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Meet Us

Six guiding principles drive the work of our small but mighty team:

  • Our children deserve an excellent education and our community is responsible for making it available.

  • Our community benefits from highly valued, successful public schools.

  • An informed public is important to successful public schools.

  • Vital schools depend on the support, interest, and involvement of the families and community they serve.

  • An independent community-based organization can help citizens contribute to their public schools and can build confidence in them.

  • Supporting teachers, who are at the core of the educational process, fosters educational success.


Erica C. Penick Headshot.JPG

Executive Director

Erica C. Penick

Erica is no stranger to the world of nonprofit management and leadership. With a proven track record as a C-Suite professional and advisor, she brings expertise in revenue generation, donor cultivation, funding alignment, strategy, branding, and communications. Her skills in identifying improvement opportunities and implementing effective solutions have helped numerous organizations achieve their objectives.

Beyond her professional achievements, Erica’s commitment to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion is evident in everything she does. She believes in fostering dialogue, promoting education, and dismantling exclusionary practices to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard and valued. With a core value of equity for all in our district, Reaching Heights knows that our work and mission are in capable, principled hands.

Erica earned a Bachelor of Arts and Science degree in Human Resources Management from Chancellor University, an Executive Master of Business Administration degree from Cleveland State University’s Monte Ahuja College of Business, and a Professional Certification from Harvard University’s Harvard Business School of Executive Education, specializing in Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management. Erica is also a graduate of Leadership Cleveland class of 2019 (Best Class Ever) and The Stokes Leadership Institute class of 2018.  Erica has served on several nonprofit boards, including The Cleveland Foundation’s Fenn Committee Advisory Board and the Cleveland Diversity Advisory Board of the National Diversity Council.


Community Engagement Coordinator

Tina Emancipator

The term “it takes a village” takes on a whole new meaning when you are raising children. Raising a family in Cleveland Heights, I have truly joined a village. I have felt the support and have tried to offer it whenever I could.  Reaching Heights could not embody that sentiment more, and I am excited to help continue to build our programs and to offer support and comradery to families and teachers alike.


Parent Mentor


Joy Howard has been a University heights resident for 12 years and proud mother of 5 children. Joy has 16 years’ experience in the medical field and 8 years of experience as an informatics specialist. She is a highly energetic parent advocate with valuable experience leveraging outstanding organizational, communication and leadership skills. She has worked with ECAG for several years providing support and resources to parents in need. Joy brings her medical knowledge, technology skills and 25 years of personal experience nurturing and supporting her exceptional children.



Linda Dudzinsky

Linda and her husband have lived in Cleveland Heights for over 33 years and are the proud parents of a daughter and son who attended Fairfax Elementary School, Roxboro Middle School and Cleveland Heights High. She is a past Fairfax PTA President and former member of the CH-UH PTA Council Executive Board. Linda also worked for eight years as Media Ancillary at Fairfax Elementary School. She is an active member at her church and also volunteers for Thea Bowman Center, a community center in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood. She is proud to be working in support of the important mission of Reaching Heights.



Reaching Heights is a membership organization that is governed by a board of directors who live or teach in the school district. One director is a member of the CH-UH board of education. The superintendent of the CH-UH schools is an ex-officio member.

If you are interested in joining our dynamic and involved Board, please contact Krista Hawthorne.

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