Speaker & Moderator Biographies
2015 National Seminar


Dakarai Aarons

Dakarai Aarons is director of communications at the Data Quality Campaign, having joined in 2013 to promote the empowering role education data play in making instructional, management, and policy decisions. He leads efforts to develop and implement strategic communications, internal knowledge management, and external relations strategies designed to support DQC’s mission. Before joining DQC, Aarons was director of education outreach and policy for CommunicationWorks, where he led award-winning messaging, outreach, and interactive projects for national and regional education organizations. A former award-winning journalist, Aarons worked as a staff writer for Education Week and The Commercial Appeal newspaper in Memphis, Tennessee. His work has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Miami Herald, The Des Moines Register, and The Dallas Morning News, among other publications. Aarons is a board member of the Education Writers Association and a former committee chairman of the National Association of Black Journalists. He also serves as coordinator of the Urban Journalism Workshop, a high school journalism program sponsored by the Washington Association of Black Journalists and The Washington Post.

Chad Aldeman

Chad Aldeman is an associate partner at Bellwether Education Partners, where he has worked on the policy and thought leadership team since 2012, advising clients and writing on teacher pensions, teacher preparation and evaluation, and college- and career-readiness. Previously, Aldeman was a policy advisor in the office of planning, evaluation, and policy development at the U.S. Department of Education, where he worked on Elementary and Secondary Education waivers, teacher preparation, and the Teacher Incentive Fund. In addition to serving as the editor of, Aldeman has published reports on state higher education accountability systems, the potential of improving high school accountability by incorporating outcomes data, the school choice process in New York City and Boston, teacher pensions, teacher and principal evaluations, teacher salary schedules, and teacher preparation. His work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, InsideHigherEd, Newsday and The Des Moines Register. Aldeman holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa and a master’s of public policy from the College of William and Mary.

Elaine Allensworth

Elaine Allensworth is the Lewis-Sebring Director of the Consortium on Chicago School Research, where she conducts studies on what matters for student success and school improvement. Her research on high school graduation has been used to create early warning indicator systems in school districts across the country. In addition to studying educational attainment, she conducts research in the areas of school leadership and school organization. She is one of the authors of the book, Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago, which documents the ways in which organizational structures in schools influence improvements in student achievement. She has been the principal investigator on research grants from funders such as the Institute of Education Sciences, the National Science Foundation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Allensworth frequently works with policymakers and practitioners to bridge research and practice, serving on panels, policy commissions, working groups, and review panels at the local, state and national level.

Kim Anderson

Kim Anderson is the senior director of the Center for Advocacy & Outreach at the National Education Association. She also has directed the government relations department and worked as the manager of issue advocacy for campaigns and elections at the NEA. Before joining the teachers’ union, Anderson served as the deputy legislative director and counsel to U.S. Senator Charles Robb of Virginia. Anderson has served on the boards of the Progressive States Network, Public Campaign Action Fund and NCSL Foundation for State Legislatures. Anderson received her bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary and her law degree from The George Washington University. She was the first African-American woman to serve as president of the Student Bar Association.

Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson is a special education teacher and coordinator at Jonas Bronck Academy, a public middle school in the Bronx. He was an NYC Teaching fellow, a member of the 2013 and 2014 LearnZillion Dream Team, and is an alumnus of Coro NY’s Education Leadership Collaborative as well as the NY Leadership Academy’s Leadership Advancement Program.

Heather Anichini

Heather Anichini is the president and CEO of the Chicago Public Education Fund, where she oversees all aspects of the fund’s programs and operations, including strategic investments, board governance, staff management, finance, fundraising, and communications. In this role, she is responsible for fostering the fund’s existing partnerships with investors, Chicago Public Schools and City Hall. Anichini came to the fund from Teach For America, where she served as vice president for career leadership initiatives for six years. In that role, she managed teams responsible for large-scale initiatives focused on building effective human capital pipelines into teacher and principal leadership, as well as social entrepreneurship. Anichini began her education career working on Chicago’s West Side. She also worked in CPS’ office of planning and development during the Arne Duncan administration. Anichini earned her master’s degree in public service from DePaul University and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from National Louis University. She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science from Marquette University.

David Attis

David Attis is the senior director of academic research with the Education Advisory Board. His studies have explored data-driven decision-making in higher education, academic program performance metrics, and university budget models. Prior to joining the EAB, Attis was a senior director of policy studies at the Council on Competitiveness. He served as the deputy director of the council’s National Innovation Initiative and as a policy consultant on the National Academies’ Rising Above the Gathering Storm report. He also directed the research for the council’s flagship Competitiveness Index: Where America Stands and performed research on the role of universities in regional economic development. Attis holds a doctorate in the history of science from Princeton University and a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Chicago. His book, Mathematics and the Making of Modern Ireland: Trinity College Dublin from Cromwell to the Celtic Tiger, was published in 2014.


Sarika Bansal

Sarika Bansal is the director of education at the Solutions Journalism Network, where she designs curriculum for journalists and editors. She is also the editor of BRIGHT, a pop-up publication on Medium about innovation in education. Her own writing has appeared in The New York Times’ “Fixes” column, Al Jazeera America, The Guardian, VICE, and other publications. Bansal previously worked in management consulting with McKinsey & Company and in microfinance business development in India. She holds an undergraduate degree from Harvard College and a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Khaliah Barnes

Khaliah Barnes is director of the EPIC Student Privacy Project. In this role, she defends student privacy rights before federal regulatory agencies and federal court. Barnes has testified before state boards and districts on the need to safeguard student records. Barnes is a frequent panelist, commentator and writer on student data collection. She recently crafted the Student Privacy Bill of Rights, an enforceable student privacy and data protection framework that was published in The Washington Post. Barnes has concluded two lawsuits against the U.S. Department of Education concerning student privacy. She has provided commentary to local and national media, including CBS This Morning, The New York Times, NPR, Fox Business, CNN, Education Week, Politico, USA Today, and TIME Magazine. In 2010, she interned with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science with a French minor from Emory University. Barnes also graduated from Georgetown University Law Center. While there, she was a student attorney for the Institute for Public Representation: First Amendment and Media Law Project.

Kathryn Baron

Kathryn Baron writes the Time & Learning blog for Education Week and is a print, online and radio freelance education reporter. She co-founded EdSource Today, an online education news site in California, was sleep deprived for 12 years as morning host and education reporter at KQED Public Radio in San Francisco, spent two years as a fellow at the University of California, Berkeley law school’s Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity, and wrote about schools that work for Edutopia, Speaker Biographies Speaker Biographies, cont’d Speaker Biographies a project of the George Lucas Educational Foundation. Baron grew up in a family of teachers and says the education beat is in her DNA. She received a master’s degree in journalism from Stanford University and has won awards for her reporting.

Jon-Michael Basile

Jon-Michael Basile is outreach and engagement coordinator at Data Quality Campaign, a nonprofit that works on student data issues. Basile develops and implements media outreach, partner engagement and messaging strategies. Prior to joining DQC, he worked with the communications team at Families USA, a national healthcare consumer advocacy group. In that position he focused on public relations for the Affordable Care Act. Basile started his career at Search for Common Ground, recruiting senior-level directors from the executive branch of the federal government to be members of the Congressional Leadership Institute on Race and Democracy. He received his bachelor’s degree in political science and law from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California.

Sandy Baum

Sandy Baum is a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and a research professor at The George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development. She has written and spoken extensively on issues relating to college access, college pricing, student aid policy, student debt, affordability and other aspects of higher-education finance. Baum has co-authored the College Board’s annual publications Trends in Student Aid and Trends in College Pricing since 2002. She also co-authors Education Pays: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society. She chaired the College Board’s Rethinking Student Aid study group and the Rethinking Pell Grants study group. She chaired a Brookings Institution study group that issued the report, Beyond Need and Merit: Strengthening State Grant Programs in May 2012, and is a member of the Board of the National Student Clearinghouse. Baum earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology at Bryn Mawr College and her doctorate in economics at Columbia University.

Collin Binkley

Collin Binkley is the higher education reporter at The Columbus Dispatch in Ohio. Last year he broke the news that Ohio State University was firing its marching band director over allegations of sexual traditions in the band, a narrative that is still playing out in court. Much of his work has focused on Title IX, campus violence, faculty conflicts and other sensitive education issues. Binkley joined The Dispatch in 2010 and has covered either K-12 or higher-education since 2011.

Martin J. Blank

Martin J. Blank is the president of the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) in Washington, D.C. Blank has been associated with IEL since 1985, focusing his work on building bridges between schools and other institutions with assets that can support student success. He also serves as the director of the Coalition for Community Schools, an alliance that brings together leaders and organizations in education, family support, youth development, early childhood, community development, government and philanthropy. He is the co-author of Making the Difference: Research and Practice in Community Schools and Together We Can: A Guide for Crafting a Pro-Family System of Education and Human Services. Blank was project director for the preparation of Learning Together, the former chair of D.C. VOICE and was also formerly on the management team of the Early Childhood Collaborative. He has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.

Kate Blosveren Kreamer

Kate Blosveren Kreamer is the associate executive director of the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium, leading policy and communications efforts. From 2006 to 2013, Kreamer worked at the national research and advocacy group Achieve, beginning as a policy analyst and leaving as the associate director of strategic initiatives. Before that, Kreamer was a policy advisor at Third Way and spent a year as a research assistant at the Progressive Policy Institute. Kreamer co-founded the nonprofit Young Education Professionals-DC and served as president from 2007 to 2013. She also helped co-found and acts as a strategic advisor to YEP National, supporting the now 12 YEP chapters nationwide. Kreamer received her bachelor’s degree in urban and regional studies from Cornell University and her master’s of public policy from the Georgetown Public Policy Institute/McCourt School of Public Policy.

Goldie Blumenstyk

Goldie Blumenstyk has covered a wide range of topics, including distance education, the Internet boom and bust, state politics, university governance, and fund raising as a reporter and editor for The Chronicle of Higher Education since 1988.She is nationally known for her expertise on for-profit higher education, college finances, and university patents and the commercialization of academic research. She has reported for The Chronicle from several countries in Europe and from China, and her stories have received numerous awards, including first place from the Education Writers Association for 2011 for beat reporting on the Business of Higher Education. Her articles on colleges’ relationships with industry, including their efforts to become biotech hubs and their dealings with corporate giants like BP, ExxonMobil, and Novartis, have been widely cited by other experts. Her book, American Higher Education in Crisis? What Everyone Needs to Know, was published in the fall 2014 by Oxford University Press.

Peggy Blumenthal

Peggy Blumenthal is senior counselor to the president of the Institute of International Education. She became its chief operating officer in 2005, transitioning to the role of senior counselor in 2011. Her earlier responsibilities at IIE included supervision of its international offices, research, and educational services. Before joining IIE, Blumenthal served as assistant director of Stanford University’s Overseas Studies and then as coordinator of graduate services/ fellowships for the University of Hawaii’s Center for Asian and Pacific Studies. Her earlier work focused on the development of U.S.-China exchanges as a staff member of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and the Asia Society’s China Council. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in modern Chinese history and a master’s in American studies from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Devonta Boston

Devonta Boston is a senior at Gage Park High School and a leader with the Southwest Organizing Project and Voices of Youth in Chicago Education. Boston has been active in a campaign that seeks to address the school-to-prison pipeline and the use of zero tolerance policies in public schools. She organized young people affected by zero tolerance policies to share their experiences with legislators to help pass Senate Bill 2793, which created a system of identifying schools with the most suspensions. Boston is now working to pass VOYCE’s Bill SB 100, which aims to improve school safety and achievement by expanding accountability and transparency of exclusionary discipline across all publicly funded schools in Illinois.

Josh Botterman

Josh Botterman is currently a third-year student at the University of California, Berkeley pursuing an interdisciplinary degree in visual culture and human behavior. Prior to college, Botterman attended High Tech High Chula Vista in San Diego, where he took to the project-based and student-centered curriculum, externally representing the group of schools at conferences, workshops, and on tours. As a sophomore in high school he founded a company in the sports industry with his father and was its director of marketing for four years. Since then, Botterman has interned with multiple companies, including Back To The Roots—a Berkeley-founded sustainable startup—and provided freelance brand development for a wide range of clients. After college, Botterman plans to apply his educational background to a career in brand strategy and design in the fashion industry, although he is not averse to working in consulting, tech or education.

Devin Boyle

Devin Boyle is a member of the media services team at Collaborative Communications Group and assists clients with developing traditional and social media strategies to facilitate the accomplishment of their organizational goals. Boyle works to translate these strategies into meaningful action by helping clients manage their projects efficiently and effectively to meet their needs. Prior to joining Collaborative, Boyle was the director of communications for Democrats for Education Reform and the organization’s nonprofit arm, Education Reform Now.

Diane Briars

Diane J. Briars is president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, a 70,000-member international mathematics education organization. Previously, Briars was a mathematics education consultant; a senior developer/research associate on the National Science Foundation funded Intensified Algebra Project; and mathematics director for Pittsburgh Public Schools. She is a past president of the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics and has served in leadership roles in various other national organizations. Briars holds a doctorate in mathematics education from Northwestern University, where she also earned master’s and bachelor’s degrees in mathematics. Briars conducted postdoctoral studies in the psychology department of Carnegie Mellon University. She began her career as a secondary mathematics teacher.

Leslie Brody

Leslie Brody joined The Wall Street Journal in April 2014 to cover schools for the Greater New York section. Before that she reported for the Bergen Record for 22 years, including education since 2010. She started her journalism career at The Associated Press in Tokyo, then moved to Fortune Magazine in New York and the St. Petersburg Times in Tampa, Florida. Her work has won a National Headliners Award as well as prizes from the Child Welfare League of America, the Association of Health Care Journalists, the Casey Journalism Center on Children and Families, and the New Jersey Press Association. Her book, The Last Kiss, told how Brody and her late husband, a Bloomberg News editor, made the most of their time together as he fought pancreatic cancer. It was published by a small independent press in 2012. She is a 1983 Yale University graduate.

Catherine Brown

Catherine Brown is the vice president of education policy at the Center for American Progress. Previously, Brown was vice president of policy at Teach for America, policy adviser to senator and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and served as senior education policy adviser for the House Committee on Education and Labor.

Daarel Burnette

Daarel Burnette II is the bureau chief of Chalkbeat Tennessee. He previously worked as an education reporter at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Louisville Courier-Journal. He also worked as a general assignment reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He received his undergraduate degree in print journalism from Hampton University and an master’s in politics and journalism from Columbia University.

Sarah Butrymowicz

Sarah Butrymowicz is the data editor at The Hechinger Report, a national education news site based in New York. Previously, she spent four years as a staff writer for The Hechinger Report covering K-12 education. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, as well as on and She has won several reporting awards, including the 2012 New York Press Club’s Nellie Bly Cub Reporter Award. She earned her master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.


Natasha Cabrera

Natasha Cabrera is a professor in the department of human development and quantitative methodology at the University of Maryland. Her research interests include fatherhood, child care, Head Start, policy, the normative development of low-income children and the interface between policy and research. Specifically, her research focuses on the influences that fathers and mothers make on their children’s developmental trajectories, particularly in low-income populations. In 2015 the National Academy of Sciences appointed her to its committee supporting the parents of young children. In her previous position with National Institute for Childhood Health and Human Development, she developed a major initiative called Developing a Daddy Survey. In addition, she has been involved in conceptualizing, designing, and measuring father involvement in the national evaluation of Early Head Start.

Kyla Calvert

Kyla Calvert is a producer and reporter on the national affairs desk at the PBS NewsHour. She focuses on covering K-12 and higher education online and for the television broadcast. Since joining the NewsHour last year she has followed issues including the Common Core, testing, college access and affordability, student debt and campus sexual assault. Prior to the NewsHour, Calvert was the education reporter at KPBS, the NPR and PBS affiliate in San Diego. After receiving her master’s from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, she actually began her journalism career in print, working on a special project for Hearst Newspapers and then at the Island Packet in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Her work has been recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists and the Education Writers Association.

Kirk Carapezza

Kirk Carapezza is a reporter for WGBH, the NPR member station in Boston, where he covers higher education, taking the time to capture the distinct voices of students and faculty, administrators and thought leaders. Carapezza has reported for Wisconsin Public Radio in Madison, Wisconsin, and Vermont Public Radio in Montpelier, Vermont. He’s been a writer and producer at WBUR in Boston; a teacher and coach at Nativity Preparatory School in New Bedford, Massachusetts; a Fenway Park tour guide; and a tourist abroad. Carapezza received his bachelor’s degree from the College of the Holy Cross and earned his master’s from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. When he’s not reporting or editing stories on campus, you can find him posting K’s on the Wall at Fenway.

