Specialized Leadership Search - Consulting Services - Community Training


Steve Mandell - Founder & Principal Consultant

10 Years as Head of School

14 Years in Key Administrative Positions

10 Years in Private Industry (International Shipping & Logistics)

M.Ed. in Leadership and Administration (South Carolina)

B.A. in Legal Studies (Massachusetts)

Independent School Graduate (Pomfret School)

Experienced Human Resource Professional (SHRM Member)

Certified School Safety Manager (ISHM)

ALICE Certification in Active Shooter Response

Certified Instructor & Authorized Facilitator, Darkness to Light Stewards of Children Training

U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame - South Carolina Chapter

Steve Mandell has a very simple approach: show-up early, work hard, and care compassionately for others. With a positive, wellness based approach to employment and safety & security, schools can truly be great places to teach and learn. This is Steve Mandell's mission every day. 

Steve founded Big Back Pack in 2018 after holding various administrative posts in independent schools including Head of School, Chief Financial Officer, and Guidance Director. In his almost 25 years of service, he created numerous programs and curriculum for safety & security, student guidance, faculty professional growth, human resource development, and health education. 

Visit Steve's LinkedIn profile to learn more about his background and outlook.

Email Steve at steve@bigbackpack.org.


Lauren Dean - Leadership Search Associate

10 Years as Social Studies Teacher in Independent Schools

Founder and Head of Entrepreneurship Program at Lake Highland Preparatory School

B.A. in History (Johns Hopkins University)

DI Women's Lacrosse Player

Experienced Women's Lacrosse Coach and Referee

From the classroom to the playing fields, Lauren knows firsthand the positive impact that excellent teachers, coaches, and leaders can have on young people.  With ten years of experience working in independent schools, Lauren recognizes that importance of finding the right personnel fit for your institution.  She believes people thrive when they are invested in the mission of their workplace, where they feel safe, and where they feel like they belong.  Through a personalized approach to job placement for leadership candidates, Lauren wants to help you find your perfect match.

Email Lauren at lauren@bigbackpack.org


Valerie Moore - School Safety and Security Analyst

17 Years as Independent School Director for Extended Care, Summer Programs and Extracurricular Programming

8 Years as Co-Director of An Independent School Early Childhood Program

B.S. in Psychology with an emphasis on Employment Counseling/Personnel Management (Appalachian State University)

Education for Ministry (EfM) graduate

Master Gardener

Valerie believes that an ideal education partners teachers who are well-prepared with families of the children they serve. She enjoys building teams and encouraging people to use their skills and interests to enhance their work. Valerie's special interest in architecture and design helps her see how that affects the way we work and play. A safe and healthy environment boosts learning exponentially. Children learn best when they can be creative, approach a subject from many angles and feel free to express themselves. In her spare time Valerie enjoys gardening, reading, playing the harmonica and piano, and hiking.

Email Valerie at valerie@bigbackpack.org


Joe Ryan - School Safety and Technology Instructor

4 Years as Education Coordinator with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force at the South Carolina Attorney General's Office

5 Years in Law Enforcement, with 3 years of experience as a School Resource Officer

Associate Instructor at the National Criminal Justice Training Center

Designed and Developed "Protecting Children in a Digital Age" professional development course

Authorized Facilitator, Darkness to Light "Stewards of Children" Training

United Way of the Midlands "Blueprint for Leadership" Graduate

B.A. in Anthropology (University of South Carolina)

Joe is a big believer in being both positive and proactive. He's dedicated his professional life to serving his community, and he found his calling in educating others about how to best serve those around them. With a passion for instructional excellence, design, and community building, Joe focuses on building bridges between people through understanding and empathy. Recognizing that actions speak louder than words, he works to produce results and tangible outcomes in addition to meeting learning objectives. Joe's areas of expertise include Digital Citizenship, Social Media, School Security, and Child Safety, but he's a lifelong learner who eagerly seeks to add more to the list.


Sharon L. Sellers - Human Resources Consultant

30 years of experience in Human Resources and Management

Certified Senior HR Professional through SHRM (SHRM-SCP) 

Certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)

Certified Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR)

M.A. in Management (Webster University)

B.S. in Psychology (College of Charleston)

Adjunct faculty member at Trident Technical College

In addition to being on the Big Back Pack team, Sharon has led her own consulting firm since 2004. She is a business executive with thirty years experience in the human resources and management field. An effective trainer and motivational speaker, Sharon is a recognized author and subject matter expert in the areas of employee staffing, anti-harassment training and investigations, employee development, employee relations, strategic planning and risk management. A life-long community leader and SHRM advocate, Sharon Sellers can help schools with a world of issues.