Who We Are

John A. DeFlaminis, Executive Director
Penn Center for Educational Leadership; Distributed Leadership Initiatives; Penn GSE Search

Prior to joining Penn’s Graduate School of Education, Dr. DeFlaminis was superintendent of the Radnor TownshipSchool district for 17 years. Through those years, he provided leadershipin the direction and development of extensive planning processes in the district, including strategic plans, capital improvement plans, comprehensive staff development plans, curriculum development plans, and district-wide technology plans.  Dr. DeFlaminis has consulted with the U.S. Department of Education, several state departments of education, rural and urban school districts, administrative organizations, private business organizations, and the Kettering Foundation.

Dr. DeFlaminis’s primary interests and projects include providing leadershipfor the Penn Center for Educational Leadership; conducting training in organizational process areas, especially motivation and leadership; advising students on dissertations; coaching new administrators; and working with GSE faculty and programs to bring their work to the field. With funding from the Annenberg Foundation, he developed a $5 million project on distributed leadershipwith the School District of Philadelphia and 16 schools, and is currently working on a $3.4 million project with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.


Bonnie Botel-Sheppard, Executive Director
Penn Literacy Network
Dr. Botel-Sheppard has directed The Penn Literacy Network since 1990 and has facilitated PLN courses since 1981. Her work for PLN includes the development and support of PreK-12 seminars and mentoring programs based on outstanding teaching practices that reflect the work of Dr. Morton Botel, Emeritus Professor of the Graduate School of Education at Penn, former president of the International Reading Association (IRA) and a member of IRA’s Reading Hall of Fame.

She is also involved in the recruitment and fund raising for long term programs that support teachers, school leaders and parents in reading/writing/talking across the curriculum, the development of new courses and programs, and the enhancement of current programs.  She is responsible for the hiring and support of PLN’s exceptional part-time instructors including PreK-12 teachers, school leaders and retired educators. Dr. Botel-Sheppard works with PLN to developand implement programs, and supports and oversees the activities of PLN staff as they administer and programmatically support the day to day administration and material development of PLN.


Morton Botel, Senior Advisor
Penn Literacy Network
Dr. Morton Botel, Emeritus Professor of Education and Child Development at the University of Pennsylvania, founded the Penn Literacy Network  in 1981. Earlier, in 1975 the Pennsylvania State Department of Education selected him to write and implement the Pennsylvania Comprehensive Reading/Communication Arts Plan to meet the US Office of Education’s Right to Read mandate. This framework and its revisions have guided educators in Pennsylvania to this very day. For five years, following its publication, Dr. Botel worked throughout the Commonwealth to further professional development to support the plan. When federal funds dried up, he decided to continue and expand professional development opportunities for educators throughout the country through a continuing education program at the Graduate School of Education, which he called Penn Literacy Network. By 2005, over 25,000 educators have been enrolled in one or more of its 10+ long-term seminars. Dr. Botel is now serving as PLN’s Senior Advisor.


Joseph Ginotti, Director
Penn Literacy Network

Mr. Ginotti is the Director of the Penn Literacy Network and was previously the Associate Director since 2001.  He has been instrumental in developing PLN’s secondary program.  Mr. Ginotti has over thirty years of experience in public education as a secondary English teacher, English Chairperson, and District Curriculum Coordinator.  He has been the lead instructor for PLN’s work with the Pennsylvania High School Coaching Initiative and the Pennsylvania Institute for Instructional Coaching programs.


Robert L. Jarvis, Director
Leadership for Excellence & Equity Initiatives
Dr. Jarvis brings to his work at PCEL many years of experience in educational leadershipand professional development and consultation in K-12 and Higher Education, as well as Business and Industry.  His current professional interests involve working with regional and national district/school administrators and teachers in better attending to the developmental and learning needs of diverse students through district-wide leadershipdevelopment and policy and district/school organizational change initiatives. 

Dr. Jarvis developed and currently directs the Delaware Valley Minority Student Achievement Consortium, a collaborative inquiry and professional development based organization, that in its 7th year, is dedicated to supporting 30 school districts, county intermediate units and a state teachers’ association in effectively increasing the number of students of color among the “most successful,” and actively reducing the gaps in achievement and school engagement defined by race/ethnicity and economics.   He has further worked to developother regional school district collaboratives dedicated to enhancing minority student achievement in Michigan and New Jersey (The New Jersey Network to Close the Achievement Gaps- currently 16 districts in southern NJ).


Jim O’Toole, Director
Distributed Leadership Initiatives; Penn GSE Search; Curriculum Evaluation Team; PCEL International

Dr. O’Toole serves as Assistant Project Director for the Distributed LeadershipInitiative which was/is in the Philadelphia School District and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  He has participated as a school district recruiter for Val-Ed and Mathematica Policy Inc., Penn GSE Search team member who assists Boards of Education employing a chief school officer, PCEL administrator with budget oversight, member of Penn district curriculum evaluation team, International exchange educator who hosted and taught Chinese educators.


Harris Sokoloff, Executive Director
Center for School Study Councils; Penn Project for Civic Engagement; Penn GSE Search

Harris Sokoloff has been Executive Director of the Center for School Study Councils (CSSC) at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education since 1981.  The Center, which is currently comprised of more than 90 affiliated school districts, works with superintendents to help them keeppace with state-of-the art educational and management theory, research and practice.  He has also worked with more than 70 educational organizations across the country on a range of organizational development and improvement projects.  In 2006 Dr. Sokoloff cofounded the Penn Project for Civic Engagement, which works with communities and organizations to identify and do something about problems in their community or organization.  PPCE is a cross-university collaboration working with community organizations, government agencies and businesses to plan, conduct, and report deliberative dialogues about important issues.  PPCE has a close partnershipwith WHYY radio and television which enables the Project to work with news media to amplify the citizens’ voices.