Kevin Carey

Kevin Carey directs the education policy program at New America. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Slate, The New Republic, The American Prospect, Washingtonian, Democracy, and other publications. He is a contributing writer for The Chronicle of Higher Education and edits the annual Washington Monthly college guide. His work was anthologized in Best American Legal Writing and has received two Education Writers Association awards for commentary. Prior to joining New America, Carey worked as the policy director of Education Sector, and as an analyst at the Education Trust, and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. He has also worked for the Indiana Senate Finance Committee and as Indiana’s assistant state budget director. Carey is a graduate of Binghamton University and the Ohio State University.

Sarah Carr

Sarah Carr is the editor of the Teacher Project, an education reporting initiative at Columbia Journalism School, and a contributing editor at the Hechinger Report. She has written about education for the past 12 years, reporting on battles over school vouchers, efforts to educate China’s massive population of migrant children, and the explosion of charter schools in post-Katrina New Orleans. Carr has worked as a staff writer for The Chronicle of Higher Education, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and the New Orleans Times-Picayune. She is the author of “Hope Against Hope,” a nonfiction account of New Orleans schools. She reported and researched the book in 2010-11 with the support of a Spencer Education Journalism Fellowship at Columbia University. Carr is a graduate of Williams College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Contact her at or @sarah_e_carr.

Dana Cartier

Dana Cartier is a mathematics specialist with the Illinois Center for School Improvement, which was created by the Illinois State Board of Education. She supports educators through professional development and the creation of resources aligned to the state’s math standards. Cartier also works with as a reviewer and Anchor Educator member to help evaluate the alignment of instructional materials to the Common Core. In addition, she serves on a “jury panel” for EQuIP, a tool developed by the nonprofit Achieve Inc. to gauge the alignment of instructional lessons and units to the Common Core. Previously, Cartier was a secondary math teacher in Montevallo, Ala., and was selected by the state to help create the objectives for the Alabama Common Core State Standards. She received her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Mississippi, and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in mathematics education from Western Governors University.

Matt Chingos

Matthew M. Chingos is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and research director of its Brown Center on Education Policy. He studies a wide range of education-related topics at both the K–12 and postsecondary levels. Chingos’ areas of expertise include program evaluation, class-size reduction, teacher quality, student loan debt, and college graduation rates. His first book, “Crossing the Finish Line: Completing College at America’s Public Universities,” coauthored with William Bowen and Michael McPherson, was published by Princeton University Press in 2009. Chingos’ work has also been published or is forthcoming in academic journals and has received support from the U.S. government and several philanthropic foundations. His current research examines time to degree, the potential of information to change the market for higher education, and the effects of state policy on student achievement. Chingos received a bachelor’s degree in government and economics and a doctorate in government, both from Harvard University.

Rohit Chopra

Rohit Chopra is the student loan ombudsman and assistant director at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Since his appointment as a CFPB ombudsman in October 2011, Chopra has worked to help borrowers facing the burden of student loans and publicize the financial issues facing students today. He has spoken to the Congressional Forum on Student Loans and provided testimony to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Prior to joining the CFPB, Chopra worked on consumer credit markets and student debt issues at the McKinsey Global Institute. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and a master’s in business administration in finance and public policy from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Debra Chromy

Debra Chromy is the president of the Education Finance Council (EFC), the national association representing nonprofit and state agency student loan organizations. Chromy leads EFC’s advocacy efforts on regulatory and legislative issues related to student loans and higher education. Chromy has worked in the student loan industry her entire career, for a student loan lender of both private and federal loans, a student loan servicer, and a federal loan guarantor. Prior to EFC, Chromy served as vice president of strategic partnerships for American Student Assistance where she was a leader in ASA’s corporate strategic planning process and managed ASA’s external relationships and partnerships, including federal and state government, colleges and universities, higher education associations, and other student loan industry organizations. Chromy received a bachelor’s degree from Smith College, a master’s in business administration from Boston University, and a doctorate in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania.

Kim Clark

Kim Clark has covered higher education, and especially the finances of higher ed, for nearly a decade. She is currently a senior writer for Money magazine, where she has created a new college subsite. Prior to joining Money, Clark served as the lead higher education writer for U.S. News & World Report. While there, she got a Kiplinger Fellowship at Ohio State to create, which demonstrated the confusing and misleading nature of such letters. Clark has previously worked as a business reporter for The Baltimore Sun and as an economics writer for Fortune magazine. Clark received a bachelor’s degree with honors in semiotics from Brown University and a master’s in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. Contact her at or @kclarkcollege.

Michelle Asha Cooper

Michelle Asha Cooper is the president of the Institute for Higher Education Policy, one of the nation’s most effective voices in championing access and success for all students in postsecondary education. Cooper is recognized as a well-respected practitioner, researcher, and policy advocate—helping to reaffirm IHEP’s role of ensuring equal educational opportunities for all students. Prior to joining IHEP, Cooper held various leadership positions at the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance at the U.S. Department of Education, Association of American Colleges and Universities, Council for Independent Colleges, and King’s College. A native of Charleston, South Carolina, she received a bachelor’s degree from the College of Charleston, a master’s of public service from Cornell University, and a doctorate from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Kevin Corcoran

Kevin Corcoran is the strategy director at Lumina Foundation and leads the foundation’s work on promoting development of new business and finance models. He also co-directs a portfolio of grants related to Lumina’s work with strategic media partners. Prior to joining Lumina in 2007, Corcoran worked as a newspaper reporter for nearly 20 years, concluding with a three-year stint as an investigative reporter for The Indianapolis Star. He has received local, state and national awards, including the George Polk Award and the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel. Corcoran received a master’s degree from Indiana University in 2007 and a bachelor’s in journalism from Indiana University in 1988.

Alix Coupet

Alix Coupet is the chief college officer of the University of Chicago Charter School. Coupet is responsible for ensuring that UChicago Charter graduates receive the support that they need to meet the school’s goal for 100 percent college acceptance and graduation. Coupet also oversees the UChicago Charter 20—a new school and college partnership—as well as the development of a comprehensive pre-K to 12th grade “college-graduation” curriculum. Coupet previously served as an assistant director of admissions and marketing specialist at the University of Chicago. Prior to joining the University of Chicago, he worked as a territory manager and admission officer at Stanford University. Coupet attended Pomona College as a POSSE scholar and holds an master’s in ethics and African American religions from Harvard University.

Ryan Craig

Ryan Craig is a founding managing director of University Ventures. Prior to University Ventures, he founded and built Wellspring, the largest organization of treatment programs for overweight and obese children, adolescents, and young adults. Craig headed the education & eraining sector at Warburg Pincus from 2001 – 2004 where he was the founding director of Bridgepoint Education, one of the largest online universities in the United States. Craig has advised the U.S. Department of Education and served as vice president of strategic development for Fathom, the Columbia University online education company, from 1999 – 2001. Craig began his career as a consultant with McKinsey & Co. and is the author of College Disrupted: The Great Unbundling of Higher Education. He received bachelor’s degrees in literature and economics Phi Beta Kappa from Yale, and his law degree from the Yale Law School.

Elisa Crouch

Elisa Crouch covers urban education for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Prior to working in St. Louis, Crouch was at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and the Providence Journal. She’s a University of Missouri journalism school graduate, a wife, a mom and, sometimes, a runner.

Peter Cunningham

Peter Cunningham is the executive director of Education Post, a Chicago-based nonprofit communications organization promoting education reform. Previously, Cunningham was president of Cunningham Communications. He is also affiliated with Whiteboard Advisors, a Washington D.C.-based education policy and research firm. He recently served as assistant secretary for communications and outreach in the U.S. Department of Education during the Obama administration’s first term. Prior to that, he worked with Arne Duncan in Chicago when he was CEO of the Chicago Public Schools. For several years, Cunningham was affiliated with the political consulting firm Axelrod and Associates and also served for five years in the administration of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. A native New Yorker, Cunningham began his career as a journalist with small weekly newspapers in his home state. He earned a master’s in journalism from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Duke University.


Jennifer Davis

Jennifer Davis is the president and co-founder of the National Center on Time & Learning, an organization dedicated to expanding learning time to narrow the achievement gap and provide a well-rounded education for children in high-poverty schools. Previously, Davis was the U.S. Department of Education deputy assistant secretary and special assistant to Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley in the Clinton administration; National Governors Association special assistant to the executive director in the early 1990s, a period when President Bush and the governors joined together to establish national goals for education and launched the standards movement; and executive director of Boston Mayor Menino’s citywide after-school learning initiative. Davis holds a bachelor’s degree from Connecticut College, a master’s from the Claremont Graduate University and served as a fellow in The Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs in St. Louis.

Marisa de la Torre

Marisa de la Torre is the associate director for professional development at the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research. She was the author of two studies on the effects of policies aimed at the lowest-performing schools in the district. Turning Around Low-Performing Schools in Chicago investigates the effects of these policies on whether schools see improvements after the reform. The other report, When Schools Close: Effects on Displaced Students in Chicago Public Schools, deals with the effect of school closings on students’ academic outcomes and has been widely cited in the press. This work prompted Chicago Public Schools to create a Student Bill of Rights for students affected by school closings. She is currently studying how to gauge whether middle-grade students are ready to be successful in high school and eventually in college. Before joining CCSR, she worked for the Chicago Public Schools in the office of research, evaluation, and accountability. She received a master’s degree in economics from Northwestern University.

David DesRoches

David DesRoches covers education and related topics for WNPR. He also mentors high school seniors who attend the Journalism and Media Academy magnet school. His interests include reporting on factors outside of school that contribute to or inhibit learning, and how poverty, race, class and ability impact child development and local economies. He also explores the intersection of education and criminal justice. His reporting has garnered 18 state, regional and national awards, and Connecticut Magazine named him to its “40 Under 40” list for the class of 2015.

Alicia Di Rado

Alicia Di Rado is editorial director at the University of Southern California, where she oversees editorial strategy and content for the University Communications group. She’s editor-in-chief of USC Trojan Family Magazine and the university’s main online news website. Di Rado helped move USC more deeply into digital storytelling and brought a new focus on visuals and integration with social media. She holds degrees in history and product design from Stanford University, which led to her career in visual and verbal communication. Di Rado was a journalist for the Los Angeles Times and The Oregonian, a media representative for the University of California, Irvine, and a medical writer, editor and publications director at the cancer nonprofit City of Hope. As an education reporter at The Oregonian, she earned an Education Writers Association fellowship for her package on Latino dropouts.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel covers student debt for The Washington Post. Douglas-Gabriel joined the national economy desk in July 2012 from Capital Business, a Post publication where she served as the local retail, hospitality and banking reporter. Prior to Capital Business, Douglas-Gabriel was the managing editor of Real Estate Forum, a commercial real estate trade magazine. Her writing has appeared in, The New York Sun and New York Amsterdam News. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Donald Reynolds Journalism Institute and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Steve Drummond

Steve Drummond heads up NPR’s new education reporting project, NPR Ed. Drummond brings to this initiative more than 20 years’ experience covering education issues, and more than a decade at NPR in a variety of roles. Prior to this assignment, he was the network’s senior national editor. In that role, from 2007 through 2013, he oversaw domestic news coverage and a team of more than 60 reporters, producers and editors in Washington, D.C., and 18 bureaus around the country. In 2012 he also served as acting senior editor for investigations, managing a team of six reporters and producers on investigative projects. In addition to his journalism credentials, Drummond has also spent some time in the classroom. In the early 1990s, he left journalism temporarily for a graduate degree in education and a brief career as a middle and high school teacher. His journalism and education interests merged in 1993, when he joined Education Week, where he spent six years as a senior editor and writer.

Louise Dubé

Louise Dubé serves as the executive director of iCivics. Dubé discovered the power of education in the early 1990s as a co-founder of CASES, a New York alternative-to-incarceration program where education helped reshape lives. Dubé has successfully led growth organizations that make and deliver engaging educational technology. Most recently, she was the managing director of digital learning at WGBH, where she helped launch PBS LearningMedia, a platform reaching over 1.5 million educators. Previously, Dubé served as president of Pangea Tools, an educational software start-up acquired by Houghton Mifflin. As president of Soliloquy Learning, Dubé structured the sale of the company to Scientific Learning, where she served as vice president and general manager of speech products. Dubé began her career as an attorney in Montreal, Canada, and holds a law degree from McGill University as well as a master’s in business administration from Yale University.

U.S. Sec. Arne Duncan

Arne Duncan became U.S. Secretary of Education on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2009. Prior to his appointment, Duncan served as the CEO of Chicago Public Schools from June 2001 through December 2008. Before joining Chicago Public Schools, Duncan ran the nonprofit education foundation Ariel Education Initiative for six years, which helped fund a college education for a class of inner-city children under the I Have A Dream program. He was part of a team that later started a new public elementary school built around a financial literacy curriculum, the Ariel Community Academy, which today ranks among the top elementary schools in Chicago. From 1987 to 1991, Duncan played professional basketball in Australia, where he also worked with children who were wards of the state. He was co-captain of Harvard’s basketball team and was named a first team Academic All-American. Duncan graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1987 with a degree in sociology.


Jane Elizabeth

Jane Elizabeth is senior research project manager at the American Press Institute, where she leads a project to improve and expand political fact-checking/accountability journalism. She is The Washington Post’s former deputy local editor and teaches advanced journalism as a member of the adjunct faculty at Old Dominion University. Elizabeth’s work at five U.S. newspapers has focused largely on politics, regional news, and education. She was education editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and a senior editor at The Virginian-Pilot, where she launched and directed the newsroom’s first digital news team. She holds a master’s degree in mass communications from Virginia Commonwealth University

Scott Elliott

Scott Elliott is president of the Education Writers Association Board of Directors and bureau chief for Chalkbeat Indiana, a nonprofit news organization created by journalists who believe that an independent local press is vital to ensuring that education improves. He previously served as the education reform reporter for the Indianapolis Star. Prior to that, he wrote primarily about education as a member of the editorial board of the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News after serving as that paper’s education reporter for a decade. Elliott and his colleague, Mark Fisher, won the 2005 National Headliner Award for education reporting for a series of stories about testing and No Child Left Behind. Elliott also is the author of Public Schools, Private Markets: A Reporter’s Guide to Covering Privatization

Robert Enlow

Robert Enlow was named the president and CEO of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, an organization dedicated to promoting universal school choice, in 2009. He joined the Friedman Foundation when it first opened in 1996, serving as fundraiser, projects coordinator and vice president before being named executive director and chief operating officer in 2007. He has appeared on Fox News and CNBC and other news outlets promoting Milton Friedman’s vision of free markets in education. In addition, Enlow sits on a number of boards, including the Indiana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the Economic Club of Indiana, School Choice Ohio, Network for Quality Education, and Institute for Quality Education. Before joining the Friedman Foundation, he worked as a voluntary sector social worker in England. From 1990 to 1992, Enlow attended Oxford University, where he worked on a postgraduate degree in theology. He received his bachelor’s degree from Seattle Pacific University.


Paul Fain

Paul Fain, a news editor, joined Inside Higher Ed in September 2011 after a six-year stint covering leadership and finance for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Paul has also worked in higher-ed public relations with Widmeyer Communications, but couldn’t stay away from reporting. A former staff writer for C-VILLE Weekly, a newspaper in Charlottesville, Virginia, Fain has written for The New York Times, Washington City Paper and Mother Jones. He’s won a few journalism awards, including one for beat reporting from the Education Writers Association and the Dick Schaap Excellence in Sports Journalism Award. Fain got hooked on journalism while working too many hours at The Review, the student newspaper at the University of Delaware, where he earned a degree in political science in 1996. A native of Dayton, Ohio, and a long-suffering fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, Fain plays guitar in a band with more possible names than polished songs.

Bob Farrace

Bob Farrace is director of public affairs for the Marketing Design Group (mdg), where he serves primarily to direct public relations and issues management for the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Prior to joining mdg, Farrace led the communications efforts on staff at NASSP, a 20,000-member, professional organization for the nation s middle-level and high school principals, as well as National Honor Society and the National Association of Student Councils. Farrace is known as a reliable source on issues of school leadership who reporters often call on for his own insight and to connect them with the field. A former high school teacher, Farrace received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from La Salle University in his native Philadelphia.

