Our Team - Digital Promise

Our Team

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Kali Alford

Kali Alford

Associate Director of Professional Learning, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

“I go into every new experience and opportunity with a dedicated resolve to observe and absorb as much as I can from whatever I can. I don’t think there’s such a thing as useless knowledge and I think everyone and everything has knowledge to impart.”

Bio
Kali Alford joins the Digital Promise team after serving as a Digital Learning Coordinator for Cobb County Schools in Marietta, Georgia. Prior to that, he worked with Kennesaw State University’s iTeach Team, where he served as a Project Lead supervising Instructional Technology Coaches supporting several school districts. Kali also brings with him the experience of a classroom teacher, having taught both middle and high school Humanities courses. Kali received his Bachelor’s of Arts in History from Columbus State University as well as his Master’s and Specialist of Education in Instructional Technology from Kennesaw State University. He can be reached at kalford@digitalpromise.org.

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Anthony Baker

Anthony Baker

Project Director, Next Generation Science

“I’ve spent a lot of my life in academic pursuits, but I realize now that much of my growth and learning recently has been in the social-emotional realm. I learn about kindness, patience and teamwork everyday from my own children, and when I was in the classroom my students taught about me about empathy and the importance of building meaningful relationships.”

Bio
Anthony joins Digital Promise from the Center for Education Initiatives at Illinois State University and the Illinois State Board of Education. As the Science Content Specialist for the State of Illinois, he partnered with school districts to facilitate science standards implementation, provided professional learning, and developed pilot programs around innovation in science instruction, among other duties. Anthony has contributed to multiple projects involving the Next Generation Science Standards, including serving as a curriculum editor to develop a tool for evaluating the quality of NGSS-aligned science programs. Prior to his work at the State level he taught science in high school and had a previous career as an archaeologist. Anthony currently resides in Illinois and holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Southern Illinois University. He can be reached at abaker@digitalpromise.org

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Kacey Baker

Kacey Baker

Senior Director of People

“To learn something new, I go to the people! Learning through people and story helps to give a concept depth, it makes it real, and I can better understand the technical pieces of a concept when I have story and context to partner with it.”

Bio
Kacey comes to Digital Promise with a Master of Arts in Human Resource Management from Catholic University of America. She has held various roles in human resources, most recently as Senior Manager of Human Resources at NeighborWorks America, a community development organization where she led their race, equity, diversity, and inclusion initiative. As a leader in HR, Kacey is committed to cultivating equitable work cultures, building community, and creating space for all to thrive. Prior to starting her career in HR, she was a middle school English teacher. She can be reached at kbaker@digitalpromise.org

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Mahsa Bakhshaei

Mahsa Bakhshaei

Senior Research Scientist

“Learning for me is like being lost in a jungle and trying to use all the knowledge that I can gather and all the innovation that I can make to find a way out.”

Bio
Mahsa has more than 10 years of research, evaluation and teaching experience in the field of education, working with academia, governments, and nonprofit organizations in the U.S. and Canada. Her research focuses on coaching and socio-educational development of immigrant-origin children and English Learners, and she has authored several journal articles, books, and book chapters on these topics. Mahsa’s research on teacher coaching recently received a best-paper award from the Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education (SITE) International Conference.

Mahsa is also skilled in the evaluation of the effectiveness of educational and instructional programs and products. With extensive knowledge of both quantitative and qualitative methods, as well as formative and summative evaluation, Mahsa brings in-depth experience in partnering with tech conglomerates like Google to evaluate their educational innovations and provide rapid-cycle, actionable reports.

Before joining Digital Promise, Mahsa worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the UCLA Paulo Freire Institute and Institute for Immigration, Globalization & Education. Her fellowship was prestigiously awarded by the Quebec Research Funds – Society & Culture (FRQSC) for outstanding quality and significant scientific potential. Mahsa holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Education and Educational Foundations from the University of Montreal with “Excellence” honor.
You can reach Mahsa at: mahsa@digitalpromise.org.

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Jessica Bates

Jessica Bates

Program and Events Associate, League of Innovative Schools

“In the past year, I have learned how to maximize my organization skills and adult budgeting! Money management and event planning/travel has to be one of the most difficult things I’ve had to learn how to do. I have since started teaching my friends and family the Art of Ballin’ on a Budget!”

Bio
Jessica Bates is a Program and Events Associate at Digital Promise who works with the League of Innovative Schools to coordinate and manage the team’s yearly events. Notably, Jessica works with host districts to plan the League’s biannual meetings as well as Digital Promise’s annual EdClusters convenings.

Before joining Digital Promise, Jessica worked for scientific nonprofits in public engagement, international activities, and public relations. Jessica knows what it takes to execute a multi-day meeting or event in a variety of locations and venues; she firmly believes the perfect program includes a space where guests can feel motivated to interact and contribute to the purpose of the convening. Jessica holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Sociology and a Bachelor of Arts in Administration of Justice from the illustrious Howard University. (HU! You Know!)

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Melissa Bellin

Melissa Bellin

Sr. Policy Research Associate

“As a first-year teacher, one of my first responsibilities was to plan the social studies and science curriculum for my first-grade team. I spent many late nights scouring websites for ideas and was incredibly grateful when I found resources that were both high-quality and free—a hard combination to find! This not only made me appreciate the power of the internet as a learning tool, but also the need for more open-source curricular resources for educators.”

Before joining Digital Promise, Melissa worked at the Education Trust as a graduate policy and advocacy fellow on the Partnerships and Engagement team. Her work focused on increasing educational equity and strengthening advocacy efforts on behalf of students from low-income families and students of color. Prior to Ed Trust, Melissa interned with Teach Plus Texas, where she supported a cohort of teacher fellows in their advocacy before the Texas state legislature on issues including school finance reform, trauma-informed instruction, and innovative school models. Melissa has also worked in nonprofit operations and began her career as an elementary educator with KIPP DC. Melissa earned an M.A. in Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Austin and a B.A. in sociology from Harvard University. You can reach Melissa at: mbellin@digitalpromise.org

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Kristal Brister

Kristal Brister

Program Manager, Learning Experience and Design

Many years ago someone offered me the advice to observe what others do well, replicate it, and make it my own. So far it works, but when it does not, I learn from it and reflect on ways to improve.”

Bio
Kristal grew a passion for education while serving as an AmeriCorps member with an early literacy nonprofit. The impact she was able to make in children’s lives motivated her to pursue a career in youth development and education. Kristal obtained both her undergraduate degree in Child and Adolescent Development, and graduate degree in Equity and Social Justice in Education, from San Francisco State University. She has been serving Bay Area students and families for over 10 years in agencies such as Jumpstart, Plan of Action for Challenging Times, Catholic Charities, and the Tenderloin After School Program. Recently, Kristal worked for the Hayward Unified School District implementing federal and local grants and programs. Kristal looks forward to the opportunity to support equitable access to technology and digital learning and hopes to stretch her abilities in new ways to continue learning and serving others. Through it all, Kristal strives to lead with love, as it keeps her grounded in her purpose of serving others. She can be reached at kbrister@digitalpromise.org

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Comaneci Brooken

Comaneci Brooken

Associate Director of Professional Learning, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

“I learn best by watching, listening and then doing. I enjoy taking things apart, seeing how those things are connected to larger concepts.”

Bio

Comaneci Brooken brings 15 years of experience in digital learning, business development, client management, sales support, and professional development training. Prior to Digital Promise, she worked at Connections Academy, a large education management organization. There, she successfully launched three statewide virtual charter schools in South Carolina, Louisiana, and Georgia, expanding the organization’s portfolio of schools throughout the southeast region. Comaneci has in-depth knowledge of personalized and competency-based learning approaches to teaching and learning, and she has worked with various districts and state agencies across the country to outfit their blended and online learning programs. She was previously a dedicated educator for seven years, teaching various grade levels in grades K-8. A Baton Rouge, Louisiana, native, Comaneci holds a Master of Science in instructional technology from the University of Houston-Clear Lake and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Southern University and A&M College. She serves on many nonprofit technology advisory boards and has a passion for improving educational options for all children. You can reach her at cbrooken@digitalpromise.org.

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Rachael Brown

Rachael Brown

Director of Communications

“I draw energy from ideas and from people, so often learn by engaging with others to hear their stories, experiences, and beliefs.”

Rachael Brown is the Director of Communications at Digital Promise. Prior to joining Digital Promise, Rachael held a variety of positions with District of Columbia Public Schools, most recently leading strategy management and strategic communications. She previously provided policy analysis and idea generation at Bellwether Education Partners, a nonprofit organization working to improve outcomes for students, and was an editor at The Atlantic magazine. Rachael began her career as a public high school teacher, an experience that continues to inform her desire to improve educational equity for all students. She has been a contributing writer and editor for The Atlantic, National Public Radio, The New York Times, The Guardian, and other outlets. Rachael holds an M.Ed in Educational Leadership from the Broad Center for Management of School Systems, an MA from American University, and a BFA from Emerson College. She can be reached at rbrown@digitalpromise.org.

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Derrick Browning

Derrick Browning

Comptroller

“I enjoy observing things. From an early age, I was always fascinated in how things work and interact. I found that I have a knack for explaining things from observation, which is how I best learn.”

Bio
Derrick is an experienced accounting, finance, and higher education professional who enjoys helping organizations make decisions using financial information. Prior to joining Digital Promise, Derrick spent the last decade in a variety of financial roles in higher education nonprofits after beginning his career as an accountant and analyst in large healthcare organizations. Additionally, Derrick has taught accounting and business courses at the community college and university level for the past 12 years. Derrick holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance, a master’s degree in business administration, and a doctorate in community college policy and management. You can reach Derrick at
dbrowning@digitalpromise.org.

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Lauren Bryant

Lauren Bryant

Director, National Charter Collaborative (NCC)

“I am really interested in learning more about where my family comes from, both maternally and paternally. I have gone back four generations paternally and want to reach back even further and begin uncovering more history on my mother’s side. In order to truly grow into who you are, you’ve got to know where you come from.”

Bio
Lauren Bryant is an operations professional with in-depth project and program management experience specializing in working with charter schools and charter school support organizations. Across the last several years, Lauren has worked with several charter schools in Washington, D.C., exposing her to the ins and outs of opening and operating a charter school in a highly competitive public school market. With her infectious energy and orientation towards details and processes, Lauren prides herself on building catalytic connections with people, designing detailed project plans, and facilitating impactful learning experiences.

Most recently, Lauren served as the Director of Operations and Finance at Sustainable Futures Public Charter School, a small first year competency- and project-based high school for D.C.’s at-promise youth. Prior to that, Lauren was an operations leader at Ingenuity Prep Public Charter School, where she refined day-to-day operations and lead the internal DEI work. Lauren began her career at
CityBridge Foundation (now CityBridge Education), where she managed funder engagement experiences and designed and managed various elements of the Education Innovation Portfolio. She can be reached at lbryant@digitalpromise.org.

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Quinn Burke

Quinn Burke

Senior Research Scientist, Learning Sciences Research

“I learn – or try to – by spreading things out, mentally and physically, and then seeing how they connect. Then I try to arrange and rearrange the things and make an outline of how they touch and inform each other.”

Bio
Quinn Burke is a Senior Research Scientist in the Learning Sciences at Digital Promise. Quinn’s research examines the effectiveness of different coding activities by which to introduce computer science and computational thinking (CT) to students. Quinn’s research has been supported by a number of state and federal grants. He has written a number of articles and co-authored two books through MIT Press around integrating computing and CT into the school day. Prior to joining Digital Promise, Quinn taught at the college and high school levels. He hails from Chicago originally and has a beautiful wife, daughter, and the worst behaved dog in the Bay Area. He can be reached at qburke@digitalpromise.org.

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Sarah Cacicio

Sarah Cacicio

Senior Project Director, Adult Learning

“The first time I took an online course, I thought the asynchronous nature of communications would make it difficult to connect with my instructor or classmates, but quickly realized that online tools often facilitated more meaningful and inclusive discussions. Individually, we had more time to reflect on ideas and craft more thoughtful responses, which in turn, promoted more opportunities for collective learning.”

