Michael Opuszynski, President
Michael Opuszynski holds a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Hartford and a master’s degree from the University of Rhode Island. He works at ASML, Inc. as Project Lead of US Research for advanced semiconductor lithography tools. ASML, being a community oriented company, has provided opportunities for Opuszynski in roles such as External Community Coordinator and Coordinator of programs such as ASML4Kids, which inspires the youth of today in becoming the scientists and engineers of tomorrow Opuszynski is a strong believer in the commitment a community has to itself and its members. This commitment has driven him to volunteer on the Beacon Falls Conservation Commission, and the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission, which has led to his role as the Regional Planner for the town. As a fun fact, he enjoys playing Underwater Hockey in his free time, and is committed to the sport as its Northeast Regional Director.
Billie S. Flaherty, Vice President
Billie S. Flaherty was the Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at Chemtura Corporation, a NYSE-listed developer, manufacturer and marketer of industrial specialty chemicals (acquired by Lanxess AG in 2017). Ms. Flaherty has a Juris Doctor from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts from Bethany College in Bethany, WV. Ms. Flaherty joined the board of the CT STEM Foundation in 2017.
A.J. Scheetz, Ph. D., Secretary
A.J. Scheetz is the Science coordinator for the Westport Public Schools. Before that, he was the principle Science Research Teacher at Staples, successfully mentoring numerous students. Prior to coming to Staples, Dr. Scheetz studied brain development, first at the University of Colorado where he received his M.S. and Ph.D. in neurobiology and then at Yale University where he was a post-doctoral fellow and senior research scientist. A.J. has published numerous papers in peer-reviewed academic journals including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Nature Neuroscience. Several of A.J.’s students from Staples have received national recognition for their independent science research projects.
Robert Susalka, Treasurer
Robert Susalka has been a Certified Public Accountant since 1985 with a sole proprietorship in Redding. His practice is limited to taxation and serves U.S. public corporations in telecommunications and manufacturing, privately held corporations and partnerships, foreign corporations, and individuals, both US and foreign nationals. Previously, Bob was the International Tax Director of The Singer Company, after leaving the Manhattan office of Price Waterhouse in 1983 as a Senior Tax Manager. He began practicing with Price Waterhouse upon graduating from Pace University in 1970 with a B.B.A. in accounting. Bob is Treasurer and a Board member of the Dispute Settlement Center, Inc., and Redding Neighbors and Newcomers, Inc. Previously, he was a Board member and Treasurer of the Fairfield Chapter of the Red Cross and First Night Westport/Weston Inc.
David Lewis is a science teacher and the Science Department Coordinator at Darien High School in Darien, CT. He received his B.S. in Biology at the Pennsylvania State University and a Master of Arts in Teaching at Sacred Heart University, where he is currently pursuing an advanced degree in Chemistry. For the past ten years, he has overseen Darien High School’s award-winning independent science research program.
Dale Lichtenberg, Ph.D.
Dale Lichtenberg, recently retired as Chief Chemist for Cytec Industries’ coating resins plant in Wallingford, CT. He received his B.S. in chemistry from Case Western Reserve University, his M.S. from MIT, and his Ph.D. from the Ohio State University.
Timothy DeJulio is a science teacher and administrator at Newtown High School. He earned his bachelors in Biology from The University of Scranton and a masters from Western Connecticut State in Biology. He is currently pursuing a degree in school administration at Sacred Heart University. Prior to teaching Tim worked for Fordham University as a researcher and Watson Pharmaceuticals as a microbiologist.
Fran Walker Lichtenberg
Fran Walker Lichtenberg is the founder and owner of fwl communications, a firm that specializes in strategic business communications. She works with companies ranging in size from sole proprietors to Fortune 50 companies. Prior to founding her company, Fran was the executive director of a plastics industry trade association; early corporate work experience included both database management and industrial hygiene at Owens-Corning. She especially enjoys working for science and technology-based companies, where she can use both her science background and communications skills. Fran received her B.S. degree in chemistry summa cum laude from Marian College in Indianapolis; she holds Master’s degrees from Case Institute of Technology and Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, Ohio) in both chemistry and information science.
Ziaul H. Mannan
Ziaul H. Mannan is currently the Database Architect for Yale New Haven Health Services (YNHH) and is the science fair coordinator for CT-STEM. Zia has a M.Sc. and B.Sc. in Applied Physics and Electronics and a DipSci in Computer Science and MSIS. He received his Advanced Certificate in Executive Education (ACE in Management and Technology) from Sloan School of Management in MIT. Zia was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh and was involved in charity work early in his life through Leo Clubs. He has been an avid fan of science and started his quest through ‘Young Seekers Science Club’ in Dhaka. Zia is a dedicated activist for child rights around the globe, and is actively involved in charities where they aim to provide quality education and healthcare to underprivileged children and reduce the poverty that millions of children suffer from and preventing childhood blindness. Zia believes in a simple motto in life: Man for mankind.
