Seton Education Partners Appoints Aaron Brenner as CEO

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Seton Education Partners today announced the appointment of Aaron Brenner in the new position of CEO, effective July 15, 2024.

After co-founding Seton and for 10 years leading the organization, Stephanie Saroki de Garcia will be stepping down from the Managing Director role at the end of this fiscal year. Following her transition, Stephanie will support Seton’s continued growth as a board member and by taking on a new position as Chief Evangelist, where she will focus on advocacy, fundraising, and exploring innovative new models of Catholic education.  

“I feel great peace and joy about this decision,” said Saroki de Garcia. “The time is right for both Seton and me.”

Brenner’s selection by the board to become Seton’s first Chief Executive Officer comes as he enters his 30th year of teaching and leading in the charter, district, and Catholic education sectors.“It is providential that we have a leader of Aaron’s experience and commitment ready to lead Seton into its next decade of innovation, excellence, and growth,” said board chair Leo Linbeck III.

An education pioneer, Brenner has a long track record of creating and leading innovative schools and networks. Brenner founded KIPP’s first elementary school, SHINE, in 2003. He subsequently co-founded and was CEO of the One World Network of Schools, a global network of high-performing schools serving low-income children. One World established 16 schools in just four years and formed leaders in three leadership institutes across six countries. Brenner launched Seton’s newest initiative, Brillante Academy, in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. In the early days of Seton, Brenner also worked with Saroki de Garcia and co-founder (and current Seton board member) Scott Hamilton to help design and launch the Brilla model and mission in the Bronx, NY.

Stephanie Saroki de Garcia at Brilla hosting Cardinal Dolan for a visit.

“We need a very talented and mission-driven leader to become Seton’s first CEO,” said Saroki de Garcia. “Aaron is that rare and seasoned leader who was integral to our founding and believes in all we do.”

Seton Education Partners was founded by Stephanie Saroki de Garcia and Scott Hamilton when options for Catholic education for our nation’s most vulnerable families and students disappeared. They set out to identify and create new solutions for revitalizing Catholic education in innovative and successful ways; from designing and launching a pioneering blended learning program to make Catholic schools more sustainable and impactful to building and opening a new charter school model in the Bronx with an optional faith-focused Catholic after school program called El Camino. Seton continued to grow under Stephanie’s leadership with the design and launch of a new Catholic model in partnership with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Romero Academies.

Seton Education Partners co-founders, Scott Hamilton and Stephanie Saroki de Garcia.

“What Stephanie and her team created from a simple idea is breathtaking,” said Linbeck. “In the past 10 years, Seton has delivered on its promise to expand education opportunities for parents in underserved communities by building 10 schools in four states that now serve thousands of children.” 

Brenner will begin his role formally on July 15, 2024. During the transition, Aaron will work directly with Brillante Principal Ana Karen Salinas to build the school-based leadership team and partner with founding board chair Dan West and the rest of the Brillante Board of Directors.

“We are blessed at Seton to have strong leadership in every one of our regions,” said Brenner, “from teachers in our classrooms and principals at our schools, to directors in operations and talent, recruitment, marketing, and finance, as well as in our programs, Seton Teaching Fellows and El Camino. I am particularly excited to continue partnering with the extraordinarily talented and committed members of the Seton leadership team: Romero executive director Emily Gilbride, Brilla executive director Yeime Valle, and Chief Financial Officer Matt Salvatierra. To assure continuity and stability, Stephanie and I are committed to a collaborative transition that builds on the organization we already have in place.”

Aaron, Stephanie, and much of the Brillante and Seton boards at the Brillante Academy Ribbon Cutting in 2023.

Brenner earned a bachelor of arts degree in sociology, anthropology, and Russian from Rhodes College; a master of arts degree in educational leadership from Stanford University; teaching awards at the school, district, and regional levels in Texas; and fellowships from the Echoing Green Foundation, the Fisher Foundation, and the Pahara-Aspen Institute. Brenner was the Gary and Barbara Pasquinelli Director of the Notre Dame ACE Academies, a national network of preK-8 Catholic schools.

“Seton is at its heart mission-driven while focused on being a long-term sustainable business,” said Sam DiPiazza, chair of the Seton board finance committee. “Aaron understands both, and we are excited to support him and his leadership team as they build on our strong foundation.” 

Seton’s General Partners welcomed the news. “Aaron is the perfect person to lead Seton at this time,” said Yeime Valle, Executive Director of Brilla Charter Schools Network in the Bronx, NY. “I would not expect the Seton Board to pick anyone else.”“Aaron knows our mission and our schools,” said Emily Gilbride, Executive Director of Romero Academies in Cincinnati, OH. ”He helped us open Romero, and I know he will be a strong supporter of our work.”

Aaron lives along the border in McAllen, Texas, with his wife and two daughters.

“This transition is an inflection point for Seton,” said Linbeck. “I am excited for Stephanie, Aaron, and the entire Seton team. From the start, Stephanie as co-founder, and Aaron as an inspirational leader, have been instrumental in the launch and growth of Seton. I am thrilled for both of them as they embark on the next chapter of their journeys. We are just beginning our mission to strengthen Catholic education for children, families, and communities for generations to come.”