Camille Farrington

Camille A. Farrington is a senior research associate at the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research. She focuses on classroom instruction and assessment, academic rigor and failure, and noncognitive factors in academic performance. Farrington’s new book, Failing at School: Lessons for Redesigning Urban High Schools, combines historical research on the American high school with qualitative studies of failing students and their teachers to show how high schools systematically construct widespread student failure. Farrington is lead author of Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners: The Role of Noncognitive Factors in Shaping School Performance – A Critical Literature Review and a national expert on academic mindsets. Her research draws on 15 years’ experience as a public highschool teacher and National Board Certified Teacher Mentor. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz, a teacher certification from Mills College, and a doctorate in policy studies in urban education from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Emmanuel Felton

Emmanuel Felton is a staff writer at The Hechinger Report. He primarily covers the Common Core State Standards and education reform in his hometown, New Orleans. Prior to joining The Hechinger Report, he covered education, juvenile justice and child services for The New York World. He received a bachelor’s degree from Emory University and a master’s from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

John Fensterwald

John Fensterwald, editor-at-large of EdSource Today, joined EdSource in 2012. Previously, he was editor and co-writer for the Thoughts on Public Education (TOP-Ed) website, one of the leading sources of California education policy reporting and opinion, which he founded in 2009. For 11 years before that, Fensterwald wrote editorials for the San Jose Mercury News with a focus on education. He worked as a reporter, news editor and opinion editor for three newspapers in New Hampshire for two decades before receiving a Knight Fellowship at Stanford University in 1997 and heading West shortly thereafter. His wife is an elementary school teacher and his daughter attends the University of California, Davis.

David Figlio

David Figlio is a professor of education and social policy and of economics at Northwestern University, where he directs the Institute for Policy Research. His research areas include school choice, teacher tenure and higher education policies and practices, among others. Figlio has led multiple evaluations of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. He is also a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and is leading a National Science Foundation-sponsored network to facilitate the use of matched administrative data sets to inform and evaluate education policy. His work has been published in numerous leading academic journals. Prior to joining Northwestern University in 2008, Figlio was an economics professor at the University of Florida. He earned a bachelor’s degree from The George Washington University and master’s and doctoral degrees in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Lauren FitzPatrick

Lauren FitzPatrick covers education for the Chicago Sun-Times. Prior to that she worked for the SouthtownStar and GateHouse Media. She also has worked as a student reporter for NPR and York Daily Record. She received a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and a master’s degree from Northwestern University.

Robert Floden

Robert Floden is an associate dean of research and distinguished professor of teacher education, measurement and quantitative methods, educational psychology, and educational policy at Michigan State University. He is director of the Institute for Research on Teaching and Learning, co-director of the Education Policy Center and co-director of a pre-doctoral training program in the economics of education. He has studied teacher education and other influences on teaching and learning, including work on the cultures of teaching, teacher development, the character and effects of teacher education and how policy is linked to classroom practice. His current research focuses on secondary school algebra teaching. He is a member of the National Academy of Education.

Lauren Foreman

Lauren Foreman covers education for the Bakersfield California, where she covers 47 school districts and higher education. Prior to that, she covered education for the Santa Maria (California) Times for nearly two years. She also worked for the Jackson (Tennessee) Sun and as a reporter for the New York Times Student Journalism Institute in New Orleans, Louisiana. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri.

Hanna Frank

Hanna Frank is Education Post’s social media manager. She writes the organization’s social media content and develops strategy based on analytics, as well as managing online advertising. Previously, she worked with Organizing For Action, a nonprofit organization that advocates for President Barack Obama’s political agenda. She wrote and edited content for the organization’s various social media platforms, including the official Barack Obama Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as Frank attended Illinois public schools, but spent most of her secondary education as a homeschooled student. Her experience and transition between the two gave her the passion to take action on bringing higher standards to public schools nationwide and giving every child a chance to succeed. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Lewis University in mass communications.


Reyna Gobel

Reyna Gobel is a education contributor, author, and professional speaker who’s been quoted by Money Magazine, Real Simple, and The Washington Post, where Michelle Singletary chose the first and second editions of her book CliffsNotes Graduation Debt as financial books of the month. Her next work, CliffsNotes Parents’ Guide to Paying for College and Repaying Student Loans, comes out later this year. She’s also a continuing education instructor for the Borough of Manhattan Community College and guest educator for the Institute for Financial Literacy. Gobel serves as an advice columnist and curriculum development specialist for iGrad, a financial literacy organization that provides video and written course materials on financial literacy and repaying student loans to over 300 colleges and universities. She holds master’s degrees in business administration and journalism.

Sara Goldrick-Rab

Sara Goldrick-Rab is professor of educational policy studies and sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is also senior scholar at the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education and an affiliate of the Center for Financial Security, Institute for Research on Poverty and the Consortium for Chicago School Research. Goldrick-Rab’s scholar-activism is evidenced by her research and writing dissecting the consequences of the college-for-all movement. In numerous research projects, she has examined the efficacy of financial aid policies, welfare reform, transfer practices, and a range of interventions aimed at increasing college attainment among marginalized populations. She provides extensive service to local, state, and national communities, working directly with governors and state legislators to craft policies to make college more affordable. She also collaborates with nonprofit organizations seeking to examine the effects of their practices and provides technical assistance to Congressional staff, think tanks, and membership organizations throughout Washington, D.C.

Molly F. Gordon

Molly F. Gordon is a senior research analyst at UChicago Consortium on Chicago School Research. Her current research focuses on the impact of closing schools on families, examining the 5Essential Supports surveys across Illinois, and investigating how school leadership influences instruction and student learning. Previously, she was a research associate at the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI) at the University of Minnesota. Prior work involved researching parent and community engagement in schools; educational policy contexts and political cultures; the link between leadership and student achievement; and evaluating school programs and policies. She earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a master’s in educational policy studies from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and a doctorate in educational policy and administration from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.

Larry Gordon

Larry Gordon is a higher education writer at the Los Angeles Times, where he was previously an assistant city editor. Before moving to California, he worked at the Bergen Record and Hudson Dispatch in his native New Jersey. Gordon was a midcareer Fulbright Scholar teaching journalism at the American University in Bulgaria. He graduated from Georgetown University and has a master’s from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

Alan Gottlieb

Alan Gottlieb is the co-founder and editor-at-large of Chalkbeat, a national nonprofit network of education news websites. He founded EdNews Colorado in 2008. In 2013, EdNews merged with GothamSchools to form Chalkbeat. From 1997 until 2007, Gottlieb was an education program officer at The Piton Foundation in Denver. He founded and edited The Term Paper, a Piton publication focused on education. In 2006, he became editor of HeadFirst Colorado, a statewide education magazine. HeadFirst ultimately went online and became EdNews Colorado. From 1988, Gottlieb was a reporter with The Denver Post, where he focused mainly on urban social issues, including public housing, homelessness, and the Denver school system. A native of Chicago, Gottlieb earned a bachelor’s degree in English from The Colorado College and a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

Mollie Griffin

Mollie Griffin is an 11th grade history teacher at Pritzker College Prep in Chicago, where she has been for five years. Previously, she taught regular and International Baccalaureate English to freshmen at Bogan High School for three years. Griffin is a Center to Support Excellence in Teaching Hollyhock fellow with Stanford University, a current Teach Plus teaching fellow, a member of the advisory board for the Chicago Public Education Fund, and leads professional development for Advanced Placement U.S. History for the Noble Network and Teach for America. In the next school year, Griffin will transition to the role of dean of instruction while maintaining her AP classroom. She entered teaching through Teach For America in 2007. Griffin holds two master’s degrees in education – one in policy and leadership from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and another in teaching from National-Louis University. She received a bachelor’s degree from Boston College.

Cathy Grimes

Cathy Grimes is the communications manager for the Virginia Tech Graduate School. Prior to joining Virginia Tech in August 2014, she spent 20 years as an education journalist, working with the Daily Press Media Group in Newport News, Virginia; the Seattle Times Company and at the Sequim Gazette of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula as an editor, coach and writer. She was a Nieman Journalism Fellow at Harvard University in 2006, where she also taught undergraduate and graduate journalism courses. Grimes began her journalism career in 1994 after 11 years as a freelance business, technical and education writer and editor. She holds a bachelor’s degree in humanities from the University of Washington.

Cornelia Grumman

Cornelia Grumman is the director of policy and strategic communications at the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute, where she spearheads national outreach to policymakers and educators. She previously served as executive director of the First Five Years Fund, where for more than four years she led its federal advocacy and national communication efforts to secure greater public investment in high-quality early childhood education programs, beginning at birth. Prior to the First Five Years Fund start-up, she was previously a member of the Chicago Tribune editorial board, where she won many awards, including the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for a series of editorials that led to reforms of Illinois’ criminal justice system, a 2001 Studs Terkel Award for coverage of disadvantaged communities, and 2006, 2005 and 2001 Casey Medals for Meritorious Journalism for her coverage of children and families. Grumman joined the Chicago Tribune in 1994 as a general assignment reporter. She has a master’s degree in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree in public policy from Duke University.

Steve Gunderson

Steve Gunderson was named president and CEO of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities in January 2012. He was first elected to the Wisconsin State Legislature at the age of 23. After three terms in Madison, Wisconsin, Gunderson served 16 years in the U.S. Congress and was a recognized leader on education, employment policy, health care, human rights and agriculture issues. Following his career in public service, he was named the senior consultant and managing director of the Washington office of The Greystone Group. He was the lead author of the book The Jobs Revolution: Changing How America Works and the sole author of The New Middle Class: Creating Wages, Wealth and Opportunity in the 21st Century. Gunderson spent six years as president and CEO of the Council on Foundations. Gunderson graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in political science. He then completed studies at Brown School of Broadcasting in Minneapolis.


Kathy Hamel

Kathy Hamel is a partner with Charter School Growth Fund, where she leads CSGF’s investments for portfolio members in the East. Before joining CSGF, Hamel was a founding member and executive director of Baltimore Montessori Public Charter School. In this role she was responsible for governance, charter accountability, school oversight and strategic planning, advocacy, external relations, growth and development. She also consulted for three years with the Coalition of Public Charter Schools in Baltimore on funding and advocacy issues. Prior to her work in Baltimore, Hamel worked for 14 years at Edison Schools, where she led charter growth efforts across the country. She set up partnerships with community groups and school districts to create 24 charter schools in four states serving over 20,000 students. Prior to that work, Hamel was brand manager for international marketing with Cathay Pacific based in Hong Kong. Hamel earned a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and a bachelor’s degree from the College of the Holy Cross.

Betsy Hammond

Betsy Hammond is an education reporter for The Oregonian, where she focuses on state school policy and Portland-area education trends. She began her career at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where she pioneered a weekly investigative column that relied heavily on digging into public records. She has covered education for more than 20 years in Georgia and Oregon and specializes in using large data sets and public records to reveal what is happening in schools. She has won several awards from Education Writers Association.

Emily Hanford

Emily Hanford is the education correspondent for American RadioWorks, the national documentary unit of American Public Media. Her documentaries have covered a range of topics, from preschool to adult education. You can hear the documentaries on public radio stations nationwide and online at Hanford’s work can also be heard on programs such as NPR’s Marketplace and Morning Edition, and on the weekly ARW education podcast (available at the ARW web page and iTunes). Before joining ARW, Hanford worked as a senior editor and news director at WUNC in Chapel Hill, where she created the series North Carolina Voices, which won a duPont-Columbia Award in 2005. Hanford also worked at WBEZ, Chicago as a reporter and program host, and at WFCR in Amherst, Massachusetts. Her work has won numerous honors including a Casey Medal and awards from the Education Writers Association and the Associated Press. Hanford is based in Washington, D.C., and is on Twitter @ehanford. Contact:

Nikole Hannah-Jones

Nikole Hannah-Jones is an award-winning investigative journalist covering civil rights at ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom based in New York City. Her 2014 investigation into school resegregation across the South won a National Awards for Education Reporting first prize, two Online News Association Awards and was a National Magazine Award Finalist. Prior to working at ProPublica, Hannah-Jones was a reporter at The Oregonian in Portland and The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina. She earned a bachelor’s degree in history and African American Studies from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s degree in mass communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Jennifer Hayes

Jennifer Hayes teaches level three and transitional English-language learners at Revere High School in Revere, Massachusetts. Hayes has also taught in the Newcomers’ Academy at RHS. She has presented at the Massachusetts Association of Teachers of Speakers of Other Languages and conferences for the language learners group WIDA. Hayes is also a Rethinking Equity and Teaching for English Language Learners instructor for the state of Massachusetts. She earned her bachelor’s degree in secondary education from the University of Vermont and holds a master’s degree in ESL education from Simmons College.

James Heckman

James J. Heckman is professor of economics at the University of Chicago, where he has served since 1973. In 2000, he shared the Nobel Prize in Economics with Daniel McFadden. He runs the Center for the Economics of Human Development, conducting groundbreaking work with a consortium of economists, developmental psychologists, sociologists, statisticians and neuroscientists showing that quality early childhood development heavily influences health, economic and social outcomes for individuals and society at large. He also directs the Economics Research Center and the Center for Social Program Evaluation at the Harris School of Public Policy. He is a professor of law at the University of Chicago School of Law. He is also currently the editor of the Journal of Labor Economics. Heckman received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Colorado College in 1965 and a doctorate in economics from Princeton University in 1971.

Amina Henderson

Amina Henderson is a senior at Gage Park High School and a leader with the Southwest Organizing Project and organizer at Voices of Youth in Chicago Education. For three years, she has been active in school-related campaigns, most recently through her work in VOYCE. She worked to pass Senate Bill 2793, which requires the public reporting of data on the issuance of out-of-school suspensions, expulsions and removals to alternative settings in lieu of another disciplinary action for all publicly funded schools in Illinois.

Jordon Henderson

Jordan Henderson is a senior at Lincoln Park High School. Henderson is involved the Mikva Challenge Education Council helped to improve Chicago Public Schools by contributing to projects such as, an online resource for students to search and reference the Chicago Public Schools Student Code of Conduct more easily. He also has created toolkits for principals that contain tips and recommendations to strengthen their schools.

Mike Hendricks

Mike Hendricks covers local government and other topics as a member of the metro staff at The Kansas City Star. During his 30 years at the newspaper, Hendricks has also done stints covering business and agriculture, plus 14 years as a metro columnist. Previously, he was a reporter at the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald and the Council Bluffs Nonpareil, both in Iowa. He grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. His many awards include the Gerald Loeb Award and the John Hancock Award for Excellence in Business and Financial Journalism. He graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Caroline Hendrie

Caroline Hendrie is the executive director of the Education Writers Association, the national professional organization for members of the news media who cover education. She leads strategy, development, and programming for the nonprofit organization in support of its mission to increase the quantity and quality of education coverage to better inform the public. Hendrie was herself an award-winning education journalist for more than two decades, with experience covering education from early learning through postsecondary schooling at the local, state, and national levels. From 1996 to 2010, Hendrie held various reporting and editing positions, including managing editor, at Education Week. Hendrie started at daily newspapers in Connecticut and spent seven years as state education writer and editor at The Record, a daily newspaper based in Bergen County, New Jersey. She is a graduate of Wesleyan University.

Brian Herman

Brian Herman is the marketing and communications director at Stand for Children. Previously, Herman worked at a small marketing firm and then at a large health care corporation before becoming a legislative aide to Illinois State Senator Susan Garrett. He was communications director and senior policy advisor for U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean (D-IL) and has managed the media and messaging for multiple campaigns, including as deputy campaign manager for Bean’s 2004 campaign and as communications director for Dan Onorato’s campaign for Pennsylvania governor. Herman also collaborated with legislators, nonprofits, and grassroots organizations as external affairs director for Media Matters for America, where he worked to shape media coverage of such important issues as poverty, diversity, and the environment. He grew up in Lindenhurst, Illinois, where his mother was a public school teacher, and earned a bachelor’s degree at Columbia College in Chicago.

Stephanie Hernandez

Stephanie Hernandez is an eighth-grade student at Cesar E. Chavez Multicultural Academic Center in Chicago Public Schools. The open enrollment campus is part of the Breakthrough Schools initiative funded by LEAP Innovations, a Chicago-based educational technology nonprofit hub which supports educators redesigning their school models with personalized learning. Hernandez took geometry this year at Walter Payton College Prep High School and has accepted an offer to Whitney Young High School, a selective enrollment campus ranked among the best in Illinois, for the 2015-16 school year.

