KDP Staff

Member Experience Team


Christopher Whited, BS, CAE

Chief Experience Officer



As the Chief Experience Officer for KDP, Christopher oversees the Member Experience Team. He has been working with nonprofit organizations and associations for more than 25 years in various capacities from marketing, fundraising, and event planning to membership, resource development, and program operations. His career began in graphic design because of the encouragement from his high school art teacher. Her belief in him sparked his college education and a successful career in publishing prior to transitioning to helping organizations. During his downtime, Christopher enjoys restoring antique toys and spending time with his wife and kids.


Amber Ellington, BA, BS

Manager of Member Retention



Amber Ellington is one of the Member Experience Managers for Teacher Candidates. She primarily works with the West, Online, and Community College chapters of KDP but is enthusiastic about any opportunity to work with our members and counselors across the country. She has been at KDP since October 2019 and has loved working with all of KDP’s chapters, volunteers, and members. Amber studied Psychology and Sociology at Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Indiana, until it closed during her junior year. She transferred successfully to Marian University in Indianapolis, and graduated on time in Spring 2018. She has had plenty of amazing teachers and professors throughout her life, but the teacher that made the longest-lasting impression is one that she never even had, but from whom she learned a lot: Ms. Cindy, who was Amber’s co-teacher during her time as an early childhood educator. She notes that while she may never have had the opportunity to learn from Ms. Cindy as a student, she did learn a lot from her just working alongside Ms. Cindy. She led by example and taught Amber lessons on how to be a better educator and human in general. She credits amazing educators like Ms. Cindy for being the reason she does her job at KDP day in and day out.


Kara Harlan, BA

Manager of Member Experience



Kara joined the KDP team in 2023 as the Member Experience Manager for Teacher Candidates in the Southeast.  She spent most of her youth in Richmond, Indiana, with five years in Whitter, California and several months in Japan when her family accompanied Earlham College students there.  Kara attended DePauw University where she majored in Spanish and Sociology.  Most of her work-life has been in tourism at Visitors Bureaus, but she often thought she’d like to get involved in education because of her dad.  Her dad never stopped learning – he taught Philosophy and Japanese studies and then went on to work in higher education administration.  She lives just west of Indianapolis with her husband of 27 years with their two dogs, Indy (a yorkie-poo) and Elf (a border collie/whippet mix).  They have two children, a son in the Electrician apprenticeship and a daughter who is studying Communication Design.  She enjoys traveling, watching movies and hanging out with her family (which includes the dogs) and friends.  Kara is excited to be a small part of helping future teachers develop their skills to help children learn and grow.


Lindsey Acton, MEd, PPL

Director of Teacher Support



Lindsey Acton is KDP’s Director of New Teacher Member Experience. She has been married to her husband, Jon, for 7 years and is the proud mother of two sons: Jackson (13) and Andrew (6). Prior to her arrival at KDP, Lindsey spent 15 years as a classroom teacher, where she primarily taught high school English. Lindsey earned her master’s in Curriculum and Instruction in 2011 from Indiana Wesleyan University and spent her undergraduate years at IUPUI in Indianapolis, where she was a scholarship member of their Division 1 swimming and diving program. Lindsey is the author of Throwing Rocks, which explores teacher trauma. The most influential educator in Lindsey’s life taught her to treat her students like people, to listen to their stories, and to build relationships with them before anything else. In her own classroom, Lindsey followed this advice and truly believes that this was what contributed to her own ability to connect with students.


Thomas Ulmet, B.A.J.

Manager of Member Experience



Thomas is the Member Experience Manager – Teacher Candidates for the Midwest, and has been with KDP for more than 9 years. He is the longest-tenured member of the Member Experience Team, having attended five KDP Convos (only missing one for the birth of one of his children). Thomas is also the coordinator for KDP’s popular Teacher Toolbox Series of webinars. Thomas has spent more than 17 years of his career working in professional education organizations. He coordinated the National Teacher of the Year program for the world’s largest retail company and also led the effort to create one of the earliest online national teacher mentoring programs. These experiences, working with some of the highest-achieving educators in the country, continue to inspire his work supporting future educators at KDP.