Bio
Sarah is dedicated to creating equitable structures, systems, and supports that allow adult learners to thrive. Before joining Digital Promise, Sarah worked to expand access to career and technical education, college preparation, and wraparound services for under-credited young adults in District 79, New York City’s Alternative Schools and Programs, including immigrant-origin students. Sarah’s previous research examined equity in instructional and assessment practices for multilingual learners at the secondary level. From 2012-2017, she also taught graduate courses in foundations of bilingual education for K-12 teachers at Hunter College, City University of New York. Sarah earned her M.A. in Bilingual & Bicultural Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and a B.A. in Hispanic Studies and Literature from the University of Massachusetts Boston as a first-generation college student.

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Trisha Callella

Trisha Callella

Product Partnerships Director, Learner Variability Project

“Curiosity drives me to learn new things everywhere I go. I seek out opportunities and strive to learn from each one by making connections, synthesizing ideas, and sharing with others.”

Bio
Trisha is a passionate learner driven to innovation in education and technology on a mission to make a positive difference in the world. She is an Apple Distinguished Educator, published author, and international conference speaker. Prior to working at Digital Promise she was a teacher, instructional coach, university instructor, and Director of Innovation and Instruction. Additionally, she was Vice President of Code to the Future and co-founder of the Cotsen Foundation’s Principals Tech Network.

She has her doctorate in Educational Psychology-Learning Sciences from University of Southern California, where she focused on the integration of STEM, design thinking, and challenge based learning. She is deeply committed to providing learning opportunities that help people of all ages discover and build on their strengths, passions, and interests to maximize their potential and thrive. She can be reached at tcallella@digitalpromise.org.

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Karen Cator

Karen Cator

Karen Cator

President and Chief Executive Officer

“I am a social learner (just ask my 8th grade teachers!); I prefer to learn with and from people. I believe many minds create better ideas and that social interactions incent action. I am increasingly interested in how online interactions can be designed to improve learning opportunity, regardless of location.”

Bio
Karen Cator is President and CEO of Digital Promise and a leading voice for transforming education through technology, innovation and research. From 2009-2013, Karen was Director of the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education, where she led the development of the 2010 National Education Technology Plan. Prior to joining the department, Cator directed Apple’s leadership and advocacy efforts in education. She began her education career in Alaska as a teacher, ultimately leading technology planning and implementation and she served as Special Assistant for Telecommunications for the Governor of Alaska. Cator holds a master’s in school administration from the University of Oregon and recently received the 2014 College of Education Distinguished Alumni award. The American Association of Publishers awarded Cator with the 2014 Visionary Award. She received her bachelor’s in early childhood education from Springfield College and received the alumni award in 2017. She is a member of the Aspen Pahara Fellows and past chair for the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. She currently serves on the boards for ACT and Enlearn. You can reach Karen at: karen@digitalpromise.org.

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Carly Chillmon

Carly Chillmon

Research Communications Manager

“My kids teach me humility and patience every day. They remind me that the world is an exciting, curious place. All of their questioning makes me remember that there are multiple ways to understand and learn.”

Bio
Carly Chillmon is a Research Communications Manager at Digital Promise. She brings to her role a love of words, data, and learning. Previously, Carly was the Communications Manager for Harder+Company Community Research, a consulting firm conducting evaluations for public and social sector organizations. She worked closely with research staff to communicate their core values and share work with clients, communities, and the social sector more broadly. Carly also has publishing experience as a production editor at Insight Editions as well as serving as the managing editor of Contexts, a magazine designed to bring sociological research to mainstream audiences. Prior to that, she was an adjunct professor at Seattle University, where she taught undergraduate sociology courses. She offers formal training in both communications and sociology, enabling her to make complex research accessible to diverse audiences. She received her BA in Communications and Sociology from Loyola University Chicago and her MA in Sociology from University of California, Santa Barbara. You can reach Carly at: cchillmon@digitalpromise.org.

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Corinne Colgan

Corinne Colgan

Video Project Director, Research

“When you ask people about memorable learning experiences, you hear many stories about informal environments. I know times spent in museums, libraries, and parks are the ones that stand out for me.”

Bio
Corinne documented the work of artists and filmmakers as a video producer at BRIC TV, a community television station in Brooklyn. She’s also edited content for MoMA and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Corinne left her heart in New York City when she moved to the Bay Area to pursue her master’s in Learning, Design and Technology at Stanford. Her area of focus is reimagining the field trip experience through storytelling. She holds a B.S. in Television-Radio from Ithaca College. Corinne can be reached at: corinne@digitalpromise.org

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Jennifer Cooley

Jennifer Cooley

Project Manager, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

“It’s great that we live in the world we do, where you can research virtually any topic and find all of the information, reviews, personal accounts, videos, diagrams, etc., you could possibly need and then some. We live in an age where ignorance can no longer be an excuse. A desire to learn paired with the tools to learn it breeds unlimited possibilities.”

Bio
Jennifer comes to Digital Promise with over 10 years of experience working in nonprofits. Previously, she organized scientific and educational programs and conferences in the U.S. and abroad for the International Council of Ophthalmology. She coordinated subscriptions and group sales for the San Francisco Ballet while serving as their assistant treasurer. She also has organized youth events for schools and community groups. Jennifer studied at CSU, Dominguez Hills where she attained her Master’s degree in Humanities. As a “lifelong learner,” she continues to take courses and enjoys learning new concepts and approaches in this ever-changing world. You can reach Jennifer at jcooley@digitalpromise.org.

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Sara Martinez Crawford

Sara Martinez Crawford

Associate Director of Professional Learning, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

“I have always been a social learner. I watch how other people delve into problems and love to see how they problem solve. Most recently, I have learned so much from my own children. Their curiosity and the way they address concerns offers me a new perspective and helps me appreciate things in a new way.”

Bio
Sara comes to Digital Promise from The Arizona K12 Center where she was the Technology Project Director, overseeing technology professional learning opportunities, technology conferences, and other leadership and learning events for educators across Arizona. Previously, Sara was a Standards Coordinator and Professional Development Coordinator for Maricopa County Education Service Agency (MCESA). She was also a 1st and 5th grade teacher as well as an Instructional Technology Specialist for kindergarten through 8th grade teachers in the Cartwright School District. Sara received her Bachelor of Arts in elementary education from Arizona State University, her Master of Education in elementary education and reading specialist endorsement from Northern Arizona University, and an Educational Doctorate in educational administration and supervision from Arizona State University. You can reach Sara at s.crawford@digitalpromise.org.

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Krishna Desar

Krishna Desar

Staff Accountant

“I can think of many instances in which I learned from the Internet. One recent example is the time I was locked out of my house and used YouTube to learn how to open the door”

Bio

Krishna Desar a staff accountant with Digital Promise. He joined Digital Promise after serving in various roles in nonprofit accounting for more than a decade. Krishna is passionate about international development and human rights, especially in education. He holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in International Economics from Eastern Illinois University. He can be reached at kdesar@digitalpromise.org

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Diane W. Doersch

Diane W. Doersch

Technical Project Director, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

“When I was young I thought I could be really smart if I read every encyclopedia volume from A-Z. While that never happened, I later realized that my students had the equivalent of the encyclopedia and more at their fingertips with the Internet. That’s why I dove into the field of educational technology—so that students everywhere, no matter their zip code, can have the world at their fingertips and use technology to do good in it.”

Bio
Diane W. Doersch serves as a Technical Project Director at Digital Promise. She came from a career in public education, first as an elementary school teacher, then a middle school computer applications teacher, and finally director of technology in a Wisconsin school district with approximately 6,000 students. She then served as Chief Technology and Information Officer in one of the five largest school districts in the state. In that role, Diane helped develop a statewide data warehouse consortium for school districts, worked to transform her school district with laptops for educators and 1:1 devices for students, and earned her Certified Educational Technology Leader (CETL) certification. Diane is serves on the boards of the Consortium of School Networking (CoSN) and #EquityEDU, and is an officer of  Women in Technology (WIT) Wisconsin. She earned her bachelor of science degree in elementary education from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point and her masters degree in educational technology from Lesley University. You can reach Diane at ddoersch@digitalpromise.org

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Ximena Dominguez

Ximena Dominguez

Director, Early STEM Research

“I’ve learned the most from my youngest collaborators—preschoolers. Young children are naturally curious and interested in understanding the world around them; often posing questions and not afraid of failure (which I try to model).”

Bio
Ximena Domínguez, PhD, is Director of Early STEM Research at Digital Promise. Her research examines child-level factors and classroom-level processes that influence young children’s learning and STEM readiness, with the goal of informing early childhood education practices at home and school. Her work involves partnerships with educators and families from disadvantaged backgrounds and in culturally and linguistically diverse communities. To conduct her work, she draws on her expertise in early childhood education, STEM readiness, design- based research, assessment development, and mixed method research design. Her portfolio of work includes research and development projects, evaluation efforts, and assessment development initiatives – all focused on early STEM and exploring the unique affordances of developmentally appropriate technology for early teaching and learning. Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), and foundations such as Heising-Simons. Ximena earned an M.S.Ed. in education from the University of Pennsylvania and her Ph.D. in applied developmental psychology from the University of Miami. She can be reached at xdominguez@digitalpromise.org.

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Jeffrey Fett

Jeffrey Fett

Lead Salesforce Administrator

“There is something satisfying about receiving immediate feedback on a skill or topic you have just learned. This is a benefit technology has provided my learning process, and helped me to realize the meaningful impact it can provide in driving education innovation.”

Bio
Jeffrey has been involved in public education, technology-enhanced assessment products, and the development of innovative education tools for the classroom. Teaching high school math for 13 years allowed him to develop a sense of the public education space, and to experience first-hand the impact educational technology can have once integrated into the classroom. Acting on a passion for educational technology, he became the Math Curriculum and Assessment Lead for an edtech startup specializing in assessment, and later as a member of the content team for Amazon Education’s product. He earned his B.S. in Secondary Education Mathematics from Kansas State University and Masters of Teaching degrees from St. Xavier University and Arkansas State University. Jeffrey can be reached at jeffrey@digitalpromise.org.

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Dan Foreman

Dan Foreman

Associate Director of Professional Learning, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

“I am a huge advocate for reading and listening to audiobooks, and it has allowed me to double my consumption for literature. I was also able to remodel a bathroom through watching YouTube videos and trying it out myself. There were a lot of failures but I just try and try again and eventually I will get it right.”

Bio
Dan Foreman is the Manager of Professional Learning for the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools initiative at Digital Promise. Dan has worked in education for ten years, starting his career as a Teach For America Corps Member in D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) and working for the Teach For America Summer Institute in Philadelphia as the Director of Technology. After leaving DCPS, Dan moved over the river to Alexandria City Public Schools (VA) to teach English before becoming a Technology Integration Specialist, where he helped manage and develop the 3,700 student 1:1 initiative at TC Williams High School and provide instructional technology leadership and pedagogical support to teachers and administration. Dan was then promoted to the District Instructional Technology Coordinator in charge of a team of 16 Technology Integration Specialists spread across the school district and broadened the 1:1 initiative to encompass the entire district’s 15,000 devices. Dan then moved to the private industry as an Education Consultant, helping manage and develop large-scale hardware and software technology implementations across the country for many K-12 school districts. Before his career in education, Dan was enlisted in the Marine Corps and was in charge of managing and coordinating the maintenance and fidelity of communications for 1st Marine Division during the Battle of Fallujah. Dan received his BA from Wittenberg University in Literature and Creative Writing, his Masters of Arts in Teaching from American University, his Masters of Education in Instructional Design and Development from George Mason University, and Administrative Leadership and Policy Certification from George Washington University. He can be reached at dforeman@digitalpromise.org.

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Ryan Forman

Ryan Forman

Financial Manager

“First, I try to grasp the bigger picture and context. After I understand the concept from a higher level, I slowly dive deeper to get a comprehensive look at what I’m learning.”

Ryan Forman is the Financial Manager for the Learning Sciences Research team. Prior to joining Digital Promise, Ryan worked for EdOps, a charter school consulting company, where he helped manage the accounting systems and budgets of two charter schools in Washington, DC. Previously, he worked at the Georgia Department of Education, supporting federal title fund allocation and the Special Needs Scholarship Program. Ryan holds an MBA from the University of Vermont, a Master’s of Public Policy from Georgia State, and a BS in Public Policy from Georgia Tech. He can be reached at rforman@digitalpromise.org.

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Kristen Franklin

Kristen Franklin

Micro-credential Development Manager

“I like to adopt a beginner’s and growth mindset, and value productive struggle in my own learning process. I try to bite off a small piece and digest that first. That may mean I read, talk to others about their experiences, or even find an explainer video.”

