Associate Director of Sustainability & Support, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“When learning something new, I need visual cues. I utilize mnemonic devices, and I enjoy having thought partners to help process the information.”
Nicole joins Digital Promise with more than 25 years of experience in secondary-level schools throughout North Carolina, Virginia, and Kentucky. Most recently, Nicole served as a middle school principal at a Verizon Innovative Learning School and led her school through onboarding, implementing, and successfully sustaining the program. Nicole received her B.S. in English with a minor in biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her M.A. in Educational Leadership from George Washington University.
Associate Learning Experience Designer
“I learn from our youth. I’ve been extremely fortunate to teach powerful groups of kiddos who inspired my own growth. Our younger generations tend to get overlooked, but they are capable of making impactful waves.”
Jessica’s advocacy for educational equity was ignited while serving as a Teach for America corps member in San Antonio, Texas. She began her role in education as a middle school English teacher and Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA) advisor. Her GSA work was recognized by GLAAD, and she was awarded a Rising Stars Grant to support cultivating safe spaces for LGBTQ+ students. Additionally, she earned 2020 Teacher of the Year at her campus and 2020 Educator of the Year Honor Roll with GLSEN. Prior to becoming a teacher, Jessica’s passion for digital learning grew while working in the digital and graphic design field at the southern border of Texas. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in educational technology from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Jessica continues to advocate for LGBTQ+ students as a member of GLSEN’s National Educator Advisory Committee.
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.”
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.
Chief People & Equity Officer
“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.”
“As an advocate and educator of history, context is so important to my own learning. I want to know: How has this topic been studied or considered in the past? Why are we thinking about it differently now? Whether it’s through published research, a podcast, or a really robust Twitter thread, I recognize that learning happens in many ways and is often just a jumping off point to what to learn next.”
Rebecca Banks believes that intentional collaboration and community are essential for building and scaling strong, sustainable programs. She brings more than a decade of experience innovating and implementing educational programs in museums, online learning, and nonprofit organizations, including the Newseum and College Summit. Rebecca has an M.A. in public history from Loyola University Chicago and a B.A. in communications from Marymount University.
Associate Director, Implementation, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“I would consider myself a visual learning. I like to watch how it’s done, then jump right in. I love to learn the nuts and bolts of everything so that I can understand how all parts are connected. When learning something new, I like to explore all resources, videos, publications, and my fellow peers.”
Elliott is an associate director of implementation for the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools initiative. He comes to Digital Promise with more than eight years of experience working as a technical support specialist for Orange County Public Schools in Orlando, Florida. There he implemented technology solutions to multiple middle and high schools, helping them convert to a 1:1 digital curriculum. Elliott believes that all technology solutions, no matter how large or small, can contribute to a more refined learning process. He also considers access to technology and online resources key to supporting the continued learning of teachers and students in the new landscape of today’s digital classrooms. Elliott considers himself a lifelong learner and takes the opportunity to soak up new information at every corner. He enjoys it when team members come together to form solutions that positively impact the method of learning.
Senior Program Manager, Center for Inclusive Innovation
“Anytime I’m faced with learning something new, I grab my favorite pen and notebook and jot down all the questions and ideas I can think of— this helps me build the connective tissue to make sense of it all.”
Sherenna joins Digital Promise with dedicated K-12 public school experience at the district level and brings a wealth of knowledge in equity-focused initiatives. In her former role as Director of Mentoring Services at Kansas City Public Schools, she pioneered the development and implementation of a portfolio of mentoring programs across 32 campuses. She was instrumental in volunteer management and working with partners city-wide to achieve diverse programming, including postsecondary preparation, exploration of career pathways, STEM, and academic and social-emotional support. Sherenna earned a Master of Arts in education from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Bachelor of Science in organizational communication from the University of Central Missouri. As a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Sherenna is committed to serving in her community. Though based in Georgia, she faithfully roots for her hometown Kansas City Chiefs! At Digital Promise she continues her work of bridging the gap between innovation, access, and opportunity for Black and Brown students.
Partnerships Manager, Micro-credentials
“I learn best in team settings and feel that a diverse group of people bouncing around big ideas together is a force multiplier.”
Prior to joining Digital Promise, Casey served as a Digital Inclusion Policy Fellow for Chicago Connected, a public-private partnership to connect 60,000 low-income families in Chicago Public Schools with free high-speed internet and digital literacy training. His career in Chicago has also included program and community relations management for the International Legal Technology Association, Tutoring Chicago, Illinois State University, and Christopher House. Casey earned his B.A. in sociology from Northeastern Illinois University and his M.Ed in policy studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago. When he’s not pondering how to improve college and career access for young people and adults underserved by traditional education pathways, he loves bike rides along the Chicago lakefront, strong coffee, tacos, and house music.
Project Director, VILS Community
“When I think about who I learn from, I certainly can’t cite any one source. Learning is something I participate in every minute of every day; it is a constant in my life. I take every interaction and every experience as an opportunity from which to learn and grow, whether that be in talking to my grandmother, in my work with middle schoolers, or in something as simple as getting lost while driving.”
Sara previously served as an instructional technology trainer on the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools team. Prior to joining Digital Promise, Sara was an instructional coach in Texas, where she supported multiple campuses in accomplishing their missions through strategic plans and growth initiatives. Sara has aided teachers in their professional growth through professional learning plans and one-on-one coaching. She believes in participating in a continuous cycle of improvement and is always looking to grow both professionally and personally. Prior to coaching, Sara served as a middle school math teacher, and that role will always have her heart. She also volunteers as a social media manager and foster mom for IDOG Doodle Rescue. Sara holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Grand Valley State University and a master’s degree in education administration from Texas A&M University.
Project Manager, Ciena Solutions Challenge
“When I want to learn something new I listen to podcasts and watch YouTube videos! I’ve learned so many new things about business, money management, the education sector, and much more just by listening to interviews and the perspectives of different people.”
Karissa is joining the Digital Promise with more than 10 years of experience as an advocate for learning in the educational nonprofit sector. Karissa’s interest in education and advocacy stems from serving as a Servant Leader Intern with the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom Schools program in Charlotte, North Carolina, as an undergraduate college student. During her years with CDF, Karissa understood the importance of advocating for Black and Brown students across the nation. She went on to join Teach for America in 2014 and taught second grade in Greenwood, Mississippi. After her teaching experience, Karissa returned to her nonprofit roots and went on to manage her own very own Freedom Schools program in Durham, North Carolina, where she oversaw program implementation, mentored incoming Servant Leader Interns, and built long-lasting relationships with families and students in the community. As time went on, Karissa found joy in learning the leadership side of educational programs that directly impacted children. As a result, she went on to manage an elementary school Before- and After-School program in Durham.
Most recently, she worked as a Learning and Development Program Manager for a national nonprofit organization whose focus is to help students succeed in life with the aid of school-support staff members. Coincidentally, Karissa was supported by this same organization as a high school student. During her time at this organization, Karissa managed and curated several professional development experiences and continuous learning opportunities for school-support staff. Karissa believes in curating learning experiences that are structured, engaging, and culturally responsive. She is an advocate of paying it forward and has lived this theme throughout her personal life and professional career. Karissa holds a bachelor’s degree in Birth to Kindergarten Education from Winston-Salem State University and a Master of Education in Training and Development from North Carolina State University.
R&D Project Director
“I love to talk and puzzle through complex ideas, use images and graphics to envision possible solutions, and build and iterate upon prototypes and products.”
Jenny joined Digital Promise’s Collaborative Action Network team in April 2020. She serves as R&D Project Director and is currently working on projects focused on improving math outcomes for Black and Brown students and helping districts build their capacity for data interoperability. She is also working with the team designing an Inclusive Innovation model that centers and amplifies traditionally underrepresented perspectives and experiences. Jenny has spent roughly 15 years working in curriculum design and educational technology development and implementation. She served as Strategy Director and Vice President of Programs at NFTE, the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, where she oversaw significant revisions to the program model including a transition to blended learning. Prior to that, she served in Director roles at Discovery Education, overseeing the development and alignment of curriculum resources for district and corporate partners. Jenny got her start in educational technology at PBS Education, where she helped to develop the PBS LearningMedia platform. She began her career as a high school English and Humanities teacher at public, private, and charter schools. Jenny is passionate about educational equity, edtech, real-world learning, and career readiness. She is on Twitter at @jenny4dp.
Director of Systems and Operations Strategy, Center for Inclusive Innovation
“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.”
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.
Project Director, Technical Systems, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“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 Britwum 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.
President and CEO
“Peter Senge reminds us that learning is one of the defining aspects of being human. If we stop learning, we stop growing. I always look to learn from multiple sources and from every experience. I leverage technology as much as I can to widen my circles and expand my learning.”
Jean-Claude Brizard is President and CEO of Digital Promise, a global, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization focused on accelerating innovation in education. He is the former Senior Advisor and Deputy Director in U.S. Programs at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where he focused on PK-16 education across five communities in four states. He also led several strategies to help close the racial and economic achievement gaps in Washington State’s educational system, as well as to support the growth and sustainability of the state’s public charter school sector.
He is the former Chief Executive of Chicago Public Schools. Prior to his appointment in Chicago, he was Superintendent of Schools for the Rochester City School District in New York. Under Mr. Brizard’s leadership, both the Chicago Public Schools and the Rochester City School District saw substantial improvements in student performance. Mr. Brizard’s experience also includes a 21-year career as an educator and administrator with the New York City Department of Education. He served as a Regional Superintendent, supervising more than 100 schools in the Borough of Brooklyn, and he also served as the system’s Executive Director for its 400 secondary schools. He is a Fellow of the Broad Center, a Fellow of the Pahara-Aspen Institute, and a member of the Aspen Institute Global Leadership Network.
Director, District Impact, 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.”
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.
Director, Sustainability and Support, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“I’m very much visual learning with a hands-on style. I usually like to see the item/problem, manipulate or deconstruct parts, reassemble and finally read the text on the item. I was a very inquisitive child and this caused a lot of angst with my parents as I took nearly everything I ever owned apart!”