Mary Musolino has been teaching science at Convent of the Sacred Heart in Greenwich, Connecticut, for 23 years. For the past twelve years, she has directed the school’s award- winning science research program. Mary currently teaches Chemistry and Science Research, and in the past has completed research internships at Rockefeller University and Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Before becoming a teacher, Mary was a Chemical Engineer for General Foods. She holds a Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Chemical Engineering and a Master of Science Degree in Secondary Science Education.
Rita Smircich is a wedding coach and author of the book To Do Before “I Do:” She is the founder and former Executive Director of First Night Westport/Weston, Inc., President of Events by Rita, LLC, and past President of the Entrepreneurial Woman’s Network. Rita has contributed her planning and organizational skills to CT-STEM since 2001.
Estelle recently retired as Science Department Head from Amity Regional High School in Woodbridge. She also taught chemistry for forty-one years. She was influential for the implementation of many new science courses including the Amity Science Research Program. She has been awarded Outstanding Science Supervisor Award granted by Connecticut Science Supervisors Association, and Secondary School Chemistry Teacher Award granted by The New England Institute of Chemists. Estelle has spearheaded the creation of the CT-STEM Foundation’s Scholarship Program.
Joop de Groot
Joop de Groot is currently retired and divides his time between his family and contributing to various non-profits. Additionally he has been on the board of a 1000 acre Washington State commercial orchard company. In 2004 he fulfilled a longstanding desire to become a licensed Amateur Radio operator, where he pursues state-of-the-art software defined radio as well as qualifying as a FEMA Amateur Radio emergency services operator involved with various surrounding towns. Prior to retirement he has worked in private/angel investment and interim management. He has been Managing Director of Pearle Europe, an eyewear retailer, where he ultimately orchestrated and completed a competitive management buy-out. Prior to Pearle he worked as a consultant with McKinsey & Company in both Amsterdam and London focusing mostly on strategy and organization. He started his career as a Junior Researcher in fiber optics at Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands. He received his MBA from INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France and his B.Sc. and M.Sc. (Electrical Engineering) from Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands. He is fully fluent in Dutch and English, both being his mother tongue and is a citizen of the U.S., the Netherlands and New Zealand.
Katherine Nuzzo, Ph.D.
Dr. Katherine Nuzzo is a member of the science department at Joel Barlow High School in Redding, CT. For the past nineteen years she has instructed students in various levels of chemistry and physics and serves as the advisor for the science research team. She received her Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, as well as a B.S. in Marine Biology from Corpus Christi State University, after working for ten years in the Texas public school system where she holds a life teaching certificate the subject areas of physical science, chemistry, physics, and biology. She spends many of her afterschool hours preparing students for various competitions across the state such as the Science Bowl at UConn, Sikorsky Challenge in Stratford, and CT State Science Fair at Quinnipiac. In addition to teaching, she is an avid health club member and finds stress release in cardio-classes. She currently resides in Hamden, CT, and raised three children in the Connecticut school systems.
Cheryl joined the board of the CT-STEM Foundation in August, 2018 after having been introduced to the activities of the Foundation as part of her role as Vice President of Programs at the Connecticut Science Center. She holds a BS in Electrical Engineering as well as an Executive MBA, both from UConn. After a career in software development and project management working at GE, Dana Corporation and Pitney Bowes as well as running her own software consulting firm, Cheryl made the transition into education. For seven years she taught Math and Computer Science in the middle and upper schools at Chase Collegiate School in Waterbury and served as the pre-K – 12 Math Department Chair for five of those years. In 2015, Cheryl joined the Connecticut Science Center as the Director of the Mandell Academy for Teachers – a perfect role that blended her passion for education with her strong business skills – and has now moved into the position of VP of Programs
Benjamin Alper, Ph.D.
Benjamin Alper served as a judge for the CT-STEM fair from 2014-2017 before joining the board in 2018.He is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT. Ben holds a B.S. in Chemistry and a B.A. in Economics from Clemson University (Clemson, SC), and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Georgia (Athens, GA). Dr. Alper served as a Postdoctoral fellow in Biochemistry at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (Memphis, TN) before joining the faculty of Sacred Heart in August 2013.Dr. Alper believes that science and education are critical for the advancement of our students and our society. He is thankful to serve as a link between the CT-STEM Foundation, Sacred Heart University, and the broader scientific and academic communities.
Pat Hennessy joined the board of the CT-STEM Foundation in 2018. She is the former Managing Editor of Fairfield County Catholic newspaper and a freelance journalist. Over the years she has profiled middle school and high school science fair winners and their projects, and she has written articles on science topics ranging from robotics to ecology to bioengineering. In particular, she sees the need to encourage students to develop knowledge in environmental science to meet the challenge of our changing world.