Leadership

Board of Governors

 

Robert J. Coughlan

Principal and Board Member

Bob was part of the team that acquired Capstone in 1990 and became its sole owner in 2019. Capstone rapidly expanded from its inaugural year of publishing 48 books to an industry leader, annually publishing over 700 titles in a variety of formats and successfully innovating into the digital space with products such as PebbleGo, a subscription database designed to be a K-2 student’s first research experience. Prior to his leadership at Capstone, Bob served in a variety of executive leadership positions in the manufacturing and publishing industries. Bob enjoys being involved in CEO peer to peer roundtables. He graduated from Gonzaga University, Spokane, with a B.A. in History.

 

Maerin A. Coughlan

Owner and Board Member

Maerin is proficient in marketing with significant work experience in the publishing industry. Specialties include communications, social media marketing, and event planning. She is passionate about spreading the importance of literacy through community outreach and engaging with customers. Maerin graduated from Saint Thomas University, Saint Paul, with a B.A. in Communications and Journalism.

 

Mary J. Cullinane

Board Member

Mary has spent the last 25 years in leadership positions in the education, technology, and publishing industries. As a former C-Level executive, she has led large organizations responsible for over one billion dollars in annual revenue. She has been responsible for helping drive a company through restructuring and IPO events and has led marketing, communications, and product development organizations in technology and publishing. While at Microsoft, Mary led a team who worked with leaders from around the globe in the quest to improve the teaching and learning process. Mary, a former teacher and author, holds an undergraduate degree from The College of New Jersey and a Master’s degree from Columbia University.

 

W. Douglas Hile

Chair of the Board

Doug is a business executive with over 40 years of experience in senior executive and CEO roles in financial service businesses in money center, super-regional, and large community banks. He has expert skills in building high performance teams and executing growth strategies in private companies. He has served as a director on over 35 private, public, and cooperative boards in 10 states, with experience chairing boards and numerous committees, including Audit Chair for two large reporting entities. Hile is a graduate of Marquette University (BA, Economics) and the University of Chicago (MBA, Finance and Marketing).

 

Mary M. Merrill

Board Member

Mary has over 25 years experience in mergers and acquisitions, private placements of debt and equity, strategic advisory services, and valuations for middle-market companies. She has worked for several investment banking firms, including a boutique investment bank she founded and subsequently sold to Manchester Companies. In her roles as investment banker and private equity investor, Mary has worked with family owned businesses, private, and public companies to achieve growth, liquidity, access to capital, and exit strategies. Merrill earned a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Business and an MBA in Finance and International Business from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. She holds FINRA series 7, 24 and 66 licenses.

 

Dr. Charlie Miller

Board Member

Charlie is the founder of Flipgrid, a social learning platform used by more than 50 million students, educators, and families across 190 countries. He joined Microsoft as Partner General Manager in 2018 when Microsoft acquired Flipgrid. Prior to Microsoft, Charlie was an Associate Professor in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota, as well as the founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Design Innovation (now Education Technology Innovations).

 

Jeffrey L. Sugerman

Board Member

Jeff brings more than 30 years of experience in executive management, marketing, and business development within the technology, training, and publishing industries. He joined Inscape Publishing as President and CEO in 2001 to lead its transformation into an independent, growth company. In February 2012, Inscape was acquired by John Wiley and Sons, Inc. and he was named Executive Vice President of the Talent Solutions and Education Services Group. In August 2017, he left Wiley and now works independently as an Advisor and Director to technology-enabled, high-growth companies in the middle market. Jeff received a Ph.D. in psychology from Washington University in St. Louis and a B.A. from Northwestern University.

 

Senior Management

 

Gail Beer

Vice President of Customer Relations/Fulfillment, Capstone

Gail joined Capstone in 1997 and currently serves as the Vice President of Customer Relations and Fulfilment. She oversees Customer Services, the Distribution Center, Community Giving, Bids and Contracts, and Purchasing. Gail came to Capstone from Coloplast Corp where she was the Customer Service/Purchasing Manager. She studied Business at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

 

Beth Brezenoff

Associate Publisher, Capstone

Beth started with Capstone in 2006 as an editor and held roles of Assistant Editorial Director and Editorial Director before she was named Director of Product Planning in 2018. She oversees the Capstone Content Team and is responsible for the content development, strategy, and execution of Capstone’s publishing list. Beth began her career at Simon & Schuster and is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College.