Steve comes to Digital Promise from Louisville, Kentucky where he served the 100,000 student district for over 29 years. Steve spent his entire career with the Instructional Technology Department. He holds degrees in both computer science and K-8 education. Steve led many district instructional technology initiatives including an early 1:1 student laptop program, district-wide teacher instructional devices, and most recently the technical lead for 5 of the district’s Cohort 5 Verizon Innovative Learning schools program. In 2019 he was named the IT Leader of the Year for the program. During that same year, Jefferson County was named the Verizon Innovative Learning schools district of the year. Steve has a passion for learning how things work which has led him to work with many STEM and makerspace initiatives. He loves learning and feels that curiosity fuels learning.
Director, Computational Thinking 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.”
Quinn Burke is Director of Computational Thinking Research 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.
Director of Learning Design & Delivery, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“When faced with learning something new, I start by identifying my ‘why’—why is this information important? Then I list any questions as they arise. Doing so helps me stay anchored in my ‘why’ while considering multiple perspectives.”
Ashley N. Campbell is the director of design & delivery with the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools initiative. She brings more than 17 years of first-hand experience in professional learning and K-12 education. Ashley is responsible for designing, developing, implementing, and deploying learning solutions for Verizon Innovative Learning Schools educators. Before Digital Promise, Ashley was the director of professional learning for the District of Columbia Public Schools and a youth advocate and researcher in Philadelphia and Southern California. Ashley earned her Master’s degree in education policy from the University of Pennsylvania. She is a servant leader who strives to promote equity through sustainable and innovative professional learning ecosystems while holding space for tough conversations.
Director of Research Strategy & Analytics, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“I learn best from a systems perspective and reflection. I make sense of the world around me by trying to understand the contexts, how elements are interconnected and interdependent.”
Prior to joining Digital Promise, Sheila worked in higher education leveraging data to support institutional effectiveness by implementing assessment strategies that offered insights for organizational intelligence and improvement. She holds a master’s degree in educational research and a doctorate in higher education.
Senior 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.”
Carly Chillmon is a Senior 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.
Senior Project Manager
“I learn best through sharing experiences with the community around me, and technology has enabled me to sustain and expand the number and types of people I can do that with.”
Christine is the Senior Project Manager on the Learner Variability Project at Digital Promise. She began her commitment to educational equity as an elementary school teacher in charter and public dual immersion schools within Los Angeles Unified School District. As an educator, she firmly believed in placing students at the center of teaching and learning.
She has since transitioned to work outside of the classroom, seeking to utilize her practitioner experience to inform larger, systemic change for more students across the education system. This has led her to Jobs for the Future in Oakland and Partners in School Innovation in San Francisco, where she leveraged her policy, research, and program management skills to support building more equitable schools and workforce ecosystems. Christine received her B.A. in Psychology and Education, multiple subject teaching credential and M. Ed from the University of California, Los Angeles and M.Ed Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Project Manager, Communications
“Working remotely, I’ve learned about the power of team building. There’s a lot that goes into setting your team up for success, and it requires investing time into learning the various strengths of the individuals on your team.”
Prior to joining Digital Promise, Marsha worked as a project coordinator for the STEM Learning Lab at UC Irvine. She worked on various research projects aimed at promoting playful and interactive learning opportunities for children and families. Marsha has a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Irvine, and during her free time she enjoys exploring new places all around Southern California.
Learning Experience Designer
“As a child, I spent my free time playing math-based computer games like Math Blasters and the Logical Journey of the Zoombinis. It wasn’t until I had outgrown the games that I realized how much I had learned from them and the power of technology-embedded learning to support my STEM identity.”
Merijke Coenraad is interested in partnering with teachers, students, and communities to co-design more equitable learning experiences with and through technology. After receiving a B.S. in elementary education and Spanish and Hispanic studies from Creighton University, Merijke earned her M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction from Boston College and taught middle school social studies, Spanish, and technology in Boston. She is currently earning her Ph.D. in teaching and learning, policy, and leadership with a specialization in technology, learning, and leadership from the University of Maryland, College Park. Merijke’s previous work includes working on the development team for a culturally relevant computer science curriculum, facilitating and researching computational thinking professional learning experiences for teachers, and participating in an intergenerational co-design team with youth between the ages of 7–14. Merijke is excited to build on this work at Digital Promise as a learning experience designer.
Director of Contracts & Operations
“I’d like to learn more about blockchain. It’s an area I’m unfamiliar with but am hearing more frequently. I’d like to understand the likely impacts it will have on technology and how we operate in digital spaces in the future.”
Brittany D. Coleman is the director of contracts and operations. Prior to joining Digital Promise Global, Brittany served as senior commercial and claims contracts manager and assistant compliance officer at Black & Veatch Corp. Before that, Brittany was the contracts and operations manager at Atonix Digital, LLC. Brittany has a juris doctor degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law and a bachelor’s degree from Baker University in Baldwin City, KS.
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.”
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.
Operations 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.”
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.
Deputy Director, Student Impact, 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.”
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.
Senior Education Research Associate
“The most interesting thing that I’ve learned in the past 12 months is how much I can grow by investing in myself and seeking out others who see my value!”
Shelton Daal is a senior education research associate with the Learning Sciences Research team as at Digital Promise. Shelton has a Master of Public Policy with a specialization in social/education policy and Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Maryland College Park. He comes from New America’s Center on Education and Labor, where he was a program associate supporting their youth apprenticeship initiatives and oversaw a host of network member activities and communications. Shelton also has experience as a research associate for the Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. Center for Education, Justice, and Ethics, where he conducted a needs assessment on the digital divide in the Prince George’s County K-12 school system. Shelton is deeply interested in equity-focused co-design and inclusive innovation.
Associate Director, Onboarding and Coaching, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“I learn by reading. I love learning about history by reading historical fiction and can often be found reading a transcript rather than watching a video.”
Laura has had a passion for learning alongside others since hosting study groups in high school at the local late night diner. Holding an undergraduate degree in chemistry and a graduate degree in education, Laura spent more than a decade teaching science and engineering courses and serving as an athletic coach and technology integration specialist at a high school just north of Nashville, Tennessee. A National Board Certified educator, Laura received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching from President Barack Obama. As a Senior Fellow with the Knowles Teaching Initiative, Laura has served both on the Coaching Network Leadership Team and as a grant reviewer. Drawing on additional work experience in research and development and engineering project management, Laura joined Stride, Inc., as they jumpstarted their virtual project-based learning program. Her propensity for clearly aligned and rigorous learning objectives can be seen throughout her projects. Laura believes that communities are strengthened when everyone is empowered to make valuable contributions. She eagerly anticipates the privilege of working alongside the talented and dedicated educators who are working to shrink the digital divide and strengthen communities.
Field Research Associate, Adult Learning
“When faced with learning something new, I use a multi-sensory approach that allows me to perceive and process information through various pathways simultaneously. Throughout the learning process, I seek to find meaningful connections to previous experiences or within other sociocultural contexts so that I can better understand how to apply new learning to real world situations.”
Dr. Bria Davis is the field research associate for the Adult Learning Initiative, where she supports equity-oriented research activities related to adult education, career training, and digital skills support for historically and systematically excluded populations. Bria earned a Ph.D in Learning and Developmental Sciences from Indiana University, where she focused her dissertation research on examining how preservice teachers appropriated Universal Design for Learning and culturally relevant pedagogy as tools to confront and dismantle systemic racism and ableism within educational contexts. Prior to Digital Promise, Bria taught Indiana University courses centering educational psychology, urban education and special education methods for preservice teachers. For several years she conducted research within a variety of contexts including the Center for Research on Learning & Technology and an assistive technology laboratory within the I.U. School of Education. Bria has also served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for Child Advocates Inc. and Kids’ Voice of Indiana. In her free time, Bria enjoys photography, videography, traveling, and spending time with family.
Networks & Partners Associate
“I consider myself a visual learner. I learn best with examples and actions to better help me understand the subject and apply it to real-life situations.”
Gabriela De Hoyos is the Networks & Partners Associate on the Network Health Team with Digital Promise. In her role, she supports the League of Innovative Schools as well as the Edcamp community. Prior to joining Digital Promise, Gabriela interned at the National Air & Space Museum in the communications department. Gabriela holds a B.A. in Communication from Texas A&M University in College Station. In her free time she enjoys quality time with friends, reading, watching documentaries, and photography.
Associate Director of Learning Delivery, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“I am proud to be a “YouTube Learner”. The wealth of knowledge that is immediately at our fingertips never ceases to amaze me. Want to learn how to cook boeuf bourguignon like Julia Child’s? How to play Master of Puppets on the guitar? How to change the spark plugs of an 1982 DMC DeLorean? There’s an instructional video for that. I love working collaboratively, and this type of learning is like having an expert of any topic right there with you.”
Todd DeSando is an Associate Director of Learning Delivery with Verizon Innovative Learning Schools. Todd comes to Digital Promise with a wide range of experiences within both public and private education ranging from pre-K through 12th grades. His professional passions lie in impacting education through technology integration, innovation within the classroom, and personalized professional learning. In his various roles within education, Todd’s ultimate goal of positively impacting as many students as possible has always remained true.
Prior to joining Digital Promise, Todd taught secondary social studies in Northeastern Pennsylvania, was an Instructional Technology Resource Teacher in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and most recently, was the Educational Technology Specialist for a private preparatory school outside of Orlando, Florida, where he oversaw the development and implementation of a 1:1 technology plan for grades K-5. Todd holds a master’s degree in Instructional Technology from Wilkes University and a bachelor’s degree in History/ Secondary Education from Misericordia University, where he was awarded the Dr. Louis Maganzin Award for Excellence in Secondary Education. He is also Google for Education Certified Innovator & Certified Trainer, and was also the first educator in Florida to hold both Certified Innovator and Trainer credentials.
“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”
“I learn from life and energy around me. I access different perspectives through books, travel, and experiences, and glean histories and wisdom from them. I open myself to learning and growth always.”