 

Bio
Kristen Franklin has more than 15 years of experience in nonprofit program management in the education and arts fields. Before her work as Managing Editor at Edutopia.org, she led capacity building, fundraising, and digital redesign efforts at various Bay Area museums, and was an informal learning specialist, digital initiative manager, and art educator at Stanford University’s art museum. She’s always loved teaching and learning, and empowering others to do the same. Kristen has an MA from John F. Kennedy University, and a BA from UC Davis. You can reach Kristen at kfranklin@digitalpromise.org.

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Cricket Fuller

Cricket Fuller

Director, Education Innovation Clusters

“I learn best by doing — and by finding a way to love what I’m learning. That was never truer for me than when I was learning to be a teacher — one lesson plan, one student conversation, one sleep-deprived morning at a time. The only way to learn to swim is to jump into the pool (or the deep end) and start paddling.”

Bio
Cricket first joined Digital Promise as an Education Pioneers Fellow, working on Leadership Coaching and Education Innovation Cluster initiatives. She is excited to now support EdClusters around the country full-time. Prior to joining Digital Promise, Cricket ran the OpEd department at The Christian Science Monitor, where she featured solution-oriented education commentary. Before her stint in journalism, Cricket was a K-12 classroom teacher and educator with Teach for America, the New York City Department of Education, the Harlem Children’s Zone, and the Horace Mann School, focusing on curriculum design and technology integration. She has a Master of Science in public policy and management from Carnegie Mellon University (with honors), a Master of Science in teaching from Pace University, and a B.A. in English and sociology from Bates College (with honors). You can reach Cricket at: cricket@digitalpromise.org.

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Judi Fusco

Judi Fusco

Senior Research Scientist, STEM Teaching and Learning

“I love to think about learning. Because there are so many different ways to learn, I don’t think there is ever one best place or way to learn.”

Bio
Judi Fusco has spent much of her career using technology to support learning and collaboration and to help close the gap between teachers and researchers. After receiving her Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology, she joined SRI International to help co-found and direct the community development of Tapped In, one of the first online communities for education professionals; the community ran from 1997-2013. Since 2008, she has also taught learning theories courses for educators and supervised dissertation students at Pepperdine University in the Education Doctorate for Learning Technologies program. In the last few years, she has been thinking with practitioners about professional communities, such as ones for maker educators; how to create activities for learning with new technologies like virtual reality; and how computational thinking might play a role in classrooms. As one of the team members for the Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning (CIRCL), she works to broaden the impacts of NSF-funded projects that are building future learning technologies by bringing teachers into the community and writing about the projects for a broader audience. At Digital Promise, she continues to try to help bring researchers and practitioners together in ways to support learning. You can reach Judi at jfusco@digitalpromise.org.

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Elyse Gainor

Elyse Gainor

Program Manager, Global Engagement

“I want to learn how to cut and polish stones so I can design jewelry and décor. I already have a small collection of stones that I have saved for this purpose. I want to learn this because I enjoy working with my hands and it gives me to joy to create something with aesthetic value.”

Bio
Prior to joining Digital Promise, Elyse worked at Vital Voices Global Partnership, where she supported the VVLead Fellowship Program, a capacity-building fellowship for women leaders across the globe. Her work on the VVLead Fellowship Program included managing and producing online courses, building the fellowship’s virtual mentoring framework, producing audio stories, and organizing the fellowship’s in-person exchanges. Elyse received her Bachelor of Arts in international affairs with a concentration in international development from The George Washington University. She can be reached at elyse@digitalpromise.org.

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Anshul Gang

Anshul Gang

Project Director of Data & Analytics, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

“Curiosity and action always satiate my learning. I live by doing things than reading or listening to them. Be it riding a bike at 4, making my first line follower robot at 14, or learning how to code at 23, I have always learned the most by my failures and figuring out my way of doing things.”

 

Bio

Anshul first joined Digital Promise as an Education Pioneers Fellow, working on the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools initiative. He is excited to join the VILs team full-time to support the research and reporting as Project Director of Data & Analytics. Before joining Digital Promise, Anshul had three years of experience in education management. He ran the biggest test preparation division in Northwest India, as a senior manager and led a cross-functional team of 30 people. He has also taught competitive mathematics for two years. He has a Master of Business Administration and Master of Information Systems Technology from George Washington University, and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from University of Delhi. You can reach Anshul at anshul@digitalpromise.org.

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Nardos Ghebreab

Nardos Ghebreab

Program Manager, National Charter Collaborative (NCC)

“I want to re-learn coding next. I think back to the days of Xanga and MySpace where, as digital natives, we learned to code HTML effortlessly. Along the way, I lost that skill. I think re-learning and expanding my coding skills beyond HTML is on my “to learn” docket.”

Nardos Ghebreab is a researcher-practitioner and Program Manager at the National Charter Collaborative. Nardos brings ample experience with strategic planning, program implementation, and data/research evaluation to her work, in addition to a passion for racial equity and inclusion. She is a former classroom teacher and instructional leader, and leverages those perspectives to launch school-level programs and initiatives to develop and support instructional leaders in their respective roles. Nardos is currently a doctoral student at the University of Maryland, College Park earning a Ph.D. in Teaching, Learning, Policy & Leadership with a concentration in Minority and Urban Education. She received her M.S. in Education Research from Georgia State University and her B.A. in Sociology from Georgetown University. She can be reached at nghebreab@digitalpromise.org.

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Apeksha Goonewardena

Apeksha Goonewardena

K-12 Digital Product Manager

“Earlier this year, I launched a Girls Who Code club at a charter school in Washington, D.C. As the facilitator, I worked with third and fourth graders as they were introduced to foundational coding concepts. Additionally, each club meeting included a focus on a relevant female STEM figure. It was so empowering to learn about these women and introduce their significant contributions to my students, so they could be equally inspired to contribute to the STEM field!”

Apeksha is the K-12 Digital Product Manager for Challenge Collaboratives at Digital Promise. Prior to joining Digital Promise, Apeksha shepherded the creation of valuable data systems and technology at Flamboyan Foundation. This included supporting the vision and development of the foundation’s robust data platform, which Flamboyan partners continue to use to lead effective family engagement practices across Washington, D.C. Through this work, Apeksha discovered her passion for product management and user-centric design, which motivated her to attain her Professional Scrum Product Owner (PSPO) certification in 2019. Additionally, Apeksha holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the George Washington University. She can be reached at agoonewardena@digitalpromise.org.

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Lindsay Gratton

Lindsay Gratton

Accounting Associate

“Growing up, I used to love education-based computer games. By today’s standards, the graphics weren’t great, but at least I know my multiplication tables!”

Lindsay is an accounting associate with Digital Promise. She joined Digital Promise after having previously been a member of the partner development team at EAB, an education best practices firm. She has also worked with the Allegheny County Controller’s Office and the Philadelphia Zoo as an Environmental Education and Animal Behavior intern, where she worked closely with kids to teach them about animals and sustainability initiatives. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of Pittsburgh and was an active member of Alpha Phi Omega, a national service fraternity, where she had the opportunity to volunteer with numerous organizations in the Pittsburgh area. You can reach Lindsay at: lgratton@digitalpromise.org

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Angela Hardy

Angela Hardy

Research Analyst, The Dynamic Learning Project

“I’ve always been inspired to learn when my innate curiosity is sparked by new experiences and concepts. When I was three, I came face-to-face with an Egyptian mummy at the local art museum. From that moment, bedtime stories became nonfiction read-alouds of embalming techniques and my Barbies endured preparation for the afterlife before being entombed beneath couch cushions.”

Bio
Before joining Digital Promise, Angela spent eight years as a humanities teacher, engaging students from the ages of ten to twenty-one across four continents. Intent on addressing disparities of access by creating opportunities for global connections, Angela founded a youth organization promoting engagement in human rights issues, coordinated a Korean exchange program, and brought her students together with dignitaries and professionals from across the globe. Traveling to the Emirates as an education delegate and conducting fieldwork in Morocco as part of a fellowship through the U.S. Department of State inspired her to pursue an MA in International Education Policy Analysis at Stanford University. Angela can be reached at ahardy@digitalpromise.org.

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Nathan Heidt

Nathan Heidt

Chief Marketing Officer

“I love working in a team environment, but I am most comfortable learning on my own with great source material and the time and freedom to fail. Some of my greatest breakthroughs and successes have come from taking creative risks, falling on my face, getting back up and repeating.”

Bio
Nathan comes to Digital Promise from the creative firm Positive Six, which he founded in 2006. Serving primarily non-profit and corporate social responsibility programs, he’s traveled to more than 20 countries to document and promote tech-based programs that benefit the underserved in areas of education, healthcare, social equity, and poverty alleviation. His clients have included Qualcomm, The Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, BSR, USAID, and wireless carriers on nearly every continent. With over 20 years in marketing and advertising, he’s created and contributed to dozens of award-winning national and international campaigns. His photography and documentary film work has been featured at countless international exhibitions and in publications including the New York Times and National Geographic. In his free time, he enjoys cycling, archery, backpacking, and spending time with his family. You can reach him at nathan@digitalpromise.org.

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Malliron Hodge

Malliron Hodge

Director of Community Collaboration and Design

I learn best through an unique combination of observing, visualizing, and doing. 

Bio
Malliron energetically joined the Digital Promise team December 2018 as  the Education Fellow who supported the Remake Learning Days Across America work with our Education Innovation Clusters network. She now serves as the Program Development Manager who manages our Diverse Educator Pipeline initiative. Prior to joining Digital Promise, Malliron served as the New Orleans Community Manager at 4.0 Schools, where she worked to support New Orleans community members who were interested in taking their education idea to the next level. Malliron is passionate about community engagement and has spent countless hours supporting, coaching, and cheering on Startup Weekend Education organizers, community members, and attendees. Prior to falling in love with education innovation Malliron dabbled in higher education at Tulane University Newcomb College Institute, career preparedness at Cafe Reconcile, and community engagement at ARISE Academy. She holds a Master’s in Nonprofit Management with a certificate in Social Entrepreneurship from Indiana University, and a B.S. in Business Management with a concentration in Human Resource Management from Winston Salem State University (Let’s Go RAMS!). Malliron can be reached at: mhodge@digitalpromise.org.

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Nicola Hodkowski

Nicola Hodkowski

Mathematics Learning Researcher

“Understanding mathematical learning involves understanding both initial knowledge and the process by which that knowledge is transformed to produce new knowledge.”

Dr. Nicola Hodkowski, Ph.D., is a mathematics education researcher. Her research is focused on two components: mathematics teachers’ process of change in thinking and practice as they shift toward a more conceptual emphasis; and how students conceptualize mathematics in content areas such as multiplicative and fractional reasoning. Before joining Digital Promise, Dr. Hodkowski taught mathematics courses at the University of Colorado, Denver, to pre-service and in-service teachers. She also provided professional development opportunities for mathematics teachers in school districts in Colorado and California. Prior to that, she was a classroom teacher and mathematics intervention coach for eight years. She can be reached at nhodkowski@digitalpromise.org.

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Emi Iwatani

Emi Iwatani

Learning Sciences Researcher

To learn something new, I sometimes try to get some orientation from experts that I like and trust, especially on why they think the topic matters, and why they decided to pursue it. It’s neat and gratifying to get to learn something new AND connect more deeply with someone that I already like and trust.

Bio
Emi Iwatani is a Learning Sciences Researcher who studies and evaluates scalable, technology-supported educational initiatives that might benefit cultural minorities, domestically and abroad. She is particularly interested in why and how students and teachers use technology to refine their craft, invent new things, forge meaningful connections, and cultivate ownership of their knowledge and work. She is also interested in improving approaches to data collection and analysis, so that great teaching and learning can be identified clearly and well. Prior to joining Digital Promise Global, Emi conducted research and evaluation at SRI International’s Center for Technology in Learning, and University of Pittsburgh’s Learning Research and Development Center. She has consulted with a number of educational organizations, including the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, Persistence Plus, Boston Arts Academy Center for Arts in Education, and Shadow Student Athletes, on topics such as teacher professional development, student empowerment, and program efficacy. In addition, Emi has taught biology and physics at Boston Arts Academy, helped run a youth advocacy organization in Pittsburgh’s Hilltop area, and taught core academic subjects in a tutoring center in Tokyo. Emi holds a Ph.D. in Educational Research Methodology and an M.A. in History and Philosophy of Science, both from the University of Pittsburgh; an M.A.Ed. in Science Education from Wake Forest University; and an Sc.B. in Biology with honors from Brown University. She can be reached at eiwatani@digitalpromise.org.

