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.” View Bio
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 47,000 yellow school buses and a dedicated team of 57,000 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.
Gary Catapano — Senior Vice President, Safety
“School buses remain the safest form of transportation available today for moving students to and from school. At First Student, we invest in the people, the technology and the processes to ensure the safety of the children that ride our buses.” View Bio
Senior Vice President, Safety
Senior Vice President of Safety Gary Catapano joined First Group and First Student in late 2004. His Shared Services accountabilities include serving as chair of FirstGroup America’s Safety Council, which conducts thorough safety reviews for all FirstGroup America divisions. Gary also leads division-wide and field-level management of safety for First Student.
Gary has worked for 25 years as a transportation safety professional, holding senior executive positions for school and transit transportation companies. Prior to his career in school transportation, he worked for 15 years as a consulting engineer in the nuclear power industry helping to develop emergency plans and onsite safety response protocols at four nuclear power stations.
Gary serves as a member of the National Safety Council’s Board of Delegates and formerly chaired its Transportation Safety Division and School Transportation sections. He currently serves as chair of the Safety and Security Committee for the National School Transportation Association (NSTA) and is a member of the National Association of Pupil Transportation (NAPT).
In 2011, the National Safety Council presented Gary with its Distinguished Service to Safety Award, the highest NSC honor given to an individual safety professional. In 2010, he received the Golden Merit Award and in 2015 the Distinguished Service Award from the NSTA for service to school transportation operations and furthering safety on a national level. Gary has authored many technical papers and manuals on school bus safety as well as co-authored a book on wheelchair transportation. Because of his expertise, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) selected him to serve on their Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, where he serves as the school bus industry’s representative, he currently is serving his third term. He also is a member of the steering committee for the National Congress on School Transportation, a position he has held for the last 17 years.
Gary holds a commercial driver’s license and has completed thousands of hours of specialized safety training in subjects ranging from safety event and collision investigations to human factors and human performance. He is also holds certifications to both teach and coach the applications of behavioral psychology to safety and more particular leadership.
Paul Osland — Chief Operating Officer
“We play a critical role in the lives of the 3 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.
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.
Todd Steele – Vice President, Business Development and Growth
“Finding the right transportation partner can have a real impact on a school district’s success. Our partnerships with schools range from full turnkey solutions to route optimization and customized levels of service.” View Bio
Business Development and Growth
Vice President of Business Development and Growth Todd Steele joined FirstGroup America in 2015. Todd leads all sales and business development operations for both the home-to-school and charter services teams within First Student.
Todd brings 25 years of broad-based business development, client relationship management and financial stewardship experience across multiple industries. He’s a results-oriented leader with a proven track record in leveraging a consultative selling approach and relationship building to drive revenue growth. Todd most recently served as board advisor and vice president of business development for Label Insight, a venture-backed start-up technology services company serving retailers and consumer goods companies.
Prior to joining Label Insight, Todd held a number of sales and business development roles of increasing responsibility within diverse organizations including Accenture, dunnhumbyUSA, Convergys Corporation and Level 3 Communications.
Todd holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications and business administration from DePauw University and a Master of Business Administration degree from Indiana University.
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.