Briza has spent the last several years working within education in various capacities. With each role, she has gained a new perspective of the school system, feeding her passion for education research. Combined with her background in Applied Anthropology, she has learned of the importance of stakeholder voice when supporting underserved communities. Before joining Digital Promise, Briza worked for an educational nonprofit in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she worked with local districts, teachers, and families to support students and families to increase equity in the classroom. She looks forward to continuing this work through her projects as an education researcher here at Digital Promise.
Director of Technology, 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.”
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.
Project Director, VILS Community
“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 Doggett 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.
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).”
Ximena Dominguez is the director of early STEM research at Digital Promise. Her research focuses on young children’s STEM learning across home and school and involves partnerships with public preschool educators, curriculum developers, media designers and families from historically underserved communities to co-design equitable learning experiences for young children. In addition to studying how science and mathematics can be promoted early in childhood, her current work investigates how engineering and computational thinking can be introduced in developmentally appropriate and playful ways and explores how STEM domains can be feasibly and meaningfully integrated. Her work also involves developing resources for multilingual learners and explores the affordances of technology and media for uniquely supporting early STEM teaching and learning. Her work includes research and development projects, evaluation efforts, and assessment development initiatives, and has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), and philanthropic foundations. Ximena earned an M.S.Ed. in education from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in applied developmental psychology from the University of Miami.
Research Scientist, Learning Sciences Research
“I learn through active exploration and love the excitement of discovery. When faced with learning something new, I enjoy investigating and comparing different perspectives on a topic and seeing how they connect to what I already know and to each other. I learn from people of all different ages, from diverse cultures, backgrounds, and communities of practice; this keeps me grounded and propels me forward at the same time.”
Dalila Dragnić-Cindrić, Ph.D., is a Research Scientist in the Learning Sciences Research team at Digital Promise. She researches human interaction with science and technology, focusing on collaboration and regulation of learning in small collaborative groups. Dalila is particularly interested in how individuals and groups make decisions and regulate their learning and behaviors when they encounter uncertainty in science. With her research, she aims to illuminate ways of fostering equitable engagement in collaborative groups that result in better learning and decision-making.
Dalila earned her Ph.D. in Learning Sciences and Psychological Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During her doctoral studies, Dalila was an NSF Graduate Research Fellow. Prior to her Ph.D., Dalila earned a Master of Engineering Management degree from Duke University and a B.S. in Physics with a minor in Mathematics from North Carolina Central University. She holds a NASA Endeavor STEM Teaching Certificate. Dalila’s professional experience includes various roles in the high-tech industry with Lenovo and IBM. Before her high-tech career, Dalila conducted cancer research as a Research and Development Engineer at the Radiation Oncology Department at Duke University Medical Center. When she is not working, she loves to laugh with her family, run, and bike, and is obsessed with establishing a perennial garden in her yard.
Associate Director, Onboarding and Coaching, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“I’m very passionate about bridging gaps between Africans and members of the African diaspora, so establishing and equipping sister schools and orphanages in Africa and the African diaspora is a goal of mine. Because of this, I am interested in learning more about the needs and opportunities to support.”
Dr. Ashlei Evans serves as an associate director of onboarding and coaching with Verizon Innovative Learning Schools. She has more than 10 years of experience in education serving as an English/language arts and reading teacher, English as a second language teacher, literacy specialist, head of school, and head of curriculum. Ashlei has supported teachers and students from early childhood-12th grade within public, charter, and private institutions in Houston, Texas, and abroad in the United Arab Emirates. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Houston, a Master of Education in curriculum and instruction from the University of Houston, and Doctorate of Education in language, literacy, and special populations from Sam Houston State University. Her purpose is to embrace, educate, and empower individuals to operate at their full potential and become the global change agents they were designed to be. Ashlei can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Right now, I learn from social media networks because of the amazing professional learning communities. I learn so much from listening to other people share their stories. I think it has opened up my perspective and diversified my thinking.”
Dr. Rita Fennelly-Atkinson is the director of micro-credentials at Digital Promise. She has worked at the intersection of education and technology to create inclusive and accessible learning environments for learners for the past 20 years. As a first-generation LatinX college graduate, she is committed to providing learners with expanding options for success for historically and systematically excluded learners. She is passionate about ensuring equitable access to learning through inclusive instructional design and competency-based micro-credentialing. Her research interests include credentialing, accessibility, micro-learning, distance education, adult education, and social media for learning. Prior to joining Digital Promise, Rita worked in the education sector in a variety of roles that included secondary STEM education, coaching effective use of technology for learning, and advocating for students with disabilities in technology procurement decisions. She also serves on the Consortium for School Networking’s (CoSN) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and the Association for Educational Communications and Technology’s (AECT) Accessibility Committee. Rita earned her doctoral degree in instructional systems design and technology from Sam Houston State University.
Project Director, Policy and Partnerships
“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!”
Kasey is the Project Director for policy partnerships. 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.
Associate Director, Onboarding and Coaching, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“I speak and write Spanish and English. I can understand a bit of Portuguese. But I always wanted to learn to understand and speak Italian!”
Santos A. Flores joins Digital Promise as an Associate Director of Professional Learning for the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools initiative. Prior to Digital Promise, he served as an educational consultant for 22 years for Lightspan/Plato and Pearson/Savvas. He has trained, coached, and mentored teachers, administrators, and district stakeholders across the United States, included Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Santos also taught English as a Second Language (ESOL) for nine years in elementary, middle, and high schools, and he has written and won education grants to develop a technology language lab for his students.
Santos was a proud United States Army Reserve for six years. He gained experience and leadership throughout his military career and also provided clerical work as a translator in the military mission. Santos earned a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a minor in English from Bayamon Central University in Baymon, Puerto Rico, and a Master’s degree in teaching English as a second language from the University del Turabo in Gurabo, Puerto Rico.
Director, Learner-Centered Experiences, 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.”
Dan Foreman is the director of training and professional learning for the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools initiative at Digital Promise. Dan has worked in education for more than a decade, 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.
“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.
Senior Program Manager, Micro-credentials
“I 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 find ways to tinker with the concept before moving forward.”
Kristen Franklin has worked in adult education for more than 20 years, ranging from informal museum learning spaces to undergraduate seminars on rhetoric and communication at Stanford University. 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 educator at the Stanford University museum, the Cantor Arts Center. Kristen has 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.
Director, R&D Projects & Strategy
“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.”
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).
Director, Emerging Technologies and Learning Sciences
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 co-founded and directed the community development of Tapped In, one of the first online communities for education professionals from 1997-2013. From 2008 – 2020, she taught classes on learning theories in an Education Doctorate for Learning Technologies program, supervised dissertation students, and learned a great deal about the gap between research and practice.
For the last ten years she has been working with National Science Foundation-funded projects that are building future learning technologies, currently the Center for Integrative Research in Computing and Learning Sciences project and the Engage AI project. She has helped broaden the work and its impact by bringing teachers and practitioners into the community to better understand what they think of the new technologies, what might work, what might not work, and why.
As Director of Emerging Technologies and Learning Sciences at Digital Promise, she is grateful to be able to work with practitioners from across the country that are part of the Digital Promise Network, for example practitioners in the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program or the League of Innovative Schools. What she learns from the partnerships with practitioners inspires her to create equitable, inclusive, design spaces with practitioners and researchers in both computer science and learning sciences. Outside of work, her interests include spending time with her wonderful family including her cats, and tap dancing(!) as much as possible!
Senior Program Manager, Learning Experience Design
“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.”
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.
Project Manager, Micro-credentials
“Uncomfortable feelings arise when faced with learning something new, and that is when I know my mind is being stretched to embrace growth. So, I turn to others to seek their experiences and suggestions. I truly enjoy learning and the feeling of accomplishment after learning something new.”
Prior to joining Digital Promise, Dr. Marilys Galindo developed, launched, and administered the micro-credential program for the Institute of Excellence in Early Care and Education at Palm Beach State College as the Early Learning Micro-credential manager. Dr. Galindo is passionate about promoting and fostering innovative teaching and learning environments conducive to academic excellence, a passion which was emphasized by the creation of the micro-credential program. Dr. Galindo has more than 18 years of experience in the field of education. She has served as a teacher, department chair, curriculum writer, curriculum specialist, instructional designer, and manager. Marilys earned her Bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Florida International University; a Master’s degrees in curriculum, instruction, and technology from Nova Southeastern University and another in educational leadership and administration from Florida State University; and her Doctor of Education in curriculum and instruction from Florida International University.
Operations and Project Manager
“I am a kinesthetic and visual learner. I love to learn through hands-on activities or other tactile methods. My go-to source to learn something new is the internet to find how-to videos. Whether I am on a computer or on my cell phone, the internet is so easily accessible, and chock full of information. I recently learned that mushrooms communicate and share nutrients with one another through their mycelium network. I found that to be incredibly interesting, however I found this out via a documentary on Netflix, when then prompted a deep dive into the internet to find out more about the mycelium network.”
Kelliann is an exceptional and dedicated project manager with over 10 years of professional experience, ranging from student support services to management and leadership of federal grant funded programs. Prior to joining Digital Promise, she served in supervisory roles for the Department of Education’s TRiO Pinellas County Educational Opportunity Center (EOC) hosted by St. Petersburg College (SPC) and the National Science Foundation (NSF)’s Tampa Bay Bridge to the Baccalaureate (TB-B2B) Alliance.
Kelliann now serves as the Operations and Project Manager for the Center for Inclusive Innovation (CII). She participates as a key member of the CII team, collaborating on and systematizing the management of multiple Inclusive Innovation projects and initiatives. Kelliann is skilled in establishing and developing programs, as well as allocating resources to meet organizational needs and goals. She believes that learning is essential and equal access to all forms of learning resources should be available to all students. By joining Digital Promise, Kelliann can continue to contribute to opening up that access for future generations.
Kelliann holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Policy and Administration from SPC and is currently pursuing her Master’s of Science in Management and Leadership from Western Governors University (WGU).
