Our Leadership Team

Our educational team has over 50 years of combined experience in managing and providing services to successful schools.

Ali Yilmaz, Ph.D.

Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Ali Yilmaz is a scholarly practitioner with 18 years of teaching and administrative experience at school and district levels. He started his educational career as a Chemistry and ESL teacher in Columbus, Ohio. He obtained his doctorate degree in Urban Education with a focus on Human Resource Development and Business Administration. His research focused on teacher retention and online learning.

Chris Austria, M.Ed.

Chief Education Officer

Chris Austria began his career as a high school English and Social Studies teacher in Chicago. His 15 years of teaching has taken him from Chicago’s North Side to the West Side. Before joining the MAESTRO Ed team, Chris spent 11 years as a school Principal and as a District Administrator.

Mary Hicks, Ph.D.

Director of Curriculum and Instruction

Dr. Mary Hicks began her teaching career as a 5th Grade Reading teacher in Chicago. After several years in the classroom, Dr. Hicks accepted the position of Executive Director for the non-profit organization Boundless Readers. As the Executive Director, Dr. Hicks was instrumental in increasing the number of classroom libraries  in Chicago schools. Dr. Hicks was also a Professor at Loyola University School of Education where she supervised the University’s student teaching program.

Nicole Muzynski

Director of Special Ed and ESL Services 

Nicole Muzynski spent 21 years in the classroom as a Special Ed teacher and as a Case Manager. She has taught students with learning and physical disabilities and with emotional and behavioral disorders. As a teacher, Nicole was successful in raising her Special Ed students’ achievement. Nicole’s expertise is also in training teachers and school administrators on how to modify student assessment and instruction in order to meet a student’s Individualized Educational Plan.