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Crossroads announces new Executive Director and ambitious 5-year strategic plan


Crossroads Foundation, a premier educational non-profit offering multi-faceted Catholic high school scholarships to the Pittsburgh region’s under-served youth, begins a new era of increased impact with the promotion of Esther Mellinger Stief to Executive Director and the launch of an ambitious new 5-year strategic plan.  Esther succeeds Florence Rouzier, who retired June 30th, after 7 years of transformational leadership that defined Crossroads as a national model for providing highly effective, college-preparatory educational support to historically disadvantaged students. Esther has served Crossroads since 2012 as Research and Program Director and brings a wealth of background, training and experience spanning 24 years in young adult education to her new role.

“I can’t say enough about the way that Florence took Crossroads to an entirely new level during her 7 years with us,” says Board President Dean A. Calland, founding shareholder with leading environmental, energy and business law firm Babst, Calland.  “Her capacity to recognize successful organizational development opportunities together with her incredible execution skills yielded a unique result that has placed Crossroads front and center in the communities we serve.”


 “We are so excited now to face the next group of opportunities and challenges with Esther at the helm,” continues Calland. “Her exceptional performance at Crossroads over the last 5 years has demonstrated her strong commitment to the mission, her collaborative style, and her ability to identify and implement key strategic initiatives.  We are so happy to have been able to fill this critical position with one of our own!” 

Esther’s tenure begins as Crossroads embarks on a bold 5-year plan that includes increased efforts to extend its proven support model down to help middle school students prepare for a rigorous high school, and up into college to help alumni complete their degrees.   The plan also includes  increased collaborations with local like-minded groups who share Crossroads’ pursuit of educational access and equity for all students, regardless of financial means. Crossroads enjoys a longstanding collaboration with six area Catholic high schools whose principles complement its own with their emphasis on providing first-rate college preparation in a faith-based learning environment.


 “I am so grateful for the opportunity to lead Crossroads at a juncture where we are so well poised to significantly expand our impact,” says Esther.  “We have a dynamite and impassioned Board and staff, a compelling and far-reaching strategic plan, and we know what it takes to help young people be successful in high school and college no matter what their life circumstances.  We look forward to opening up even more doors of opportunity for low-income students throughout our region.”

Esther holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and Sociology from Westminster College, a Teaching Certification in Secondary English from Chatham College, and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership as well as a Pennsylvania Supervisory Certification from the University of Pittsburgh. She spent 10 years as a high school Honors and Advanced Placement English teacher at Steel Valley and Seneca Valley School districts, and thereafter, completed diverse projects in research, education and communications as a freelance Educational Consultant.  In all, Esther has over 20 years of wide-ranging secondary education experience involving classroom instruction, program development and leadership, outcomes tracking and research, and strategic partnering.


Crossroads Foundation is in its 29th year of providing a distinctive, 4-part scholarship to an average of 130 under-served youth annually throughout Allegheny County.  The only model of its kind in the region, (and possibly the country), Crossroads supplies tuition assistance; afterschool and summer academic tutoring and enrichment; year-round college and career counseling; and personal and social wellness support.  Crossroads’ direct service staff to student ratio is an astounding 1:20 and yields equally astounding results:  97% of Crossroads’ scholars matriculate to 4-year colleges and universities as opposed to as low as 44% of their low-income peers attending neighborhood schools.  63% of Crossroads’ alumni graduate college within six years as opposed to 25% of low-income students nationally and 59% of ALL students nationally.  (Comparative data taken from A+ Schools and National Center for Education Statistics.)

To learn more about Crossroads Foundation, visit our website at or follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, or LinkedIn.   For questions, contact Elvira DiPaolo-Hoff at 412-661-9422, Ext. 208, or 412-415-6104, or