Network and Programs Project Director
“I learn from talking to people. Everyone has their unique story and experiences so it’s important to listen and get their perspectives. You never know when you’ll learn something new.”
Throughout her career in K-12 education, Marci Giang is committed to supporting school and district leaders as they work to improve the human capacity of school systems to build innovative, digital learning environments for all students.
Prior to joining Digital Promise, Marci was the Director of Professional Advancement at CoSN – the Consortium for School Networking, where she was responsible for the strategic vision, development, and management of their professional learning content. She built their first online learning courses, created their annual webinar series, managed the development of key resources, and provided oversight to leadership initiatives. She has experience in educational technology issues such as student data privacy, digital equity/accessibility, and cybersecurity. Marci designed and implemented a new blended learning program for early-career technology leaders and initiated the development of the first project management course specifically targeted to the needs of education technology leaders.
Before CoSN, Marci worked at the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) as a Senior Program Associate. She managed two foundation grants that focused on improving the quality and use of education data to inform decision-making at the policy and instructional level. She also worked to improve data interoperability by promoting a common set of data standards for educational systems.
Marci was a DC Teaching Fellow while earning her Master of Arts in Teaching from American University in Washington, DC. She received her undergraduate degree in Government and International Relations with a minor in East Asian Studies from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. She now joins Digital Promise as a Network and Programs Project Director.
“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.
Education Product Manager
“I love to dance and move my body. I learn through observing first, and then I try to break down the mechanics of the movement. I envision it within my own body and then try it out for myself.”
Cassie joins the Digital Promise team as an Education Product Manager at the Center for Inclusive Innovation. Prior to joining Digital Promise, she was a Learning and Research Associate at the Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education at the University of San Diego. In this role, she developed and implemented an origami-based curriculum aimed at fostering visuospatial skills. Cassie has taught elementary school in a variety of settings throughout San Diego County and spent three years teaching English in South Korea.
Cassie received her bachelor’s degree in International Studies – Sociology from the University of California, San Diego, and her master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of San Diego.
Vice President and Chief Program Officer
I live by Mahatma Gandhi’s credo: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
As Vice President and Chief Program Officer, Chaula oversees Digital Promise’s national program team and an expanding international portfolio in partnership with leading international education and education technology organizations. She also supports and leads the team responsible for Digital Promise’s award-winning and heavily utilized Learner Variability Platform and Navigator.
Most recently, Chaula served as Vice President of The Chicago Public Education Fund, where she helped drive the organization’s strategic programming and initiatives and directly oversees its external engagement, operations, and talent management work. Under her leadership, The Fund scaled its programs from serving twenty principals to nearly 300 over five years. In this role, she co-chaired a citywide education funders group focused on principal quality and helped launch The Chicago Principal Partnership. Chaula also launched the organization’s first endowment fund and ran successful campaigns to raise several millions in funding for programs supporting Chicago’s public schools.
Chaula brings two decades of experience in public education and social innovation. She began her career at Ashoka Innovators for the Public, where she helped select social entrepreneurs for Ashoka’s global fellowship. Most recently she founded Teach For America’s Social Entrepreneurship & Innovation Initiative, which coached alumni entrepreneurs to push the boundaries for change country through innovative solutions to education challenges. Chaula built partnerships with incubators and seed investors across the country and helped alumni entrepreneurs raise more than $10 million collectively to launch new education ventures. Under her leadership, Teach For America launched an annual Social Innovation Award with a focus on early-stage entrepreneurs of color and created a virtual design-thinking training program.
Chaula serves on the board of GirlTrek, a national health movement serving over a million Black women; on the board of Chapin Hall, a nationally reputed pioneer in child and youth development research at the University of Chicago; and on the national board of Distinctive Schools. She was selected to the 2020 class of the Leadership Greater Chicago Fellowship and to the 2017 class of Allstate Foundation’s Greater Good Fellowship for nonprofit leaders. Chaula speaks on social innovation, runs design-thinking workshops, and has served as a selector for Ashoka and Echoing Green fellowships. She graduated from Mumbai University with a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications engineering and received a master’s degree in international relations from Syracuse University.
Associate Director, Onboarding and Coaching, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“I learn by trial and error—from my childhood hobby of creating thousands of lego prototypes, to tweaking 3D print designs, to lesson planning. I learn through exploration, which requires lots of time dedicated to failure.”
Camden Hanzlick-Burton is an associate director of onboarding and coaching for the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program after previously serving as a senior manager of professional learning. Prior to Digital Promise, Camden was a learning experience manager with Summit Public Schools, leading professional development and supporting schools in implementing project-based, personalized learning programs. His experience as a mentor to high school students informed his work in continuously improving their mentoring programs to support every student’s academic and socio-emotional growth. As a classroom teacher, Camden taught a variety of STEM courses in Washington and Kansas, and he was awarded the National Outstanding New Biology Teacher Award and Kansas Outstanding Biology Teacher Award. He has written next generation neuroscience curriculum for Backyard Brains, an education company that was awarded the “Champion of Change for Citizen Science” award by President Barack Obama. Camden received his B.S. in biology from the University of Kansas and his M.S. in biological sciences from Mississippi State University.
“I’ve always been inspired to learn when my innate curiosity is sparked by new experiences and observations. Questioning ‘why’ and ‘how’ ignites my learning.”
Angela Hardy is a researcher for the Learning Sciences Research team. She is passionate about connecting practitioners and researchers in ways that support learning. Her current research focuses on coaching, technology use in teaching and learning, and social studies teaching and curriculum development. Before joining Digital Promise, Angela spent eight years as a humanities teacher, engaging students from the ages of 10 to 21 in both France and Texas. While teaching, Angela founded a youth organization promoting engagement in human rights issues, coordinated a sister city Korean student exchange program, and conducted fieldwork in Morocco as part of the Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Program. She holds a B.A. in history and French from the University of North Texas and an M.A. in international education policy analysis from Stanford University.
People & Culture Manager
“I love to learn through consistent interaction! I like to observe, listen, process, and engage with unfamiliar topics and perspectives. I appreciate how much I don’t know and always look forward to embracing the knowledge and experiences of an individual willing to share.”
Tori joins the Digital Promise team as the People & Culture Associate. She has previously held HR generalist roles supporting organizations in various industries. Tori’s passion for education stems back to her time as the Public Programs Educator intern with the North Carolina Museum of History. This grew into a passion for educational equity after her time as an intern with the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools program in Charlotte. These experiences highlighted the importance of advocating for nontraditional approaches and personal connection in education. She is excited to be in a space where she can support and learn from individuals with unique interests who are all working towards a larger shared vision.
Tori received her bachelor’s degree in history from North Carolina State University and has a master’s degree in public administration with a focus in nonprofit management from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Associate Director, Sustainability and Support, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“The most interesting/fun thing I learned in the past 12 months is how to complete a quantitative doctoral dissertation utilizing descriptive statistics, and hierarchical multiple regression to analyze data. I obtained interesting insights into implementing innovative technology to support K-12 public school learning during COVID-19. The fun part was when it was completed.”
Dr. Stanley Harris serves as the director of professional learning in the west region with Verizon Innovative Learning Schools. He has more than 20 years of combined experience in business, technology, and education with learning the alignment of technology implementations with organizational initiatives. He has career experiences as a researcher, entrepreneur, management consultant, project manager, middle school special education teacher covering all subjects, and assistant lecturer in a graduate teacher preparation program. Stanley’s doctoral research examined the professional learning practices involved in innovative technology implementation during COVID-19.
Stanley earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in marketing from Morehouse College, a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Information Systems from the University of Maryland, College Park, a Master of Education from Hunter College, and a Doctorate in Education in educational leadership from UCLA. Stanley is passionate about using innovative technology to enhance learning and empower individuals to produce a systemic change in the education sector.
Associate Director, Learning Design, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“As a traveler, I love to immerse myself in cultures to conduct research, make connections with natives, and build community. Traveling the world is my go-to source for teaching and learning as a digital storyteller—the world is my classroom.”
Carissa comes to Digital Promise from District of Columbia Public Schools, where she served as a district specialist for social-emotional learning (SEL) for five years. During that time, she supported district-wide implementation of whole-child development, designed and facilitated professional developments that integrated technology and included trauma-informed and equitable practices, and provided coaching to a cluster of school-based leaders in support of the district’s Capital Commitment. Prior to that, Carissa was a Dean of SEL at a Chicago Public Charter School, an adjunct reading professor at Montgomery College, and a reading interventionist and classroom teacher in grades PK3-3rd at public and charter schools in Washington, D.C. Carissa received her B.S. in telecommunication with a concentration in public relations from Morgan State University and her M.S. in teaching, learning, and curriculum from Drexel University.
Associate Director, Onboarding and Coaching, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“As a former English teacher, I loved books that had characters who challenged the status quo. Fahrenheit 451 was one of my favorites to teach. I loved the story and the themes. My oldest son and I are listening to it now as an audiobook. He gets annoyed when I pause the book and prompt a discussion about the parallels between the text and current events.”
Kasha Hayes is an Instructional Technology Trainer for the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools initiative at Digital Promise. Kasha has served in education for more than 15 years. She has taught English/language arts in South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. While with D.C. Public Schools, Kasha supported teachers as an instructional coach before moving to Central Office. There, she wrote robust 10th and 11th grade ELA curricular units as a manager on the secondary literacy team. These units leveraged diverse texts to help students become stronger readers and writers, and at the same time develop critical consciousness. After leaving D.C. Public Schools, Kasha became an educational consultant, working with school districts across the country in creating instructional coaching programs, implementing blended learning models, and integrating technology in purposeful ways. In this role, she also worked as an instructional designer, creating and facilitating professional learning sessions based on district needs. Kasha earned her Bachelor of Science in education from the University of Georgia, and her Master of Education in social foundations from the University of Virginia.
Associate Director of Sustainability and Support, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“I learn best by doing, discussing, and reflecting. Throw me into something new so I can figure it out. I also like to discuss with others to gain their perspective and ideas. Reflection is key for my learning and growth.”
