Empowering Education Through Technology for over 15 Years
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About Backbone Communications

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Our vision is empowering education through technology. Our mission is to help students succeed in school and life through the use of our products and services.

Backbone Communications has been an educational service provider for over 15 years. Our headquarters are located in Phoenix, AZ with regional offices in Nevada, California, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. Our staff is made up of educators with many years of teaching and technology experience, providing solutions that help all students whether they are below, above, or at grade level.

Our vision (Empowering Education Through Technology) and our mission statement (To help students succeed in school and life through the use of our products and services) drive our decision making. Backbone’s solutions are respected by industry experts as some of the best technology tools available. All technology and software tools are scientifically demonstrated, research-based programs that help students succeed. In addition, Backbone’s on-site professional development programs can offer an array of practical solutions ranging from utilizing technology to support student growth, differentiated instructional strategies, reading intervention, project-based learning, classroom management, and more.

Superior customer service and proven professional development strategies are reasons why Backbone Communications continues to be schools’ source to increase student achievement.



New Mexico

Educational Tech Consultants



Utah, Colorado

Executive Assistant

Leah Dines, M.Ed.

(602) 791-6138
Leah started Backbone Communications in 1999, believing that making the up-to-date and proper learning tools available to larger numbers of students would be doing the most for the most students. She has an undergraduate degree from Arizona State University in Political Science and a Masters Degree from Northern Arizona University in Educational Leadership. She is a member of the following organizations: Women & Philanthropy – ASU Foundation for A New American University, Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi at NAU, and NAPEW, National Association of Professional & Executive Women.
She has experience in the classroom as a Job Developer/Placement Teacher working with adults with Learning Disabilities as well as with Foster Care students. Before that she worked as a Client Care Worker with violent offender boys age 12-18 years old. Leah had the honor of working with Senator Jon Kyl while in college at ASU, and followed that with a job with the Arizona Board of Supervisors. Using the tools that Backbone Communications represents will enable students to reach goals and dreams they may not have thought possible.

Josh Leitz

Regional Director
(602) 770-9152
Josh Leitz has been with Backbone Communications since January 2005. After receiving his Concurrent Bachelor’s Degree in Business Marketing and Business Management from ASU, he pursued his K-8 Post-Bachelor’s Education Degree from Ottawa University. He was a classroom teacher for grades Kindergarten through 8th grade and used technology with his 5th & 6th graders in order to differentiate the curriculum and provide appropriate content to his many students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs).
When Josh joined Backbone, he began meeting with schools, assisting in implementation, and training teachers and administrators on various software tools. With today’s competitive marketplace, Josh is passionate and committed to helping students realize success and achieve permanent gains by providing the students the right content at the right time.

BJ Dines

VP of Technology
(602) 369-3120
BJ joined Backbone Communications in 2001. He has a CIS & Marketing Degree from NAU. BJ has experience working with technology and training with schools providing Internet solutions. His determination and drive in training teachers, consulting administrators and supporting the BBC Account Managers stems from his true goals – to help make schools successful. His experience has taught him the keys to a successful software implementation.
Learn how to avoid the common mistakes and make your investment worthwhile. By following Backbone’s implementation plan, Administrators and Teachers know what is expected of them and can now measure its effectiveness.

Chris Soiles, CTS

Audio Video Education Technology Specialist
(505) 228-8009
With almost 30 years of educational technology experience and technology infrastructure experience, Chris brings with him extensive knowledge of all facets of technology related to educational curriculum delivery and audio video needs in today’s evolving classrooms.
Chris has worked with many schools in the Southwest utilizing state and federal funding programs to help entities build and enhance their technology delivery needs. With detailed understanding of Wide and Local Area Network design and implementation, he can identify and apply creative long-term solutions in the best interest of the customer.

Matt West

Regional Manager
Arizona, New Mexico
(602) 349-3693
Matt has been in education since receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Northern Illinois University in 2000. He was a certified teacher and taught for 7 years in the Phoenix area. Outside of the classroom Matt served as Technology Coordinator, Curriculum Specialist, and AIMS Test Coordinator at different schools. He also coached various girls and boys sports before joining Backbone Communications.
He is currently finishing his Masters Degree in Educational Leadership. Matt uses his classroom and leadership experiences to help schools implement and use software as a powerful educational tool.

Brad Schmidt

Regional Manager
Northern Arizona
(602) 614-0226
Originally from California, Brad is a graduate of California State University, San Marcos where he studied Sociology and was deeply involved in student development and leadership. With over 17 years of experience in education and technology, he has a real passion for the implementation of technology in the classroom. The intersection of technology and curriculum development as means of enabling student success and driving achievement is a key professional focus of Brad.
His passion lies in advising educators on the successful deployment and implementation of evolving software technologies.

Brad has two young sons and enjoys fitness training, travel, and working with the organization, Arizona Disabled Athletes.

Steve Leitz

Regional Manager
Arizona, Nevada
(602) 614-8626
(702) 442-1108
After receiving his B.S./B.A. in Marketing & Management from The Ohio State University, Steve spent almost 20 years in the Fashion Eyewear Industry. As Vice President of Sales and National Accounts Manager, Steve was responsible for building Liz Claiborne, I-Ski, Suncloud and private label programs for Dillards, Foleys, J.C. Penney, and the Ski Areas throughout the Southwest United States. Upon the sale of his company, Steve was approached to help the owners of Backbone Communications to help students and teachers in Nevada.
After four years of expanding into 12 Districts in Nevada, Steve was asked to work with Scottsdale and Paradise Valley Unified School Districts in Arizona along with 5 counties in California. Steve’s enthusiasm for healthy self esteem for kids, his volunteer work in that area for over 20 years, and his excitement in seeing his oldest son Josh succeed as a teacher and educational software professional helped Steve decide to join the Backbone Team. Steve looks forward to working with each one of you, to specifically tailor an Education Implementation Plan to help meet your goals.

