School Committee

For more information

Contact Shaena Gubala
Holyoke Public Schools Records Access Officer
Send Shaena Gubala an Email
(413) 512-5300

Recommended Policy Updates available for public comment

Members of the public who wish to submit public comments may Send Shaena Gubala an Email.

Upcoming School Committee Meetings

  • February 26, 2024 at 6 p.m.

  • March 18, 2024 at 6 p.m.

All meetings are held in person at the Fifield Room, Holyoke High School Dean Campus, 1045 Main Street.

The public may also participate via Zoom Meeting Link or by phone by calling (301) 715-8592 and then providing Meeting ID 852 6623 2176. No passcode is required.

School Committee members' contact information

Name

Address

Phone Number

Email

Mayor Joshua A. Garcia Chair

City Hall: 536 Dwight Street

(413) 322-5510 (Office)

Send Joshua Garcia an Email

Erin Brunelle
Vice Chair, At Large

44 Norwood Terrace

(413) 250-8553 (Cell)

Send Erin Brunelle an Email

Mildred Lefebvre
At Large Representative

118 St. Kolbe Drive

413) 219-0683 (Cell)

Send Mildred Lefebvre an Email

Gustavo O. Romero
Ward 1 Representative

67 Center Street

(413) 275-4340 (Cell)

Send Gustavo O. Romero an Email

Rosalee Tensley Williams
Ward 2 Representative

81 Brook Street

(413) 533-6916 (Home)

Send Rosalee Tensley Williams an Email

Dr. Yadilette Rivera Colón
Ward 3 Representative

70 Lawler Street

(787) 557-7122

Send Yadilette Rivera Colón an Email

Dr. Gloria Caballero-Roca
Ward 4 Representative

5 Whitney Avenue

(413) 512-1451 (Cell)

Send Gloria Caballero-Roca an email

John G. Whelihan
Ward 5 Representative

19 McLellan Drive

(413) 535-1156 (Home)

Send John G. Whelihan an Email

William R. Collamore
Ward 6 Representative

36 Belvidere Avenue

(413) 533-7509 (Home)

Ellie Wilson
Ward 7 Representative

21 Hampton Knolls Road

(413) 341-1025 (Cell)

Send Ellie Wilson an Email

Anthony Soto
Superintendent/Receiver

57 Suffolk Street

(413) 534-2005 (Office)

Send Anthony Soto an Email

School Committee member profiles

Mayor Joshua Garcia

Joshua A. Garcia, Mayor and Chair

Joshua A. Garcia was elected mayor of Holyoke on November 2, 2021, and has served as the School Committee Chair since that time. He also was the Ward 1 representative for the School Committee member in 2012 and 2013. He is currently the Chairperson of the Middle School Building Committee to build a new middle school for 550 students by the end of 2025. 

Prior to being Holyoke’s mayor, Mr. Garcia was the Town Administrator of Blandford, Massachusetts. He also worked at the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission and the Holyoke Housing Authority. He has served as a member of the Holyoke Fire Commission, Holyoke Community College Foundation Board, the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts, the MIIA Health Group Trust, Nueva Esperanza, and International Volleyball Hall of Fame. 

Mayor Garcia is a lifelong resident of Holyoke, having gone through the public school system and graduating from Holyoke High School. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, with a minor in Regional Planning, and Master’s Degree in Public Administration, both from Westfield State University. His wife, Stefany, works at Donahue Elementary School, and his two children, Ethan and Allison, are in the dual language program at Sullivan Middle School. 

Erin Brunelle

Erin Brunelle, Vice Chair, At Large

Erin Brunelle has been on the Holyoke School Committee since 2014 and is the vice chair in 2024. Ms. Brunelle first decided to join the School Committee when her daughter (who is now in high school) was in kindergarten because she wanted to proactively contribute to Holyoke Public Schools being the top choice for Holyoke residents, an aspiration she continues to work towards. While on the School Committee, Ms. Brunelle has championed the expansion of the dual language program, where students become bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural in English and Spanish. She is vice chair of the School Building Committee for 2024 and has been deeply involved with identifying a building design that meets the needs of the district and a reasonable cost for the city. The new middle school is scheduled to be built by late 2025. She is a well-known realtor, serving future and current homeowners in Holyoke and western Massachusetts. Ms. Brunelle is a 2000 graduate of Holyoke High School and also attended McMahon, Donahue, and Peck Schools. Her children are currently enrolled in the dual language program at Sullivan Middle School and Holyoke High School North. 