Prior to Digital Promise, Chelsea served as a job readiness curriculum developer and trainer that supported national workforce projects. She also spent 12 years in various public education roles, including sixth grade science teacher, Master Teacher, and Verizon Innovative Learning Schools Mentor Coach in Jefferson County Public Schools in Kentucky. Chelsea earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from Wright State University in Ohio.
Senior Researcher, Mathematics Education
“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.
“I currently learn a lot from my 4-year-old. He is always surprising me with his observations and insights. I love having ‘aha’ moments with him—where he is either explaining something to me, or me to him. It’s like learning a new language!”
Helen is the Salesforce administrator for Digital Promise. Before joining Digital Promise, she worked for the Harlem Children’s Zone as the Salesforce systems manager and has worked alongside numerous nonprofits as a consultant. Her primary goal has always been to create unified systems that allow teams to collect and analyze their data in comprehensive and user friendly ways. Helen holds a Master’s degree in theatre history from the University of Oklahoma.
Associate Director, Onboarding and Coaching, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“I want to know the major ideas, people, and literature of a new topic that I’m learning about to feel like I really grasp the contours of the topic. I actually loved research projects and literature reviews in college. I’m a big nerd and love seeking out and comparing reading lists, online message boards, and other resources that help me feel out the what, why, and how of something I’m learning.”
Richard Irvan is an associate director of onboarding and coaching for Verizon Innovative Learning Schools. Prior to Digital Promise, Richard spent 15 years in education, including as a teacher development coordinator, history curriculum specialist, technology integration coach, and secondary social studies teacher. He has helped found and grow charter middle and high schools in New York City and Seattle and overseen curriculum improvement initiatives to prepare students in inclusive AP for All settings. Richard is passionate about using technology to support personalized learning alongside robust mentoring to ensure all students are supported as individuals with their academic and socio-emotional development. Richard holds a B.A. in interdisciplinary social science from Michigan State University and a M.S. in educational psychology from the University of Wisconsin.
Senior 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.”
Emi Iwatani is a Senior 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.
Director of Professional Learning, Learner Variability Project
“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.”
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.
Deputy Director, Research, Evaluation, and Design, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“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.”
Associate Director, Learning Delivery, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“When faced with learning something new, I approach with a ‘can’t lose’ mentality. Learning new things can be very rewarding yet stressful in the same breath. It’s essential that before tackling a new endeavor you prepare as best you can. Prepare for the journey and get ready to embrace the outcome.”
David L. Jackson exists in the margin intending to make education a more equitable space for students and teachers who will shape the future. David comes to Digital Promise with a plethora of diverse experience in the education sector, both conventional and non-conventional (juvenile services). He started his journey in the classroom teaching reading, world history, and speech and debate, and later moved into redesigning and writing curriculum for several secondary school programs, including law and African-American literature. In the classroom, David has worked with every grade on the secondary spectrum from grade 6-12. Outside of school, he specializes in leadership, emotional, and professional development, working with students across the United States in hands-on workshops and seminars. Jackson has an interminable passion for knowledge and ensuring everyone has an opportunity to learn and better their community.
Director, Global Youth Voice
“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.”
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.
Inclusive Innovation Researcher
“I have recently shifted to thinking of learning new knowledge and skills similarly to how we think of farming and cultivating goods that nourish our bodies. Each day I try to think of what I would like to focus on nurturing as I strive to meet my learning goals.”
Alexandra Merritt Johnson is an Inclusive Innovation researcher at Digital Promise. Her research focuses on creating classroom conditions for learning that incorporate and build upon the cultural capital of Black and Brown students. In her current work, she engages in community-based research in which she collaborates with district-community teams to investigate equity issues embedded in their schools and communities. In addition, she also examines various topics related to equitable community-based R&D work such as centering racial equity in R&D processes. Alexandra earned a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University and an M.S. in Psychology from University of California, Santa Cruz. She is also a proud graduate of a Historically Black University, Virginia State University. The culturally responsive educational experiences she had at Virginia State ignited Alexandra’s passion for equity in education.
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.”
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.
“Coming of age as social media and the Internet really began to thrive showed me just what technology was capable of in helping me learn. It gave me the opportunity to both find supportive communities and access resources that my school either didn’t have or were often exclusive to those more privileged than me.”
Sana joins Digital Promise as a project manager and comes with experience in both project management and research coordination. Her research has included developing and evaluating digital mental health interventions for adolescents and methods to measure and improve culturally responsive practices in K-12 schools. This experience, combined with her education, developed her interest in how digital and web-based tools can be used to increase positive identity development in historically marginalized students. She is also interested in researching how digital tools can make culturally responsive practices in social-emotional learning and STEM education more accessible. She is a strong proponent of community voice and collaboration and ensuring that the tools that young people use help them represent who they are. Sana received her B.A. in English from Drexel University and her M.S. in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh.
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.”
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.
Program Associate, Edcamp Community
“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.
Director, Implementation, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“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.
Associate Director, Implementation
“I learn best by seeing it first and then trying it myself. I’ve always loved problem solving, and I enjoy complex challenges. I recently took apart my elliptical machine, found and replaced a faulty part, and was able to get it working again like new!”
Kurt Knueve joins Digital Promise from one of Wisconsin’s largest school districts, Madison Metropolitan School District. Kurt most recently served as a digital learning coach supporting 18 schools with a large variety of IT and integration support needs. Kurt also brings prior experience leading and managing technology integration initiatives at both the district and school level at the Verona Area School District in Wisconsin, where he was both an integration coach and classroom teacher for 20 years. Kurt received his BS in mathematics and education from Hillsdale College, and his M.Ed in educational technology from Cardinal Stritch University.
Senior Communications Manager
“I really enjoy learning from kids. The way they are endlessly curious about the ‘why’ behind things that adults accept as a given often challenges my assumptions and helps me to not overcomplicate or oversimplify things.”
Emma Kolander serves as senior communications manager on the Networks and Partnerships team. In this role, she leads communications for the League of Innovative Schools, the Edcamp Community, and the League of Innovative Students. Throughout her career, Emma has led communications, marketing, and development for a variety of organizations in the K-12 and higher education space, including The Chicago Public Education Fund, the Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and Boston Schools Fund. Emma started her career supporting consumer marketing at a public relations agency in Chicago. She made the transition to the education field by way of an AmeriCorps service year with City Year Philadelphia and a summer fellowship with Education Pioneers in Boston. Emma received her B.A. in writing, rhetoric, and discourse and public relations from DePaul University and her M.A. in public policy from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.
Associate Director, Onboarding and Coaching, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“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.
Chief Communications Officer
“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.”
Erica Lawton Weinschenk is the Chief Communications Officer at Digital Promise. In this capacity, she oversees the organization’s strategic communications, public relations, and social media programs, and leads the Communications team’s efforts to deliver impactful storytelling that inspires change in education.
Prior to joining Digital Promise, 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.
Senior Operations Manager, Micro-credentials
“Often we are taught and learn the surface when the underlying itself is not solid. Sometimes I catch myself in inherited assumptions, those things I’ve collected without my permission. Education, in all aspects, is the continued search for the always ephemeral base and for these interlopers.”
Sangyeon has worked in public and non-profit programs for over a decade, with hands-on experience in research-based and data-driven project management. Before joining Digital Promise, Sangyeon was the Program Coordinator at the Center for Learning in Practice at the Carey Institute for Global Good where she and her team worked with educators in the context of education in emergencies. She has also worked in higher education, at a research institute, and for intergovernmental organizations. In addition, she has experience with data analytics and visualization. Sangyeon holds an MA in International Development from the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.
Director, Adult Learning
“I learn by doing and listening, and I am incredibly intrigued by the lived experiences of others. I believe in the power of community, and I am motivated by an understanding that the spaces I take up today, suggest my responsibility to those who will fill those spaces tomorrow.”
Driven by the “aha moment,” Dr. Jhacole LeGrand-Dunn has spent much of her career helping individuals access these moments for themselves and others. Receiving her doctorate in Adult Learning and Organizational Change from Baylor University, M.Ed. from Texas Southern University, and BA from the University of Houston-Downtown, Jhacole is an advocate for equity and access in education, building community capacity through people, and providing engaging pathways toward success for adult learners. With more than 20 years experience in K-12, postsecondary, and adult learning, her research interests include community access and race equity in education. Prior to joining Digital Promise, Jhacole led diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) instruction for corporate partners, supported teacher development, and created curriculum content for undergraduate and graduate education programs.
Education R&D Program Manager
“Early in my life, my dad taught me that learning is not bound to a classroom and that people with fancy titles aren’t always the smartest folks in the room. This message taught me to value voices who may be traditionally overlooked. I have learned by listening intentionally and building relationships with others who have different lived experiences than I do.”
Kristian has dedicated her career to working on educational equity and is excited to join Digital Promise as the Education R&D Program Manager. Before joining Digital Promise, Kristian worked in education at the classroom, district, and state level. As a teacher, coach, and facilitator, she focused on reaching equitable outcomes by building a positive and inclusive culture. She received her Ed.D. from the University of Houston in 2020. Her research focuses broadly on school climate and teacher training.
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.”
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.
Project Director, Digital Communications
“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.”
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.
Director, Student Impact, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“The last 12 months provided more time for me to get hands-on and create! I built a DIY home gym (with concrete, sand, and lumber), learned how to refinish and stain several pieces of furniture, and experimented with tons of new recipes (food, baking, and cocktails). Ultimately, I rediscovered how important it is to keep learning in all areas of life, not just academically and professionally.”
Cameron comes to Digital Promise from Columbia Law School’s Center for Public Research and Leadership, where he worked on high-impact consulting projects for a variety of education sector clients, including school districts, nonprofits, foundations, and collective impact partnerships. During that time, he applied continuous improvement strategies to transform client operations and outcomes while also cultivating clients’ internal capacity to sustain that work into the future. Prior to that, Cameron spent eight years as an educator in Washington, D.C., public schools teaching 1st and 2nd grade, managing PK3-8th grade DCPS afterschool programs, and working for several nonprofits. He began his education career coordinating on-site early literacy intervention programming for Reading Partners as an AmeriCorps member, while also supporting Higher Achievement’s 5th-8th grade afterschool and summer programs. Cameron is passionate about developing and leveraging authentic relationships to drive responsive and effective change at the school, community, and national levels. Cameron earned a B.A. in political science from Furman University and recently completed his Master of Public Administration at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Policy.