Henry Dotson

Regional Manager & Literacy Specialist
Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico
(602) 576-2199
Henry is a California native and born into a family of engineers, entrepreneurs and educators. He attended ASU and studied Sociology, during which he discovered a passion for education and student achievement. For the past 6 years Henry has worked in schools, supplemental instruction and education technology as a substitute teacher, learning center Director, and CLO of an edtech startup in Phoenix, where he was head of curriculum development for supplemental instruction in the Great Books Program, the essential foundation of literature in Western Culture.
His experience has taught him to pinpoint student needs through grade-level assessments and partner with schools in providing excellent support for reading and comprehension objectives. Henry enjoys helping schools provide the foundation for future success to their students through research-based, results-driven programs.

Henry’s hobbies include playing jazz piano and saxophone, swing dancing, improv comedy, writing and a dedicated board-gamesman.

Mike Fulcher, M.B.A.

College & Career Readiness and CTE
Colorado, New Mexico, Utah
(602) 558-9167
Mike is an avid ham radio operator having visited 59 countries. His interest in the hobby began because both his parents were licensed hams. Listening to stations around the world peaked his interest to pursue the ability to speak with other hams worldwide and make new friends. He earned his Amateur Radio License issued by the FCC his senior year of high school and the skills learned in high school and college helped pave the way for his future. He has participated in international morse code radio competitions for 20 years from West Africa as well as countries on other continents. Several world records have been accomplished from North America, Africa and Asia from these efforts. He also played in amateur baseball leagues for over 20 years and was a team member in the World Masters Games held in Portland Oregon in 1998.
Mike earned a BS in General Business from Arizona State University and a MBA from the University of Phoenix. His experience includes consumer products, medical sales and as a senior executive with an Education Technology Curriculum company. He was worked with school districts nationwide helping build the online elearning software business. His goal is to convey to students and educators that life skills are necessary for success in school, whether it is going to college or starting a career. Mike is committed to helping educators prepare their students for life after school through the use of college and career readiness tools and the skills necessary for success.

LaRae Kendrick, M.Ed.

Certified Educational Technology Consultant
(602) 471-7392
LaRae Kendrick, M. Ed., is a native of San Jose, CA now living in Gilbert, AZ. She earned her master’s in Education Administration at ASU and holds an Arizona Principal’s and Teaching Certificate. She is an experienced educator specializing in Language Arts instruction and integrating technology into the classroom. As the former Director of Curriculum Development for A+ Educators, she oversaw the design of interactive whiteboard lessons for Digital Nation. LaRae has presented countless workshops nationwide on a variety of topics such as the Common Core State Standards, the Six Traits of Writing, interactive whiteboard strategies, the A+nyWhere Learning System, the Writing and Technology Connection, and iPad integration.
As a former classroom teacher, she understands the need to master standards while being realistic about life in the classroom. She is also the author and creator of Our Six Writing Friends™ that has helped thousands of students become better writers. LaRae is a teacher’s teacher, energizing and inspiring her fellow educators. A participant in one of her professional development writing workshops recently stated, “Your workshop was so motivating for me…I couldn’t even sleep last night because I could not wait to get back in the classroom and start teaching writing. You have inspired me.”

Lauren Fieman M.Ed.

Certified Educational Technology Consultant
(602) 430-9734
Lauren Fieman is a Pennsylvania native who earned her undergraduate degree in Public Relations and Political Science from Millersville University. Upon graduation, Lauren served as an ESL teacher in South Korea for one year. She moved to Phoenix in 2005 where she earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education. Lauren taught Honors Social Studies for six years, served as an AVID instructor, an A+ instructor, advisor for Junior State of America, and a girls varsity softball and basketball coach.
Lauren understands the ever-adapting field of education and how applying differentiated learning methods to course content allows for the most students to succeed in their education. When schools provide interactive technology and online solutions, they are offering opportunities to students which may have otherwise been unavailable. Lauren is eager to develop lasting relationships with schools and contribute to continued student achievement and the idea that all students can succeed.

Gordon Gower

Certified Educational Technology Consultant
(602) 690-7056
Gordon Gower has worked in education since receiving his bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Arizona in 2001. Gordon earned his middle school endorsement from the University of Phoenix in 2004.

Gordon is passionate about using technology in the classroom. Having worked in Title I schools in Tucson, he witnessed first hand student enthusiasm for interactive technology in the classroom. ”Kids absolutely love the opportunity to put their hands on the interactive board and show what they have learned.”

A veteran Title I schoolteacher, he spent most of the last ten years working as a 6th and 7th grade language arts teacher. Gordon is excited to be a part of Backbone Communications and is looking forward to helping other teachers implement smart, technology based solutions to increase student achievement!

Debbie Hinds

Executive Assistant
(602) 505-7337
Debbie joined Backbone Communications as an executive administrative assistant in 2009. She assists the President and Vice-President in the office with invoicing, payment collections, mailings, filing, emails, phone calls so the back office runs smoothly. Being available for the staff is also a plus in helping them with various issues that may need to be resolved or verified so they can focus time with their clients.
Debbie also takes care of registering the sales staff for many of the conferences and conventions throughout the year. Taking the time with customer service is important in building good relationships from the schools’ accounts payable department, vendors, or a parent. This is what Debbie thrives on, what she loves and what has always had her coming back to her customer service type positions. She has a drive and a commitment that every customer can see from emails, phone calls and texts.

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