Sterling Portfolio Co Appoints New CEO and President

Progressus Therapy, a provider of special education solutions to school districts and communities has appointed Gene Clark, Ph.D. as its new chief executive officer and Janet Knupp as its new president. Progressus Therapy is a Sterling Partners portfolio company.


Progressus Therapy, a leading provider of special education solutions to school districts and communities around the country, announced that it has appointed Gene Clark, Ph.D. as its new chief executive officer and Janet Knupp as its new president. They will be joining a leadership team that includes independent directors Phil Handy, Dr. Rudy Crew, Dennis Archer and Wayne Lowell.

Progressus also announced that Sterling Partners has made an additional investment into the company with a goal to grow Progressus’ strong financial position and expand its role as one of the largest and most effective special education solutions providers in the US.

“Progressus has a long history of partnering with school districts and communities to transform their special education programs, produce meaningful cost savings and deliver exceptional results to the students who need it the most,” said Steven Taslitz, chairman and senior managing director of Sterling Partners and a member of Progressus’ board of directors. “We have worked with Gene in his role as a Dean in The InfiLaw System, and we are thrilled to be working with him again. He and Janet have proven track records of building and growing organizations in the education sector. Their business acumen and deep understanding of the space will be a great asset to Progressus’ future growth.”

A distinguished academic in business management and law, Dr. Clark brings a unique blend of leadership experience and a long track record of business success achieved over his 40-year career. For the past five years, as Dean and CEO of Phoenix School of Law and the Charlotte School of Law, Dr. Clark successfully guided the schools through the American Bar Association national accreditation process and oversaw significant improvements in student performance. He has held leadership roles at many other academic institutions, established government/university partnerships and is one of only two Australian law professors to win national honors as a recipient of the prestigious inaugural Prime Minister’s Teaching Excellence Award.

A former special education teacher, Janet Knupp brings more than twenty years experience leading and growing education organizations, from start-ups to mature companies, and she has established a national reputation for excellence in K-12 education. As founding president and CEO of the Chicago Public Education Fund, she helped attract significant private investment to develop and implement empowering educational programs in the Chicago Public School system.

Gene Clark added, “Janet, the board and I all share Progressus’ passion for delivering exceptional results to the students who need it the most. I have had the pleasure of working with some of my new colleagues before, and I am very excited to be a part of this team as we continue to build on Progressus’ core, industry-leading practice.”

The members of the board of directors include:

Phil Handy, the newly elected board chairman, served as chairman of the Florida State Board of Education for six years. Currently the CEO of Strategic Industries, Phil was appointed twice by President George W. Bush to the National Board of Education Sciences, where he has served as vice chairman.

Dr. Rudy Crew is the former chancellor of New York City Public Schools, the nation’s largest school district, and more recently served as the superintendent of Miami Public Schools. A lifelong educator, he was named 2008 National Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators, and he currently serves as professor of clinical education as the USC Rossier School of Education.

Dennis Archer, a former special education teacher, served as the mayor of Detroit from 1994 to 2001. He was the first person of color to serve as president of the American Bar Association (2003 to 2004) as well as the State Bar of Michigan.

Wayne Lowell brings 25 years of experience in the health care industry, most notably as executive vice president, chief financial officer and chief administrative officer for PacifiCare Health Systems. More recently, he has consulted a wide variety of organizations on strategic, financial and operating issues.

Steven Taslitz co-founded Sterling Partners in 1983 and is currently chairman and senior managing director of the firm.

Shoshana Vernick joined Sterling Partners in 2003 and is currently a principal with the firm. Shoshana formerly worked at private equity firm One Equity Partners, and was a strategist for digital solutions provider Razorfish.

About Progressus Therapy

Headquartered in Tampa, FL, Progressus Therapy is the leading provider of speech-language pathology, occupational therapy and physical therapy services to school districts and communities around the country. Founded in 1989, Progressus has a long-standing track record of partnering with school districts to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their special education programs and deliver exceptional results to the students who need it the most.

Progressus Therapy is a Sterling Partners portfolio company. Sterling Partners is a private equity firm with a distinct point of view on how to build great companies. We’ve been around since 1983 and have invested billions of dollars, but what really defines us is our purpose: INSPIRED GROWTH®, which describes our approach to buying differentiated businesses and growing them in inspired ways. We focus on investing growth capital in small and mid-market companies in industries with positive, long-term trends – education, healthcare, and business services. And we provide valuable support to our management teams via a deep and dedicated team of operations and functional experts based in our offices in Chicago, Baltimore, and Miami. At Sterling, we believe in ideas and ideals, in people and partnerships that drive long-term success.