Piet van Lier

Executive Director

Email | (216) 592-2420

Since moving back to Cleveland in the early 1990s, Piet has worked on a wide range of social justice and equity issues as a journalist, researcher, advocate and activist. He joined the staff in 2014 as Director of School Quality, Policy and Communications. The Board of Directors of the Transformation Alliance appointed him to his current position as Executive Director in March 2016.

Before coming to the Alliance, Piet worked on urban education issues for nearly 15 years. From 2007 to 2014, he served as communications director and education researcher at Policy Matters Ohio, a nonpartisan research institute working toward a more vibrant, equitable, sustainable and inclusive Ohio. During his time at Policy Matters, Piet spoke regularly to Ohio media and testified often before the state legislature about education issues. His research on charter schools helped change the debate around Ohio charter policy and has underscored the need to focus on quality. From 2000 to 2007, Piet was a writer and editor at Catalyst Cleveland, a magazine that provided in depth coverage of Cleveland’s public schools.

As part of a group of parents on Cleveland’s near west side and in partnership with the Cleveland school district and Breakthrough Schools, Piet helped start Near West Intergenerational School. He also served on a task force that supported the creation of the Cleveland district’s Campus International School, which his oldest child now attends. He lives in Cleveland with his wife and two children.

Catherine Smith

Program Manager

Email | (216) 592-2303

Originally from a small town near Cincinnati, her time here has turned Catherine into a Cleveland fan at heart. She received a Bachelor of Art in Sociology and a Master of Science in Social Administration through the 3+2 dual-degree program at Case Western Reserve University. She focused her courses in Community Practice for Social Change, and holds a certificate in Leadership and Management from the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.

During her graduate work Catherine volunteered with local non-profit organizations, learned about Cleveland’s social service history, and interned with Cleveland’s Department of Community Development. Her experiences ignited a passion for supporting Cleveland neighborhoods and school transformation through community partnerships and by leveraging community assets.

Catherine joined the staff of the Transformation Alliance after serving as a Teach for America Corps member in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District from 2015 to 2017. During that time she taught fourth and fifth grade Common Core Math and volunteered on the school’s Family and Community Engagement Committee.