Our First Student leaders steward and drive our vision forward, and work to inspire our people to be the best they can be every day.
Dennis R. Maple — President, First Student, Inc.
“I am absolutely passionate about K-12 education. School districts are under tremendous pressure today to balance competitive and economic pressures with the need to deliver a quality education. This environment requires partners who have the experience, values, resources and desire to participate in and support the longer-term mission of the district and the broader community. At First Student, we embrace the opportunity to partner with the K-12 community.”
Dennis R. Maple
President, First Student, Inc.
President Dennis R. Maple joined FirstGroup America in January 2014, bringing with him more than a decade of experience in the education sector. As president of First Student, Dennis continues to drive high standards and innovation, while overseeing the safe operation of 44,000 yellow school buses and a dedicated team of 50,500 employees across North America. Dennis co-leads the Shared Services function for FirstGroup America, promoting the efficient use of resources through streamlined business processes and services, strategic sourcing and accountability.
Dennis joined First Student from Aramark where he was responsible for the overall direction and management of food and other support services to more than 3,500 schools in the United States. Over a span of ten years, he served in various senior management roles and most recently as the president of Aramark Education. During his tenure, Aramark was ranked as one of the “World’s Most Admired Companies” by FORTUNE magazine.
Dennis has held senior management roles within several large corporations including Coors Brewing Company, Kraft General Foods, Inc., PepsiCo, Inc., and Quaker Oats. He has a proven track record of leadership, business improvement and building customer relationships in contract-based operations.
In April 2014, he was appointed to the National School Transportation Association (NSTA) board of directors. Dennis also serves on the boards of various organizations in his home town of Philadelphia, including the William Penn Foundation and Episcopal Academy School; and is a former board member of the Urban League of Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Academies, and the Paoli Hospital Foundation.
Dennis holds a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from the University of Tennessee.
Darryl Hill — Senior Vice President of Safety
“School buses are the safest form of transportation for moving children to and from school each day. We invest in the people, resources, maintenance and technology to ensure the safety and security of each of the 2.5 million children we transport. ”
Darryl Hill, Ph.D., CSP
Senior Vice President of Safety
Darryl Hill, Ph.D, CSP joined FirstGroup America in October 2017, bringing more than 30 years of safety experience to the organization. His responsibilities include leading all division-wide and field-level management of safety for FirstGroup America.
Most recently, Darryl served in a leadership role at Abbott Laboratories, as Corporate Director, Global Environmental, Health and Safety Governance and Product Stewardship. In this role, he led global policy setting, standard development, auditing and compliance assurance, for the company’s Environmental, Health and Safety programs. Prior to Abbott, Darryl held leadership positions at Johnson Controls, including Vice President, Global Health and Safety. He also served in leadership roles at ABB, Inc. where he was Vice President, Safety and Health.
In addition to Darryl’s professional accomplishments, he has held leadership positions within the safety industry including serving as President and member of the Board of Trustees of the American Society of Safety Engineers, the country’s oldest professional safety organization. Darryl is editor and contributing author of Construction Safety Management and Engineering.
Darryl earned his bachelor’s degree in occupational safety from Iowa State University and his master of science in hazardous waste management from Wayne State University. He earned his Ph.D. in educational leadership from Oakland University and he is currently earning master’s in business administration from Southern New Hampshire University.
Paul Osland — Chief Operating Officer
“We play a critical role in the lives of the 2.5 million students we transport every school day, including many of the country’s most vulnerable children. I believe First Student has the strongest commitment to Driver Training, Maintenance and Safety.” View Bio
Chief Operating Officer
Chief Operating Officer Paul Osland joined FirstGroup America in 2016. He is responsible for all regional operations of First Student, with a focus on improving operational discipline and compliance down to the location level.
Paul brings more than 25 years of leadership and operations experience across industries that include telecommunications, broadband construction, general construction, logistics and transportation. He most recently served as Chief Facilities Officer for Chicago Public Schools (CPS), a $6-billion-dollar educational enterprise serving 400,000 students in more than 600 schools. Prior to being named Chief Facilities Officer, Paul served as Executive Director of Transportation for CPS.
Prior to joining Chicago Public Schools, Paul held a number of senior leadership roles in organizations that include Ameritech (now AT&T); Gaylor, Inc.; Orius Corporation; and @Link Networks.
Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from DePauw University and post-graduate executive development studies in marketing and finance from the University of Chicago.
Claire Miller — Senior Vice President, Strategy, Business Development, Marketing and Communications
"At First Student, you are working with a name you know and trust. We don’t take that trust for granted. As the preeminent transportation provider in North America, First Student invests heavily in driver training, safety and technology to deliver a ride that’s twice as safe as the industry average." View Bio
Senior Vice President, Strategy, Business Development, Marketing and Communications
Claire brought more than 25 years of leadership experience across diverse operating environments that included consumer product goods (CPG), business-to-business, technical software and the U.S. Military when she joined First Student in March 2017.
Prior to her time at First Student, she served as Vice President and General Manager – Consumer Tabletop at Newell Brands, a $270 million business.
