The 2 1/2 Minute Video

Meet Our Alumni

Join Our List

Welcome, Friends!

Friends of Breakthrough Schools is a non-profit development and advocacy organization. Friends of Breakthrough is responsible for closing the gap in public funding needed to provide quality education to thousands of children in Cleveland each year, as well as working with community, business, and political leaders to build city-wide support for high-quality public school options for all children in Cleveland.


The Semper Virens Legacy Society was established to recognize individuals who have made a long-term commitment to Breakthrough Schools and was created in concert with the recent formation of the Friends of Breakthrough Schools Legacy Fund of the Cleveland Foundation.

If you are interested in making a tax-deductible planned gift, please visit our organizational fund page here. If you would like to learn more about legacy giving, which helps to ensure long-term financial stability through the preservation and investment of dollars for future benefit, you may reach out to Susan Ertle at


Learn about the latest happenings from Friends of Breakthrough in our most recent newsletter available here as a PDF.

Did You Know? 

High-performing, non-profit public charter schools in Ohio only receive about 1/2 the funding of traditional district schools. 

Friends Board of Directors

Michael Cristal

James Kavalec
Vice Chair

William Koehler
Vice Chair

Charles Lougheed
Vice Chair

Bridget Moreno
Vice Chair

Richard Pace
Vice Chair

Thomas Rudibaugh
Vice Chair

Jeff Berlin

Jennifer Grossman

Megan Arth

Suresh Bafna

Ed Bell

Frank Bird

Julia Bolton

Denise Carkhuff

James Carulas

Jamie Cole

Timothy Coughlin

Jeffrey Cristal

Karen Davies

Mike de Windt

Martin Gates

Robert Gillespie

Vipin Gupta

Andrew Lee

John LeMay

Cecil Lipscomb

David Lowman

James Manley

Michael Merriman

Alfred Miller

Jane Outcalt

Poppie Parish

Michelle Perez

Peter Rome

Rita Sehgal

Diane Singer

John Sinnenberg

Heather Thiltgen

Brian Tucker

William Vogelgesang

George von Zedlitz

Brent Zimmerman


Contact Us

Friends of Breakthrough Office

Phone: (216) 539-9349
3615 Superior Avenue, Suite 3103A
Cleveland OH 44114

Our Staff

John Zitzner, President
(216) 373-7801

Susan Ertle, Executive Director
(216) 373-7803

Karen Solomon, Director of Annual Fund
(216) 373-2795

Katie Emerson, Director of Engagement and Donor Relations
(216) 373-2685

Doniell Gill, Gifts and Grants Administrator
(216) 539-9349

Samantha Sopko, Director of Grants and Foundation Relations
(216) 373-2688

Sam Steinfeld, Director of Resource Development
(216) 373-2646

Kelly Berg, Director of Volunteer Relations
(216) 373-2818

Liz Hass-Hill, Director of Accounting
(216) 539-9349

Melodee McCrodden, Accounting Coordinator
(216) 539-9349

Michelle Camou, Grants Associate
(216) 539-9349