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Jessica Jackson

Jessica Jackson

Practitioner Partnerships Director, Learner Variability Project

 “I learn best by doing! I love the ideation and experimentation that comes with adapting ideas for new contexts. Having the space and support to try new things and collaborate with others is an important part of my learning process.”

Bio
Jessica comes to Digital Promise with 19 years of experience in turnaround school work and a passion for innovative education reform. Prior to joining Digital Promise, Jessica designed instructional systems and professional development for the Capstone Education Group, a network of charter schools. Previously, she was the founding principal of an integrated arts elementary school, and served as a New Leader Resident and Relay National Principal Institute Fellow. Jessica taught third and fourth grade in Memphis, TN and Brooklyn, NY.  She holds a masters degree in education from Pace University and a B.A. from the University of Richmond. She can be reached at jjackson@digitalpromise.org

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Jessica K. Jackson

Jessica K. Jackson

Technical Project Director

“I take a hands-on approach to learning. I enjoy and learn best when I’m thrown into a new environment or situation where I can learn while doing and adapt as I go.”

Jessica joins the Digital Promise team from the Office of the State Superintendent in Washington, D.C., where she collaborated across nearly 30 local education agencies to execute an eighth to ninth grade data exchange. Prior to that she worked at Schoolzilla, NewSchools Venture Fund (as an EdPioneer), and for Achieve/PARCC Inc. Jessica received her Bachelor of Science and Masters in Business Administration degrees from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, as well as a Masters in Urban Education Policy from Brown University. She can be reached at jkjackson@digitalpromise.org.

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Lisa Jobson

Lisa Jobson

Project Director, 360º Story Lab

“I love learning from and with people from all over world, and helping to connect people from different networks and disciplines in the process. For the past few years, I’ve been learning to surf and grow food.”

Bio
Prior to joining Digital Promise Global, Lisa held numerous roles at iEARN-USA from 1997-2016, including Executive Director and Chief Program Officer.  In addition to overseeing program and technology strategy, implementation, and new initiatives, she helped to launch and manage iEARN’s Adobe Youth Voices partnership, a program of the Adobe Foundation. Lisa grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee and has taught high school in Providence, Rhode Island and Mmabatho, South Africa. She holds a BA from Brown University, and an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University, with a focus in International Policy Studies.

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Danae Kamdar

Danae Kamdar

Early STEM Education Researcher

“I try to remain open and not make too many assumptions about what I know or need to know, as these things change and transform all the time.”

Bio
Danae Kamdar is an Early STEM Education Researcher at Digital Promise. She is engaged in multiple research and development projects that aim to better understand how to promote STEM teaching and learning in public early childhood settings. Danae’s work focuses on the design of technology-integrated curricular systems; delivering professional development workshops; and the development of child assessments that are intended to examine what young children are capable of learning and what resources and instruction may lead to increased learning – with an ultimate goal of translating research findings about early STEM education into innovative resources that impact children’s learning and teachers’ practices. She holds an M.S. in Early Childhood Education from New York University. Prior to becoming a researcher, she was a teacher and classroom coach in diverse early learning classrooms, and this experience informs her work each and every day. She can be reached at dkamdar@digitalpromise.org.

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Zareen Kasad

Zareen Kasad

Project Director, United2Read

“When I learn something new, I find myself relating or connecting the new concept or task to things that are familiar to me. From there, I build my knowledge and skills by reading, listening, watching, trying, asking open-ended or clarifying questions, and talking to people who might be able to share insights.”

Bio
Zareen comes to Digital Promise with more than 12 years of experience in the education and youth development fields. Prior to joining Digital Promise, Zareen was the Director of K-8 Programs and Training at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula, where she managed the design, implementation, and evaluation of extended learning time programs for youth in grades K-8 in some of the most under-resourced communities and schools in Northern California. She is passionate about closing the academic achievement gap and providing disadvantaged communities with equal access to quality educational programs and opportunities. Zareen received her bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from Middlebury College and her master’s degree in education entrepreneurship from the University of Pennsylvania. At Digital Promise, she is currently working on the United2Read project, which aims to increase literacy achievement for students across the nation in grades K-3. She can be reached at zkasad@digitalpromise.org.

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Danielle Khordi

Danielle Khordi

Edcamp Program Assistant

“Professionally I’ve worked all over the social sector, on different aspects of the design/fund/deliver/evaluate continuum. What I want to learn next—and why I sought out my current role—is to learn about grassroots community action.”

 

Danielle handles the administration for Edcamp, our project to empower educators with peer-to-peer learning. In this role, she works directly with volunteers who are building grassroots communities and networks across the country. Danielle has broad experience within the social sector, having previously worked in various roles for one of the largest donor-advised funds in the country, a private foundation and its family office, and the local chapter of a national health organization. Prior to joining Digital Promise, she was a director at a philanthropic consulting firm specializing in international development and high-net-worth donor collaboratives. Danielle received her MS in Nonprofit Management from Eastern University and her BA in Business Communications from Rosemont College. She can be reached at dkhordi@digitalpromise.org.

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Karla Kiper

Karla Kiper

Technical Project Manager

“I learn best by making things and by creating in ways that help me practice new ideas. The opportunity to build new things, make new connections, or create models is truly exciting and never gets old for me! All the true highlights in my career in education have revolved around empowering students, teachers, and leaders to discover and reach their full potential.”

Karla joins the Digital Promise team after serving in the East Baton Rouge Parish School system for more than 20 years in various roles, including director of technology integration, district technology facilitator, and classroom teacher. During that time, she developed, managed, and supported projects designed to close equity gaps in student and staff access to digital tools and professional development. She closely supported K-12 schools and built partnerships through multiple district-wide mobile learning initiatives, including a 1:1 Chromebook initiative impacting 40,000 students and more than 3,000 teachers. She specializes in working across instructional, assessment, and information technology teams to develop and implement sustainable ways to leverage technology in all areas. Karla earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Loyola University in New Orleans, a Master of Arts degree from Louisiana State University, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. Karla is currently a doctoral student in Educational Leadership at Southeastern Louisiana University, researching technology leadership.

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Rebecca Lama

Rebecca Lama

Senior Manager of Professional Learning

“In this phase of life, I learn most from my children. Children perceive the world so differently; they take everything in stride, and make the best of every moment as well as their environment.”

Prior to joining Digital Promise, Rebecca worked as a Verizon Innovative Learning Schools coach for Cohort 3. She was also an educational coach and peer evaluator for Maricopa County, Arizona; through this work, she served as a professional development designer and facilitator for Phoenix-area schools. Rebecca couples her expertise as a former first-grade, fifth-grade, and K-8 technology teacher with her professional development design experience to create engaging opportunities for all teachers. Rebecca received her Bachelor of Science degree from Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business in Supply Chain Management, along with a Post-Baccalaureate degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction. You can reach Rebecca at rlama@digitalpromise.org.

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Erica Lawton Weinschenk

Erica Lawton Weinschenk

Project Director, Communications

“I like to think there’s an opportunity to learn from anyone and everyone — we all have our own stories to tell and information to share, and it’s exciting to view any interaction as having the capability to change the way you think.”

Bio
As Project Director of Communications for Digital Promise, Erica Lawton Weinschenk oversees the organization’s public relations and social media outreach, and supports strategic communications efforts across all initiatives. Previously, Erica provided media relations and social media consulting to a range of for- and non-profit clients, including Williams-Sonoma and The Salvation Army’s National Headquarters, while working at Xenophon Strategies, a boutique public relations firm in Washington, D.C. Erica received her master’s degree in strategic communications from American University, and she earned an Honors B.A. in communication from Bryant University. You can reach Erica at: erica@digitalpromise.org.

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Tiffany Leones

Tiffany Leones

Early STEM Education Researcher

“Tuning into podcasts can be a great entry point into learning more about topics of interest. Some of my favorite podcasts invite people to share their expertise or personal experiences providing me with an opportunity to hear from others I would not have access to otherwise.”

Bio
Tiffany Leones joins Digital Promise as an Early STEM Education Researcher after completing her M.Ed. in Educational Psychology – Applied Developmental Science from the University of Virginia. While pursuing her graduate studies, she served as the Spatial Learning as Play Coordinator at a local children’s museum investigating children’s interactions with spatial play materials, and worked as an America Reads tutor. Prior to this, she worked for several years as a research analyst contributing to a wide array of education research studies, ranging from pre-K to adult learners. In her role at Digital Promise, Tiffany looks forward to engaging in research aimed at promoting equity through high-quality early STEM teaching and learning innovations while also bridging and strengthening research to practice connections. She can be reached at tleones@digitalpromise.org.

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Babe Liberman

Babe Liberman

Project Director, Research Communications

“I learn by making connections – between new content and what I already know, and between academic disciplines. My college transcript (which includes courses in Contemporary Art, Buddhism, Astrophysics, and Children’s Literature) may seem “random,” but the variety of topics and approaches I was introduced to helped me to discover unexpected connections and to make my own meaning as a learner.”

Bio
Babe leads Research Communications projects at Digital Promise including Research@Work, an initiative that helps education leaders and researchers collaborate toward improved learning outcomes by building a shared understanding of priority education challenges and addressing them in partnership. Previously, Babe worked at the Center for Childhood Creativity where she managed projects to help schools, libraries, media outlets and toy companies use the latest education and child development research findings to improve their work. She has also facilitated educational programs for children and families at several museums and cultural institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art, the New York Botanical Garden, and the Brooklyn Historical Society. She holds a B.A. from Yale College and an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. You can reach Babe at: babe@digitalpromise.org.

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Sam Lindauer

Sam Lindauer

Communications Manager

“I learn the most from my friends. I consider myself lucky to have a group of friends that work in such diverse fields as politics, academia, design, law and media. Every time we hang out, I learn a little bit more about their corner of the world.”

Bio
Before joining Digital Promise, Sam served as an editorial producer for MLB.com in New York. There, he produced content for all 30 MLB club websites. He earned a degree in Journalism at American University in Washington D.C. He can be reached at: sam@digitalpromise.org.

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Lydia Logan

Lydia Logan

Executive Director, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

“I try to learn from everyone. One of the things that I find exciting about meeting new people is figuring out what makes them tick. I usually learn a lot in the process of getting to know someone. ”

Bio
Lydia Logan is the Executive Director of the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools initiative at Digital Promise. Previously, she served as managing director of Chiefs for Change at the Foundation for Excellence in Education. Before joining Chiefs for Change, Lydia served as the senior director of policy at the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, where she focused on national policy, K-12 school improvement in Michigan, and investments improving management, human capital, quality, and transparency across district and charter public schools in Washington, D.C. Prior to The Broad Foundation, she held the position of vice president and executive director of the Institute for a Competitive Workforce at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where she worked with the business community on national and state policies and programs to improve early childhood, pre-K through post-secondary public education, and workforce training. Lydia also served as the vice president of programs for the Kimsey Foundation, where her grant portfolio focused on strategic support for district leadership, charter school expansion, closing the digital divide for low-income families, and wrap-around services for students in D.C. Public Schools. Lydia holds a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and serves on the board of the American Youth Policy Forum. Lydia lives in Maryland with her husband, two children, and rescue dog. You can reach Lydia at lydia@digitalpromise.org.

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Pengju Lu

Pengju Lu

Staff Accountant

“Growing up in China, I remember playing a simple computer game in which I had to type English words correctly in order to take down cartoon aliens. It was fun, and how I learned my first words in English. It was also the first time I benefited from the power of technology combined with teaching.”

Bio
Peng joins Digital Promise as a Staff Accountant after five years as a CPA in the nonprofit sector. Peng grew up in southern China, where he learned to cook authentic Chinese cuisine. He received his bachelor’s degree in Sichuan, China and holds a Masters degree in Accounting from The George Washington University. You can reach Pengju at plu@digitalpromise.org.

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Christina Luke

Christina Luke

Director, Digital Certifications and Credentialing

“I learn best by example. If I have a chance to observe or experience a new learning, it is easier for me to replicate and adapt it. With a good model, I am able to adapt new knowledge and skills more easily.”