Benjamin Herold

Benjamin Herold is a staff writer covering educational technology for Education Week, American education’s newspaper of record. He previously worked as a beat reporter covering Philadelphia public schools across multiple media and platforms for WHYY-FM and the Philadelphia Public School Notebook. Herold’s work covering Philadelphia’s mass school closings in 2013 won first prize from the national Education Writers Association, and he was named the nation’s top education beat reporter for medium-sized newsrooms in 2012. Herold has a master’s degree in urban education from Temple University and has also worked as a researcher, independent documentary filmmaker, training specialist for a rape-crisis center and waiter.

Frederick M. Hess

Frederick M. Hess is the director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. An educator, political scientist and author, he studies K-12 and higher education issues. His books include The Cage-Busting Teacher, Cage-Busting Leadership and Breakthrough Leadership in the Digital Age. He is also the author of the popular Education Week blog, Rick Hess Straight Up, and is a regular contributor to The Hill and to National Review Online. Hess serves as executive editor of Education Next, as lead faculty member for the Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program, and on the review board for the Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools. He also serves on the boards of directors of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and 4.0 SCHOOLS. A former high school social studies teacher, he teaches or has taught at the University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, Rice University and Harvard University. He holds a master’s degree and doctorate in government, as well as a master’s in education degree in teaching and curriculum, from Harvard University.

Lori Higgins

Lori Higgins has been an education reporter for more than 20 years. Much of that time has been spent at the Detroit Free Press, where she writes about state education issues, trends in education and regional issues. She is currently part of a group of reporters from across the nation awarded a Renaissance Journalism fellowship to write about opportunity gaps in education. Prior to Detroit, she worked at newspapers in Green Bay, Wisconsin; and Manhattan, Kansas.

Catharine Bond Hill

Catharine Bond Hill became the tenth president of Vassar College in July 2006. Hill is a noted economist whose work focuses on higher education affordability and access. Under Hill’s leadership, Vassar reinstated need-blind admissions and replaced loans with grants for low-income families. Hill also continues to research the access by low-income students to highly selective colleges and the net prices paid by these colleges’ students. Prior to her Vassar presidency, Hill served seven years as the provost of Williams College. Hill originally joined the economics faculty at Williams in 1985. She and her family lived from 1994 – 1997 in the Republic of Zambia, where she was the fiscal/trade advisor and then head of the Harvard Institute for International Development’s Project on Macroeconomic Reform. Hill graduated summa cum laude from Williams College, and also earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Brasenose College, Oxford University. She completed her doctorate in economics at Yale.

Larry Hincker

Larry Hincker has been head of University Relations at Virginia Tech since 1989. Hincker’s responsibility for the university’s communication activities includes media relations, college communications, development communications, television productions, publications, marketing, web communications, trademarks and licensing, and WVTF public radio station. His department has garnered over 90 CASE District III and National awards, 22 ADDY awards and nine regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Hincker was the spokesperson and public face of Virginia Tech throughout the aftermath of the on-campus shootings tragedy of April 16, 2007. He has shared these experiences with emergency planning and communications professionals around the world, speaking in the United States, Canada, England, and New Zealand. Before joining the staff at Virginia Tech, Hincker worked in various corporate communications positions in the state of Washington. Hincker holds a bachelor’s degree from Brooks Institute and a master’s in business administration from Virginia Tech.

Eric Hirsch

Eric Hirsch is the founding executive director of, an independent nonprofit dedicated to ensuring that students and teachers have access to the highest quality instructional materials. Previously, he was the chief external affairs officer at the New Teacher Center, the executive director of the Center for Teaching Quality, and the education program manager at the National Conference of State Legislatures. He has supported policymakers in 35 states, written more than 150 articles, book chapters, reports and policy briefs, and presented at conferences on topics ranging from school governance to teaching quality. He has worked with education leaders in 20 states and 25 large districts over the past decade to gather more than 1.5 million surveys from school-based educators about teaching and learning conditions in schools. Hirsch received his teacher certification in Massachusetts and his master’s degree in political science from the University of Colorado.

Tawnell Hobbs

Tawnell Hobbs is an education reporter at The Dallas Morning News and covers Dallas public schools. She has been at the News since 2000 and prior to that was a reporter at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram covering education and city government. Hobbs also teaches computer-assisted reporting at Texas Christian University. What she loves most about CAR is the power it gives to journalists to analyze data and find answers, instead of relying solely on someone to provide the information. Before starting her journalism career, Hobbs served in the United States Air Force and the Texas Air National Guard for a combined total of about 10 years. She received honorable discharges for both stints of service.

David Hoff

David Hoff has been deeply involved in the education world for more than 20 years. For more than a dozen years at Education Week, he covered major events in Congress and everyday classroom lessons that illuminated larger policy issues. He left journalism to join the senior communications team for U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, where he wrote speeches, launched the Department of Education’s social media presence, and developed the messaging for major announcements for Race to the Top and other initiatives. He is now a senior vice president at Hager Sharp in Washington, where he works with government and nonprofit clients in the education world.

Daniel Hurley

Daniel Hurley is associate vice president for government relations and state policy for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, where he provides analysis and commentary on a broad range of public policy issues affecting higher education at the campus, system, state, and national level. His expertise includes issues related to the financing of public higher education, financial aid, college access and student success, governance, and institutional best practices. Hurley helps craft the association’s annual Public Policy Agenda, a compilation of federal and state policy positions and priorities. Prior to joining the AASCU, Hurley served as the director of university relations and administrative services for the Presidents Council–State Universities of Michigan. Hurley has received a doctorate in public administration from Western Michigan University, a master’s degree in career and technical education from Ferris State University and a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Grand Valley State University.

Cheryl Hyman

Cheryl Hyman is chancellor of the City Colleges, where she is responsible for managing a budget of more than $723 million, overseeing 5,700 employees and more than 115,000 students annually. She is leading the Reinvention of Illinois’ largest community college system in partnership with faculty, staff, students, and civic and business communities to ensure that all CCC students successfully graduate ready for further college and careers. Prior to being appointed chancellor in April 2010, Hyman served as vice president of operations strategy and business intelligence at ComEd. She joined ComEd in 1996 and held positions across the company during her 14-year career. A graduate of Olive-Harvey College, Hyman was once a City Colleges student herself. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the Illinois Institute of Technology, a master’s degree in community development from North Park University, and an executive master of business administration from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Hyman is a Chicago native who grew up on the city’s West Side.


Andy Isaacs

Andy Isaacs is the co-director of the Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education at the University of Chicago and directs revisions of “Everyday Mathematics,” the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project’s curriculum for prekindergarten through sixth grade. Previously, Isaacs worked at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where his duties included teaching mathematics to pre-service and in-service elementary teachers and working on “Math Trailblazers,” an elementary mathematics curriculum. Before that, he taught fourth and fifth grades at Chicago-area public schools for eight years. Isaacs studied classical Greek in college, earned a master’s degree in elementary education from the University of Chicago and a doctorate in mathematics from the University of Illinois at Chicago.


Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik is the editor and co-founder of Inside Higher Ed. He co-leads the editorial operations, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, resources and interactive features. Jaschik has published articles on colleges in The New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post and Salon. From 1999 to 2003, Jaschik was the editor of the Chronicle of Higher Education. He is a graduate of Cornell University.

Jack Jennings

Jack Jennings founded and led the Center on Education Policy for 17 years. According to Education Week, that Center was among the 10 most influential national organizations affecting school policy. From 1967 to 1994, Jennings served as a staff director and general counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Education and Labor and was involved in the re-authorizations of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and the Higher Education Act. Jennings has written two books and edited four. His latest, Presidents, Congress, and the Public Schools, was just released by the Harvard Education Press. Jennings has written numerous articles, including ESEA at 50 in the April issue of the Kappan. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Loyola University, a law degree from Northwestern University School of Law, and was a member of the U.S. Supreme Court and other legal bars. See:

Sarah Johnson

Sarah Johnson is director of media relations at the communications firm Reingold, where she brings deep knowledge of education reform initiatives and expertise in building media campaigns for government and nonprofit organizations. Johnson guides clients such as the National Assessment Governing Board, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and U.S. Census Bureau in building media relationships and producing press materials. She also defined a customized process for news monitoring and media analysis that provides insights into the quality and tone of earned news coverage and generates ideas for further coverage opportunities. Her portfolio of education clients includes the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Council of Chief State School Officers, Education Research Alliance for New Orleans, Generation Hope, Lumina Foundation, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, National Assessment Governing Board, Student Veterans of America, and the United States Census Bureau’s Statistics in Schools Program.


Steve Kappler

Steve Kappler is vice president of brand experience at ACT Inc., a position which encompasses brand strategy and research, marketing, communications, and customer experience. He previously headed ACT’s career and college readiness area, where he was responsible for setting ACT’s vision and strategy for the postsecondary market. In this capacity he also managed market research and strategy for the education division as well as directing the publication of major ACT reports, including the annual report on the Condition of College and Career Readiness and the College Choice Report series. Before joining ACT in 2007, Kappler spent 16 years consulting with colleges and universities and developed the first comprehensive study of teen lifestyles and attitudes about college admissions.

Sarah Karp

Sarah Karp joined the staff of Catalyst Chicago in 2006 after writing for five years for Catalyst’s sister publication, The Chicago Reporter, where she covered children and family issues. Before that, Karp was project director at Youth Communication, which publishes New Expression, a newspaper written by and for teenagers. She also has reported for the Daily Southtown and the Columbia (Missouri) Daily Tribune. Her beats are high schools, special education, elementary school core instruction, desegregation, health and social services and children of the incarcerated. She received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri.

Hen Kennedy

Hen Kennedy is the seventh and eighth grade social studies teacher at Carl Von Linne Elementary School, a neighborhood school in Chicago Public Schools. Kennedy works to incorporate inquiry, action-based civics and play into her Common Core-aligned U.S. history and civics curriculum. Kennedy is also faculty advisor to the Von Linne Student Council. For the past two years, Kennedy has helped to write the REACH performance task assessments that are used as part of the teacher evaluation process across Chicago Public Schools. Last year, she served as a curriculum writer for the district as it developed its new interdisciplinary Latin American studies curriculum. Kennedy is a Teach Plus policy fellow. She has been published in the Chicago Sun-Times as part of the Illinois Writing Project’s Teacher Essay Series. She has a master’s in teaching from the University of Chicago’s Urban Teacher Education Program and a bachelor’s degree from Yale University.

Louise Kiernan

Louise Kiernan is an associate professor at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, where she focuses on narrative and investigative reporting and co-directs the school’s social justice initiative. She is also editor of the Nieman Storyboard, a website sponsored by the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University that highlights the art and craft of storytelling in all mediums. She joined the Medill faculty in 2010 from the Chicago Tribune, where she worked for 18 years as a reporter and editor. During a 10-year stint as a special projects reporter at the Tribune, she won a 2001 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting as lead writer of a series on problems with air travel and was a Pulitzer finalist in the same category that year for an individual project. Her work has also been recognized with a number of other awards, among them the 2007 Sigma Delta Chi award for feature writing and inclusion in Best Newspaper Writing 2008 and Best Newspaper Writing 1998. She was a 2005 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, has served on the Nieman fellowship selection committee and chaired two Pulitzer Prize juries

John King

John B. King Jr. is senior adviser to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Prior to that, he served as New York State Education Commissioner from 2011 to 2014, after serving as senior deputy commissioner. King also has worked as managing director of Uncommon Schools and as co-founder of the Roxbury Preparatory Charter School. He also has taught high school social studies in San Juan, Puerto Rico and Boston. He earned a bachelor’s degree in government from Harvard, an master’s in the teaching of social studies from Teachers College, Columbia University, a law degree from Yale Law School, and a doctorate in educational administrative practice from Teachers College, Columbia University. King was a 1995 Truman Scholar and received the James Madison Memorial Fellowship for secondary level teaching of American history, American government and social studies.

Tyler Kingkade

Tyler Kingkade is a senior editor and reporter at The Huffington Post covering higher education and millennials. Prior to this role, he covered politics for The Huffington Post and The Iowa Independent, and worked at the National Journal and for the CBS affiliate in Des Moines, Iowa. His work has earned him national recognition by the Society of Professional Journalists, the Associated Collegiate Press, and the University of Georgia.

Alyson Klein

Alyson Klein is an assistant editor at Education Week. She is co-author of the Politics K-12 blog and writes about the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the federal budget, and the role of education in elections. Her work has focused on state education issues as well, writing on developments in Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, and Mississippi. Klein joined the staff in February 2006 after nearly two years at CongressDaily.

Timothy Knowles

Timothy Knowles serves as the John Dewey Director and clinical professor at the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute. UEI undertakes rigorous applied research to inform practitioners and policymakers; trains exemplary urban teachers and leaders; operates a pre-K through 12th grade school on Chicago’s South Side; and designs and disseminates tools and training to improve urban schools nationwide. Before coming to Chicago, Knowles served as deputy superintendent for teaching and learning at the Boston Public Schools. Prior to his work in Boston, Knowles founded and directed a full-service K-8 school in Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York City. He also served as the founding director of Teach For America in New York City and taught Southern African history in Botswana. He writes and speaks extensively about school reform, leadership, teacher quality and accountability. He received his bachelor’s in anthropology from Oberlin College and a doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Antoinette “Toni” Konz

Antoinette “Toni” Konz joined WDRB in July 2014. She covered Jefferson County Public Schools and statewide education for The Courier-Journal since arriving in Louisville, Kentucky in March 2007 and was the Kentucky correspondent/reporter for USA TODAY. Before that, she spent five years covering K-12 public education for newspapers in Alabama and Mississippi. Konz loves to be inside the classroom and the boardroom, finding the stories and issues that mean the most to parents. She has won numerous awards for her coverage. Konz is a native of Milwaukee and a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi.

Paige Kowalski

Paige Kowalski is vice president of policy and advocacy for the Data Quality Campaign. She leads a team of professionals to advance education data policies at the local, state, and federal levels that meet the needs of individuals and improve student outcomes. Kowalski was previously DQC’s director of state policy and advocacy and managed DQC’s efforts to support state policymakers in understanding their roles and responsibilities in supporting effective data use at all levels. Before joining DQC in 2008, Kowalski managed several national data initiatives for the Council of Chief State School Officers and participated as a managing partner of DQC in its early years. She also has significant state and local experience through her tenures with the University of California, the City and County of San Francisco, and Chicago Public Schools. An active PTA member, she lives in Washington, D.C., where her two sons attend public schools. Kowalski received a bachelor’s degree in international relations from the University of California, Davis, and a master’s degree in public policy from The George Washington University.

Sandy Kress

Sandy Kress is senior adviser for the George W. Bush Institute and practices law with Akin Gump, focusing on public law and policy at the state and national levels. Kress has served on the Education Commission of the States, as counsel to the Texas Business Leadership Council, and as a senior fellow of the James B. Hunt, Jr., Institute for Educational Leadership. He served as senior adviser to President George W. Bush on education. Kress received his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley and his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law, where he served as president of the student government.

Keith Krueger

Keith R. Krueger is CEO of the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), a nonprofit organization that serves as the voice of K-12 school system technology leaders in North America. He serves on many advisory boards including eSchool News, the Education Committee of the National Park System, the Friday Institute at North Carolina State University, and the Wireless Reach Advisory Board. He is a past board member/treasurer of the National Coalition on Technology in Education & Training. As a certified association executive, he has extensive background in nonprofit management and has a master’s degree from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

Amar Kumar

Amar Kumar is senior vice president in the office of the chief education adviser at Pearson. His passion for education was ignited as a teacher and school principal, where, with the support of a young team of 40 teachers, he quickly improved a 1,000-student school in rural India. That experience led him to Harvard, where he studied disruption and the power of innovation in education. At McKinsey & Company, he advised private and public sector clients on education and system reform. He currently leads Pearson’s drive to embed efficacy into every product, coordinating a team of 100 colleagues around the world. Together, they have trained thousands of employees, done hundreds of reviews, and are working with many external partners to make efficacy and learner outcomes a part of the global conversation. Kumar has also worked at Eli Lilly and Microsoft. He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Purdue University and a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School.