Phil Kitchel, BA

Managing Editor, The Teacher Advocate



Phil has been at KDP since 2019 and is the Managing Editor of The Teacher Advocate and the KDP Blog. He spent 20 years in book publishing before spending a few years as a stay-at-home dad. He is married to his best friend, Cindy, and they live in Indianapolis with their three teenagers: Max, Tom, and Sylvester. At times a semi-professional musician, he enjoys most kinds of music, some kinds of sports, engaging and amusing conversations, and following political journalism, all with the occasional cocktail. Discovering a love of reading (mostly history) at an early age proved to be the key influence in his personal and professional life. Phil had many positive mentors and role models at all levels of his education, but the two most influential were Dr. Robert Pettit, sociology professor, and Dr. Charles Boebel, writing and journalism professor. They demonstrated how to study, challenge, and apply what you learn, and to do so with wit and compassion.


Michelle Melani, BA

Director of Knowledge Integration



As the Director of Knowledge Integration, Michelle leads KDP’s work to prepare members with creative expression and knowledge to ensure they thrive as educators. Michelle has been with KDP since 2018 and formerly served as the Director of Publications and the Managing Editor of the New Teacher Advocate. As an English major with a Creative Writing minor, Michelle has worked in some area of publishing, writing, or editing for 3 decades. She took several years off to homeschool her two children before transitioning them into the public school system and uses her understanding as a home educator and as the parent of school children to inform her work in supporting teachers. Michelle's favorite teacher is Dr. Connelly, who taught her much more than freshman composition and Irish literature. He opened her eyes to the larger world beyond Indiana, encouraged her curiosity, mocked her attempts at trying to sound too smart in her writing, and was generally a stellar human being. Michelle loves traveling, reading, photography, kayaking, and biking. She lives in Irvington with her two teenage children.


Joe Clemmer, BS

Manager of Member Experience



Joe has served KDP as the Member Experience Manager for the Northeast for more than 5 years. In this role, Joe works directly with chapter leaders to develop programming, leadership training, and more. He also assists members in the northeast as they prepare to enter the classroom. Joe grew up in Warsaw, Indiana, and then attended Purdue University and Ball State University, where he studied Sociology and History. In his off-time, Joe enjoys music production and audio engineering, as well as his two Corgis, Nova and Korra. Joe had far too many excellent educators to name just one, but he pays special thanks to his high school band teacher, Mickey Ratliff, and history teacher, David Hoffert. He also recognizes college professor Dr. Melinda Messineo as a great source of knowledge and mentorship. Joe is mindful of the critical role educators play in life and recognizes that we are all the product of an educational lineage far older than ourselves. He is proud to serve this noble tradition.

Advancement & Partnerships Team


Samantha Tarlton Procento, BA

Chief Advancement & Partnerships Officer



Sam is the Chief Advancement & Partnerships Officer, in which she enjoys working with organizations and donors to help further KDP’s goals. She studied sociology at Hanover College in southern Indiana. After graduating, she became a teaching assistant at a nursery school, where she loved being around babies and young children. Sam started at KDP in 2017. She spends her spare time with her husband and dog. Baking and cooking are some of Sam’s favorite activities and she watches many YouTube videos to learn new recipes and techniques. Her favorite educator, Dr. Ryle, always challenged her to think outside of her perspective to meet people where they are.