Bio
Before joining Digital Promise, Christina led program evaluations for federal and state initiatives and delivered professional development and technical assistance to school districts at Measurement Incorporated. Formerly a high school English teacher, Christina left the classroom to study education policy with a desire to improve student outcomes by offering a practitioner’s perspective to education research. For instance, in 2014, she researched the effect of state induction policies on novice teacher attrition. Christina earned a Ph.D. in education administration and policy from the State University of New York at Albany and a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and English from Boston College. You can reach Christina at: christina@digitalpromise.org.

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Michael Mades

Michael Mades

Technical Project Director, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

“I consider myself to be an experiential learner.  I start by gaining foundational knowledge from a publication or video, pick the brains of people knowledgeable on the subject, and create a process to accomplish what I want to learn or do.  Along the way, and at the end, I continue to reflect on my progress and make adjustments as needed.  I’ve learned to do many things, from building furniture to enterprise networks, and have come to appreciate that learning is the journey to accomplishment.”

Bio
Mike comes to Digital Promise from a fast-growing school district near Madison, Wisconsin. Working for 10 years as the Director of Technology, Mike guided the implementation of enterprise network systems and numerous innovations in digital media and learning, including interactive technology, mobile devices, and instructional gaming through a partnership with Filament Games. Major accomplishments include founding WISEdash Local, a data warehouse and dashboard system consortium of 20 school districts, and implementing 1:1 laptops to 5,000 students and teachers. Mike started his career in education as an English teacher, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in English and a Master of Science degree in Educational Media from the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse. He also earned his Doctor of Education degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with an emphasis in technology staff development. A strong believer in the use of data and continuous improvement, Mike recently completed training in Lean/Six Sigma Greenbelt. Contact Mike at: mike@digitalpromise.org.

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Tabatha Mason

Tabatha Mason

Executive Assistant

“When I need to learn something new, I try to find something about the subject written by someone who has dedicated their life to the field because they tend to be not only knowledgeable, but passionate about it in a way that deepens my own curiosity and depth of learning.”

Bio
Tabatha supports Digital Promise as an Executive Assistant. She has worked in administrative and finance roles in non-profits and small businesses for over 15 years. She is the mother of two teenage girls and volunteers weekly with high school students. She can be reached at tmason@digitalpromise.org.

 

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Dewayne McClary

Dewayne McClary

Director of the League of Innovative Schools

“I’ve learned that if you never try, the fear of failing will deprive you from learning something that could change your life. If I’m not successful the first time, I keep trying it different ways until I master it. This has built my perseverance and has allowed me to learn what it really means to make something my own.”

 

Dewayne comes to Digital Promise most recently as Director of Educational Technology and Library Programs at D.C. Public Schools, where he supervised DCPS’s 1:1 pilot and roll-out and other innovation initiatives. He has broad and deep experience as a teacher and district leader. He has worked in rural South Carolina, the suburbs of Virginia, and at an urban D.C. school district. Dewayne is a visionary and strategic leader, an extraordinary relationship builder, and a highly energetic, adept communicator. In his role as Director of the League of Innovative Schools, he will lead efforts to increase engagement and impact for the network. He can be reached at dmcclary@digitalpromise.org

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Kevin McElhaney

Kevin McElhaney

Senior Research Scientist, STEM & CS Education

“I learn an immense amount from my young children, who are currently 7 and 10 years old. Their questions compel me to challenge my assumptions, clarify my views, and identify the most essential aspects of complex issues.”

Kevin McElhaney is a Senior Research Scientist, STEM & CS Education with the Learning Sciences Research team at Digital Promise. He conducts design and implementation research on K-12 curriculum materials and assessments across the science, engineering, and computer science disciplines. Kevin’s work seeks to lower barriers to implementing engineering and computer science in schools and helps make science instruction relevant, meaningful, and compelling to students. Prior to joining Digital Promise, Kevin earned his Ph.D. in science education from UC Berkeley. He also holds an Ed.M. in Teaching and Curriculum from Harvard University, an M.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from Northwestern University, and a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from Stanford University. He taught high school math and science for five years in California and Missouri and conducted materials research in the Microsystems Technology department at Intel Corporation. He can be reached at kmcelhaney@digitalpromise.org.

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Barbara Means

Barbara Means

Barbara Means

Executive Director, Learning Sciences Research

I love to learn by being part of a team of people with different kinds of expertise, all working together to tackle an important problem in education. Other people’s insights not only add to my understanding of the problem, but also energize me to think of potential solutions I’d never come up with on my own.

Bio
Dr. Means founded the Center for Technology in Learning research group and served as its co-director for many years. Her research examines the effectiveness of innovative education approaches supported by digital technology. Her recent work includes evaluating the implementation and impacts of newly developed adaptive learning software. She is also studying the long-term effects that attending an inclusive STEM-focused high school has for students from underrepresented minorities. A fellow of the American Educational Research Association, Dr. Means has served on many study committees of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, including the one currently producing a companion volume to the classic How People Learn. She has advised the U.S. Department of Education on national education technology plans and authored or edited more than a half dozen books related to learning and technology. Barbara earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from Stanford University and her Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. You can reach Barbara at: bmeans@digitalpromise.org.

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Sara Meierding

Sara Meierding

Project Manager, Recruitment & Training

“I recently taught myself amigurumi—the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting stuffed creatures out of yarn. I made a teddy bear for my nephew and then I was hooked on crocheting stuffed animals for everyone I know! I love creating something new and complex out of seemingly simple materials”

Prior to joining Digital Promise, Sara was a Verizon Innovative Learning Schools coach at two Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville, Kentucky. In her role as VILS coach, Sara supported teachers in leveraging technology for student success and designed systems for school-wide technology integration. She also served as a Mentor Coach to new VILS coaches. In 2019, Sara received Louisville Business First’s Young Leaders Award for her work as a VILS coach. Prior to coaching, Sara taught middle school social studies and language arts. She received her Bachelor of Arts in American studies from Yale University, a Master in the Art of Teaching degree from the University of Louisville, and a Master of Education in Teacher Leadership degree with an English as a Second Language endorsement from the University of Louisville. Sara can be reached at smeierding@digitalpromise.org.

 

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Kelly Mills

Kelly Mills

Project Director, Computational Thinking

“I learn from people who share a sense of passion and excitement for the work.”

Bio
Kelly Mills is interested in how to empower teachers to leverage the affordances of innovative technologies for equitable student learning. After receiving a B.S. in Biology and M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, she was a high school science teacher for eight years. Most recently, she earned her Ph.D. in Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership from University of Maryland, College Park. She has worked on several projects focused on creating research-practitioner partnerships to develop and integrate innovative technologies in K-12 learning environments. Most recently, she has explored how to design and implement professional learning experiences that encourage teachers to integrate computational thinking practices in authentic, equitable, and sustainable ways. She is excited to continue the work at Digital Promise as Project Director for Computational Thinking. She can be reached at kmills@digitalpromise.org.

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Allison Modica

Allison Modica

Program Director, Edcamp

“I am definitely a hands-on learner and learn best by watching other people! I believe trial and error builds confidence and competence in one’s skills and helps develop muscle memory through repetition.”

Prior to joining Digital Promise, Allison worked at the Edcamp Foundation, where she designed and implemented systems to support the work of scaling the organization to bring the Edcamp model of professional development to educators nationwide. As a start-up nonprofit, the Edcamp Foundation supported 500 Edcamps annually, building a community of educators that transcends local districts. Having worked in the Philadelphia non-profit sector for 15 years, Allison has a passion for building communities for good. As the associate director of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Philadelphia, she was instrumental in building partnerships with Family Court, child welfare leadership, and legal advocates, securing program funding, and training and supporting community volunteers to serve hundreds of children in foster care. Using CASA’s volunteer model, she collaborated with educational advocates to create the city’s first Education Decision-Maker Program, pairing trained community volunteers to serve as legal guardians advocating for foster children’s educational needs.

Allison’s experience includes: adjunct faculty at Temple University’s School of Social Work; Director of the Outcomes in Behavioral Health Project at the Support Center for Child Advocates; project associate of research-based program models and service-delivery strategies for the Philadelphia Department of Human Services; author of “Transforming Philadelphia’s Child Serving Systems: A Call to Action for the Department of Behavioral Health and Mental Retardation Services” for the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania; and a social worker for the Family Advocacy Unit of Community Legal Services.

Allison holds a B.A. in Journalism from Penn State University, and a Master’s of Social Service and a Master’s of Law and Social Policy from Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Service and Social Research. She can be reached at amodica@digitalpromise.org.

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Julie Neisler

Julie Neisler

Quantitative Researcher and Data Scientist

“With the internet just a few taps away on a variety of devices, my learning isn’t limited to formal settings like classrooms or conferences. Moments to learn are all around us, and with access, drive, and opportunity, I strive to be a life-long learner.”

Bio
Julie Neisler, Ph.D., is a Quantitative Researcher for the Learning Sciences Research team. After several years as a practitioner in student affairs in higher education, Julie sought to pursue her passion for research by earning her doctorate in Measurement, Quantitative Methods, & Learning Sciences from the University of Houston. She is excited to apply her knowledge of rigorous data collection methodologies, analytic techniques for institutional data, and collaborative relationship building to support the efforts of institutions, educators, and students. Additionally, she has authored numerous peer-reviewed journal articles that focus on areas of homelessness, health disparities, and social justice, intersectional topics that influence education and society nationwide. Julie earned her Masters in Higher Education from Florida State University and double-majored at UNC Chapel Hill for a BA in Psychology and Management & Society.

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Victor Ngo

Victor Ngo

Software Developer, Learner Variability Project

When faced with something new, I like to visualize what’s going on. If it’s too hard to visualize, I try my best to draw a manifestation of the thing. If given the opportunity, I try to teach someone else what I’ve learned.

 

Bio

Prior to joining Digital Promise, Victor was studying Philosophy at City College of San Francisco. During that time, Victor gained exposure to the wondrous field of Software Development. To enter a career in Software Engineering more rapidly, he left and embarked on the curriculum of San Francisco-based coding boot camp: Hack Reactor. You can reach Victor at vngo@digitalpromise.org.

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My Nguyen

My Nguyen

Senior Manager, Communications & Engagement

“Growing up, my parents took us to the local library every Saturday. Beyond nurturing my love for reading, it was at the library that I realized that you could use a computer to search for information, find answers, and even locate books in the library! It was and remains one of the most sacred rituals from my childhood.”

Bio
As Senior Manager for Communications and Engagement for the League of Innovative Schools and Education Innovation Clusters, My Nguyen brings more than eight years of communications, media relations, and social media management experience to Digital Promise. Prior to joining Digital Promise, My drove communications efforts for Scratch, the world’s largest free coding community for young people, which was developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. My received her B.A. in online journalism and multimedia authoring from Elon University. In her free time, she enjoys watching live music, kayaking, reading, museum-hopping around DC, trying new recipes in her kitchen, and spending time with family and friends. She cares deeply about building connections and sharing the stories found at the intersections of creativity, technology, community, and education. You can reach her mnguyen@digitalpromise.org.

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Sierra Noakes

Sierra Noakes

Research Project Director, Digital Certifications and Credentialing

“While teaching at the Brooklyn Autism Center, one of my students was musically gifted, especially on GarageBand. He was stoked when I asked him to teach me how to use it, and after weeks of his diligence and hard work, I now know how to make my own songs! We loved using the tool as a way to communicate and express our feelings and thoughts together; technology offered him and all of my students opportunities to have their own voice and explore their passions and interests.”

Bio
At Digital Promise, Sierra leads collaborative, research-based projects driven by authentic needs. By co-designing systemic improvements to the edtech marketplace with key stakeholders, such as education leaders and educators, Sierra hopes to infuse research into edtech product design and help educators make edtech decisions based on classroom needs. Prior to joining Digital Promise, Sierra was an educator and the curriculum coordinator for the Brooklyn Autism Center and received her M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. You can reach Sierra at sierra@digitalpromise.org.

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George Oma

George Oma

Associate Director of Professional Learning

“I want to know more about education policy on a global scale. I would be interested in exploring how other countries approach their education hurdles and how we as a global education community could pool best practices to address our respective obstacles.”

