Our Staff

Stefanie Takacs, MS.Ed.

As Touchstones’ Executive Director, it’s a privilege to represent and advance an organization recognized globally as a leader in discussion-based educational programs and collaborative leadership development. My daily work at Touchstones leans heavily on extensive training and experience in educational psychology and evaluation, psychosocial programming, non-profit management, and educational publishing. My passion for Touchstones is rooted in a belief that education can and must value and empower every person both as individual and member of society.

Brittany Usiak, Ed.M.

My work at Touchstones stems from a belief that schools should prepare students with the skills they need to be informed, empathetic citizens in our democratic society. I’m passionate about leveraging my own experiences teaching and leading professional development in schools and out of school time programs to support our educational partners in building inclusive classrooms where all students thrive and leadership is shared. I hold a Master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a B.S. from Virginia Tech. When I’m not in schools, I love gardening, backpacking, and rock climbing.

West Keiler

As the Operations Manager, I’m passionate about creating inclusive and diverse spaces where people can build meaningful relationships with others. I want to empower people to become confident leaders and receptive listeners through Touchstones discussions. I hold a B.S. in Business Management from Skidmore College with minor studies in Music Theory and Technology. As a Maryland native, I’m always excited to partner with local schools and community spaces. Outside of work, I spend time in nature, hiking and backpacking, and I also perform music.

Howard Zeiderman

I am a co-founder of Touchstones Discussion Project. I have authored and co-authored more than 60 Touchstones discussion program volumes and have trained tens of thousands of educators around the world in the Touchstones method over the last 35 years. I did my undergraduate work at Dartmouth College and at St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD, and I completed my graduate work in philosophy at Princeton University from 1968-1973. In 1973, I joined the faculty of St. John’s College, where I remained until my retirement in 2019.

Alexandra Fotos

I first learned about Touchstones when it was newly formed in 1984, yet it wasn’t until 2000 that I began volunteering for Touchstones in the Advisory Council’s Fundraising committee. In 2019, upon my retirement from St. John’s College, I transitioned from a volunteer to an employee. I was drawn to Touchstones for many reasons, but it was speaking to others about Touchstones’ impact that most compelled me. Over the years, I’ve spoken with teachers about their students’ love for the discussion method, heard from veterans how life-changing the opportunity to share their stories in Touchstones can be, and participated in programs with Incarcerated Individuals where I saw people find their voice through Touchstones.

Samantha Duckworth

As Project & Office coordinator, most of my work involves Touchstones program material, outreach, and communications. I am currently a student at St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD. I first came to the Touchstones team after an internship here over the summer of 2021. My favorite part of working at Touchstones is seeing how the work we do helps to empower students and all kinds of people. When I’m not working or in class, I enjoy reading and going on hikes.

Lysithia Page

Connecting with and welcoming people into the Touchstones community are my primary tasks as Social Media Manager. During my internship at Touchstones over the summer of 2022, I discovered on a first-hand basis how transformative it is to participate in a discussion environment where active listening and shared leadership are priorities. I am also a student at St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD. Everyday I am grateful that my experiences in Touchstones discussions have made me more self-aware and devoted to collaborative inquiry. I adore learning languages, dancing, and working with children. 

Sharon Thomas, M.Ed.

I am a National Board Certified English teacher, instructional coach, student advocate, and writer. I earned a B.A. in English at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and an M.Ed. in secondary education at Towson University in Towson, Maryland. A public high school teacher for nearly two decades, I am a Senior Consultant at the Instructional Coaching Group. I am the founder of the Cecil County [Maryland] Teacher Leadership Network and have presented at conferences across North America on the issues of secondary school literacy, teacher leadership, and instructional coaching.

Matteo Burrell

I graduated with my BA from St. John’s College in 2019. I am currently a philosophy graduate student at the New School for Social Research, where my research centers on how inherited paradigms and cultural perceptions shape linguistic interaction, and how the intersubjective space that unfolds in dialogue affects what has room to be spoken, recognized, and understood. I have co-led the Touchstones Teacher Fellows Program, which delivers intensive discussion leadership training using Touchstones’ Exploring American Perspectives.