Natalie Pemberton, MA

Executive Assistant to Advancement & Partnerships



Natalie joined KDP in 2023 as the Executive Assistant to Advancement & Partnerships. In her role, she builds relationships with donors and partners and recognizes their support. Natalie grew up in Lapel, IN, and attended college at Ball State University, where she obtained both her bachelor's and master's degrees in English Studies. While her professional background is in marketing, she's always had a deep appreciation for educators instilled in her by her mother, who was a teacher for 38 years. Natalie met her most influential teacher, Cathy Day, during her undergraduate studies in an immersive learning course that focused on equipping English and other humanities majors with both the skills and the confidence to thrive in a job market that tends to discourage these degrees. She credits Cathy with inculcating in her the belief that she could do anything with her education, and that it is never too late to change course to follow your passion. In her spare time, Natalie loves to read, explore local farmers markets, and spend time with her husband and five dogs.

Communications & Marketing Team


Chuck Jarrell, BFA

Art Director



Chuck is KDP’s Art Director. He comes from a teaching family that includes his mother, who taught government and set an extremely high bar. Her example led him to teach drawing in the Gifted and Talented Program at John Herron School of Art before entering agency work as an illustrator and designer. Chuck joined KDP in 2003 and has enjoyed the diversity and challenges of the work he has been asked to do. Chuck enjoys illustration, photography, working out, hiking, video games, and movies.


Raevyn Harris, BA

Director of Digital Marketing



As the Director of Digital Marketing, Raevyn implements KDP’s digital communications. She shares resources from team KDP and connects it to chapters, students, and educators. Raevyn is proud to be part of KDP! She hopes to drive the mission of inspiring and equipping future and new teachers to thrive. In her spare time, she loves to travel. She hopes to live in places for an extended amount of time, to learn from the different cultures. Great teachers can make a huge impact. For Raevyn, there were many who made an impact in her life: Mr. Yelton, her high school AP Biology teacher who made learning fun; the professor at Ball State who challenged her; and Mrs. Proctor, the woman whose support meant the world to her.


Erin Sanders, BS

Manager, E-Commerce & Celebrations



Erin is the E-Commerce Manager for KDP. She is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the KDP Store, which sells merchandise, apparel, books, graduation regalia, jewelry, and chapter supplies in an online retail environment. This includes marketing and promotions, inventory management, customer service, and being the primary liaison between KDP staff and retail vendors. Erin started at KDP in 2002. She enjoys being outdoors and spending time with her family and dog. She loves traveling to Louisville, Kentucky, and Venice, Florida. Mr. Amlung was her favorite teacher who was also her track and field hockey coach. He taught her how important it was to build relationships. He taught with humility and how important it was to be passionate and enthusiastic in everything you do.


Julia Lewis, MA

National Communications Coordinator 



As the National Communications Coordinator, Julia serves as both a creative eye and quality control when it comes to KDP’s official communications with potential, current, and former members. As an English teacher herself, Julia is proud to be a part of KDP and to serve in a role in which she ensures the quality and usefulness of resources and information being shared. In her spare time, she loves slowly chipping away at her ever-growing “To Read” pile, working on creative writing pieces, collecting board games, and trying out as many new restaurants as possible. Looking back, there are many influential teachers that Julia can attribute her current passions and successes to. Most notably would be Elizabeth Homan, the high school English teacher who first inspired in her a true love of the dissection of literature, and Kathy Nimmer, whose capacity for empathy and ability to uplift others in the classroom is unmatched. She cannot thank them and other dedicated teachers enough for their time, compassion, and commitment to uplifting students and their fellow educators. 

Administration Team


Patricia Bontempo, BS, CAE

Chief Administrative and Financial Officer



Patti has worked for KDP for 14 years and is their Chief Administrative Officer. As the CAO, she oversees Finance, Administration, Human Resources, and IT. She is a graduate of Ball State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. Patti is married and has two older children, both of whom are currently pursuing higher education degrees. She enjoys warm places and spending time with her family.


