Our Team



Ever since I was a little girl, I have been a voracious reader and my love of learning continues to this day. I consider myself a “forever” student and am energized by opportunities to stretch myself and grow. I have personally seen how education changed my life and the lives of many respected leaders throughout the world.

At its very core, education opens doors, provides hope, and propels societal advancement. I firmly believe all children should be granted the opportunity to grow, learn and discover to their fullest potential. Education should not be limited by economic, social, racial, or gender restraints and certainly should not be limited by our failure to transform education to meet the needs of the 21st century child. While the development of a child’s potential transcends beyond the realm of the classroom, teachers should be positioned as an influential instructor to develop intellectual curiosity, creative inquiry, artistic and athletic abilities, and character development. Communities should collaborate together as a collective change agent by unifying their shared responsibility to produce educated citizens for our democratic country and economy by nurturing the whole child and investing in our children’s future for generations to come.

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Director of College Career & Life Readiness


Dr. Suzanne Burke is currently the Director of College, Career and Life Readiness for the Education Foundation of Sarasota County. She began her career in public education as a classroom teacher and has also served in the following roles: Associate Superintendent for Academics, Executive Director of Curriculum, Director of Professional Development and K-12 Language Arts Coach. She is adept at leading curriculum design and innovative professional development with emphasis on 21st century skills and college, career and life readiness. Dr. Burke has extensive experience leading strategic planning, design thinking, and project-based learning initiatives.  Her project management skills enabled successful implementation of multiple concurrent academic programs and initiatives, such as social emotional learning, culturally responsive teaching and arts-rich education, from concept to completion with a focus on on-going support, monitoring and evaluation to ensure continuous improvement. She participated in the Public Educators Leadership Project (PELP) at Harvard (2010 & 2014) and the 2014 Leadership Institute for Legislative Advocacy (LILA). Dr. Burke has exceptional interpersonal, communication, and presentation skills. She has an on-going commitment to promoting high levels of achievement for each and every student regardless of ethnicity, gender, or socio-economic status. 

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Suzanne Burke
Director of Programs


As a product and parent of Sarasota County Schools, I have been privileged to witness first-hand the tremendous decades-long growth and exceptional leadership our school board, its leaders, our principals, and, especially our teachers have generated in our students’ lives and in our community at large. We are incredibly fortunate to have so many school choices to fit each kid’s needs, which I believe is unique to this area. Kids aren’t pigeonholed; academically diverse children with different strengths are being well-served at different schools. When people ask me which school is best, I tell them it doesn’t matter, any one of our schools will fit your child. That’s the beauty of our system.

The Education Foundation supports all our schools. I find that being involved with the individual schools my children attend is great, but it’s a charge being able to serve all the schools. What I also love is that we’re connected in a bunch of different areas of curriculum, not only academics, but the arts, STEM, and anything you can dream of. This team is trying to raise awareness in our community of all we do in the schools. I’ve been on PTOs for my children’s schools, but the Education Foundation resembles a PTO designed to help all Sarasota County Schools.


Kati Burns
Scholarships Manager


It has been said that education is a gift that no one can take away. From a young age this concept was instilled in me from parents who believed that education was the pathway to success and that I should always strive to be a lifelong learner. After becoming a parent a few years ago, I began to experience first-hand the beauty of a child’s mind and all the wonderful possibilities it possesses. Children are thirsty for knowledge. I see in my own son and daughter how enthusiastic they are to learn new things. My hope is that nothing will ever hinder that enthusiasm and love for learning. I believe all children deserve the chance to develop their minds, skills and talents and become successful, compassionate, open minded citizens in our local community and the world. It takes a village to raise a child and the Education Foundation of Sarasota is an integral part of that village for the children of this community. I am proud to invest myself in the Education Foundation because they play an important role in helping to remove barriers for students to thrive intellectually, adopt a love for learning, and accomplish dreams they might not have known they had otherwise.


Heather Ferrigno


It is a privilege to serve a foundation committed to the success of our 43,000 Sarasota County students. I’m grateful for this opportunity to help prepare our students for college, career, and post-secondary life. I have worn many professional hats yet my favorites have all involved education. Immediately after law school, I made myself available as a high school conflict resolution trainer and continued these visits for fifteen years in six cities. In San Diego, I worked briefly for Kids on the Block where I led elementary school general assemblies on bullying. My all time favorite education experience to date is my year teaching government and contemporary issues for the DC Close Up Foundation. With the caliber of my colleagues, the support we receive from our generous community, and the teachers I get to support, I am hopeful that we can help each and every one of our students reach their full potential.

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College Career Advisor


Student Success Center at Riverview High School

As a Sarasota native, I’ve always had a great love for our community and its dedication to education. I was fortunate enough to attend Sarasota County public schools when I was growing up and USF Sarasota-Manatee, where I earned my degree in Business Administration.

Throughout my professional career, I’ve had the pleasure to work in different educational settings and with diverse student populations. With the Education Foundation, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to support our local schools, students, teachers, parents, administrators and community. I am so passionate about promoting and inspiring student development and achievement. All people have a different story to tell, and everyone deserves an opportunity. Given the right tools and guidance, every student can discover their potential and find their unique path to success.


rebecca lewis
Director of Marketing & Communications


I was fortunate enough to be born and raised in Sarasota and experience Sarasota County Schools firsthand. (Proud graduate of Brentwood Elementary School, McIntosh Middle School and Sarasota High School!) My experience in our school system was very positive and to this day, I often think about my favorite teacher, Mrs. Stevens, and the impact she had on my family and me. I recognize that many of our students have a much different experience due to social and economic issues so I’m passionate about giving back and helping provide opportunities to all students, regardless of their background. If we want our students to succeed in the “real world”, we must actively lift them up to see their potential. 

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College Career Advisor


Student Success Center at North Port High School



Jenna Thiel headshot