Associate Director, Learning Delivery, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“When faced with something new, I like to dig in and play with whatever I am trying to learn. Whether it’s watching YouTube videos, searching online, or physically meddling with it with my hands, I have to have an active role in it. Then I have to walk away and let it sink into my brain.”
Sherry Loftin is an instructional technology trainer with the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools initiative. Sherry is a leader in educational innovation and brings a unique perspective to the organization due to her diverse experiences from the classroom to leading groundbreaking initiatives at the school and district levels. Before Digital Promise, Sherry led academic innovation and instructional coaching at Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development’s Apogee program for fourth- through sixth-grade gifted students. Sherry also spearheaded the implementation of project-based learning aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as digital media integration at select Chicago Public Schools. In addition, Sherry has collaborated on a literacy curriculum for the Chicago Public Schools district and facilitated district-level literacy training to network teacher leaders. At the school level, Sherry has taught second through eighth grade as a classroom teacher. As a teacher, Sherry infused leading-edge digital media literacy into instruction to guide student voice and choice as tech-savvy digital media content creators of products with real-world relevance. Sherry holds both a Bachelor of Science degree in commerce and a Master of Education in elementary teaching and learning from DePaul University.
“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.”
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.
Research Communications Manager
“I love to learn by watching video content and seeing the creative ways that digital media can convey information.”
As Research Communications Manager, Gabrielle Lue brings more than five years of communications, media relations, and social media management experience to Digital Promise. Prior to joining Digital Promise, Gabrielle led the first marketing and communications team at the edtech nonprofit organization InnovateEDU. She has also worked with various educational organizations, including Boston Public Schools’ communications department and Boston University’s public relations department. Gabrielle received her B.S. from Boston University. In her free time, she enjoys traveling and exploring new cities, making new friends, watching YouTube videos, and spending time with family.
Operations Project Manager, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“I learn through a combination of research, careful observation, and hands-on experimentation. I like to synthesize what I’ve read, what I’ve seen and heard, and what I’ve directly experienced. I thrive when I can acquire knowledge from multiple directions.”
Steven is a senior operations associate on the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools team. Prior to joining Digital Promise, he worked at Georgetown University Law Center, where he most recently oversaw accreditation processes and program implementation for continuing legal education and professional development initiatives. Previously, he provided operational support and developed task management systems for administrative staff in the Law Center’s Office of Faculty Support and Campus Services. Steven enjoys developing systems that enhance employee engagement and increase efficiency. He holds a master’s degree in legal studies from The George Washington University, professional certificates in project management and budget and finance from Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies, and a bachelor’s degree in social sciences from Thomas Edison State University.
Chief Learning Officer, Pathways & Credentials
“I learn best by example. If I have a chance to observe or experience a new learning, it is easier for me to apply it. That’s why competency-based learning and assessment is so important. It helps formally recognize all the many ways we apply new knowledge and skills throughout our lives.”
Christina Luke Luna, Ph.D., comes from a family of educators and strives to center learner and educator perspectives in her work. As Chief Learning Officer for Pathways and Credentials, she focuses on supporting shifts to competency-based learning and assessment that more fully recognize learning taking place inside and outside of formal institutions. She leads the Pathways and Credentials team, focused on Learning and Employment Innovations, Micro-credentials, Adult Learning, and Edtech Marketplace research. Collectively, we are focused on ensuring that 30 million historically and systematically excluded students are enabled to achieve postsecondary credentials that offer economic security, well-being, and agency by 2031.
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 and newspaper advisor, Christina left the classroom to become an education policy researcher with a desire to bring a practitioner’s perspective to education research. 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.
Director of Technology, 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.”
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.
Learning Sciences and Technology Post-doctoral Researcher
“When faced with learning something new, I usually start small and break the big topic or issue into smaller parts. My first inspiration to break my problems into smaller issues was reading the article about man who eats the bicycle: one piece at a time.”
Aditi Mallavarapu is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Learning Sciences and Technology at the Center for Integrative Research in Computing and Learning Sciences (CIRCLS) and the Learning Sciences Research team at Digital Promise. Her research projects all have the shared goal of building computational methods and tools to understand, support, and improve exploration-based learning in open-ended learning environments. Her research interests are to employ technical computational techniques and data-driven methods to improve the phenomenon of learning STEM concepts through non-traditional learning environments like museum exhibits, games, and other non-conventional learning media. Aditi has more than eight years of experience working with educational data. Her doctoral dissertation work analyzes and evaluates data from a digital museum exhibit at the New York Hall of Science to provide the visitors with formative feedback for navigating complex systems concepts. She takes a human-centered approach to the design and evaluation of the support tools by coordinating the research work with end-users like practitioners and supervisors. Aditi has previously served as a teaching assistant (winning department’s best teaching assistant award), an adjunct professor, and a mentor to pique interests in computer science for her fellow underserved students. This led her to work with underrepresented minorities mitigating their qualms, allowing them to realize their potentials through CS. She has been a part of the Girls who Code initiative, mentoring and tutoring middle school girls to design and build computational applications for social good.
“I’m forever a lifelong learner and am always looking for ways to incorporate something new in my work. I’m often learning from the incredibly inspiring and creative people that surround me. They motivate me to try new things and often inspire me to push the boundaries of my work.”
Prior to joining Digital Promise, Sarah was a senior designer for a medical device manufacturer in Virginia for seven years. Her career began after earning a BFA in graphic design that focused on brand identity and print. Since then, her work became more multidisciplinary and shifted more into designing for digital experiences, including web and motion graphics. She is passionate about designing with empathy and accessibility in mind. In addition to her work, Sarah serves as a board member for a nonprofit in the Charlottesville area that hosts weekly events and an annual festival for the local design community. She also enjoys painting, illustrating, playing tennis, and gaming, and she is a caretaker of three cats and three tortoises.
“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.”
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.
Associate Director, Onboarding and Coaching, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“I look to find new knowledge in everything I do. Every experience offers a chance to learn something. It is especially true when experiencing something for the first time, and becomes difficult when it is a frequent occurrence. But there is always something you didn’t know before.”
Before joining Digital Promise, Jeremy worked for 16 years in public schools; first in the classroom as a teacher and then as an instructional coach. Most recently, Jeremy was the director of 21st century learning for a public school district near Chicago. In this role, he developed and administered a 1:1 device program, implemented flexible learning environments, and instituted standards-based grading. Jeremy is passionate about utilizing data to meet student needs. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from Northern Illinois University and his Master of Arts in teaching and learning with a specialization in technology integration from Nova Southeastern University.
Project Manager, Professional Learning Communities
“I learn best through hands-on experiences and use of visuals. When I encounter something new that I’d like to know more about, I turn to YouTube, read relevant articles, or listen to podcasts.”
Jasmine joins the Digital Promise team with nearly 8 years of classroom experience instructing in English Language Arts and Reading at the middle and high school levels. In addition, she has served as a Reading Intervention Specialist, department chair, and member of a district-wide Superintendent Educator’s Roundtable to facilitate professional development and provide ongoing student and teacher support. With a heart for education and decision to be a lifelong learner, Jasmine is passionate about bringing equity to underprivileged communities.
In her most recent role, she served as a Content and Communications Manager, overseeing all aspects of written, video, and podcast content development, community events, and strategic partnerships, among other projects. Jasmine’s current role with Digital Promise combines her knowledge and real-world classroom experiences and desire to educate others excellently with spearheading efficient, yet strategic processes and projects to aid in the transformation and development of learning experiences.
As an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Jasmine takes pride in serving and being an instrumental part of her local community. Currently, she holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology with a minor in African and African American Studies from the University of Oklahoma.
Director, Science and Engineering Education Research
”I learn an immense amount from my children. 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.
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.
Dr. Barbara Means, Executive Director of Learning Sciences Research at Digital Promise, studies the effectiveness of innovative education approaches supported by digital technology. Currently, she is working with colleges and universities to redesign high-enrollment introductory courses to incorporate equity-minded pedagogy and digital learning technology in ways that enhance student engagement and course outcomes for low-income students and students of color. She also has been studying the equity impacts of the shift to remote instruction caused by the COVID-19 epidemic. Dr. Means has authored or edited more than a half dozen books related to learning and technology, including Learning Online: What Research Tells Us About Whether, When, and How. She has served on many study panels related to science education for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, including the panels that produced How People Learn I and How People Learn II. Dr. Means earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from Stanford University and her Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of California, Berkeley.
Associate Director, Recruitment and Program Design, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“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.
Project Director, District Leader/C-Suite Experience, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“I firmly believe that race, exceptionality, or zip code does not define a learner’s ability to achieve. It is through transformational and innovative partnerships between district and school leadership, families, and community-based organizations that we can break down social and political barriers to allow our scholars to have choice, voice, and engage in ways that allow them to soar.”
Jane Miller joined Digital Promise in 2021 as an associate director of professional learning for the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools initiative, and transitioned to the role of technical project director for the same program in 2022. Prior to Digital Promise, Jane spent 26 years in K-20 public education in California and Washington as a leader and advocate for decreasing barriers to support equity and access to technology. She has spent time as a classroom teacher; instructional technology facilitator, coordinator, and director for the second-largest district in Washington State; and adjunct faculty in the Department of Education at Cal State Fullerton and Washington State University. She has also served as a board member for the Northwest Council for Computer Education (NCCE) representing technology directors in the Pacific Northwest; a member of state and local committees; and as a member of the Federal Way Public Schools superintendent’s cabinet in the teaching for learning role as director of instructional technology, STEM, project-based learning, standards-based grading and reporting, and blended learning, as well as principal of the high school credit recovery program. In her role with FWPS, Jane helped establish and launch two K-8 and one 6-12 STEM PBL District Demonstration Site Lighthouse 1:1 schools; redefined programs like credit recovery with a focus on race, exceptionalities, and individual needs; and supported the successful transition to remote and hybrid learning in the most diverse district in the state of Washington and fifth-most diverse district in the nation. To continue to grow and share her expertise, Jane has also been consulting across the United States and globally since 2007, mentoring districts and schools on intentional technology integration, STEM, project-based learning, and standards-based grading and reporting.
