The CTE Team

Dr. William M. (Bill) Spira is CTE’s Executive Director and its Principal Investigator for research and development.  Bill recently retired from the position he has held for six years as Executive Director of Augsburg Fairview Academy, a school he founded as Lead Teacher in 2005.  He brings more than 15 years of experience in urban education. Bill’s interest in nurturing motivation in disengaged youth produced much of the innovation that has been implemented by AFA.

Prior to his work in public education, Bill was an Associate Professor of International Health at The Johns Hopkins University and a successful business executive. He has 35 years of experience (11 years overseas) in general and project management and has expertise in a wide variety of areas, notably knowledge-intensive systems development, bio-medicine and health care, and educational strategies for at-risk adolescents.  Bill has published 57 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, written numerous reports, and been project director on major grants and contracts from NIH, FDA, WHO, and USAID.

A more complete resume for Dr. Spira is available here.

Amy Vatne Bintliff, is a Director and CTE’s Co-principal Investigator for research and development.  She is an experienced teacher who developed and implemented the Westward Bound (now Forge Further Summer) program that forms a key component of the proposed intervention.

Amy recently published a book that is the first and only effort, to date, to present this approach  within a sound theoretical framework as an intervention for adolescents (Re-engaging Disconnected Youth: Transformative Learning Through Restorative and Social Justice Education, Adolescent Cultures, School & Society Series, New York: Peter Lang).  She has significant experience in leading literacy initiatives in both Minnesota and Wisconsin. She has recently been invited by the Oregon School District (WI) to train 40 middle school teachers and staff in talking circles.  Amy’s ground-breaking work in youth transformative learning is a cornerstone of the CTE vision.

Amy plans to continue to develop and refine the Forge Further Summer program and circle-based strategies in her current position in the Oregon School District in the coming years.  We anticipate that this work will produce many, new insights and curriculum elements that we can incorporate into CTE’s intervention as it moves toward full implementation.


Catherine (Kitty) Patraw is a Director and CTE’s Operations Manager.  She is taking an active role in planning and organizing the summer field work and pilot testing effort. She has nearly 25 years of on the “front lines” of small business management, 15 years of which involved call center, customer service, billing & insurance representation, and property. Since 2001, Kitty has worked with charter schools, assuming increasingly greater management responsibilities, including student database, state reporting, special education due process, finance, purchasing, facilities, and much more. For the past three years, Kitty has served in an executive position as the Operations Manager of Augsburg Fairview Academy.

Lori J. Walz is a CTE collaborator whose focus is on the curriculum and instruction for the future training center(s) we plan to establish in a few years.  She brings nearly 30 years of professional experience as an education and social service administrator, college and K-12 instructor, and direct care provider. Lori is licensed in three states as an educator and currently is a high school principal in Minnesota.  She holds masters degrees in both psychology and instruction.

The next (and next to last) stop is a brief discussion of CTE’s business and financial plan.  If you want to skip to the end, this link will take you to How You Can Help