George-Mathias joins Digital Promise from the New York City School District where he was both a teacher and an administrator for eight years. During that time, he partnered with students, families, and district stakeholders to ensure schools were responsive to and supportive of community needs. He also coached teachers and leaders to foster and develop sustainable systems that leveraged technology to allow for meaningful, relevant, and responsive teaching. Prior to his experience in education, George-Mathias worked in the nonprofit sector of Miami, where he consulted with both schools and local organizations in an effort to strengthen community ties with schools and build capacity within community organizations. He received his B.S. as a triple major in Politics, Law & Society, and African American Studies from Oberlin College and his M.A. in Childhood Education from Relay Graduate School of Education. You can reach George-Mathias at goma@digitalpromise.org.

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Barbara Pape

Barbara Pape

Communications Director, Learner Variability Project

“I learn about new ways of thinking and factual information from discussions with friends and colleagues. I learn so many things from conversations with my children and husband, especially during hour-long walks on the beach. I also learn from biographers who put into words what someone else learned, or failed to learn. If I want to learn how to do something more physical, like surfing, I learn from the pros of YouTube!”

Bio
Barbara Pape is the Director of Communications for LVP. She is also Co-founder and Board President of Grow a Teacher. Barbara has 20 years’ experience in communications, education policy, and politics. Previously, she served as Executive Producer of the Teaching & Learning conference, sponsored by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. She worked the press for the American Federation of Teachers, at that time headed up by Albert Shanker. Barbara also served as editor and publisher of the first electronically delivered education newsletter, the Daily Report Card. Later she worked at the National Education Goals Panel, publishing a weekly report on innovations in education and in-depth monthly publications on the Goals for the U.S. Department of Education.

As a strategic communications consultant, Barbara has worked with Linda Darling-Hammond, Harvard University, WETA’s Reading, PreKNow, the National Association for Elementary School Principals, and other education organizations. Barbara has also worked on the staff of the Senate Education & Labor Committee and as government affairs director of the City Colleges of Chicago, focusing on community college issues. She has also served on Montgomery County (MD) Public Schools Strategic Planning Committee, as a Board member at the Kennedy Center’s The Intersection of the Arts and Special Education initiative, and as a judge for the Miliken-Penn Education Business Plan competition. She launched her career as a middle school language arts teacher. Barbara has an EdM from Harvard University and coursework toward a PhD at the University of Virginia. She can be reached at bpape@digitalpromise.org.

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Megan Pattenhouse

Megan Pattenhouse

Project Manager, Learning Experience Design

“I like to learn about what topics people are passionate or nerdy about—it helps to build relationships and I get to learn all the while! From personal finance and investing, to how to service and maintain bikes, I’ve gained lots of skills from simply finding out what people are interested in, giving them space to talk about it, and always asking a ton of questions.”

Bio
Prior to joining Digital Promise, Megan was a Senior Professional Learning Manager at Newsela, where she supported teachers and students in leveraging technology to effectively differentiate for learners. Her work on the community team included developing professional development experiences for educators, especially incorporating social emotional learning and culturally responsive pedagogy into effective reading instruction. Prior to becoming an instructional designer, Megan was an elementary educator in Memphis, TN, where she experienced first-hand the power of inquiry-based learning and student-centered instruction. Megan received her MS in Digital Age Learning and Educational Technology from Johns Hopkins University, and her BSW in Social Work from the University of Portland. She can be reached at mpattenhouse@digitalpromise.org.

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Stefani Pautz Stephenson

Stefani Pautz Stephenson

Project Director, Learning Experience Design

“I truly believe that we are all teachers and learners, and I approach every interaction with that mindset. We each have unique experiences and perspectives. When we both share and listen, we can all learn from one another.”

Bio
Dr. Stephenson comes to Digital Promise with 15 years of experience in education, including both K-12 public schools and higher education. She brings expertise in change leadership, blended learning, literacy development, and Universal Design for Learning. Prior to joining Digital Promise, Dr. Stephenson was Coordinator of Blended Learning and Innovation with Baltimore County Schools, where she helped lead the district in student-centered instructional design and 1:1 computing implementation. Dr. Stephenson was previously the Director of the Eastern Shore Writing Project at Salisbury University, a professional development coach, and a high school English teacher. Dr. Stephenson holds a B.A. and M.A. in English from Salisbury University and an Ed.D. in Instructional Technology from Towson University. She can be reached at spautz@digitalpromise.org

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Vanessa Peters Hinton

Vanessa Peters Hinton

Senior Learning Sciences Researcher

“I love losing myself in a problem or challenge that I’m trying to overcome — that feeling when you’re so absorbed in an activity that you lose track of time. I’m excited about the opportunities technology can provide for designing learning experiences that can optimize our sense of flow.”

Bio
Vanessa Peters, Ph.D. is a Senior Learning Sciences Researcher at Digital Promise Global. Her research focuses on how emergent uses of technology can create opportunities for teaching and learning, especially in science. Vanessa applies an interdisciplinary lens to her work and has extensive experience with design-based, qualitative, and mixed methods research designs. Prior to joining Digital Promise, Vanessa was an education researcher at SRI International’s Center for Technology in Learning, where she worked on research and evaluation projects in K-12 and postsecondary education. She was also a Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Education at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where she led an interdisciplinary climate change education research team. Vanessa has an M.A. in Educational Technology and a Ph.D. in Education and Knowledge Media Design from the University of Toronto. You can reach her at vpeters@digitalpromise.org.

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Kathryn Petrillo-Smith

Kathryn Petrillo-Smith

Chief Operating Officer

“When I need to learn something new, I break it down into small discrete bits of knowledge or information I can learn along the way. This helps me figure out where to start and makes the process much less overwhelming for me.”

Bio
Prior to joining Digital Promise, Kathryn worked at the Association of Small Foundations, an organization dedicated to strengthening and inspiring small-staff philanthropy.  During her nine year tenure at ASF she held a variety of positions, most recently Managing Director. Kathryn also worked in environmental policy at the Environmental Protection Agency, implementing innovative market-based mechanisms to reduce air pollution and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Bulgaria. Kathryn holds an M.B.A. from the Yale School of Management and a B.S. in Environmental Engineering from Cornell University. You can reach Kathryn at: kathryn@digitalpromise.org.

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Jonathan Pittman

Jonathan Pittman

Project Manager, Learning Sciences Research

I love sitting back and listening to people share their experiences. I think informal settings allow space for great stories and conversations that stick with me for a lifetime.”

Bio
Jonathan is an experienced project management and college admissions professional with leadership experience in operations, technology implementations, and business analysis for higher education and non-profit organizations. He joins Digital Promise from the College Board, where he worked as Project Director on projects for the Financial Aid and Student Search programs. His enrollment management experience has also included roles as the Director of Enrollment Operations at Case Western Reserve University, Assistant Director at American University, and Coordinator of Multicultural Recruitment at Allegheny College. Jonathan has a BA in Political Science from Allegheny College and is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP). He can be reached at jpittman@digitalpromise.org.

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Brian Raszka

Brian Raszka

Brian Raszka

Creative Project Director

“My method of learning usually comes from a, ‘How did they do that?’ moment. I research how others have accomplished the task, follow their methods, then try and create my own methods. Being a lifelong learner is incredibly important both for maintaining skills in my field and to exercise the mind.”

Prior to joining Digital Promise, Brian worked for a variety of design firms and advertising agencies. He has also worked as a freelance designer and is an award-winning illustrator. Brian has a B.F.A. in graphic design from the University of Connecticut. He also enjoys creating fine art, spending time with his wife gardening, cooking, traveling, and cycling and camping in the Sierra Nevadas. He can be reached at braszka@digitalpromise.org

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Tyler Richendollar

Tyler Richendollar

Director of Product

“When I was about 12 years old, my dad bought my older brother an early CD-based video game system that included an interactive encyclopedia. I remember spending hours searching the encyclopedia for videos of great 20th century speeches and content about astrophysics. It was clear then that technology would democratize and transform learning at a massive scale.”

Bio
Prior to joining Digital Promise, Tyler was the Professional Development Manager for the City of Philadelphia’s Out-of-School Time (OST) programs for grades K-12. There, he and his team of Program Analysts developed and implemented a learning program that covered topics such as project-based learning, supporting diverse learners, and creating positive program culture. Prior to that, Tyler served as a Special Education teacher and OST Program Analyst in Philadelphia, PA, and as Education Director for a Boys and Girls Club in Camden, NJ. He earned his M.Ed. in Elementary and Special Education from Chestnut Hill College, and his BA from Rutgers University in sociology/anthropology. You can reach Tyler at: tyler@digitalpromise.org.

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Maria Romero

Maria Romero

Program Manager

“I’m surrounded by a lot of people who are truly passionate about their work and interests. Their enthusiasm motivates me to listen and learn as much as I can.”

Bio
Before joining Digital Promise, Maria was the Climate Fellow at the Institute at the Golden Gate, where she supported a group of informal educators dedicated to increasing climate literacy and action in the Bay Area. Her fellowship projects included designing a survey to assess environmental educator needs and identifying best practices of databases related to climate change. Maria received her B.S. at Simmons College where she double majored in environmental science and computer science, with a minor in biostatistics.

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Jeremy Roschelle

Jeremy Roschelle

Jeremy Roschelle

Executive Director, Learning Sciences Research

“By connecting learning sciences research, innovative technology, and the wisdom of educators, we can democratize access to important concepts in mathematics, science, computing and beyond.”

Bio
Dr. Roschelle applies learning science theories and methods to understand how, when and why technology can enable improved teaching and learning. He is nationally and internationally recognized for groundbreaking research in computer-supported collaborative learning; learning with connected, mobile devices; and technology in mathematics learning. He has conducted rigorous efficacy research on personalized, adaptive learning, on online homework tools, and on dynamic visualizations for mathematics learning. His 25 years of research experience have led to over 125 publications and 9 patents, resulting in 15,000 citations to his contributions. Roschelle has a long-standing role as Associate Editor for the Journal of the Learning Sciences and leads a large community of National Science Foundation-funded projects in the area of cyberlearning. From his previous role as co-director of the Center for Technology in Learning with Dr. Means, he brings extensive experience in growing productive research organizations and leading complex, multi-institutional research and development teams funded by the National Science Foundation, Institute for Education Sciences, philanthropies and leading educational technology companies. You can reach Jeremy at: jroschelle@digitalpromise.org.

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Sara Rosenthal

Sara Rosenthal

Operations Manager, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

“As a naturally curious person, I like to gather as much information as possible on a subject. I love learning and always feel accomplished and excited when I learn something new!”

Bio
Sara manages operations for the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program. Prior to Digital Promise, Sara worked at the Urban Institute, where she developed project budgets and grant proposals in addition to managing the communications team’s pipeline, operations, and project management. Sara has experience in the nonprofit and consulting sectors and holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia.

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Pati Ruiz

Pati Ruiz

Researcher, Learning Sciences Research

“My go-to source for learning something new is people. I ask friends and family for guidance, recommendations, and help along the way.”

 

Pati Ruiz is a researcher with the Learning Sciences Research team. Prior to joining Digital Promise, Pati spent 16 years as a high school computer science teacher, Spanish teacher, and K – 12 administrator. Pati has also taught public school leaders and pre-service teachers in both the U.S. and Mexico and helped design online learning experiences for computing and information technology faculty focused on diversifying undergraduate computing programs. Pati holds a B.S. and M.A. from Santa Clara University and an Ed.D. from Pepperdine University. She can be reached at pruiz@digitalpromise.org.

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Patricia Schank

Patricia Schank

Director of Learner-Centered Design

“I like to learn by questioning assumptions and intuitions. Would I prefer something to be true? Am I mostly looking for evidence to confirm it? It helps to brainstorm alternatives, invite other perspectives, and make predictions and test them. If I’m lucky, I’ll learn something surprising. Surprise makes information memorable, and leads to more lasting revision of beliefs and preferences.”

Bio
Dr. Schank specializes in the development of learning environments using best practices and findings from user-centered design, software development, and learning sciences research. In her previous role as a computer and cognitive scientist at SRI International’s Center for Technology in Learning, she led the design and development of online communities for educators and researchers, workspaces to support collaborative learning, software and curriculum to help students visualize nanoscale phenomena, online tools to support evidence-based assessment design, and interactive assessments to measure science learning. Patti has received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and co-authored more than 40 publications on the design, evaluation, and implementation of learning technology. She has an M.S. in computer science and a Ph.D. in education from the University of California at Berkeley, where her dissertation work focused on modeling and promoting scientific reasoning through an integration of theory-based cognitive simulations, experimental studies, and instructional curricula. You can reach Patti at pschank@digitalpromise.org.

