Our Consultants

Experience unparalleled educational guidance from our team of consultants, each boasting over two decades of invaluable expertise in the field. With their wealth of knowledge and passion, they are dedicated to elevating the standards of education, ensuring an enriching and transformative experience for all.

Don Gates


  • Independent Evaluator providing objective written and oral feedback, content area expertise and experience to improve SCSD teacher effectiveness.
  • Former SCSD Social Studies Teacher, taught grades 7-12, also taught in NYC school district.
  • State of New York Education Department, Permanent Teacher Certification Social Studies Grades 7-12
  • M.S. Syracuse University ‘97, Social Studies Education
  • B.S. SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry ’87, Environmental Studies

My educational philosophy has always centered on four essential beliefs that a community needs of its citizens – the need for core academic knowledge, critical thinking, citizenship, and skills for the workplace. A large focus of my teaching was integrating these ideas through interdisciplinary project-based learning activities. I firmly believe these learning experiences help students think about their role in the community and how to do good. Through these learning experiences, I believe students consider what they will need to be successful in future workplaces or higher education.

I have over 25 years of experience in teaching, educational consulting, and online learning curriculum integration. In addition, I have private and not-for profit work experiences which reinforce for me, the importance of skills education in schools. I have successfully created opportunities for students and teachers to participate in activities that advance their skills, knowledge, and goals.

I feel fortunate to be a Skills Win Consultant with Caper Associates because of my belief in a skills-based education. I have worked in Los Angeles, New York City and in Syracuse, in a variety of work and school environments. I have seen how skills are integral to success in schools, and more importantly a great indicator of success in the work world.


Heather Robertson


  • Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF), among other counseling credentials, including licensed mental health counselor in New York and Connecticut
  • Former career center director and career counselor in higher education and non-profit settings
  • Ph.D. Counselor Education and Supervision, Virginia Tech, 2010
  • M.S. in Counseling & Guidance, Texas A & M @ Corpus Christi, 1996
  • B.A. Policy Studies, Syracuse University, 1993

I am a professional counselor with origins in career development, career counseling, and vocational rehabilitation. I have served as a career counselor, instructor, and advisor to high school students, undergraduates, graduate students, military veterans, and people with disabilities. Having served as a career counselor during the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), I aim to create accessible workspaces for all.

As an educator and trainer of adult populations, including college-aged young adults, I embrace principles of andragogy in my teaching. Some of these principles include the belief that learning should be self-directed and that learners prefer immediate application of their learning (Knowles, 1975).

It is my passion for creating accessible workspaces and  the practical application of learning that inspires me to serve as a Skills Win Consultant with Caper Associates. The 38 skills outlined in the Skills Win curriculum have direct application to the workforce skills and workplace wellness. The skills can be accessed by individuals at all ages as they prepare to engage in the workforce.


Karen Ryder


  • National Board Certified Teacher in Social Studies Adolescent & Young Adult, 2022.
  • 30+ years Social Studies High School Teacher & Department Coordinator.
  • University of the State of New York Education Department, Permanent Teacher Certification Social Studies Grades 7-12 & Health Education K-12.

25+ years of experience as an adjunct instructor with Syracuse University partnering with municipal and state government officials and non-profit organizations on community improvement projects. 

Honored with a Proclamation from the NYS Assembly for Excellence in Civics Education. Recipient of many awards from government entities; NYS Assessors Association Public Communications Award, Town of Rotterdam Community Service Award, GAR Associates funded the Ryder Scholarship for graduating students participation in Community Partnership Projects. 

Student centered collaborative project based learning with an emphasis on skills development, combined with authentic assessment is the cornerstone of my educational philosophy. 

As a Skills Win Consultant with Caper Associates I am eager to share my passion, ideas and skills with educators in the field interested in developing students with the skill sets to successfully compete in the 21st Century. Together we can make the world a better place.


Lisa Welsien


  • Author of Bringing Skills to the Classroom: Materials for High School Teachers and Guidance Counselors
  • Former NYC Teacher, Curriculum Developer, and Mentoring Program Coordinator
  • University of the State of New York Education Department, Permanent Teacher Certification Social Studies Grades 7-12
  • M.Ed. Harvard Graduate School of Education ‘03 Teaching and Curriculum
  • B.A. Syracuse University ‘02 Policy Studies, Education Studies

My educational philosophy has always centered around improving and advancing learning opportunities and outcomes for marginalized populations. A large focus of my teaching was on providing learning experiences to help students achieve the necessary skills for success in future workplaces or higher education.

I have over 20 years of complementary experience in teaching, educational consulting, and online learning community management. I have successfully managed many classrooms, student programs, and diverse tasks within school environments. With an instinct for organization, an ability to creatively solve problems, and a passion for working with others, I eagerly go above expectations to achieve goals on a team.

I am excited to be a Skills Win Consultant with Caper Associates because of my passion for skills-based education and having authored the 38 skills lesson plans that form the foundation of our work. Having taught in both the United States and Tanzania, I have seen positive outcomes and comparative advantages for students with strong, practical skills.


Richard Brooks


  • Clarence School District Program Director for the New York State Seal of Civic Readiness
  • Clarence High School Teacher and Social Studies Department Chair
  • Former University at Buffalo Edwards Learning Center Instructor for College Readiness Skills
  • Former C-Step Instructor Buffalo State University
  • M.A. History, University at Buffalo, ’89, United States Military and International Relations

I believe that the most important goal of any instructional curriculum is the development of transferrable skills. Students should be able to apply the skills they learn to multiple educational and job situations. It is always my goal to create a learning experience that trains students in these Skills Win 38 skills.

I have over 30 years of experience in teaching, conducting student training programs, serving as a Social Studies chair, and coaching athletes. I have integrating skills education into a community service program at my high school and am working on a project where seniors provide skills to students in lower grades. My experience in the private sector taught me the importance of skill acquisition and development. My teaching and coaching activities aim to prepare students to function in society as citizens and employees.

I am excited to be a Skills Win Consultant with Caper Associates. Teaching the 38 Skills has given me a keen understanding of the importance of skill development. Because I have taught at the high school and the college level, I have had the opportunity to help students acquire and practice strong, practical skills. I have also advocated for more skills education among my peers and my school and elsewhere.