Jane was named the 2012 NCCE Technology Leader of the Year and she has been recognized as a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert from 2016-2021. In addition, she has been honored with the 2019 Microsoft Innovative Educator Sharing is Caring Award for supporting educator growth and the 2018 NCCE Presidents Award for service to the educational community, and she was among the 2002 Top 75 Distinguished University of La Verne Educators for Excellence. Jane holds a Bachelor of Arts in diversified education, a Master of Education in curriculum and instruction, and a principal certification from Washington State University, and she is a professionally certified teacher in the state of Washington and California. When not advocating for equitable 21st century learning environments, Jane enjoys volunteering in the community through Soroptimist International, mentoring foster youth in fly fishing through The Mayfly Project, refining her fly fishing skills, and enjoying her e-reader while reclining in her camping chair.
Project & Operations Manager, Adult Learning
“I learn best through watching videos designed for self-paced learning. If I want to learn something new, I immediately search for a video tutorial online on my desired subject. Pre-recorded videos allow me to focus on a topic with which I need more insight and engage with the material in a meaningful and beneficial way for my learning style.”
Antionette Miller is the Project & Operations Manager for the Adult Learning Initiative, where she manages projects aimed to promote equity in adult education. Before joining Digital Promise, Antionette worked with the Aspen Institute’s Education & Society Program. She managed operations and finance functions during that time and provided project planning support for projects focused on providing high-quality learning experiences for education leaders. She also co-designed and implemented strategies and activities focused on cultural, workforce, and talent development. Antionette began her career in workforce services. She spent three years providing job readiness and technical skills training to residents in underserved neighborhoods in the Washington, DC area. Antionette is committed to promoting equity in adult education.
Project Director, Computational Thinking
“I learn from people who share a sense of passion and excitement for the work.”
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.
Senior Technical Product Director
“I learn from everyone. Every single person has something to contribute to your world, be it carpentry to gardening to advanced security modules for data security and privacy.”
Stefanie has worked in education for more than a decade within Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) in Louisville, Kentucky. Stefanie was the technical implementation leader for the JCPS Backpack of Success Skills, a digital skills-based portfolio based on Google Drive logic. Stefanie helped lead JCPS through a digital transformation with Google from managing 12,000 Chromebooks in 2017 to managing 117,000 user accounts, nearly 400 TB of data and 108,000 Chromebooks in 2021. Stefanie helped implement and maintain automated system administration and management between the SIS, ERP, Active Directory, and Google Directory. Before becoming the senior Google administrator and IT project manager at JCPS, Stefanie worked in district-level IT support and as a school technology coordinator at a JCPS visual and performing arts magnet school. Before her career in education, Stefanie lived in Minnesota, where she gathered in experience in Congressional district constituent care, news media and publishing, and higher education operations. Stefanie is currently pursuing an advanced degree in organizational learning and leadership (CTE) at the University of Louisville, and she has previous education and experience in computer science/forensics.
Project Director, Student Learning Experience, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“I prefer to learn through observation and action. I appreciate being given examples and clear objectives, and then allowed freedom and flexibility to put my own spin on things. I love to create, collaborate, and problem-solve. I believe that that there are always opportunities to grow and learn.”
Neilou Mogharabi joins Digital Promise as an Associate Director of Professional Learning for Verizon Innovative Learning Schools. Prior to Digital Promise, Neilou spent a decade in education, including as a computer science coach and curriculum developer, instructional lab coordinator, and elementary school teacher. She has provided professional development training and coaching for hundreds of teachers, administrators, and Teach for America corps members on computer science integration, instructional data use, student-centered learning and technology integration. Neilou also has experience as a learning and development manager and video production team lead, and has chaired multiple committees, including Parent and Family Involvement. She has worked with a diverse population of students within K-12 and at the community college level. Neilou is passionate about the importance of education and strives to give all students a voice. She believes that developing strong relationships is the foundation for everything, personally and professionally. Neilou holds a B.A. from the University of Southern California and a Masters in Educational Leadership from Chaminade University of Honolulu.
Director, Student Impact, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“I hope to keep learning in every stage of my life. It’s invigorating to stretch my brain, be in an uncomfortable place, and then climb over the struggle of grasping a new concept. I started learning English at the age of eight. I found the challenge so rewarding. Being academically behind my peers taught me grit and persistence throughout the entire journey.”
Farheen Beg Mohammad taught math, social studies, and technology before starting her education administration career. Farheen began her professional career as a software engineer with Accenture. In her previous role as the Strategy and Innovation Director of Technology, she transitioned her district to a 1:1 device program and has been a huge advocate for implementing impactful collaborative platforms that are aligned with the curriculum and the latest standards. One of her more recent projects was to redesign learning spaces to meet the needs of all learners. Farheen earned her undergraduate degree in computer science from Depaul University, her master of education from National-Louis University, and her master’s in educational leadership from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Associate Director of Learning Design, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“When it dawned on me that through the internet I finally had a never-ending resource of information, I realized that the reach of internet and technology could help me learn anything I wanted, no matter how big or small. The internet gives me boundless access to any curiosity that crosses my mind. It’s my 8-year-old self’s dream life—every question I’ve ever had just might have an answer.”
Mallory Morris joins Digital Promise with more than 16 years of experience in K-12 public education. Most recently, Mallory served as the coordinator of data, design, and innovation for DeSoto Independent Schools in Texas. In that role she co-led the strategic planning process, led three schools through whole-school redesign, and supported curriculum and teacher development. Before her work in DeSoto, Mallory was a 7th grade reading and writing teacher and assistant principal in Champaign, Illinois. Mallory earned her B.S. in elementary education with a minor in psychology, her M.Ed in curriculum and instruction, and her M.Ed in educational organization and leadership, all from the University of Illinois. She is currently pursuing her Ed.D in educational management and leadership with a concentration in creativity and innovation from Drexel University.
Associate Director of Implementation, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“I have recently learned more about esports, which is a great opportunity that allows school systems to leverage technology in a way that engages students and connects gaps between school and leisure. The more I have learned about it, the more I get excited for the future potential impact these types of programs will have on the 21st century learner!”
Sara joins the Digital Promise team after spending the past eight years serving the largest virtual public charter district in the state of Louisiana. Her past roles include teacher, master teacher, technology facilitator, and director of technology and curriculum for the district. Sara has experience with 1:1 device implementation, delivery, and management. She has a passion for equitable access to 21st century technology and for developing systems where technology is used to enhance the learning environment for every student. Sara earned her Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of New Orleans and her M. Ed. in curriculum and instruction from Louisiana State University, where she is currently working on her doctoral degree in the same field.
Senior Quantitative Researcher / 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.”
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.
Senior 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.
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.
“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.”
As Director of Communications, My Nguyen brings more than 12 years of communications, media relations, marketing, and social media management experience to Digital Promise. Prior to joining Digital Promise, My led 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. Earlier in her career, she drove the digital strategy for VistaGraphics, a media company with roots in publishing and more than 40 titles in the hospitality, lifestyle, and specialized genres.
My received her Bachelor of Arts in Online Journalism and Multimedia Authoring from Elon University in North Carolina. She is involved with the National Organization for Vietnamese American Leadership of Greater Washington, DC (NOVAL-DC), a service-based nonprofit organization with a mission to build sustainable leadership in the Vietnamese American community and preserve the Vietnamese cultural heritage. She cares deeply about building connections and sharing the stories found at the intersections of creativity, technology, community, and education. In her free time, she enjoys watching live music, kayaking, reading, visiting museums around DC, trying new recipes, and spending time with family and friends.
Research Project Director, Lifelong Learning Pathways
“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.”
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.
“When I’m faced with learning something new, I think the very first thing that happens is a quick internal pep talk to reassure myself that however difficult or daunting the new thing seems, I’ll figure it out somehow. Then, I dig in!”
Hillary Greene Nolan is an education researcher at Digital Promise. In her research, she draws on her experiences as a middle school teacher as well as her research background. She has taught in a variety of settings and gained new insights from every community. She learned to teach in an apprenticeship program at Shady Hill School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a 100-year-old program upon which teacher residency models are partly based today. Before completing her Ph.D. in education, she taught middle school in a suburb of Boston, in a charter school in New Hampshire, and on a military base in Massachusetts. She then completed her Ph.D. in Teaching and Teacher Education at the University of Michigan, where she worked primarily on research projects in collaboration with Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Consortium for School Research, investigating features of student teaching, hiring practices, and pathways to preparation. In her own dissertation research, she focused on the relational experiences of teaching and learning in a mixed-methods study examining the practices teachers use to build relationships, students’ perceptions of those practices, students’ perceptions of feeling holistically known by their teacher, and the personal or professional experiences teachers believe they draw upon to connect with their students. After completing her Ph.D., she returned to middle school teaching for two years in Providence, Rhode Island, which coincided with COVID-19 and a navigation to online and hybrid instruction.
Associate Director, Onboarding and Coaching, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“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 8 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 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.A. as a triple major in Politics, Law & Society, and African American Studies from Oberlin College, his M.A. in Childhood Education from Relay Graduate School of Education, and his M.Ed in Technology, Innovation, and Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Director, Learning and Employment Innovations
“At a young age I learned how to code, and this opened me up to the idea of building digital worlds, products. and experiences. It also taught me about ways to access information and learning anywhere in the world.”
Dr. Kelly Page is a social design ethnographer, social and digital innovator, committed to developing truly social cultures, people, and organizations with emerging and social technology.
