne is a Military Spouse and holds an M. Ed. in Educational Administration.