Troy LaRaviere

Troy LaRaviere is the principal of one of the highest performing neighborhood schools in Chicago. In 2013, with a speech at City Hall, he became the first Chicago principal to speak against the school policies of Chicago’s mayor. He has published research that suggests public schools produce significantly more academic growth in students than charter schools. He also exposed filthy conditions in Chicago schools that were the result of a botched custodial privatization deal and uncovered the manipulation of charter school test score data by CPS officials — details that were the subjects of news articles which appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune. In 2015 he was a featured panelist at the City Club of Chicago, and his statement in support of parents opting their children out of PARCC testing was one of The Washington Post’s most-read articles. His print and television interviews have been widely circulated.

Andrew Latham

Andrew Latham directs the program for assessment and standards development services at WestEd and the director of the Center for Standards Assessment & Implementation under funding from the U.S. Department of Education. In these roles, Latham works closely with national organizations, states, schools, and districts to develop innovative solutions for assessing and setting standards for students and teachers. Prior to joining WestEd, Latham served in various executive roles at Educational Testing Service leading large-scale K–12 assessment and teacher licensure programs, including the California High School Exit Exam. He also served as associate vice-president of ETS’s Global Division and spent two years in the United Kingdom running the national Standard Assessment Tests program. A former English and mathematics teacher, Latham holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English literature from Harvard University and Boston University, and a doctorate in educational psychology from Temple University.

Gil Latz

Gil Latz is president elect of the Association of International Education Administrators. He is also associate vice chancellor for International Affairs and professor of geography, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; and associate vice president for International Affairs, Office of the Vice President for International Affairs. Until 2012, he was affiliated with Portland State University; over his 28 years there, he held multiple positions. His research and publications have focused on the internationalization of higher education in the United States and Asia. Latz is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Latz has a bachelor’s degree from Occidental College. His graduate research training took place at the University of Chicago and the University of Tokyo (1980-84); in 1986 he was granted the doctorate in geography from the University of Chicago.

Linda Lenz

Linda Lenz is the founder and publisher of Catalyst Chicago, a monthly news magazine that covers the progress, problems and politics of school reform in Chicago. Before launching Catalyst, she was the chief education writer at the Chicago Sun-Times and before that was an editorial writer and reporter at the old Chicago Daily News. Previously, she served as political editor of Pioneer Press, North Shore. Lenz is a former Education Writers Association board president. She received a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Contact her at

Erica Lepping

Erica Lepping is currently vice president of Larson Communications, a national strategic communications firm. Most recently, Lepping served as senior communications director for The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, managing external communications around $500 million of K-12 investments. During the Clinton administration, Lepping served as assistant to the White House press secretary, and then as press secretary for the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley. During her career, she has advised a broad swath of nonprofits working to affect K-12 change, including foundations, state government agencies, school districts, charter school systems, advocacy organizations, researchers, and universities. Lepping previously practiced education law and monitored progress under San Francisco’s desegregation consent decree. She began her career teaching character education to high school students in Maryland.

Michelle Lerner

Michelle Lerner is the communications director at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, where she leads the Institute’s relationships with the press, develops communications and outreach strategies, and serves as the Fordham “brand czar.” She started at Fordham as the media relations and outreach manager, where she led Fordham’s social-media content and events. Prior to joining Fordham, Lerner worked as communications manager for the American Federation for Children, a national school-choice advocacy organization, and as an associate at a federal lobbying firm. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University and is currently pursuing a master’s in public policy from George Mason University.

Harold Levy

Harold Levy is the executive director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. Previously, Levy was managing director of Palm Ventures, LLC, an education practice head of a family office that invests in businesses with a transformative social impact; the executive vice president of Kaplan, Inc. where he started Kaplan University’s online School of Education; the first non-educator chancellor of New York City schools; and the director of global compliance and associate general counsel at Citigroup. Levy has served on many boards and committees, including the U.S. Department of Education Committee on Measures of Student Success, the New York State Board of Regents, and the Commission on School Facilities and Maintenance Reform. He currently serves on the boards of the Presidents Advisory Council at Teachers College, Columbia University, the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, Luxembourg Income Study Center, Cambium Learning Group, and Met Schools, Inc. Levy received a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in industrial and labor relations, a master’s in politics, philosophy and economics from the University of Oxford, and a law degree from Cornell Law School.

Xiao Lin

Xiao Lin is a junior at Jones College Prep. Lin is has been a member of Mikva for more than two years representing students in policy recommendations for the Chicago Public Schools. She has had the opportunity to work with the Chicago Public School’s CEO, principals, teachers, and other policy decision makers to implement a policy guide and an innovative search engine — — for the student code of conduct. She serves as a member of Chicago Public Schools’ CEO Student Advisory Council identifying and addressing root issues.

Tim Lloyd

Tim Lloyd is an education reporter at St. Louis Public Radio. Since joining the staff in 2012, he has won six Edward R. Murrow Awards in categories that include writing, hard news, continuing coverage, use of sound, and sports reporting. Prior to covering education in 2013, he was a general assignment reporter. In 2010 he received the national Debakey Journalism Award, and in 2009 he won a Missouri Press Association award for Best News Feature. Previously, he launched digital reporting efforts for Harvest Public Media, a Corporation for Public Broadcasting-funded collaboration between Midwestern NPR member stations that focuses on agriculture and food issues. His stories have aired on a variety of stations and shows, including All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Marketplace, Only A Game and Here and Now. Lloyd grew up north of Kansas City, Missouri, and holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, Columbia.

Frank LoMonte

Frank LoMonte joined the Student Press Law Center, a nonprofit legal-assistance organization based in Arlington, Virginia, in January 2008 as executive director. Previously, LoMonte practiced law with Atlanta-based Sutherland LLP and clerked for federal judges on the Northern District of Georgia and the Eleventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Before law school, LoMonte was an investigative journalist and political columnist for daily newspapers in Florida and Georgia. His articles about the First Amendment and media-law topics have been widely published in Education Week, The Chronicle of Higher Education, the American University Law Review, the University of North Carolina First Amendment Law Review, and in many other outlets. LoMonte graduated magna cum laude from the University of Georgia School of Law, where he was a senior editor of the Georgia Law Review and where he serves as a distinguished visiting professor teaching media law, including the law of social media and cyberbullying.

Deborah Lowe Vandell

Deborah Lowe Vandell is professor and dean of education at the University of California, Irvine, where she is also a professor of psychology and social behavior. An author of more than 150 articles and three books, Vandell studies the short-term and long-term effects of developmental contexts (early child care, outof-school time, families, school) on social, behavioral and academic functioning on children and adolescents. Her out-of-school work considers effects of afterschool and summer programs, extracurricular activities and unsupervised settings, with a particular focus on the effects of these contexts on low-income children of color. She received a faculty distinguished achievement award from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a distinguished teaching award from the University of Texas, Dallas. She has been elected to the National Academy of Education and the Governing Council of the Society for Research in Child Development. She also is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Psychological Society, and the American Educational Research Association. She earned her doctorate from Boston University.

Linda Lutton

Linda Lutton is an award-winning education reporter at WBEZ-Chicago Public Media and a 2014-15 Spencer Fellow in Education Reporting. Her reporting at WBEZ has examined the dropout crisis, race and segregation, school performance, and the impact of gun violence on youth and schools. Prior to joining WBEZ, Lutton covered education across 85 school districts in Chicago’s south suburbs for the Daily Southtown. She has also worked as a freelance reporter in Michoacán, Mexico. Lutton worked on the 2013 This American Life “Harper High School” episodes, which won numerous journalism awards, including a 2014 Peabody Award and the Education Writers Association’s Fred M. Hechinger Grand Prize for Distinguished Education Reporting. Lutton also won EWA’s grand prize in 2005 for her investigation into a corrupt suburban Chicago school superintendent. She is the 2004 recipient of a Studs Terkel Award for reporting on Chicago’s diverse communities. Lutton graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in English and urban studies. She lives in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood with her husband and their three children.


Jackie Mader

Jackie Mader is The Hechinger Report’s Mississippi bureau chief, and she also writes about rural ed for Education Week. Prior to Hechinger, she taught special education in Charlotte, North Carolina, and trained first-year teachers in the Mississippi Delta. In her coverage of Mississippi, she’s focused on poverty and inequity, as well as potential solutions to improve education in the state.

Jamie Malone

Jamie Malone is senior operational policy analyst at Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates. Malone began her career in the financial aid field over 30 years ago, working in the financial aid and business offices at a proprietary school. From there, she moved to the U.S. Department of Education. Malone worked as a program reviewer for the department’s Region V office for five years. She then became a training officer in that same office and continued in that role for over 18 years. Malone is well-known in the financial aid community for her expertise in Title IV law and regulations. She has received awards from both state and regional associations. She retired from the Department of Education in February 2014 and joined Great Lakes as a senior operational policy analyst in the Policy and Regulatory Compliance division. Malone has a bachelor’s degree from Duquesne University and a master’s in business administration from Case Western Reserve University.

Blair Mann

Blair Mann is press secretary for the Collaborative for Student Success, serving as spokesperson for the Collaborative’s efforts to educate and inform all stakeholders about the needs for and benefits of increased standards, aligned assessments and comparability across states. She previously worked at the Education Trust where she was the primary point of contact for media outlets on K-12 and teaching quality issues. Prior to joining Ed Trust, Mann worked at DCI Group where she advised clients on media, public affairs, and communications strategies pertaining to policy issues ranging from education to international finance. A native of Philadelphia, Mann holds a master’s degree from The George Washington University in public policy, concentrating in education policy, and a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and political science from the University of Pittsburgh.

Scott Marion

Scott Marion is the vice president of the National Center for the Improvement in Educational Assessment, Inc., a nonprofit consulting firm. Marion’s current projects include creating validity evaluations for state assessment and accountability systems and designing and implementing high-quality, locally designed performance-based assessments. He also is a leader in designing valid approaches for evaluating educators in nontested subjects and grades. Marion serves on multiple state technical advisory committees for assessment, accountability, and educator evaluation and has served on multiple National Research Council committees, producing seminal reports on assessment and accountability. A former field biologist and high school science teacher, Marion received his doctorate in measurement and evaluation from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Prior to joining the Center for Assessment in early 2003, Marion was the director of assessment and accountability for the Wyoming Department of Education.

Ralph Martire

Ralph Martire is executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. In February 2011, he was appointed to serve on the U.S. Department of Education Equity and Excellence Commission. He is a distinguished lecturer on public policy for Roosevelt University and has taught fiscal policy seminars for various universities and the International Fulbright Scholar Program. Martire has received numerous awards for his work on education policy reform, including the 2007 Champion of Freedom Award from the Rainbow PUSH Coalition to individuals whose professional work embodies Martin Luther King, Jr.’s commitment to equal educational opportunities, and the Ben C. Hubbard Leadership Award given by Illinois State University to individuals who have greatly benefited education in Illinois. He serves on the school board of River Forest District 90. Martire is also a regular columnist on education, fiscal and economic policy for the State Journal Register and Daily Herald. He received a bachelor’s degree in history from Indiana University and a law degree from the University of Michigan.

Alana Mbanza

Alana Mbanza is college and career coach for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. College Preparatory School in Chicago.

Jeff McClellan

Jeffrey McClellan became the founding director of SOLE CLE in January 2015, after founding and heading MC2STEM High School in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. McClellan is supporting the implementation of Self Organized Learning Environments in schools and educational entities within the Cleveland Region and beyond. The concept of SOLE was first introduced by Sugata Mitra, the winner of the first $1 million TED Prize. Prior to MC2 STEM, McClellan worked for the Lima City Schools in Ohio.

Charlene Mendoza

Charlene Mendoza teaches Advanced Placement English and integrated math at the Arizona College Prep Academy in Tucson, Arizona, which she also co-founded. She is pursuing her doctorate in language, reading and culture from the University of Arizona.

Dale Mezzacappa

Dale Mezzacappa wrote about education for 20 years at The Philadelphia Inquirer. She is now is a contributing editor of the Philadelphia Public School Notebook, an independent nonprofit website and bimonthly publication with a mission to promote educational excellence and equity through high-quality journalism and community engagement. Before taking the education beat, she reported on government and politics from Trenton, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. for The Inquirer and The Record of Hackensack, New Jersey. She’s earned a long list of awards from organizations including the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the New Jersey Press Association and the Columbia University School of Journalism. In 1990-1991, she studied issues relating to children, poverty and education as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. She teaches a journalism course at Swarthmore College and is a graduate of Vassar College.

Dan Mihalopoulos

Dan Mihalopoulos is an investigative reporter and writes a weekly political column for the Chicago Sun-Times. Before joining the Sun-Times in March 2012, he reported for the Chicago News Cooperative, which produced a Chicago section for The New York Times (2009-2012); the Chicago Tribune (1999-2009); and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (1996-1999). His 2013 stories about the United Neighborhood Organization’s charter-school network won the Education Writers Association’s first prize for investigative reporting as well as the Chicago Headline Club’s Watchdog Award for Excellence in Public Interest Reporting. Mihalopoulos also was lead reporter for a 2008 Chicago Tribune series that won the Watchdog Award and was a finalist for both the Investigative Reporters & Editors Award and the American Society of News Editors Award for Local Accountability Reporting. Mihalopoulos was born in Chicago and is a 1996 graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

Chris Minnich

Chris Minnich has been the executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers since December 2012. Minnich has worked at CCSSO since 2008, when he was hired to direct the Council’s standards program – the work that would later become the Common Core State Standards. In the last two years Minnich has led the Council’s advocacy and communications teams in rallying states to collaboratively reform their standards and accountability systems. From 2005 to 2008, Minnich held multiple positions at Harcourt (now Pearson), all focused on the advancement and improvement of assessments. Minnich led the development and deployment of a teacher-centered online portal focused on assessment education. As the director of test design and implementation at the Oregon Department of Education from 2003 to 2005, Minnich led statewide online assessment implementation. Minnich holds a bachelor’s in political science from the University of Washington, Seattle, and a master of public policy degree from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Ted Mitchell

Ted Mitchell is the U.S. under secretary of education. Mitchell oversees policies, programs, and activities related to postsecondary education, adult, career and technical education, federal student aid, five White House Initiatives, and the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Mitchell is charged with planning and policy responsibilities to implement President Obama’s goal for the United States to have “the best educated, most competitive workforce in the world” as measured by the proportion of college graduates by the year 2020. Mitchell is the former CEO of the NewSchools Venture Fund and served as the president of the California State Board of Education. Mitchell has served as president of Occidental College, vice chancellor and dean of the School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA, and professor and chair of the Department of Education at Dartmouth College. Mitchell received his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate from Stanford University.

Anne Mitchell

Anne Mitchell is president of Early Childhood Policy Research and co-founded the Alliance for Early Childhood Finance. She has written widely on early care and education policy, finance reform and system building. She was an associate dean at Bank Street College of Education and directed child care centers in Massachusetts and Vermont. She has worked with more than half of U.S. states and dozens of foundations, as well as with federal agencies and national organizations. Mitchell was a long-term elected member of the Greenville, New York, Board of Education and is a past president of the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Michele Molnar

Michele Molnar is a staff writer for Education Week, where she covers the Industry and Innovation beat, and serves as the project editor for Ed Week Market Brief, a new publication for education business leaders.

Andrea Mondragon

Andrea Mondragon is a student at Benito Juarez Community Academy in Chicago. She was born in Mexico and raised in Chicago and participates in the Mikva Challenge, an effort to engage youth in the political process. She hopes to one day be able to graduate college and pursue a career in the medical field.

Lillian Mongeau

Lillian Mongeau is the engagement editor and West Coast correspondent for The Hechinger Report, a national nonprofit education news agency. She also co-writes the Early Years blog for Education Week. Prior to joining The Hechinger Report, Mongeau covered early childhood education for EdSource in California. She also taught for two years in Texas through Teach for America. Mongeau earned her master’s in journalism at the University of California, Berkeley and her bachelor’s degree at Barnard College.


Jenny Nagaoka

Jenny Nagaoka is the deputy director of the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research. Her research interests focus on policy and practice in urban education reform, particularly developing school environments and instructional practices that promote college readiness and success. She has co-authored numerous journal articles and reports, including studies of college readiness, noncognitive factors, the transition from high school to postsecondary education, and Chicago’s initiative to end social promotion. Nagaoka’s current work at CCSR includes directing a project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop frameworks and tools for the development of early warning and college readiness indicator systems, a study of the role of teachers and classroom context in developing students’ academic skills, academic mindsets, perseverance, and learning strategies, and a study of rigorous instruction in Chicago high school classrooms. Nagaoka received her bachelor’s from Macalester College and a master’s in public policy from the Irving B. Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago.

