Our Team

Tom Fascio (President)

Tom Fascio is the Board President of Strength Through Education, Inc. He is a US Army veteran with a combination of Active Duty and Reserve service of six years. He brings decades of advocacy experience from a 28 year career, starting as a Field Representative / Organizer for Laborers’ Local Union 665 Bridgeport, CT, then becoming a Staff Representative for Connecticut Council 4 / American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME / AFL-CIO). While at Council 4, he provided the full range of representation to local unions: planning and conducting contract negotiations, including Interest Impasse Resolution procedures, prepared and presented cases before administrative bodies, including Grievance Arbitration cases before tripartite and single arbitrators. He was also a Notary Public within the State of Connecticut for 25 years.

Tom is proud to be a ten year member of the American Legion. First, as a member of Post 16 Shelton, CT, he served as Jr. Vice Commander for five years. As a member of the Honor Guard, he performed memorial services and other related duties. He is currently a member of Post 103 Punta Gorda, FL, and he is serving his third term as the Sergeant at Arms.

Diane Mitchell (Founder/Executive Director)

Diane is the founder of Strength Through Education, Inc. She is the proud mom of three boys, two of whom are actively serving in the military, US Army and US Air Force. They are continuing a long, proud history of military service that touches nearly every generation in their family and that can be traced to the Revolutionary War.

Diane is a lifelong educator. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in English, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has held New York State teaching certification in High School English, Elementary, Elementary Special Education, and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. She left a teaching career that spanned 25 years in private and public schools to launch Strength Through Education, Inc. This organization allows her to continue following her passion for education, with a shift in focus from the classroom to the digital world.

Based on the personal experiences of her sons and their military buddies, Diane realized there is a desperate need for an educational platform providing information and support to service members through the various forms of digital medium most commonly used by this generation. Her experience as a teacher has equipped her with the tools necessary to conduct thorough research, summarize and annotate information into a comprehensible format, and present it in a way that empowers the receiver with clear direction moving forward.

Bette Rogers (Treasurer)

Bette Rogers is the Treasurer of the Board of Strength Through Education, Inc. She is a retired educator with a passion for introducing her students to the tools they need to carry the skills they learn in class to life outside the classroom. After teaching ten years in Japan, she moved back to the United States and began teaching at Rochester Institute of Technology where she taught for 16 years.

Outside of her teaching duties at the university, she was on the board of directors of an affiliated organization dedicated to raising funds for student scholarships. After working with that non-profit for 13 years and organizing their primary fundraising event for ten years, Bette was introduced to Strength Through Education at its inception and was motivated to get involved because of the obvious need for its very existence.

Shelley Smith (Board Treasurer / Co-Director of Operations)

Shelley is a Life Coach specializing in leadership development and organizational culture. She believes effective leadership inspires and motivates, builds dynamic teams, and cultivates new leaders. Shelley has worked with individuals from a wide variety of ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, to help them develop skills, overcome obstacles, and set and attain goals. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology – Life Coaching, and a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership with a concentration in Nonprofit Management.

Layla Sumners (Board Secretary / Assistant Development Director of Alabama)

Layla grew up in Australia and studied Art in England before immigrating to the United States. She is a seasoned administrative professional with experience in a number of industries. Layla has lived and worked in military communities for 15 years and is dedicated to helping service members. She understands the impact an administrative problem can have on a service member and their family.

Gavin Goodman (Marketing and Outreach Director)

Gavin Goodman was born in Albany, New York in 1990. Growing up in an Army family he moved frequently in his youth, living in Germany on a US military base with his family from 1999-2003. His father, after leaving the military, became a defense contractor in Huntsville, Alabama. After Gavin earned a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Oswego in 2014, he moved to Huntsville to be closer to his family. He was the marketing director at a Huntsville brewery, Rocket Republic, for four years before starting a small consulting business in Huntsville in 2018 that planned external events for nonprofit organizations.

Gavin’s passion for our country, and his desire to create positive change, has led him to take a more active role in politics. In 2020, Gavin became the State Director of Alabama for Jorgensen/Cohen 2020 Presidential campaign and served on the events and communication teams for the presidential campaign. He joined the executive committee of the Libertarian Party of Alabama (LPA) in October of the same year. In August of 2021 he was appointed as Chair of the LPA and affirmed at the Alabama State convention in 2022, a role he currently holds. In May 2022, he was endorsed as the Libertarian candidate for the Alabama 7th US Congressional District.

Hannah Levey (Educational Consultant)

Hannah is an Education and NGO Consultant specializing in curriculum development and organizational assessment. She has worked in the United States and internationally with NGOs and the public sector to develop and implement curriculum and facilitate organizational development. Hannah holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education: English as a Second Language, and a Master’s in Nonprofit Management.

Kathleen Kressley (Educational Consultant)

Kathleen is an educator with 20 years experience. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in French Language and a Master’s degree in English Education. As both a high school English teacher and a Teacher to Speakers of Other Languages, Kathleen has diverse and expansive experience in curriculum development and design. Kathleen’s consulting experience encompasses both local and international collaborations, aiming to empower both educators and students. Leveraging education and seeking equitable opportunities for all individuals motivates Kathleen to consult for Strength Through Education.

Terry Smith (Web Developer/Graphic Designer)

Terry comes to Strength Through Education with 20 years of web development and application development experience. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Graphic Design and a passion for visual arts. Terry is a life-long supporter of the US military and many of his family members have served proudly. He currently works full-time as a Software Developer.