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Nick Schiner

Nick Schiner

Project Director, Maker Learning

“I have grown up obsessed with video games, from Super Mario Bros. through the current generation of games. I am particularly interested in the relationship between gaming and education. Within a game like Fortnite, there are opportunities to analyze and teach verbal and non-verbal communication; math concepts like distance, speed, velocity, and statistics; physics; and narrative structure.”

Bio
Prior to joining Digital Promise, Nick began his journey in education as a Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) fourth and fifth grade teacher, before moving into a technology integration specialist role. Most recently, Nick served as Team Leader for the BCPS Innovative Teaching & Learning team, working to establish a maker learning presence in each of the system’s 170+ schools. In this role, he spearheaded the creation of the BCPS Mobile Innovation Lab – a mobile makerspace providing innovative learning experiences throughout the community – and the BCPS Makes Lending Library, a free centralized repository of maker tools and professional development materials available to staff and students. As a contributor to the Maryland Governor’s Workforce Development Board’s Computer Science Education and Professional Development Findings Report, Nick worked to advocate for increased computer science instruction and professional development throughout the state. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Towson University and a Master’s Degree in Educational Technology from Johns Hopkins University. You can reach Nick at nschiner@digitalpromise.org.

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Jessica Schuler

Jessica Schuler

Senior Communications Manager

“I’ve been doing a lot of traveling over the last couple of years, and in each new part of the world I’ve learned something fascinating about the culture—for example, it’s hard to find a knife on the dinner table in Southeast Asia! It has also been incredible to see some of the places I learned about in school, from ancient ruins to medieval castles to magnificent palaces. It’s truly inspiring to see what humanity is capable of creating.”

Bio
As Senior Communications Manager for Digital Promise, Jessica oversees communications efforts for Verizon Innovative Learning schools, the Dynamic Learning Project, and Educator Micro-credentials. Prior to Digital Promise, she supported the corporate communications team at K12 Inc., where she managed public relations efforts for more than half of the company’s 70 partner schools across the country. Previously, she spent 11 years working in athletics communications at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and George Washington University, supporting each school’s athletics department and serving as primary media contact for several teams, including women’s basketball. Jessica graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in journalism. You can reach her at jschuler@digitalpromise.org.

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John Seylar

John Seylar

Project Associate, The Dynamic Learning Project

“When I’m speaking with somebody and we come across a topic that makes their face light up, I know I’m about to learn something from them. I believe the world is shaped by passionate people, and I love learning from people who are speaking about a topic they truly care about.”

Bio
John spent his first year at Digital Promise dividing his time between interning for the Dynamic Learning Project and serving as a college entrance exam tutor for his community in Minnesota. Now a Project Associate, John is a member of both the research and project teams for the Dynamic Learning Project. A Midwesterner at heart, John spends his time exploring San Francisco and reading, or better yet, doing either of those things in service to his love of history. He can be reached at jseylar@digitalpromise.org.

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Alison Shell

Alison Shell

Research Scientist

“I learn from everyone around me! I am surrounded by smart friends, family, and colleagues who each have their own unique skill set. It’s incredible what you can learn just by asking questions and listening.”

Bio
Alison came to Digital Promise from the University of Maryland, where she recently completed her Ph.D in Cognitive Psychology, with a focus in language and cognition. Prior to moving to D.C., she was involved in a few research projects in the Boston area including investigating the biological underpinnings of autism at the Shriver Center and working to develop more linguistically-sound reading assessments for young-adult readers at Boston University. She is deeply interested in how cognitive processes can shape behavior, and she hopes her work at Digital Promise will help to bring research to the fingertips of those who can use it. You can reach Alison at: alison@digitalpromise.org

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Latonya Simpson

Latonya Simpson

Associate Director of Professional Learning

“I approach new understandings by arriving with an open mind and a willingness to learn from my peers. I am intrigued by redefining ‘normal’ and learning from innovative thinkers.”

Latonya Simpson is an Associate Director of Professional Learning for the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools initiative at Digital Promise. Latonya believes equity in education starts with high-quality instruction and empowering educators with research-based strategies. She joins Digital Promise with more than 20 years of experience in curriculum development, instructional coaching, and personalized digital learning. In her previous roles as a STEM leader, math facilitator, district specialist, and personalized learning coordinator, she has proven that we can inspire actions that shatter the barriers of inequity. Prior to Digital Promise, Latonya served as a K-8 curriculum specialist for Pearson, where she led professional learning experiences for state conferences, multi-year partnerships, and multi-million dollar opportunities across the nation. Latonya brings an in-depth knowledge of problem-based learning and leveraging technology to personalize instruction. Her journey began as an elementary educator in Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland. This is where she developed a passion for diverse learners. Latonya holds a B.A. in elementary education from the University of Maryland and an M.A. in school leadership from Gardner-Webb University. Latonya resides in North Carolina with her husband and two daughters. She can be reached at lsimpson@digitalpromise.org.

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Kimberly Smith

Kimberly Smith

Kimberly Smith

Executive Director, League of Innovative Schools

“I like to surround myself with people who continually teach me new things or introduce me to new experiences. I tend to learn by observing others and then trying my hand at it. I figure if I get started, I will quickly know what questions to ask and what information I need to move forward.”

Bio
Prior to joining Digital Promise, Ms. Smith served as Chief Learning and Innovation Officer with the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), leading the innovation strategy for the global leader in youth entrepreneurship education. Ms. Smith oversaw the development of a portfolio of college- and career-ready programs to empower disadvantaged youth to lead economically sustainable lives and research on the Entrepreneurial Mindset Index (EMI) – a pioneering tool for measuring the impact of non-cognitive skills on student success.

Previously, Ms. Smith was Vice President of Education at PBS, where she directed the education strategy, including the launch of PreK-12 digital curriculum and teacher support services in partnership with school districts and states. Ms. Smith also served as Vice President of Product Development for Discovery Education, where she oversaw thecreation of a portfolio of broadband services and learning tools for K-12 schools, including Discovery Streaming and curriculum digital products. Prior to Discovery, Ms. Smith was at the Annenberg/Corporation for Public Broadcasting Project, where she developed digital tools to support students taking college courses for credit at a distance.

Ms. Smith is an Aspen-Pahara Institute fellow, member of the Maryland State Department of Education Business Management and Finance board, former board member of the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) and former board chair of the Arts and Technology Academy Public Charter School. She received her Master of Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University and her Bachelors of Science from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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Matt Spears

Matt Spears

Associate Director of Professional Learning, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

“I learn from a variety of experts who make their knowledge freely available. When I know what I want to learn I often learn by watching YouTube. I can then take what I’ve learned and apply it to the task or project. I learn the most from the people I’m surrounded by the most—my wife and kids. My kids all push my emotional range, demand engagement, and challenge my ability to react thoughtfully in the moment. My wife challenges me daily to approach life with a fresh perspective and with new knowledge. She is also a brilliant educator, compassionate mother, strong woman, and the lifeblood of our family.”

Matt Spears joins Digital Promise as an Associate Director of Professional Learning for Verizon Innovative Learning Schools. Though he has spent the last couple years on the West Coast, he spent the entirety of his previous years working and being educated in Chesterfield County Public Schools in Virginia. He spent three years teaching middle school math and coaching high school volleyball before moving into a role as an instructional technology coach, where he introduced iPod Touches to classrooms, presented at international conferences, and planned and executed the professional development for one of the largest (at the time) 1:1 rollouts of Chromebooks. After moving to California, Matt served as the Educational Content Manager at Google, where he helped the Google for Education team manage and grow the content on the Teacher Center and Certifications, as well as improve feedback, localize content, nurture relationships with vendors, and bring the best of Google’s products to educators across the world. Matt can be reached at mspears@digitalpromise.org.

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DeLisha Sylvester

DeLisha Sylvester

Operations Manager

When I was 16, I started taking courses at Hagerstown Community College. This was my first experience with an online course, and I realized how valuable it is to have the flexibility to learn remotely and at my own pace.”

Bio

DeLisha Sylvester is the Operations Manager at Digital Promise. She comes to the organization with a decade of experience in finance, operations, and human capital functions. Prior to joining Digital Promise DeLisha was an HR & Operations Administrator at Issue One, a bipartisan nonprofit organization where she was responsible for onboarding, employee experiences, and implementing innovative operations systems. She has a strong commitment to bridging the gap between operational functionality and effective procedures. She holds a M.A. in Organizational Management from Ashford University and is active in the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. DeLisha can be reached at dsylvester@digitalpromise.org.

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Medha Tare

Medha Tare

Director of Research, Learner Variability Project

“I love how easy it has become to access video tutorials or step-by-step instructions online for learning new skills. It’s great how so many people want to help others learn and are generous with sharing their knowledge.”

Bio
Medha has more than ten years of experience conducting applied research in the learning sciences. What unites her research is an interest in examining the factors that affect how children and adults acquire new skills and knowledge, including individual differences, the environment, and the medium through which they learn. She enjoys translating research to non-academic audiences so it can be used by practitioners in the classroom and by the learners themselves. Medha comes to Digital Promise from the University of Maryland, where she worked with government language learners to improve their training. She holds a B.A. from Rutgers University and a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Michigan. You can reach Medha at mtare@digitalpromise.org.

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Courtney Teague

Courtney Teague

Director of Coaching

“I look for lessons in everything and everyone. There is a purpose for every experience and I look for the meaning behind it all! Everyone has different experiences and I always welcome different perspectives; that is the only way one can grow.”

Bio
Dr. Courtney L. Teague is a Professional Learning Engineer with the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools initiative at Digital Promise. She is also an adjunct graduate professor for Thomas University. Dr. Teague, a Microsoft Innovative Education Expert, was recently named one of the Top 250 education tech people to follow on social media. Previously, she served as a technology trainer for Cobb County School District. She supported and informed the delivery of instruction in schools to create a rigorous, relevant, and engaging instructional program through targeted support and implementation of innovative technological solutions focused on high levels of student achievement. Prior to being a technology trainer, she was a middle school educator where she led a stem grant initiative and developed stem curriculum. She received her Bachelor of Science in Collaborative Teaching from Alabama State University; Master of Public Administration from Troy University; Educational Specialist in Brain Based Teaching from Nova Southeastern University; Educational Doctorate in Instructional Technology and Distance Education from Nova Southeastern University; and a social media marketing certification from Emory University. She currently lives in Atlanta with her Pomeranian, GoHan. You can reach Courtney at cteague@digitalpromise.org.

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Kristin Townsend

Kristin Townsend

Deputy Director, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools IT & Operations

“I learn best by drawing, diagramming and taking hand-written notes about the subject I want to learn about. In my world there is little better than a well-sharpened #2 pencil (and a smartphone to take a photo of my drawings and diagrams to share with others).”

Bio
Kristin comes to Digital Promise from Verizon, where she was a Senior Manager for Education Programs within Corporate Social Responsibility and the Verizon Foundation. Kristin’s career in corporate philanthropy focused on establishing content and state partnerships to support educational programs, as well as national professional development models to scale professional learning. Prior to Verizon, Kristin taught visual art to middle school students, primarily in Loudoun County, VA. Kristin earned a B.F.A. in Visual Arts from Cornell University and an M.Ed. in Art Education from Pennsylvania State University. You can reach Kristin at: kristin@digitalpromise.org.

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Kasey Van Ostrand

Kasey Van Ostrand

Project Director, The Dynamic Learning Project

“I learn by being a sponge for new information. I love learning by talking to people, reading, and observing the world around me. When I was younger (and even today!) my family would give me a hard time for holding us up in museums or at historic sites by trying to take in everything around me!”

Bio
Kasey is the Project Director for the Dynamic Learning Project. She has experience working in education project management, development, communications, and policy. She previously worked on the League of Innovative Schools team at Digital Promise for three years, supporting the launch and growth of Digital Promise’s first initiative. She also worked at Summit Public Schools, helping schools across the country adopt personalized learning. Prior to that she worked at the U.S. Department of Education on communications for the 2010 National Education Technology Plan and in other government agencies including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Outside of work, Kasey loves to spend time outdoors and is an avid hiker, runner, and skier.  Kasey holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley. You can reach Kasey at kasey@digitalpromise.org.