Geoffrey A. Nagle

Geoffrey A. Nagle is president and CEO of Erikson Institute, a leading graduate school in child development. Before his appointment as president, he was director of the Tulane Institute of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health and associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Tulane University School of Medicine. While at Tulane, Nagle worked closely with Louisiana government leaders to strengthen the state’s early childhood system and expand high-quality early care and education. His advocacy resulted in Quality Start, Louisiana’s child care quality rating system, and laws creating the Early Childhood System Integration Budget and School Readiness Tax Credits. Nagle is a member of the Board of Governors of the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences and serves on the faculty of the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Early Learning Fellows Program. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Duke University and earned a master’s in social work, a master’s in public health, and a doctorate from Tulane University.

Barmak Nassirian

Barmak Nassirian is director of federal relations and policy analysis for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. In this role, he coordinates federal relations and legislative, regulatory, and public policy at the federal level for AASCU. Nassirian is returning to AASCU after having served the association from 1990-1998 as the director of federal policy analysis. This was followed by nearly 15 years of executive management experience with the Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. In his prior service with AASCU, Nassirian provided analytical support, designed federal cost estimation models and participated in policy development and advocacy for the 1992 and 1998 Higher Education Act reauthorizations. He represented the association on four negotiated rulemaking committees charged with developing regulations to enact the 1992 Amendments and the Student Loan Reform Act of 1993.

Nancy Nassr

Nancy Nassr, the associate director of ChicagoQuest, is helping lead the way in urban education reform by using games and game-like learning principles to engage both students and teachers in design and inquiry-based thinking. Nassr joined ChicagoQuest 13 years ago as one of the founding teachers there. In her work at CQ, Nassr has developed and designed games for both the classroom and for teacher professional development. Nassr’s work both in and out of the classroom has led to dramatic gains in student achievement, particularly in the high school. She designed and led professional development sessions for teachers with a focus on contextualized learning spaces that generate powerful learning experiences for students. This summer, Nassr will be attending Teachers College at Columbia University in New York where she will earn her master’s degree in educational leadership.

Jennifer Nava

Jennifer Nava is in ninth grade at Brighton Park Elementary School. She has testified at local school council meetings and before the city’s aldermen. She is currently working on food justice issues.

La Vonne Neal

La Vonne I. Neal is dean of the college of education at Northern Illinois University. Neal is a historian and teacher educator whose work in the design and implementation of culturally responsive teaching methods has earned wide recognition both among educators and popular press. For example, her research on the correlation between African American male students’ walking styles and their placement in special education courses has been featured globally in mass media. She has over 200 publications and presentations, including her most recent book, Diversifying the Teacher Workforce: Preparing and Retaining Highly Effective Teachers. She earned her master’s in education degree and doctorate in special education with an emphasis in multicultural education at The University of Texas at Austin.

Joe Nelson

Joe Nelson is a principal at Pass Christian Middle School in Pass Christian, Mississippi. He was named principal of the year for the state in 2014 and was one of five finalists for the 2014 MetLife/NASSP National Principal of the Year Program. While two-thirds of the student population lives in poverty, state assessment scores have remained consistently high during Nelson’s tenure at Pass Christian. Under his leadership the school was one of 15 middle schools to be recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School in 2012.

Fraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson was appointed by Mayor Ben McAdams to serve as the first director of data and innovation of Salt Lake County, Utah, in February 2015. In this role, she oversees the mayor’s initiatives to make data and evidence-based practices part of the county government’s DNA. These include the county’s Pay for Success initiatives, a county-wide dashboard to measure outcomes that improve the lives of our citizens, a collective impact focus on homelessness, and Moneyball for Government. Prior to joining the cabinet, Nelson founded and led the Community Foundation of Utah, growing it from an idea to a $45 million philanthropic resource for the state, and has also led the state’s civil legal service organization for people with disabilities. She received her bachelor’s degree from Duke University, a master’s from St. Mary’s University and is an adjunct faculty member of the David Eccles School of Business.

Sara Neufeld

Sara Neufeld is a contributing editor for The Hechinger Report. She was first assigned to the education beat in 2000 while interning at the San Jose Mercury News. With a local superintendent under indictment, she found plenty to write about that summer, and she’s been at it ever since. Neufeld spent nearly a decade reporting for daily newspapers and more than six of those years at The Baltimore Sun. Her work at Hechinger has appeared in various publications, including The Atlantic, Slate, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. She has been honored with numerous awards for her series “A Promise to Renew” about a struggling school in Newark, New Jersey, which also earned a National Awards for Education Reporting award from the Education Writers Association three years in a row. Neufeld holds a bachelor’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and got her start working at The Trident at Amity Regional Senior High School in Woodbridge, Connecticut.

Johnna Noll

Johnna Noll is the director of instructional services for the West Allis – West Milwaukee School District in Wisconsin and a former principal of a Blue Ribbon School. She is passionate about personalized learning as demonstrated through her development of Next Generation Learning (NxGL) Communities. NxGL communities use technology as a tool for personalization, collaboration, accessing information, and communication. Her district has been honored by the Apple Distinguished Educators program and as a P21 Exemplar School. Noll has provided staff development locally, regionally and with a national audience through personal and video presentations, webinars, and panel discussions.

Nicole Noren

Nicole Noren is a producer for the ESPN program Outside the Lines. A member of the network’s enterprise and investigative unit, she specializes in stories on education, health, and youth sports. A 2015 Kiplinger fellow, three of her reports have been honored with a National Award for Education Reporting. Her recent story on a college swimmer who battled borderline personality disorder prompted widespread policy change in the University of Missouri system and was awarded the Mental Health America 2015 Media Award and a National Awards for Education Reporting prize from the Education Writers Association. An avid traveler and outdoor enthusiast, Noren is a University of Hawaii graduate and completed a yoga teacher training program in 2014.


Jesse O’Connell

Jesse O’Connell is the assistant director for federal relations at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, where he works as part of the team that manages the association’s policy and advocacy efforts. Prior to joining NASFAA in early 2013, he served as an associate director in the office of student financial services at Georgetown University, where he oversaw the compliance and administration of all athletically related aid, in addition to managing a caseload of financial aid applicants. O’Connell began his career in higher education as a financial aid counselor at Georgetown, where he received both a master’s and bachelor’s degree.

Denise-Marie Ordway

Denise-Marie Ordway is a senior reporter for the Orlando Sentinel who specializes in higher education. She has won several top awards for her work, including first-prize awards from the Education Writers Association in 2014 and 2013. She led a small team of reporters who were named as Pulitzer Prize finalists in 2013 for their coverage of violent hazing and other problems at Florida A&M University. Ordway is a 2014-15 fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, where she has been studying performance-based funding for public universities as well as language-immersion programs among Native American tribal schools.

Daphna Oyserman

Daphna Oyserman is professor of psychology, professor of education and communication and co-founder of the USC Dornsife Mind and Society Center at the University of Southern California. She examines how small changes in context can shift mindsets. Studied effects of mindsets include when the future starts, what difficulty implies, and whether people automatically perceive connections, hierarchy, or a main point. Honors include the Humboldt Scientific Contribution Prize of the German Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and two Society for Social Work Research Best Scholarly Contribution Awards. She was a W.T. Grant faculty scholar and is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Association for Psychological Science, the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, and the Society for Experimental Social Psychology. Oyserman earned her doctorate in psychology and social work at the University of Michigan.


Ed Pacchetti

Ed Pacchetti is currently a fellow at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, focusing on simplifying the financial aid process. He is on loan from the U.S. Department of Education, where he serves as the director of customer analytics for the Customer Experience office of Federal Student Aid. Prior to this position, Pacchetti was the special assistant to the senior advisor on the Secretary’s Initiative on College Access at the U.S. Department of Education and prior to that he worked for five years in the Office of Postsecondary Education. His dominant interests are around college access and completion. Pacchetti has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Illinois Wesleyan University, a master’s of public administration degree from The George Washington University, and a doctorate in Education Policy from the University of Maryland.

James Pellegrino

James Pellegrino is a distinguished professor of psychology and education at the University of Illinois at Chicago and co-director of UIC’s Learning Sciences Research Institute. His research and development interests focus on children’s and adult’s thinking and learning and the implications of cognitive research and theory for assessment and instructional practice. Pellegrino has served as head of several National Academy of Sciences study committees, including co-chair of the Committee on Learning Research and Educational Practice, and co-chair of the Committee on the Foundations of Assessment which issued the report Knowing What Students Know: The Science and Design of Educational Assessment. Most recently, he co-chaired the Committee on Developing Assessments of Science Proficiency in K-12. Pellegrino also serves on the Technical Advisory Committees of several states as well as those for assessment consortia Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, Dynamic Learning Maps, and National Center and State Collaborative that are funded under the federal Race to the Top assessment initiative.

Lesley Perez

Lesley Perez is an eighth-grade language arts and social studies teacher at Cesar E. Chavez Multicultural Academic Center in Chicago Public Schools. The open enrollment campus is part of the Breakthrough Schools initiative funded by LEAP Innovations, a Chicago-based educational technology nonprofit hub which supports educators redesigning their school models with personalized learning. At Chavez, nearly 100 percent of the students qualify for free and reduced-priced meals. Already in 2015, 25 of out 85 students in the eighth-grade class have been admitted to selective enrollment high schools. Perez is a graduate of Rutgers College and joined Teach for America in 2011. She immigrated to New Jersey from Cuba as a middle school student and grew up in a neighborhood similar to the one served by the Chavez campus.

Laura Perna

Laura W. Perna is a professor and executive director of the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Her scholarship seeks to understand the ways that social structures, institutional practices, and public policies separately and together enable and restrict college access and success, particularly for racial and ethnic minorities and individuals of lower socioeconomic status. She is currently serving as president of the Association for the Study of Higher Education. She received the 2010 Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching from the University of Pennsylvania and 2011 Robert P. Huff Golden Quill Award from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. She earned her doctorate in education from the University of Michigan.

Nichole Pinkard

Nichole Pinkard is an associate professor in the College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University in Chicago. She is the founder of Digital Youth Network, co-founder of Inquirium LLC and Remix Learning, home of iRemix, a social learning platform that connects youth’s learning opportunities in school, home and beyond. Pinkard also helped establish YOUmedia, a public learning space that immerses high school students in a context of traditional media – books – to make and produce new media artifacts. Pinkard is the recipient of a 2014 Northwestern Alumni Award, a 2010 Common Sense Media Award for Outstanding Commitment to Creativity and Youth, and the 2004 Jan Hawkins Award for Early Career Contributions to Humanistic Research and Scholarship in Learning Technologies, an NSF Early CAREER Fellowship, and a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for research on how digital media affects literacy. She holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Stanford University. She earned her master’s in computer science and a doctorate in learning sciences from Northwestern University.

David Plank

David N. Plank is the executive director of Policy Analysis for California Education, a professor at the Stanford University Graduate School of Education, and a researcher in the Stanford Lemann Center for Educational Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Brazil. Before joining PACE in 2007, Plank was a professor at Michigan State University, where he founded and directed the Education Policy Center. He was previously on the faculties at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Texas at Dallas, where he taught courses and conducted research in the areas of educational finance and policy. Plank is the author or editor of six books, including the AERA Handbook of Education Policy Research. Plank has served as a consultant to international organizations, including the World Bank, the United Nations Development Program, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States Agency for International Development, and the Ford Foundation. He received his doctorate from the University of Chicago.

Morgan Polikoff

Morgan Polikoff is an assistant professor of K-12 education policy at the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education. His research focuses on the design, implementation, and effects of standards, assessment, and accountability policies. His recent work on textbook alignment, adoption, and effects has been supported by the Smith Richardson Foundation, the William T. Grant Foundation and the National Science Foundation. He has also recently written about the design of state accountability policies in No Child Left Behind Act waivers. His ongoing research focuses on the implementation of the Common Core standards in middle school mathematics classrooms. He earned his doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education in 2010 with a focus on education policy and his bachelors in mathematics and secondary education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2006.

Gabriel Portillo

Gabriel Portillo is a senior at Prosser Career Academy and a member of the Chicago Students Union. He seeks to make funding for Chicago schools more equitable.

Jayne Poss

Jayne Poss is the director of Preschool on Wheels at the Aspen Community Foundation. Aspen Community Foundation is in its 35th year of building philanthropy and supporting nonprofits in the Roaring Fork and Colorado River valleys, an 80 mile corridor connected by a dozen communities from Aspen to Parachute, Colorado. Since 2012, Poss has led an innovative early childhood education project of Aspen Community Foundation’s Cradle to Career Initiative. The Preschool on Wheels program, which has proven to increase kindergarten readiness, provides access to a free quality preschool experience to underserved children ages 3 to 5. Prior to joining the foundation, Poss founded and was executive director of the Roaring Fork Valley Early Learning Fund, whose signature program is Raising A Reader, a national evidence-based early childhood literacy program. Poss is a member of the Early Literacy Leadership Council.

Melanie Powell-Robinson

Melanie Powell-Robinson is executive director of communications for the Riverview Gardens School District in Missouri. She previously served as executive director of marketing for Robinson Consultants, vice president of sales and marketing for Compliance Solutions, marketing director for Shalom Church City of Peace and as a community services assistant for Riverview Gardens School District. Prior to joining the district, she provided marketing assistance for several organizations in the St. Louis area. Powell-Robinson earned a bachelor’s degree from St. Louis University and a master’s degree from Webster University.


Diane Rado

Diane Rado is an education watchdog reporter for the Chicago Tribune, doing K-12 investigative and policy stories. She’s worked for the Tribune for about 10 years. Prior to that, Rado covered the governor and legislature of Florida for the St. Petersburg Times. She did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000 and has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University.

Gov. Bruce Rauner

Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, was sworn in as the 42nd Governor of Illinois on Jan. 12, 2015. Prior to his election, Rauner established himself as one of the state’s leading businessmen. In 1981, he began working at Golder, Thoma, Cressey (later GTCR), which has for decades overseen the retirement investments of first responders, teachers and other Illinois workers. As one of its earliest partners, Rauner helped build the firm into one of the most successful and respected businesses in Illinois. He has reinvested much of his success into the state through supporting education, the YMCA, local hospitals and community organizations. The governor and first lady have devoted their personal time and resources to improving education throughout the state. Rauner graduated from Dartmouth College with top honors and earned a master’s from Harvard Business School.

Diana Rauner

Diana Mendley Rauner is president of the Ounce of Prevention Fund, a public-private partnership dedicated to unlocking human potential by preparing children born into poverty for success in school and life. The Ounce demonstrates effective solutions with original research, develops early learning programs for at-risk children and families — including the Educare Learning Network of schools — supports practitioners with high-quality professional development, and advocates for sound public policy. Previously, Rauner was a senior researcher at Chapin Hall Center for Children. She earned a doctorate in developmental psychology from the University of Chicago and a master’s from Stanford University.

Jana Rausch

Jana Rausch is senior manager of media and public affairs for the California-based Milken Family Foundation. In this position, Rausch works with Lowell Milken’s initiatives that are designed to ensure an effective educator in every American classroom: the Milken Educator Awards and the TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement and the Best Practices Center under the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching. She plays a key role in developing relationships with stakeholders and the media as well as building audiences and professional learning communities through the Web and social media. Rausch is a go-to expert on social media training and is a member of the Milken Institute’s social media team for the world-renowned Global Conference. Rausch previously worked in media and policy at the university and federal government levels. She graduated with dual bachelor’s degrees in English and French from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Sarah Reckhow

Sarah Reckhow is an assistant professor in the department of political science at Michigan State University. Her book with Oxford University Press, Follow the Money: How Foundation Dollars Change Public School Politics, examines the role of major foundations, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in urban school reform. She has recently published articles in Educational Researcher, Urban Affairs Review, Policy Studies Journal, and Planning Theory. Reckhow was a Teach For America corps member in Baltimore, where she taught social studies at Frederick Douglass High School. She received her doctorate in political science from the University of California, Berkeley in 2009.

Nina Rees

Nina Rees is the president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Before this role she was senior vice president for strategic initiatives for Knowledge Universe, a leading global education company with investments in early childhood education, before- and after-school programs, and online instruction. Previously, she served as the first assistant deputy secretary for innovation and improvement at the U.S. Department of Education. In this capacity, she oversaw the administration of 28 grant programs supporting 1,300 projects and was responsible for spearheading innovative federal programs and policies such as school choice, charter schools, alternative routes to teacher certification, and school leadership. She also helped coordinate the implementation of several provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act. Prior to joining the Education Department, Rees served as deputy assistant for domestic policy to Vice President Dick Cheney. She has also served as the senior education analyst at the Heritage Foundation. Rees holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Virginia Tech and a master’s in international transactions from George Mason University.

