Lorain Academic Distress Commission

Dr. Randall Sampson | Chair

Randall Sampson, Ph.D., ensures equity and access for students through innovative learning models. Dr. Sampson has experience at the K-12 secondary education level as an administrator, teacher, and a national transformation specialist.

Dr. Sampson's focus areas include:
- Closing achievement gaps through the implementation and coaching of rigorous learning standards
- Systemically increasing college and career-readiness
- Boosting graduation rates
- Implementing Innovation Learning Pathways
- Building Public-Private Partnerships through our community engagement process

These are skill sets Dr. Sampson honed through the Harvard University Achievement Gap Initiative and through teacher quality research with Harvard University's Dr. Ronald F. Ferguson. As a practitioner, Dr. Sampson's analysis of students’ performance data provided a national value-add approach to building sustainable learning environments.

At Dr. Sampson's former high school Westerville North High School, such practices led him to identify gaps in student enrollment in Advanced Placement (AP) courses that led the school district to create systemic corrective measures to improve student learning outcomes. As a result, the school experienced a 600% increase of African-American students enrolled in AP courses. Additionally, the school saw a 35% increase of students' AP exam scores rising from 3 to 4.

Steven Cawthon

Steven Cawthon, a native of Lorain, has been an educator in the International City since 1991. He began his teaching career at the original Lorain High School, before spending the majority of his time at Southview High School and now Lorain High School. Mr. Cawthon earned a Bachelor Degree of Arts and a Master’s Degree of American History from Cleveland State University.

Mr. Cawthon has shown a continued dedication to the Lorain community and the school system throughout his career.  He is the Lorain Board of Education appointed teacher member of the Lorain Academic Distress Commission. In addition, Mr. Cawthon is the Social Science Department Chairperson at Lorain High School, an Adjunct Professor through Lorain County Community College, the advisor for the Lorain High National Honor Society and “the Voice” of the Lorain High Titans Football and Boys Basketball teams.  He is also the proud parent of a Lorain City Schools graduate.

As an educator, parent and ADC member Mr. Cawthon has worked diligently to ensure the success of Lorain City Schools and is a big believer in the idea of “Lorain Grit.” Cawthon’s common sense approach to education is one that has served him well in the classroom, in the community and as a commissioner. His goal is to continue the improvement of Lorain City Schools and see all students achieve great success while attending LCS and in their life endeavors beyond graduation.

Mr. Cawthon is married with two daughters, a lazy beagle and enjoys Pittsburgh sports in his spare time.

Patricia O'Brien

Patricia O’Brien joined The Stocker Foundation in 1998 as the organization’s first program officer. Beth K. Stocker selected her to become the Executive Director in March 2001 as a result of demonstrable abilities to move The Stocker Foundation’s mission forward and work in partnership with four generations of Stocker family members living across the United States and abroad.  Patty continues to lead The Stocker Foundation through all facets of strategic planning related to competitive grantmaking and evaluation, local funding initiatives, and maintaining best-practice governance policies.

Before joining The Stocker Foundation, Patty honed her nonprofit management and fund development skills while employed at The City Club of Cleveland and Girl Scouts of North East Ohio (formerly Girl Scouts of Erie Shores). Patty is actively involved in Philanthropy Ohio, participating on the Education Advisory Committee, focused on critical areas to improve student achievement, early childhood learning, college and career-readiness, and college completion. 

Patty has served on the board of Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio, holding leadership positions of increased responsibility.  She was the Board Chair during a multi-million-dollar capital campaign to construct a 40,000 square foot warehouse distribution facility. Most recently, Patty served as a founding board member and Board Chair of Oberlin Center for the Arts.  

Cel Rivera

Cel Rivera was appointed to the Lorain Academic Distress Commission by Lorain Mayor Jack Bradley in December 2020. Rivera most recently served as Chief of the Lorain Police Department; he retired in 2019. Prior to donning the "Blue and Grey" Rivera spent years in foster care and dropped out of high school when he was 16. He later joined the Army and served in Vietnam, working to get his high school diploma while in the military. Once back in the International City, he took a job with Lorain police in 1971 and rose quickly through the ranks. He initially served as acting chief in 1994, before being permanently sworn into the position in 1995.

Cel Rivera passed away in June 2022, leaving a legacy of love and leadership that has forever shaped the proud community of Lorain.
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