Mildred Lefebvre

Mildred Lefebvre, At Large

Mildred Lefebvre has served as School Committee member, both at-large and as the Ward 1 representative, since 2014, including a long tenure as the vice chair. During her time, she has focused on ensuring equitable education for all students, with an emphasis on addressing equity for students who receive special education services. She also serves as the chair for the National Hispanic Council of School Board Members, which identifies and addresses the educational needs and barriers of the Latino/Hispanic community, its students and families. Further, Ms. Lefebvre is president of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees where she continues to identify and address the issues facing our underrepresented voices along with her colleagues. 

Beyond her commitment to improving public education, Ms. Lefebvre is an engaged professional in Western Massachusetts. She has served as a licensed practical nurse for more than 23 years. In 2021, she graduated from Holyoke Community College with an associate’s degree in nursing, and in 2022 she graduated from American International college with a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing. Ms. Lefebvre has held various health care roles, including direct care, management, quality assurance, and teaching. She currently works as a visiting nurse caring for clients in the community. 

Her personal experience with special education has allowed her to be an advocate for families and students who struggle with mental health or disabilities to ensure their children receive an equitable education with the support and resources they need to succeed. She and her children have attended Holyoke Public Schools. 

Gustavo Romero

Gustavo O. Romero, Ward 1

Gustavo O. Romero is the Ward 1 School Committee representative. He also served on the HPS Rezoning Task Force in 2022 to support the district to move to separate elementary and middle schools. 

Mr. Romero is an artist and graphic designer who owns a local company, G2N Studios. His personal goal is to bring beauty to the world, which is what motivated him to create and collaborate with others to paint murals that can be found throughout our city parks, often covering negative messages with positive images. He also served as an Americorps member supporting grassroots volunteer efforts in downtown neighborhoods, such as community clean-ups, food bank distribution, and community-building initiatives. 

He earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from Westfield State University and an associate of arts and sciences degree in photography from Holyoke Community College. He credits his 8th grade art teacher, Dr. Lora Barrett, at Peck Middle for inspiring him to become an artist. He was born in Puerto Rico and moved to Holyoke in 1998. He has two children in the school district.

Rosalee Tensley Williams, Ward 2

Rosalee Tensley Williams has served as the School Committee’s Ward 2 representative since 2014. She joined the School Committee because she loves children and was hopeful she could make a difference in the school system, based on her experience as a mother and active community member. 

Ms. Tensley Williams worked for the City of Holyoke in various capacities, including the Holyoke Police Department. She is also a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army National Guard. Ms. Tensley Williams was presented with the 2020 Black Excellence on the Hill honoree award from the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. She was honored for her commitment and passionate work to improve Holyoke schools and the city. She volunteered at the Holyoke High School Dean Campus when her two sons attended. She has also volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club and read books to HPS students. She loves to write children's poems and is known to share them with the HPS community.  

Ms. Tensley Williams was born in South Carolina and grew up in New York. She moved to Holyoke in 1976, when she was stationed at Westover Air Reserve Base. She affectionately refers to Holyoke as “my city” and is committed to doing whatever she can to help parents, families, students, and staff. 

Yadilette Rivera Colón

Dr. Yadilette Rivera Colón, Ward 3

Yadilette "Yady" Rivera-Colón joined the School Committee in 2022 as the Ward 3 representative. She is the chair of the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) sub-committee and was the Holyoke School Committee delegate for the Delegate Assembly during the 2023 MASC conference. She joined the School Committee because she saw the opportunity to serve her community and volunteered to fill a then-vacant seat. Making education accessible is one of her life commitments and what better way to contribute to that commitment than serving Holyoke's youth. 

Dr. Rivera-Colón is an associate professor of biology and undergraduate science program research coordinator at Bay Path University. She earned her bachelor's degree in natural sciences from the University of Puerto Rico, Cayey in 2008 and her doctorate degree in molecular and cellular biology in 2013 from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. After completing her doctorate, she became an IRACDA Post-doctoral fellow at the PENN-Professional Opportunities for Research and Teaching at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Dr. Rivera-Colón is a native of Puerto Rico and a first-generation college graduate. She has a passion for connecting with underserved populations, particularly women of color, to share her love of science. On any given day, you can find Dr. Rivera-Coon at one of the labs at Bay Path helping students with their research projects, teaching a class in biochemistry, or visiting Holyoke Public Schools to open students to the wonders of the scientific world. Her mission is to train the next generation of women scientists. She lives in Holyoke with her partner and young daughter, whom she plans to send to Holyoke Public Schools in the future.