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Mai Chou Vang

Mai Chou Vang

Education Researcher

“I learn from the people around me, particularly those with whom I interact on a consistent basis. They have introduced me to new ideas and ways of doing things, supported me, and challenged me with the intention of helping me grow as a colleague and person. I hope that I have done the same for them.”

 

Bio

Before joining Digital Promise, Mai Chou worked on evaluation, research, and technical assistance projects related to youth financial capability; state standards, assessments, and accountability systems; and college and career readiness for five years. She also has experience working directly with teachers and students in schools. Mai Chou earned an MA in Education Policy from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a BA from UC Berkeley. You can reach Mai Chou at mcvang@digitalpromise.org.

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Vic Vuchic

Vic Vuchic

Chief Innovation Officer

“I learn a lot from my kids, my parents and my mentors. My kids give me perspective, my parents give me wisdom, and my mentors help me make sense of everything.”

Bio
Vic is a seasoned thought leader in education technology and philanthropy. He is an expert in learning science, innovation, and scaling what works and has launched game-changing initiatives that have increased access to education and improved learning for tens of millions of learners in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa. Prior to Digital Promise Global, Vic consulted with a number of foundations and organizations on education technology, innovation and philanthropy. Prior to consulting, Vic developed strategies and managed over $100 million in technology-focused grants at the Hewlett Foundation to launch and grow the Open Educational Resources movement and create and advance the Deeper Learning strategy. Vic completed a master’s degree in education and technology at Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. Vic also received a scholarship and attended Berklee College of Music for a year. Previous experience includes working at startups in Silicon Valley for eight years with expertise in human-centric system design and innovation methodologies. You can reach Vic at: vic@digitalpromise.org.

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Donnaraé Wade

Donnaraé Wade

Senior Manager, School & Community Engagement

“I love learning languages. I love traveling and meeting new people, and think there is so much that can be learned from having a great conversation with someone. Having new ways to communicate allows me to connect with more people!”

 

Bio

Donnaraé joins the Digital Promise team with more than ten years of experience in education. Her interest in education grew while serving as an education lead for the Digital Literacy Project in Cambridge, MA. Her career in education began in Washington, DC when she joined Teach for America and became a classroom teacher at a bilingual charter school. She earned her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Curriculum and Instruction while focusing on dual language programs. After teaching at charter and independent schools, Donnaraé served as the Coordinator of Elementary Schools for DC Public Schools, overseeing program implementation, organizing teacher professional development, and expanding literacy programs. Most recently, she served as a Program Manager for a non-profit focused on providing reading intervention to Pre-K through 3rd grade students. Donnaraé earned her B.A. in Psychology, concentrating in Social and Cognitive Neuroscience from Harvard University. She can be reached at dwade@digitalpromise.org.

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Jeff Wayman

Jeff Wayman

Senior Educational Data Scientist

“I like to learn from just about everybody; the different ways that people think are so interesting. Consequently, I’m always finding perspectives different from mine that add to my thinking and knowledge.”

Jeff Wayman, Ph.D., is a Senior Educational Data Scientist for the Learning Sciences Research team at Digital Promise. Jeff is an experienced researcher, focusing on the effective use of data in education. His research on data-informed decision-making includes efficient structures for creating data-informed school districts, software that delivers student data to educators, effective leadership for data use, professional learning for data use, and systemic supports that enable widespread teacher use of student data. Dr. Wayman began this research agenda with the Center for Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University, and continued it as a professor at The University of Texas at Austin and, most recently, while running his own consulting firm. Prior to researching data use, Jeff served as a researcher at Colorado State University and as a junior high math teacher in Kansas City and Salt Lake City. A lifelong Kansas City Chiefs fan, Jeff vows to manage his 24/7 excitement about their Super Bowl win when he is around his Digital Promise Bay Area colleagues. You can reach Jeff at jwayman@digitalpromise.org.

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Josh Weisgrau

Josh Weisgrau

Director, Learning Experience Design

“I learn by reading, talking, and trying things out. When I think I’ve got something figured out, I’ll usually try to write about it. That’s when I discover that I don’t know it as well as I thought and I start the cycle again.”

Bio
Prior to joining Digital Promise, Josh helped develop the makerspace and maker learning program at Friends’ Central School in Wynnewood, PA, and has taught Photography, Information and Digital Literacy, Computer Science, Shop, and STEAM. He is a co-founder of Rough Cut Schools, consulting and advocating for media literacy and production in schools around the world. Before that, he worked in theaters and schools teaching kids about technical theater and design. Josh has a B.A. in theater from Wesleyan University and a Masters of Liberal Arts with a focus in media and cultural studies from Temple University. You can reach him at josh@digitalpromise.org.

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Jillian Wetzel

Jillian Wetzel

Associate Director of Professional Learning

“I really want to learn how to cultivate a healthy garden and grow fresh herbs and vegetables. I have never taken the time to develop a green thumb and think that gardening could be a wonderful way to relieve stress, eat healthier, and enjoy some beautiful sunshine.”

 

Jillian Wetzel joins Digital Promise from the San Antonio Independent School District where she was a Verizon Innovative Learning Schools coach for two years. In that role, Jillian partnered with students, families, teachers, and district leaders to ensure that all teachers were equipped to deliver and that all students had access to technology-rich, high-quality learning experiences. Prior to that, Jillian worked as a K-8 science specialist, where she coached teachers to support the implementation of innovative science instruction in both face-to-face and blended learning environments. Jillian also taught secondary science and robotics courses as a classroom teacher. Jillian received her Bachelor of Arts in English and Professional Writing from The Ohio State University and her Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She can be reached at jwetzel@digitalpromise.org.

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Shibrie Wilson

Shibrie Wilson

Technical Project Manager

“I learn best by seeing and then doing; real-world application is my preference. When learning something new, I ask a ton of questions to ensure that I have all the tools necessary to accomplish the task/endeavor independently. After asking questions, I carve out some time to review and practice what I have learned.”

Shibrie Wilson joins Digital Promise from BrandEd, a CIG (Cambridge Information Group) Education group. She served as an instructional designer and educational technologist for the digital learning team for Sotheby’s Institute of Art and The School of The New York Times. She supported and led the transition for The School of The New York Times Pre-College from in-person to online, training faculty on online learning practices and working cross-team with IT to ensure technical support during the transition. In her role, she was instrumental in transitioning Sotheby’s Institute of Art in-person M.A. program in New York and London to a digital environment. Prior to that, she was an elementary and middle school educator for the District of Columbia Public Schools, where she spearheaded a 1:1 initiative at her school and STEM integration within the curriculum. Shibrie received her Bachelor of Art in History from North Carolina A&T State University, her Master of Science in Library and Information Science from San José State University, and her Master of Art in Education and Human Development, Educational Technology Leadership from George Washington University. She can be reached at swilson@digitalpromise.org.

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Shaun Wilson

Shaun Wilson

Associate Director of Professional Learning, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

“I would like to learn a foreign language. Learning a new language opens up international opportunities to be able to collaborate with other cultures.”

Bio
Prior to joining Digital Promise, Shaun was an independent contractor for Discovery Education as an instructional coach. Shaun worked with school districts throughout the United States to build capacity of teachers/facilitators in technology-pedagogy integration to improve teaching and learning. Shaun has also served as a global professional development specialist in Cape Town, South Africa increasing the literacy rate amongst adult learners. She was also an elementary/middle school teacher. Shaun received her B.S. in elementary education from Morgan State University and her M.S. in educational leadership from Towson State University. Shaun can be reached at shaun@digitalpromise.org.

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Celeste Woodruff

Celeste Woodruff

Staff Accountant

“When I purchased my first home-based computer, I realized I could find everything I needed and more; when I looked up and the sun was coming out the next day, I realized I had stayed up all night. I am a visual learner and enjoy using the internet to research so many sources.”

Celeste is a Staff Accountant at Digital Promise. She has worked as an accountant in nonprofit environments for over 25 years. Celeste holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, concentrating in Accounting and Finance, from Morris College. She is passionate about education and equality for all. You can reach Celeste at cwoodruff@digitalpromise.org.

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Betty Wottreng

Betty Wottreng

Technical Project Director, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

I want to learn a foreign language. I have traveled around Europe and marvel at how many people there can speak multiple languages. I also want to take a class in watercolor painting.

Bio
Betty comes to Digital Promise with 35 years of experience in K-12 education. She developed a passion for educational technology, and earned a Master of Science degree in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin with an emphasis on teaching and learning with technology. Betty most recently served as the Director of Technology for a mid-sized school district near Madison, Wisconsin for 12 years. In this role she served as a leader in the transformation of teaching and learning with technology, and led all aspects of the deployment of 5,000 mobile devices for all K-12 learners. As Director of Technology, Betty also was a leader in the planning, management and implementation of professional development that centered on personalized learning, continuous improvement and effective utilization of technology resources. Betty can be reached at: bwottreng@digitalpromise.org.

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Viki Young

Viki Young

Senior Research Director

“I love learning alongside others who are passionate and knowledgeable, whose enthusiasm for what we are learning is contagious, and who believe as I do that learning is fundamentally a fun struggle.”

Bio
Viki Young, Senior Research Director, brings over 20 years of experience studying the implementation and impact of K–12 policy and reforms, including high school reform, inclusive STEM school models, instructional coaching and educator development, and school choice initiatives. Across national, state, and local contexts, she conducts research using mixed qualitative and quantitative methods, and has led projects with multi-site case studies, large-scale surveys, randomized controlled trials (RCTs), and quasi-experimental methods.

Viki’s research and evaluation work embeds questions of equity—whom do the intended reforms serve well, do differences arise in who benefits, and whom do unintended consequences affect? Her perspectives are grounded in educators’ work, opportunities for their learning, and an understanding of the importance of organizational, political, and resource contexts for reform, sustainability, and scale. She has worked in diverse settings such as Chicago Public Schools, Fresno Unified School District in California, and no-excuses charter schools in South Texas, among many others.

Prior to joining Digital Promise, Viki was the director of the Center for Education Policy at SRI Education. She holds a Ph.D. in education administration and policy analysis from Stanford University and a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) from Queen’s University, Canada. You can reach Viki at vyoung@digitalpromise.org.

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Odelia Younge

Odelia Younge

Director, Micro-credentials

“My greatest teachers in life have been my parents. Their spirit and passion for life, and especially for education, is what has propelled me to be the woman I am today. I also learn from the communities I work in, listening to their needs and allowing that to create the foundations of my knowledge of them and my work.”

Bio
Before joining Digital Promise, Odelia was the VP of Strategy and Talent at a media tech start-up based in Indiana she helped found. Odelia spent several years as a classroom teacher, primarily as a Reading and Language Arts teacher in Miami. Her first class was an Intro to Jazz History course she taught to middle school students as a senior in high school, which solidified her love of education. Odelia left the classroom to pursue research in the sociology of education, focused on the experiences of black male youth. Odelia also has a background in peace education and children’s rights, developing programs for local NGOs in the Greater Accra region of Ghana. Odelia earned an MPhil in politics, development and democratic education from the University of Cambridge and a B.A. in history and literature from Harvard University. You can reach Odelia at: odelia@digitalpromise.org

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Vanessa Zurita

Vanessa Zurita

Associate Director of Professional Learning, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

“As a social learner, I’ve always craved ways to connect to resources that fuel my interests. I’m naturally a curious person, so having the ability to connect to anyone on any topic via technology truly revolutionized my career.”

Bio
Prior to joining Digital Promise,Vanessa worked as a Verizon Innovative Learning Schools Coach in a K-8 school in the Cartwright School District for two years. During her time in that role, she had the opportunity to coach and develop sustainable systems that allowed for meaningful leveraging of technology, as well as mentor other VILs Coaches across the network of schools. Vanessa was recently awarded the Champion for Educational Technology by the Arizona Technology in Education Association, AZTEA, for her leadership and coaching expertise. She was also a 3rd, 5th, and 7th grade teacher as well as an English Language Development Technology Specialist for kindergarten through 8th grade teachers. Vanessa received her Bachelor of Arts in elementary education from Arizona State University and her Master of Education in curriculum and instruction from the University of Phoenix. She can be reached at vzurita@digitalpromise.org.

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