 

Judy Chartrand, Ph.D.

Chief People Officer

Judy is the Chief People Officer and joined Capstone May of 2021. She is responsible for creating people, organization, and culture best practices that drive employee engagement and accelerated growth. Most recently, Judy was Director of People Development for Hajoca Corporation, where she was responsible for acquiring and selecting talent, creating a Learning Center for over 5,000 employees and spearheading leadership development programs across the U.S. and Canada. Prior to Hajoca, she was a Consulting Chief Scientist at Pearson where she led TalentLens, a start-up business unit offering consulting and research services and innovative new products such as Critical Thinking University. Her teams also created psychological assessment products that are currently used in schools, clinics and the workplace. Judy received her Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology from the University of Minnesota.

 

Michael (Mick) Demakos

Chief Digital Officer

Mick is Chief Digital Officer and joined Capstone in January of 2021.  Mick is responsible for driving Capstone’s digital strategy and growth plans and in this role oversees digital product and technology management and new strategic partnerships. Mick has spent the last 26 years in leadership positions in the education and publishing industries driving growth and pivoting organizations to a digital first operation. Most recently, Mick served as President of EMC School, a K12 provider of blended learning programs, and Chief Digital Officer for EMC’s parent company, New Mountain Learning.  Prior to EMC, Mick served in several C-level roles with Kaplan, Inc., the education division of Graham Holdings Company, focused on technology and digital product management. Mick earned an MBA from the State University of NY at Albany and a BA in Political Science from Siena College.

 

John Maketa

Chief Revenue Officer

Throughout his career, John Maketa has led top-tier sales, marketing, and cross-functional teams to drive organizational revenue, performance, and profit. He will oversee Capstone’s revenue generating sales and marketing teams in executing the publisher’s rapid growth strategy. Most recently John served as the Chief Revenue Officer at Caliper Corporation where he increased the organization’s valuation and managed the executive team in creating and executing strategy. Prior to this, Maketa was the Vice President of Corporate Development for Performance Assessment Network where he led the organization’s acquisition and business development process to enhance top-line growth and profitability. Maketa spent 7 years at Pearson Education, first as National Sales Director and then later as Direction of Business Development, Strategy and Innovation for Pearson TalentLens, launching a new division with a global presence in the education and workforce development markets. Maketa received his Master of Art (MA) in Clinical-Counseling Psychology from LaSalle University in Philadelphia and his Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from The Fox School of Business at Temple University in Philadelphia.

 

Steve Robinson

CFO, Coughlan Companies, LLC

Steve Robinson is the Chief Financial Officer for Coughlan Companies, LLC. He spent 11 years at Upsher-Smith, a pharmaceutical company in Minnesota, serving as its CFO for the last seven years. Steve began his career in public accounting, working several years for PriceWaterhouse as it was known then. After obtaining his MBA, he then moved to Minnesota to work for Honeywell. Steve was with Honeywell for 10 years serving in a variety of finance positions before moving over to Upsher-Smith.

 

Amy Schmidt

Human Resources Director, Coughlan Companies, LLC

Amy started at Coughlan Companies in 2001 as a Human Resources Assistant, eventually becoming the Director of her department in 2015. Amy oversees and manages training and development programs, recruiting, employee relations, and wellness programs for both Jordan Sands and Capstone. Prior to Coughlan Companies, she was a part of the HR team at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Amy has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from Minnesota State University, Mankato and a Professional Human Resources (PHR) Certification from the Human Resources Certification Institute.

 

Scott Sustacek

President, Capstone

Scott joined the Capstone team in January 2020 as President. He leads strategic and operational execution across the organization. Scott has served in senior leadership roles as CEO of Jordan Sands, a Coughlan Companies affiliate, from 2012 to 2020. Prior to that, Scott spent 21 years at Nystrom, Inc. serving in sales, marketing, and general management roles including CEO from 2005 to 2012. Scott is a participating member and past board member of the CEO Roundtable. He earned degrees in finance and economics at St. Cloud State University.