Motoko Rich

Motoko Rich writes about national pre-K-12 education for The New York Times. In a decade at the Times, she has also covered the national economy, writing about workforce training, unemployment, housing and retirement. She also covered book publishing, writing about the industry, authors and the evolution of reading in a digital age. She started at the paper in 2003 covering the hot-hot-hot real estate market just before the financial crisis. She loves developing stories out of the tiny factoid or detail that turns into something much more; stories that challenge preconceived notions on subjects about which everybody has an opinion; and stories that follow a character or characters around for a few months and illustrate the nuances of a controversial topic. Rich started her journalism career at the Financial Times in London, and subsequently worked as a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal for six years in both Atlanta and New York. Raised in New Jersey, Japan and California, Rich graduated from Yale University and Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. She now lives in Brooklyn with her husband, two children and a tiny hamster. Contact:

Erin Richards

Erin Richards is a K-12 education reporter, part-time metro editor and internship coordinator at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She reports on education reform efforts in Milwaukee, where a 25-year-old urban voucher school program serves more students in taxpayer-funded private schools than anywhere else in the country. Richards also covers state education policy, which under Gov. Scott Walker included a 2011 law that all but eliminated collective bargaining for teachers and other public workers. Richards joined the paper in 2006 as a suburban reporter, and she’s been a Livingston Award finalist as well as a recipient of multiple awards from the Education Writers Association. She has a master’s degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism and an undergraduate degree from Murray State University in Kentucky.

Steve Rivkin

Steven Rivkin is currently head of the economics department at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is also director of the John F. Kain Center for Education Research at the University of Texas at Dallas and a research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Rivkin’s main areas of interest are the economics and sociology of education, where he has written on a wide range of issues including school leadership, teacher quality and labor markets, school desegregation and class size. He has served on a number of government advisory committees and task forces, including Chicago Public School District VAM and Teacher Evaluation Technical Advisory Committee and the Massachusetts Department of Education Task Force on Teacher and Principal Evaluation. While living in Amherst, Massachusetts, Rivkin served as a member of the Amherst and Amherst Regional school boards. Rivkin received his bachelor’s degree at the University of Michigan and doctorate at UCLA.

Erik Robelen

Erik Robelen is deputy director of the Education Writers Association. He plays a key role in conceptualizing and developing seminars and other events, edits and writes for the EWA website, and shares in the organization’s strategic leadership. Before joining EWA, he worked for 15 years as a reporter and editor at the national newspaper Education Week. As an editor, he oversaw coverage of teaching, standards, assessment and curriculum. As a reporter, he wrote widely on K–12 issues, including federal and state policy; charter schools and school choice; standards and testing; and teaching and curriculum. Previously, Robelen was an education analyst and writer at ASCD, a national education organization, and worked as a reporter and editor at Inside Washington Publishers. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Dickinson College and a master’s degree in English from the University of Virginia. Contact him at or @ewrobelen.

Henry L. Roediger III

Henry L. Roediger III is a distinguished professor at Washington University in St. Louis. Roediger’s research has centered on human learning and memory, and he has published on many different topics within this area. His research interests over the years have included the effectiveness of retrieval cues in reviving memories; the use and effectiveness of mnemonic devices; cases of spontaneous remembering (reminiscence and hypermnesia); inhibitory processes in retrieval; dissociations between implicit and explicit measures of memory; factors responsible for memory illusions and false memories; aging and the arousal of illusory memories; applications of principles derived from cognitive psychology to improving education; collective and historical memory; and metaphors and theories used to explain memory and mental processes. He was chair of the department of psychology until stepping down in 2004. That same year he was appointed dean of academic planning in arts and sciences, a position he held until 2010. Roediger earned his bachelor’s degree from Washington and Lee University and his doctorate from Yale University.

U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita

Todd Rokita is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the state of Indiana and serves on the House Education and Workforce Committee. He also served as Indiana’s Secretary of State from 2003 to 2011. He is chairman of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education. As a commercial licensed pilot, Rokita enjoys devoting his free time to Veterans Airlift Command and Angel Flight. These organizations rely on volunteers with private aircrafts to provide free non-emergency transportation to veterans and needy patients who cannot afford air transportation required for their medical treatment.

Carissa Romero

Carissa Romero is director of programs at Stanford University PERTS (the Project for Education Research That Scales) and an expert on academic mindsets. She co-founded PERTS during her second year of graduate school in order to help all students develop adaptive academic mindsets. Her work focuses on translating mindset research into actionable advice and tools for educators. Currently, Romero is leading the creation of the PERTS Mindset Kit, a website for educators and parents to learn about adaptive academic mindsets and the practices that promote them. Romero received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Emory University and a doctorate in developmental psychology from Stanford University, where she worked with professor Carol Dweck.

Lauren Roth

Lauren Roth has covered education for more than a decade, including her current position at the Orlando Sentinel, where she has written about public and private schools in Florida’s Orange and Seminole counties. She previously covered Virginia Beach schools for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Virginia, and has been on the education beat or covered other topics at newspapers in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and Nashua, New Hampshire. Favorite topics include charter school management and finances, teachers’ union politics and English language learners. Her work has won numerous state awards.

Claudia Rowe

Claudia Rowe is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist now covering education at The Seattle Times, where she has been a staff reporter since 2013. Her coverage of youth violence won the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism in 2009, and her coverage of social issues has been published in Mother Jones, The New York Times, The Huffington Post and The Stranger, among other newspapers and magazines. At The Seattle Times, Rowe is a member of a team writing about education through a “solutions” lens. Her series on student discipline, for example, investigates what works, what is merely a stopgap, and the costs of maintaining the status quo. Outside of the newsroom, Rowe’s personal essays have appeared in A Matter of Choice: 25 People Who Transformed Their Lives and in the Jack Straw Writers Anthology (2012). She is a frequent radio guest and public speaker on journalism, ethics and the delicate tension between subject and interviewer.

Marguerite Roza

Marguerite Roza is the director of the Edunomics Lab, research associate professor at Georgetown University and senior research affiliate at the Center on Reinventing Public Education. Roza’s research focuses on quantitative policy analysis, particularly in the area of education finance. Recent research traces the effects of fiscal policies at the federal, state, and district levels for their implications on resources at school and classroom levels. She’s led projects including the Finance and Productivity Initiative at CRPE and served as senior economic advisor to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Her work has been published by Education Sector, the Brookings Institution, Public Budgeting and Finance, Education Next, and the Peabody Journal of Education. Roza is author of the highly regarded education finance book Educational Economics: Where Do School Funds Go?

Dale Russakoff

Dale Russakoff spent 28 years as a reporter for The Washington Post covering local and national stories, including presidential campaigns, education, social policy, the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, and other topics. She is the author of The Prize: Who’s in Charge of America’s Schools, which is about Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million gift to the Newark, New Jersey schools. The book’s first serial was published in The New Yorker last May, and the full edition will be published in September by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Russakoff grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, attended public schools and graduated from Harvard.


Ray Salazar

Ray Salazar has been an English teacher in the Chicago Public Schools since 1995. He currently teaches at John Hancock College Preparatory High School. Salazar is a National Board Certified Teacher. His blog, The White Rhino, tied for second place in the Education Writers Association’s Community Members Best Blog category in 2012. National Public Radio and Chicago Public Radio have aired his essays and the Chicago Tribune and CNN’s Schools of Thought Blog have published his editorials. Salazar earned a bachelor’s degree in English/secondary education and a master’s degree in writing, with distinction, from DePaul University.

Melissa Sanchez

Melissa Sanchez has been the associate editor of Catalyst Chicago – where her beats include teachers, the teachers’ union, and early childhood education – for the past year. Previously, Sanchez was in Miami, Florida, where she spent close to five years writing about politics and crime for El Nuevo Herald and the Miami Herald. She also covered immigration and crime for the Yakima Herald-Republic in eastern Washington state and spent a year in Nicaragua as a reporting fellow for the Inter American Press Association.

Claudio Sanchez

Claudio Sanchez is a former elementary and middle school teacher and an education correspondent for NPR. He focuses on the “three p’s” of education reform: politics, policy and pedagogy. Sanchez’s reports air regularly on NPR’s newsmagazines Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition. Sanchez joined NPR in 1989, after serving for a year as executive producer for the El Paso, Texas-based Latin American News Service, a daily national radio news service covering Latin America and the U.S.-Mexico border. In 2008, Sanchez won first prize in EWA’s National Awards for Education Reporting. He was a 2007 Nieman Journalism fellow at Harvard University. In 1985, Sanchez received one of broadcasting’s top honors, the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton, for a series he co-produced, “Sanctuary: The New Underground Railroad”. Sanchez is a native of Nogales, Mexico, and a graduate of Northern Arizona University, with post-baccalaureate studies at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Stephen Sawchuk

Stephen Sawchuk is an associate editor at Education Week. He has more than nine years of experience covering the teaching profession, including evaluation, pay, and unionism. His work has also appeared in The Hechinger Report, the Harvard Education Letter, and on smithsonian. com. He holds degrees from Georgetown and Columbia universities.

Bror Saxberg

Bror Saxberg is chief learning officer for Kaplan Inc, where he is responsible for the research and development of learning strategies, technologies, and products at the postsecondary and K-12 education company. He also oversees future developments and adoptions of learning tools and maintains consistent academic standards for Kaplan’s products and courses. In his previous role as a vice president at Kaplan, he was responsible for designing both online and off-line learning environments and developing new student products and services. Saxberg holds bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and electrical engineering from the University of Washington. As a Rhodes Scholar, he received a master’s in mathematics from Oxford University; received his doctorate in electrical engineering and computer science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and earned his degree in medicine from Harvard Medical School.

Robert Schaeffer

Bob Schaeffer is the public education director of FairTest, the National Center for Fair & Open Testing. Previously, Schaeffer served as research director of the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Human Services and Elderly Affairs. He was also a staff member of the Education Research Center of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was both an undergraduate and graduate student. Schaeffer is the author of Standardized Tests and Teacher Competence, and a contributor to SAT Wars: The Case for Test-Optional College Admissions. He has also coauthored many FairTest publications, including, Standardized Tests and Our Children: A Guide to Testing Reform, Implementing Performance Assessments, The SAT Coaching Cover-Up, Test Scores Do Not Equal Merit, and Sex Bias in College Admissions Tests. Schaeffer relocated to Lee County in southwest Florida from FairTest’s Boston-base but continues to telecommute for the organization.

Ray Scheppach

Ray Scheppach is the professor of the practice of public policy for the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia, where he teaches courses on the role of the states in public policy and on government budgeting. He is a senior fellow at the public policy and political history-focused Miller Center and the former executive director of the National Governors Association, serving from 1983–2011. Before the NGA, Scheppach was first assistant director, and then deputy director, of the Congressional Budget Office, which gave him an understanding of a comparably broad range of issues at the federal level. He has authored or co-authored four books on economics. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Maine, and holds a doctorate in economics from the University of Connecticut.

Kate Schimel

Kate Schimel is a freelance writer covering education and the environment, formerly of Chalkbeat Colorado. Prior to joining Chalkbeat, she wrote for Portland’s Willamette Week and co-authored a series of children’s books on New York’s history, distributed by Rosen Publishing. In 2015 she won a first-prize award for investigative journalism in the Education Writers Association’s National Awards for Education Reporting.

Katrina Schwartz

Katrina Schwartz is a journalist at KQED, San Francisco’s NPR affiliate. She is a senior writer for KQED’s MindShift blog, where she explores the future of education both online and on the radio.

Robert Schwartz

Robert Schwartz is professor of practice emeritus at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Prior to joining the Harvard faculty in 1996, Schwartz served in a variety of roles in education: high school teacher and principal; education advisor to the mayor of Boston and the governor of Massachusetts; assistant director of the National Institute of Education; executive director of The Boston Compact; and education program director at The Pew Charitable Trusts. From 1997-2002 Schwartz served as founding president of Achieve Inc. More recently Schwartz has participated in two Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development studies, Learning for Jobs and Strong Performers and Successful Reformers and contributed chapters to four Harvard Education Press volumes. In 2011, he co-authored a report calling for more attention to career and technical education, Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st Century. He is currently co-leading a national network of 10 states that was formed in 2012 to act upon the analysis and recommendations outlined in the Pathways report.

T. Rees Shapiro

T. Rees Shapiro is a reporter at The Washington Post. He got his start in journalism as a reporter for the Virginia Tech college newspaper covering the April 16, 2007, shootings on campus. In 2015 he received a National Awards for Education Reporting prize from the Education Writers Association. He graduated from Tech with a bachelor’s degree in English and is a native of Middleburg, Virginia.

Linda Shaw

Linda Shaw is an assistant metro editor at The Seattle Times, where she oversees Education Lab, an innovative project created in partnership with the Solutions Journalism Network. Education Lab pairs in-depth reporting with efforts to foster deeper conversations among readers through social media, a daily blog and live events. Previously, Shaw worked as an education reporter. In 2008, she won the first-place award for the beat reporting in the Education Writers Association’s annual contest, and in 2011-12 was a Spencer Education fellow at Columbia University.

Beth Shuster

Beth Shuster is the education editor at the Los Angeles Times where she oversees coverage of K-12 and higher education. Prior to that, Shuster was a reporter, covering a range of beats including education, city hall, and police. She was the lead reporter on the coverage of the 1997 North Hollywood police shoot-out, which won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage. She was also part of the team that won a Pulitzer for the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Before joining the Times, Shuster worked at the Daily News of Los Angeles, mostly as an education reporter. Before that, she was a general assignment reporter for the Riverside Press-Enterprise and a reporter in Washington, D.C. for States News Service. Shuster graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a bachelor’s degree in English literature.

Jeffrey S. Solochek

Jeffrey S. Solochek covers state and local K-12 education issues for the Tampa Bay Times, where he has worked since 2000. His blog, The Gradebook, has become a go-to resource for educators, decision makers and journalists who want to know what’s happening in Florida education. Before joining the Times, Jeff covered education at the Sarasota (Florida) Herald-Tribune, the Beaumont (Texas) Enterprise, and the Pekin (Illinois) Daily Times, winning several state and national awards. He has degrees from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and Rice University.

Kat Stein

Kat Stein joined the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education as executive director of communications in 2012. There, she founded the first public relations department for the school, with the goal of amplifying the impact of researchers’ work outside the academic “bubble.” A versatile and articulate strategist with a reputation for creativity and quality, Stein began her career in television, where she spent 19 years in public relations and corporate communications. At NBC Universal, she moved up the ranks to senior vice president, initially managing a major executive transition under new owner Barry Diller for both USA Network and Sci Fi Channel, and eventually establishing the first stand-alone corporate communications department for what is now Sy Fy. More recently, she was director of corporate communications and public relations for Philadelphia’s The Franklin Institute science museum. Stein is a graduate of Barnard College and holds a master’s in media studies from the New School for Social Research.

Sara Stoelinga

Sara Ray Stoelinga is the Sara Liston Spurlark Director of the Urban Education Institute, as well as a clinical professor on the Committee on Education. She also chairs the board of directors of UChicago Impact. Stoelinga leads all aspects of the Urban Education Institute and supervises UEI’s operations. She is a faculty member of the Foundations Year of the University of Chicago Urban Teacher Education Program and also teaches courses in the college and in the Graham School of Continuing Studies. Stoelinga has written extensively on teacher and principal leadership as well as teacher effectiveness. In 2008, she wrote two books on effective teacher leadership. Her areas of expertise include leadership, teacher evaluation, school reform policy and history, and organizational change in schools. Stoelinga received her bachelor’s and doctorate in sociology from the University of Chicago.

Kyle Stokes

Kyle Stokes is the youth and education reporter for KPLU Public Radio in Seattle. Stokes joined KPLU in March 2014 after nearly three years in Indiana. There, he helped launch an education reporting collaboration between NPR and member station WFIU in Bloomington. His work for that project, called StateImpact Indiana, earned him two National Edward R. Murrow Awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association, along with recognitions from the Online News Association and Public Radio News Directors Incorporated. A Minnesota native, Stokes graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia, Missouri, where he worked as a producer for NPR member station KBIA and a reporter for NBC affiliate KOMU.