Gloria Caballero-Roca

Dr. Gloria Caballero-Roca, Ward 4

Dr. Gloria Caballero joined the Holyoke School Committee in 2024 as the Ward 4 representative. Dr. Caballero decided to join the School Committee because she wants to work with all stakeholders to develop a community that thrives, that is safe, and where people can find spaces of learning. She brings a multidisciplinary approach to solving problems to the School Committee. 

Dr. Caballero teaches at Bard College, which is a part of the Care Center; Enlace de Familias; and Holyoke Community College. She is also a translator and interpreter at UMass and Neighbor to Neighbor. Dr. Caballero was originally born in Santiago de Cuba, moved to Havana as a young child, and moved to Holyoke in 1999 while attending graduate school. She has two PhDs and two master’s degrees. Her two sons attended and graduated from Holyoke Public Schools. 

John G. Whelihan

John G. Whelihan, Ward 5

Jay Whelihan served as an at-large School Committee member from 2013-2015. He rejoined the School Committee in 2020 and has served since then as the Ward 5 representative. He joined the School Committee because he believes every student deserves a quality education and path to success, and because he loves to give back to the community where he was born and raised. Mr. Whelihan was involved with creating the Holyoke Public Schools Athletic Hall of Fame in 2017 to honor the achievements and contributions to athletics in Holyoke Public Schools. Mr. Whelihan serves as chair of the Finance Committee and was previously chair of the Policy Committee. Mr. Whelihan is chief assessor in the Town of Belchertown. He also serves as treasurer of the Hampden/Hampshire Counties Assessor’s Association and treasurer of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, an Irish Catholic organization. He has also served on the City’s Charter Commission, Holyoke City Council, and Holyoke Redevelopment Authority. He is a graduate of Holyoke High School and American International College. 

William R. Collamore, Ward 6

William “Ronnie” Collamore is the longest serving elected official in Massachusetts, as he has continued to serve as the Ward 6 School Committee representative since 1976. His motivation for serving on the School Committee is rooted in his family who believed in public service. He chose the office of School Committee in order to serve the youth of the Holyoke community. Mr. Collamore was also one of the first champions of the Holyoke Public Schools Athletic Hall of Fame, which was created in 2017 to honor the achievements and contributions to athletic at Holyoke Public Schools.

Mr. Collamore is a retired firefighter and has been actively involved in many civic boards. Over the years, he has been a member or served on the board of the American Legion, Holyoke Boys and Girls Club, Crosstown Friends Alumni Basketball, and Western Massachusetts Umpires Association. He is a founding board member of the Volleyball Hall of Fame since its inception in the 1970s. 

Mr. Collamore and many family members have attended Holyoke Public Schools. He graduated with an associate of arts degree from Springfield Technical Community College and has a certificate in fire science from the Fire Studies Academy in New Haven, Connecticut. He is a lifelong Holyoker, always living in Ward 6 except for two years while he served in the U.S. Army.

Ellie Wilson

Ellie Wilson, Ward 7

Eleanor “Ellie” Wilson grew up in Holyoke. She attended Highland School, Lynch Junior High School, and graduated from Holyoke High School. After a career in school admissions and human resources, she decided to pursue her passion in education. She has worked at Donahue and Kelly Schools as a paraeducator, special education teacher, and Educational Team Leader (ETL). She is now an ETL at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School. She decided to join the Holyoke School Committee in 2021 because she is passionate about ensuring that Holyoke students and families are treated equally. Ms. Willson is chair of the Policy/Procedure Subcommittee. She has also served on the district’s Retention Working Group, which is developing strategies to strengthen teacher retention in Holyoke.

Ms. Wilson is also a beloved youth coach and active community leader. She has been coaching youth field hockey in Holyoke for more than 10 years. In partnership with Holyoke Parks and Recreation, she organizes the Valley Cup Field Hockey Tournament each October. In 2016, she realized a long-time dream and established the Holyoke Girls Lacrosse program. Recently, Ms. Wilson became the Massachusetts Association for School Committees Special Education Committee chairperson and vice chair for District 5, which covers the Connecticut Valley region.

She has a bachelor’s degree from Elms College in business management, a master’s degree in mathematics from Lesley University, and a graduate study of management certificate from Western New England University. She has also taken classes to become a reading specialist. She is proud of the work the Holyoke School Committee “is doing in order to be prepared to take back local reigns and steer our school system once again.”