Prior to Newell, Claire held a number of senior leadership roles in organizations that include Honeywell Corporation, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, The Procter and Gamble Company, and the U.S. Army Environmental Policy Institute.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; and her master’s in urban planning and Ph.D. in regional planning from the same university.
Tom Secrest — Vice President, Human Resources and Labor Relations
“At First Student, we recognize that our people are our competitive advantage. Our drivers are the faces of student transportation. We work hard to recruit, develop and retain the best employees in the industry.” View Bio
Vice President, Human Resources and Labor Relations
Vice President of Human Resources and Labor Relations Tom Secrest joined FirstGroup America in 1997. His Shared Services responsibilities include leadership of the human resources, labor relations, EEO, performance management, compensation, training, recruiting and criminal background check functions.
Tom joined Ryder in 1997 as a labor counsel and supported Ryder/ATE in all labor matters. Tom remained with the company upon its acquisition by FirstGroup in 1999 and has served in multiple positions of increasing scope and responsibility.
Tom has served as chief negotiator in over 200 collective bargaining agreements, and defended hundreds of arbitrations and NLRB matters. Tom currently serves as Management Trustee on the Amalgamated Transit Union’s 401(k) Trust and the Teamsters’ Multi-State Benefit Trust.
Tom holds a Bachelor of Science degree in labor relations from the ILR School at Cornell University and a law degree from the University of Dayton.
Scott Spivey — Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
“There are many advantages to working with an experienced school transportation services partner. The efficiencies and cost savings we generate can help to keep district resources where they are needed most – in the classroom.” View Bio
Senior Vice President
and Chief Financial Officer
Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Scott Spivey joined FirstGroup America in 2015. His Shared Services accountabilities include leadership of the tax, cash management, budgeting, forecasting, governance, bid pricing and controller functions. Scott also leads financial planning and analysis, and mergers and acquisitions for First Student.
Scott brings more than 25 years of broad-based global finance, operational and general management experience across multiple industries. His industry knowledge includes transportation, supply chain operations and logistics, consumer packaged goods, beverage, telecommunications, advertising and publishing and footwear/apparel.
Prior to joining FirstGroup America, Scott served as senior vice president of finance for CHEP Global Pallets, the leader in pallet and container pooling services specializing in the leasing of reusable pallets, crates and containers with associated logistics services, operating in more than 50 countries. Prior to joining CHEP in 2008, Scott was vice president and CFO of BellSouth's $2.2 billion advertising and publishing unit (Yellow Pages) which included the acquisition and formation of the internet brand yellowpages.com. He has also held financial planning and management roles within large organizations including: Stride Rite Corporate, Pepsi-Cola Company and General Mills.
Scott holds a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Clark Atlanta University and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of St. Thomas.
Dean Suhre — Senior Vice President, Performance Improvement
“The way we impact the education process is by ensuring kids have a safe, reliable way to and from school each day. When we do that, we become more than a transportation services provider – we become a partner to the K-12 community.” View Bio
Senior Vice President, Performance Improvement
Senior Vice President of Performance Improvement Dean Suhre joined FirstGroup America in 2000. His Shared Services responsibilities include the leadership of the procurement function. Dean also leads operations support, operational excellence and First Planning Solutions for First Student.
Dean is a 15-year veteran of the school bus industry, beginning his career with Laidlaw Education Services prior to the FirstGroup acquisition in 2007. He has held various finance and operations support positions, including CFO for First Student from 2008-2011. Dean co-led Mission 1, an important reorganization and transformation project for First Student which resulted in significant overall improvements in safety results, customer service and employee satisfaction. He has also led the development of various technological advances and other operational improvement initiatives at First Student.
Dean holds a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and a Master of Business Administration degree with Honors from Webster University. He is also a CPA, which he received while working as a public accountant early in his career.
Scarla Gilbert — Vice President, Business Development
"My passion for helping students achieve success in education led me to First Student. More than ever, administrators are faced with unforeseen challenges in school district operations, including providing safe student transportation. First Student is the leading transportation partner in the industry. Our primary objective is to transport your students to and from school safely and on time….everyday"
Vice President, Business Development
Vice President of Business Development, Scarla Gilbert, joined FirstGroup America in 2018. Her Business Development responsibilities include the leadership of First Student’s customer growth and market expansion functions. Scarla also leads both First Student’s Sales and Business Development teams.
Scarla spent 21 years at Xerox Corp where she held various sales, sales management and executive positions during that time. Those included Sr. VP of the Mid-East Region, responsible for all sales, consulting services, and Operational Delivery for commercial, public sector and graphic communications clients in 5 states, National Healthcare VP of Business Development, and Region VP of Sales and Technical Service in Michigan and Ohio. Prior to joining Xerox, Scarla was a sales executive with IBM and an internal auditor for General Foods.
Scarla is a member of the National Sales Network (NSN) and was recognized by NSN with the Outstanding Achiever Award. She has served on the Advisory Council for the School of Business at Hampton University and the E50/National Executive Forum Board of Directors. She enjoys traveling, speaking to students at colleges and universities, and also serves as a mentor to several students and young professionals.
Scarla earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Florida A&M University, and an MBA in Finance and Marketing from George Washington University.