Ki Sung

Ki Sung is the senior editor of MindShift. She has spent most of her professional life serving public radio’s mission in broadcast and digital media. She was a digital news trainer for five years, helping NPR member station reporters develop the skills necessary to reach audiences on digital platforms. She knows first-hand the importance of teachers and the people they serve. Sung is eager to understand ideas and practices that challenge, and sometimes reinforce, conventional wisdom.

Oscar Sweeten-Lopez

Oscar Sweeten-Lopez is the Dell Scholars Program leader, where he oversees the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation’s comprehensive college persistence services to improve the four-year college graduation rates of high-risk, low-income students. Prior to joining the foundation in 2005, Sweeten-Lopez was director of student retention and workforce development for the Oregon Council for Hispanic Advancement. Other past experience includes work with the Oregon Human Development Corporation and with AmeriCorps. He has a bachelor’s in political science and Spanish from the University of Oregon and is a leadership fellow at the Institute of Nonprofit Management at Portland State University.

Julie Sweetland

Julie Sweetland is the director of learning at the FrameWorks Institute and leads the translation of research findings into powerful learning experiences for nonprofit leaders. This involves distilling and synthesizing key insights from FrameWorks research and designing workshops, study circles, working groups, toolkits, online courses and other professional learning opportunities so that communicators can apply the research findings effectively. Prior to joining FrameWorks, Sweetland was actively involved in improving teaching and learning for over a decade as a classroom teacher, educational researcher, curriculum developer, teacher educator and education reform advocate. She served as the director of teaching and learning at the Center for Inspired Teaching and launched a graduate teacher preparation program for the University of the District of Columbia. She is a graduate of Georgetown University and completed her master’s degree and docto

Katherine Sydor

Katherine Sydor is a senior policy advisor in the Office of the Under Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education. Sydor formerly worked at the U.S. Department of the Treasury as a policy advisor in the Office of Consumer Policy. She became a Presidential Management Fellow after completing her master’s degree in public affairs at the La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she focused on tax and social policy. Prior to graduate school, Sydor worked in Congress for four years in the office of U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and the office of Rep. David Obey (D-WI). Sydor is from Wisconsin and earned her bachelor’s degree in history and women’s studies at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, where she also worked as an AmeriCorps volunteer in a summer youth literacy program immediately after college.


Mary Tamer

Mary Tamer is senior communications project manager for the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Previously, she operated a consulting firm that included such clients as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT Sloan School of Management, the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Harvard School of Public Health, the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Tufts University, Brooks School, the Boston Latin School Association, Noble & Greenough, and the Visiting Nurses Association of America. Tamer was appointed by Mayor Thomas M. Menino in January 2010 to serve a four-year term on the Boston School Committee.

Nicole Tami

Nicole Tami is director for international student integration at International Programs and Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Working with academic and administrative units across campus, she manages and facilitates international student integration and engagement at Illinois. This involves coordinating targeted outreach for international students, organizing cross-cultural training for faculty and staff who serve UIUC’s international student population, expanding existing resources, and developing new tools and platforms for meeting the needs of this growing international community. She earned her doctorate in cultural anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Christine Tebben

Christine Tebben is a consultant specializing in education policy and philanthropy with an emphasis on strengthening philanthropic effectiveness. She previously served as executive director of Grantmakers for Education, a national network of 290 foundations, corporations and donors working to improve student achievement and opportunity. Under her leadership, the organization achieved significant growth and deepened its role as a catalyst for strengthening the philanthropic field’s impact on education. Tebben began her career at the Boston Consulting Group and has also served at various education research, policy and government organizations. Tebben earned a master’s degree in public policy from the University of California, Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Stanford University.

Thomas Toch

Thomas Toch is a senior partner at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and director of the foundation’s Washington office. Previously, Toch co-founded and co-directed Education Sector, an independent think tank in Washington, D.C. Toch has taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and authored two books on American education: In the Name of Excellence, about the origins of today’s reform movement, and High Schools on a Human Scale, about high school redesign. Toch has contributed to The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Monthly.

Greg Toppo

Greg Toppo is the national K-12 education reporter for USA Today. A graduate of St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, he taught in both public and private schools for eight years before moving into journalism. His first job was with the Santa Fe New Mexican, a 50,000-circulation daily. He worked for four years as a wire service reporter with the Associated Press, first in Baltimore then in Washington, D.C., where he became the AP’s national K-12 education writer.

Marc Tucker

Marc S. Tucker is the president and chief executive officer of the National Center on Education and the Economy. He is an internationally recognized expert on academic and occupational standards and assessment, and has been among the leaders in researching the policies and practices of countries seen as having the best education systems in the world. Tucker served in the 1970s as the associate director of the National Institute of Education. He created the Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy at the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and authored its report, A Nation Prepared: Teachers for the 21st Century. He was appointed by President Clinton to the National Skill Standards Board. Tucker is a visiting distinguished fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Tucker is the author, co-author or editor of numerous articles, reports and books, including Surpassing Shanghai: An Agenda for American Education Built on the World’s Leading Systems.

Allen Turner

Allen Turner is owner of Council Of Fools, which provides game-like learning workshops and activities for teachers and learning institutions. He is also an instructor at DePaul University’s center for digital media, where he teaches game design. In the nonprofit world he has coordinated youth and adult programs focusing on literacy, storytelling, role-playing activities, and team dynamics as a mechanism for developing inference and problem-solving skills. He has provided regular cultural performances and presentations for the Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Public Library in addition to performances for the Illinois Teachers Conference, the Newberry Library, the Chicago Historical Society, and myriad other organizations and institutions. At Wideload Games/Disney Interactive Studios, he acted as a lead designer and game director. Turner worked on Stubbs the Zombie: Rebel Without a Pulse, Hail to the Chimp, Guilty Party, Avengers Initiative, and Marvel XP. He recently published Ehdrigohr: The Roleplaying Game, which is a dark fantasy horror game that draws inspiration from the folklore of indigenous peoples around the world and explores struggles against depression.

Stephan Turnipseed

Stephan Turnipseed is president emeritus of LEGO Education, North America and executive director of strategic partnerships for LEGO Education. He also serves as the chairman for The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21), a national organization that advocates for 21st century readiness for every student. As part of the global LEGO Education team, he helps to establish the strategic direction for the company, leads advocacy and outreach efforts and is responsible for strategic relationships. At P21, he leads the council and works with education nonprofits, foundations, and businesses to ensure 21st century education is a reality for all K-12 students within the nation. These skills such as creativity, collaboration, communications and problem solving, are essential for our children to become successful citizens and workers in the 21st century. Turnipseed is a graduate of Auburn University with a degree in electrical engineering.


Natasha Ushomirsky

Natasha Ushomirsky is a senior data and policy analyst, with the Education Trust. Ushomirsky focuses on using data to better understand the gaps in opportunity and achievement in our education system, as well as what states, districts, and schools can do to eliminate these inequities. She joined The Education Trust after completing her master’s in education policy and management at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Before graduate school, she spent three years as a research assistant and associate analyst at Abt Associates, a research and consulting firm. At Abt, Ushomirsky worked on a variety of research and analysis projects, including economic analyses of environmental regulations and market studies. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and Spanish language and literature from Brandeis University.


Francisco Vara-Orta

Francisco Vara-Orta has been a reporter at the San Antonio Express-News since February 2011. He has also worked as a staff writer and reporter for the Austin Business Journal, Los Angeles Business Journal, Los Angeles Times, Austin American-Statesman, Laredo Morning Times and La Prensa, a bilingual newspaper in San Antonio. He has won several awards for his work at various papers covering educational topics. Vara-Orta is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Education Writers Association, for which he serves on the Journalist Advisory Board, National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association, and is president of the San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalists. He describes himself as a proud South Texan, born and raised in the Alamo City, circa 1984. He holds a degree in English/communication arts and Latin American studies from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, where he refounded its student paper, leading the staff to 120 awards during his tenure.

Bolgen Vargas

Bolgen Vargas has served as superintendent of the Rochester City School District since July 2012, following a 13-month period as interim superintendent. His experience in education leadership includes eight years as a commissioner on the Rochester Board of Education, including four as president. Vargas also spent two decades as a school counselor in the Greece Central School District in New York. Born in the Dominican Republic, Vargas immigrated to the United States as a high school student who spoke only Spanish. Vargas has served the Rochester community for decades in numerous professional and volunteer positions. In addition to his role as superintendent, he is involved in various community and national organizations. Trained as a school counselor, he received his doctorate in education leadership and organization from the University of Pennsylvania.

James Vaznis

James Vaznis has been writing about K-12 education for The Boston Globe since 2008 and previously covered crime, higher education, suburban issues and New Hampshire. Prior to joining the Globe in 2002, he worked as a reporter at the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire and The Daily News of Newburyport in Massachusetts.

Deborah Veney

Deborah Veney is vice president for government affairs and communications at The Education Trust, where she acts as strategic leader of the organization’s legislative, communications, and field operations work. Before joining Ed Trust, Veney managed media relations for domestic-facing investments at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She has also served as the vice president of communications for two national nonprofit organizations in the education sector: the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and Communities In Schools. In both roles, she was responsible for developing and executing strategic communications plans and for providing management and oversight for the media relations, advertising, publications, executive communications, and marketing functions of the organization. Prior to entering the nonprofit arena, Veney worked with Fortune 500 corporations, including United Healthcare, DuPont and CIGNA Corp. Veney currently serves on the board of directors for the D.C. Jazz Festival. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Howard University and a master’s degree in mass communications from Temple University.

Becky Vevea

Becky Vevea is a producer for WBEZ focusing primarily on education. Prior to joining WBEZ in 2012, Vevea was an education reporter for the Chicago News Cooperative, where she mostly covered Chicago Public Schools. Before that, she worked at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as an education and general assignment reporter. Vevea’s work has appeared in The New York Times and USA Today. She’s contributed radio reports to Marketplace, NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Vevea received the 2013 Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize from WBUR and Boston University for her coverage of Chicago’s historic school closings. She was a part of the reporting team that won a first place 2012 Public Radio News Directors Inc. Award in breaking news for coverage of the Chicago teachers’ strike. Vevea also received an award from the Education Writers Association in 2010 for contributing work to an eight-week series on teacher quality in Wisconsin for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Debra Viadero

Debra Viadero covered education research for more than 10 years at Education Week. Now an assistant managing editor at Education Week, she supervises reporters covering a variety of beats, including education research. The American Psychological Association and Education Writers Association have recognized her education writing.


Randi Weingarten

Randi Weingarten is president of the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO. She was elected in July 2008, following 11 years as an AFT vice president. Weingarten also served for 12 years as president of the United Federation of Teachers, representing educators in the New York City school system. From 1986 to 1998, Weingarten served as counsel to UFT President Sandra Feldman. She also taught history from 1991 to 1998 and helped her students win several state and national debate awards. Weingarten holds degrees from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the Cardozo School of Law.

David Welker

David Welker is a senior campaigns specialist in the National Education Association’s campaigns and elections department. He also is on the NEA charter schools policy team, working on federal policies such as the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization, and advising NEA state affiliates on charter school policies and operations. He joined the labor movement as a researcher and campaigner at the Food & Allied Services Trades Department, AFL-CIO in 1994. He has worked in advocacy and organizing campaigns in various capacities at United Food and Commercial Workers, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, American Federation of Teachers, Amalgamated Transit Union and now the NEA. He is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst with a degree in Chinese language and linguistics.

Kevin G. Welner

Kevin G. Welner is a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education specializing in educational policy and law. He is also the director of the National Education Policy Center, housed at CU Boulder. His present research examines the use and misuse of research in policymaking and explores the intersection between education rights litigation and educational opportunity scholarship. He also examines issues of tracking and de-tracking. His past research studied small-school reform and tuition tax-credit vouchers, among other topics. Welner has received a postdoctoral fellowship from the National Academy of Education and the Spencer Foundation, as well as the Early Career Award in 2006 from the American Educational Research Association. In 2013, his book Closing the Opportunity Gap: What America Must Do to Give Every Child an Even Chance was published. He is also co-editor of Exploring the School Choice Universe: Evidence and Recommendations. Welner has a law degree and a doctorate from UCLA.

Liz Willen

Liz Willen, a longtime education reporter, is proud to lead an award-winning staff at The Hechinger Report. After working at an array of New England newspapers, Willen spent nearly a decade at Newsday, where she won numerous prizes for covering New York City public schools. She won several more awards, including a Polk, while covering education for Bloomberg News. She’s an active New York City public school parent, bike commuter and a board member for the Spencer Education Fellowships at Columbia University. Willen was recently honored with an “Above and Beyond” award by the media company City & State for showing exemplary leadership.

Mará Rose Williams

Mará Rose Williams has been a news reporter more than 30 years, working at Newsday in New York state and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For the past 17 years, she has been at The Kansas City Star, where she writes primarily about national issues and trends in higher education as well as in elementary and secondary education. In 2008, she was awarded the Alfred Friendly Press Fellowship to Kenya, where she mentored and trained young journalists for six months. In 2012, she won an award from the National Association of Black Journalists for a series of stories about African Americans in the Civil War. Williams also writes a monthly metro column on higher education issues and a parenting column that appears monthly in The Star’s features section. She is the mother of two young men.

Brad Wolverton

Brad Wolverton, a senior writer at The Chronicle of Higher Education, has covered college athletics since 2005, focusing on the confluence of money and sports on campus. One of his most memorable stories was a profile of a semi-literate football player at the University of Memphis, which won a 2012 Online Journalism Award. His examination of the Christian influences in Clemson University’s football program was recognized as a “notable” selection in the 2014 volume of The Best American Sports Writing. In 2007, he and a colleague wrote a five-part series on athletics booster clubs, which won the Dick Schaap Excellence in Sports Journalism award from Sport in Society. Before joining The Chronicle, Wolverton wrote about sports business for BusinessWeek. He has published articles in Men’s Journal, The Washington Post, USA Today, and on He’s won several prizes from Education Writers Association’s National Awards for Education Reporting. Wolverton is a graduate of Indiana University at Bloomington, where he majored in journalism.


Holly Yettick

Holly Yettick is director of the Education Week Research Center at Editorial Projects in Education, the nonprofit publisher of Education Week. In 2013, she earned her doctorate in educational foundations, policy and practice from the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. Her dissertation study examined how journalists decide which educational research and expertise to cover. Prior to attending graduate school, Yettick spent 11 years covering education and other topics for newspapers in Florida, Alabama, and Colorado, where she now resides.

Jada Yolich

Jada Yolich is a freshman at Lane Tech High School in Chicago and editor of Root Knowledge. Yolich is also an advisory board member at the Chicago Grassroots Curriculum Taskforce.

Connie Yowell

Connie Yowell is director of education at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. She oversees a $150 million program on digital learning at the foundation, one of the first philanthropic efforts in the country to systematically explore the impact of digital media on young people and implications for the future of learning. Previously, Yowell was an associate professor at the University of Illinois, publishing scholarly work on the complex interplay among young people’s emerging identity, their social context and achievement. Yowell briefly served as policy analyst in the U.S. Department of Education during the Clinton administration and has worked closely with teachers and administrators to develop and implement literacy curricula for Latino youth, and as evaluator and program coordinator for youth development programs in New York City. Yowell received the Distinguished Fellows Award from the William T. Grant Foundation, under which she worked with the National Writing Project to develop approaches that integrate web 2.0 technologies into the social practices of teachers. Yowell earned her bachelor’s degree from Yale and her doctorate from Stanford University.


Todd Ziebarth

Todd Ziebarth is the senior vice president for state advocacy and support for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. In this role, he leads the organization’s work to improve state charter school laws. Ziebarth has helped numerous states enact laws to better support high-quality public charter schools. He also has authored many national- and state-level research and policy publications related to key charter school issues. Previously, he worked as a policy analyst both at the Education Commission of the States from 1997 to 2003 and at Augenblick, Palaich, and Associates from 2003 to 2005. He has a bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University, a master’s of public administration from the University of Colorado Denver, and a master’s of urban and regional planning from the University of Colorado Denver.

Robert J. Zimmer

Robert J. Zimmer became the 13th president of the University of Chicago in 2006. Prior to his appointment as president, Zimmer was a University of Chicago faculty member and administrator for more than two decades specializing in the mathematical fields of geometry. As a University of Chicago administrator, Zimmer served as chairman of the mathematics department, deputy provost, and vice president for research and for Argonne National Laboratory. He also served as provost at Brown University. He is a member of the National Science Board and the governing body of the National Science Foundation, and he also served on the President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science from 2008 to 2010. He is the author of two books. Zimmer earned his bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University and a doctorate in mathematics from Harvard University.