Kathy Jarrell, BS

Office Manager and Chief Executive Assistant



Kathy hails from Lafayette, Indiana, and is a die-hard Purdue Boilermaker. She graduated from Purdue University with a degree in Speech Language Pathology and Special Education. Kathy’s mother was a teacher for over 25 years and, as the Building and Office Manager at KDP, she feels honored to provide building, office, and payroll support along with the occasional band aid to those at KDP who seek to support and advance educators like her mother. Kathy is married to Chuck Jarrell, the KDP Art Director. Together they have four grown children, two grandchildren, and a very lazy beagle/bulldog named Susie. In her spare time, Kathy likes to read, serve at Wheeler Mission, and collect recipes she knows she’ll never make. Kathy has been blessed with many excellent teachers but Dr. Richard Miles, Mr. Thomas Dick, and Mr. Alvin Jones, her high school band directors, were the most influential. Not only did they encourage her love of music, they also taught commitment, self-confidence, muli-tasking, and the value of teamwork.


Danielle Johnson

Accounts Payable Coordinator 



Danielle has been in the accounting department at KDP for over 13 years, working in many different roles and positions. She has been with her husband for almost 15 years, and together they have two young sons and live in a farming community outside of Indianapolis, Indiana. She enjoys spending her downtime with her family, baking desserts, going to concerts, and reading books. She had many influential teachers growing up, but her biggest influence was her 10th-grade English teacher, Mrs. Scolaro. She instilled the love of reading that she still has to this day, and she taught her that with a little love and grace, you can do anything.


Jayne Geslak, BA

Director of Data Integrity



Jayne has worked at KDP for 12 years. She maintains the KDP member database as well as miscellaneous IT duties. Jayne has twins and enjoys cheering for them athletically and academically. Jayne is also a dog mom. She enjoys traveling to warm weather locations with her girlfriends. Jayne’s most influential teacher was her 8th grade English teacher, who instilled her love for English grammar.

Executive Team


Tonja Eagan, MPA, CFRE, CAE

Chief Executive Officer



Tonja joined KDP in June 2020 as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to collaboratively lead KDP with the Board of Directors, members, and staff into a new era of teaching excellence. For over 25 years Tonja has successfully led national, statewide, and local-based nonprofit organizations in education, youth, and human services. She was one of the first 100 people in America to earn a master’s degree with a concentration in nonprofit management in the 90’s. Other credentials include being a CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Executive) and CAE (Certified Association Executive). She has received multiple leadership honors. including being named as a Forty Under 40 leader by the Indianapolis Business Journal and a Robert Skip Walsh Memorial Award by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America as an outstanding mentor and role model for staff. Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), has recognized Tonja with the Distinguished Liberal Arts Alumni Service Award, the Glen W. Irwin Experience Excellence Award for service beyond the call of duty, the Maynard K. Hine Medal as the highest IU alumni honor, and the Spirit of Philanthropy Award. Upon receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1990, Tonja founded the IUPUI Student Mentor Program, which became the nationally renowned Bepko Learning Center. Annually, the “Tonja Eagan Mentor Service Award” is granted to an outstanding faculty mentor. As a philanthropist, Tonja established an IUPUI Mentor Impact Endowment Fund with the IU Foundation to support student peer mentoring. As an adjunct faculty member, Tonja has taught undergraduate courses at IUPUI, Ivy Tech Community College, and Ball State University. In volunteer roles, Tonja serves as a member, FBI Citizens Academy; member, Impact 100 Women’s Philanthropy; member, ISAE Diversity Task Force; coordinator, Financial Peace University; fundraiser, Paws & Think; and mentor to several youth, men, and women. Her favorite things to do are pontoon boating, mentoring, playing with her three dogs and two cats, listening to live music, and being with her husband, Frank.

Member Experience Manager Regions

  • WEST Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, National and International Online Colleges & Universities. Contact ambere@kdp.org.
  • MIDWEST Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Wisconsin. Contact thomas@kdp.org.
  • SOUTHEAST Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia. Contact kharlan@kdp.org.
  • NORTHEAST Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, DC. Contact joe@kdp.org.