Kelly has a Ph.D. in the Psychology of Web (Hypermedia) Knowledge and an obsession with learning innovation, evaluation, and social storytelling. She has over 18 years of experience working at the intersection of social innovation, social design, and learning of mediated social experiences for startups, universities, schools, and school Districts, to Fortune 500 companies. She believes that innovative and entrepreneurial thinking is at the heart of creating truly social cultures, organizations, and leaders.
Currently, Director of Learning and Employment Innovations at Digital Promise, Kelly is leading an initiative focused on the application of emerging technologies like digital badging, blockchain technology, and Learning and Employment Records (LERs) that center the needs of secondary, postsecondary, and workforce learners who have been historically excluded, to spur innovation to advance equity and improve the opportunity to learn for all learners.
Her work has been published in leading peer-reviewed academic education, technology, and business journals, such as Journal of Business Research, Studies in Higher Education, Computers in Human Behavior, International Journal of Interactive Marketing, International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, Psychology & Marketing, Behavior & Information Technology; and been featured in The New York Times, Fast Company, and The Wall Street Journal. Her work has received awards from IDMA and a BIMA – Best in British Digital.
Kelly is also the founder and curator of social design studio, LWYL Studio and previously served as the Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) and Research Fellow in Residence (2017-2019) at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA). She has held visiting scholar appointments at Northwestern School of Communication (USA), Cranfield School of Management (UK), Grenoble Ecole de Management (France), and Alba Graduate School of Business (Greece) among others.
You can connect with Kelly here or on Twitter, Telegram, and Discord via @drkellypage.
Research Manager, Learning Sciences Research
“There are multiple ways to learn, so I don’t think there is only one way I learn, but I learn best by doing. Hands-on experiences make learning more meaningful and fun for me.”
Deblina Pakhira is a Research Manager at Digital Promise. She has more than 10 years of research, teaching, evaluation, and project/program management experience in the field of chemistry and education, working with academia and nonprofit organizations in the U.S. and India. Deblina has been pursuing her passion for education technology by working on various products and classroom interventions in formal and informal learning environments. Her academic research and evaluation work focused on analyzing departmental policy and regulations, research-based best practices in classrooms including blended learning, and early adoption of technology in classrooms. Through her work she strives to bridge the gap between research and practice, and to empower the next generation to become actively engaged digital citizens and makers of technology who can create a positive impact in the world. Before joining Digital Promise, Deblina worked as associate director of education at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. Deblina holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Kansas.
Senior 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!”
Barbara Pape is the Senior Director of the Learner Variability Project (LVP), where she hosts a monthly webinar series that connects research with whole child teaching and learning. 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.
“When I was 12, I discovered the resourcefulness of the Internet—even in the age of dial-up. I stayed up all night learning how to use HTML to make a (very tacky) website.”
Daniel A. Parker is a quantitative researcher with the Learning Sciences Research team. He holds an Ed.D. in Adult & Lifelong Learning from the University of Arkansas; an M.Sc. in information science from City, University of London; and a B.A. in history from Arkansas State University. Before joining Digital Promise, his research focused on learning strategies for adult learners. Additionally, he brings many years of experience working in institutional research, assessment, and distance education at two- and four-year colleges and as an adjunct instructor in computer programming and web development.
Senior Researcher, Center for Inclusive Innovation
“I have learned from teaching students in urban schools that equity work is urgent and ongoing. I have also learned that bridging the digital divide and making technology accessible to all is crucial to equitable outcomes in school and in broader society. There is work to be done.”
Dr. Lynette Parker joins Digital Promise’s Center for Inclusive Innovation after a 25-year history as an educator and researcher. She recently completed an Equity and Inclusion in STEM postdoctoral researcher position at Vanderbilt. Dr. Parker began her teaching career in Compton Unified School District and has taught from coast to coast (Los Angeles to New York) in both district and charter schools, gaining experience about the state of education that informs her work as a researcher and evaluator. Dr. Parker has taught in K-12 schools, community college, and at the university level. She has an MS in Applied Statistics and Research Methods from the University of Northern Colorado, an MA in Educational Administration from NYU, and a PhD in Educational Policy from UC Berkeley.
Dr. Parker is committed to improving the experiences of teachers, students, and families in urban communities. She believes that the role of technology in eliminating the achievement gap is crucial, and that addressing the digital divide for parents and students is a key component of equity work in education.
Project Director, Project Topeka
“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.”
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.
Director, Educator Community Partnerships
“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.”
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.
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.”
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.
Vice President & 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.”
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.
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.”
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).
Learning Experience Designer
“I still remember editing HTML in Xanga and MySpace in middle school before I even really knew what coding was—I should have known then how instrumental technology would be in my life. The ability to create something from nothing is just the most exhilarating way to learn.”
Starian joins Digital Promise from the world of secondary public education, where she most recently served as an instructional coach in Allen Independent School District collaborating with teachers and leadership.
In her previous role, she facilitated professional learning, advocated for students and teachers, and supported the integration of technology in a rapidly changing district. Prior to becoming an instructional coach, she was in the secondary classroom in multiple capacities—as an English teacher, yearbook advisor, and athletic coach. These experiences helped her learn the intricacies and intersectionality of teacher and student identities, which she explored as a contributing writer with MovingWriters.org, sharing her experiences with creating unique learning experiences for writers during the turbulence of virtual learning.
By way of North Texas, she originally hails from Kansas City and holds a B.A. in English Language & Literature with a minor in Secondary Education from the University of Saint Mary as well as a Masters in Curriculum & Instruction with an emphasis in TESOL, Linguistics, and & Identity from KU and an M.Ed in Educational Leadership from the University of North Texas.
She believes that every student and education professional deserves an environment and learning experience that allows them to grow, learn, and teach sin miedo. She has committed her educational career to creating safe spaces wherever she goes in the name of equity, inclusion, and mental and emotional health and safety because everyone should be able to experience learning without fear.
Postsecondary Field Research Director
“I learn from the people around me.”
Emily is the Postsecondary Field Research Director with the Learning Sciences Research team. Professionally, Emily hopes her work will help boost the socio-economic mobility of historically excluded populations. In her prior positions, she has enjoyed applying her training through both the “front,” and the “back” ends of research, whether managing a complex portfolio of research and evaluation activities as the Director of Research and Evaluation at Harlem Children’s Zone or implementing randomized control trial evaluations of school-based interventions in early childhood and K-12 educational settings. Emily received her M.S. and Ph.D. in human development and family studies from Pennsylvania State University and her B.S. in psychology from Fordham University.
Associate Director of Sustainability & Support, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“I learn from everyone and everything—nothing is off-limits! I love videos and working with people to see things in real time, jot down a few notes with my colorful pens, and I roll up my sleeves and do it.”
Nicole Reynolds is a former director of technology and school administrator. As a business educator, she has taught K-12 students and adult learners as an adjunct professor. She has supported the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion for digital teaching and learning, literacy, and more by collaborating with peers and serving on several committees over the years to develop strategic solutions for long-term positive impact for students and families.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
Director of Operations, 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!”
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.
Senior Research Scientist, Learning Sciences and Emerging Technologies
“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 senior research scientist 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’s research focuses on equity and accountability in artificial intelligence (AI), the intended and unanticipated consequences of emerging technologies, inclusion and belonging in computing, the application of emerging technologies for teaching and learning, and educator professional learning. Pati holds a B.S. and M.A. from Santa Clara University and an Ed.D. from Pepperdine University.
Director, Student Impact, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“I love capturing moments in our daily life that tells a story. Thus, my next stop in the learning journey would be to learn the art of photography.”
Khyati Sanjana joins the Digital Promise team from Houston Independent School District where she was the academic instructional technology team manager, leading district professional development opportunities and student conferences, and successfully implementing Verizon Innovative Learning Schools Cohort 7 across six campuses. Prior to that, she worked as an instructional technology coach in Houston ISD, supporting K-12 teachers with leveraging technology utilizing research-based instructional practices. Khyati is also a former middle school teacher, with foundational work in Montessori education. Khyati received her Bachelor’s of Science degree from the University of Houston and Master’s of Education from Texas Southern University.
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.”
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.
Project Director, VILS Communications
“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.”
Jessica oversees communications efforts for Verizon Innovative Learning Schools at Digital Promise. She previously also managed communications for the Dynamic Learning Project, Micro-credentials, and Product Certifications initiatives. Prior to Digital Promise, Jessica 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.
Senior Research Associate
“To me, every new challenge is a chance to learn and better prepare myself for the future. I learn best from the process of actively trying and doing, and I relish opportunities to improvise and be creative.”
John Seylar is a research associate on the Learning Sciences Research team. He uses his knowledge of various software tools to design innovative data collection, analysis, and reporting techniques. John also leverages his writing skills on various proposals, reports, literature reviews, and other works. John’s research focuses on emerging forms of teacher and principal professional development. He is especially interested in how these new opportunities are influenced by technology and active learning. Before he joined Digital Promise, John worked as a test preparation instructor in his hometown in Minnesota. John holds a dual degree in history and government from Claremont McKenna College.
Senior Policy Research Associate
“Curiosity fuels my passion for learning! Every new city, forest, book or conversation I stumble upon is an opportunity for me to expand and question my existing knowledge.”
Zohal is a Senior Policy Research Associate for policy partnerships. She has prior experience working in the EdTech industry and most recently, she graduated with her M.Ed. in Technology, Innovation, and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She also has experience conducting quantitative and qualitative research at the Harvard & Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the Learning, Innovation, and Technology Lab at Harvard, respectively. Outside of work, she enjoys hiking, running, reading and baking.
“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.”
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.
Director, CTE and GCEN
“My work in global education is driven by a passion to ensure a more peaceful society. As the Dalai Lama said, ‘Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways.'”
Heather Singmaster is Director, CTE and GCEN, at Digital Promise where her work focuses on international best practices in education and the integration of global career readiness skills into Career Technical Education (CTE) programs. Heather leads the Global Cities Education Network (GCEN), an international network of cities focused on sharing best practices in education. In partnership with ACTE and Advance CTE, she created the Global Competence Through CTE program, which includes two sets of online professional development modules and resources to support K-12 CTE educators to integrate career-readiness skills into their classrooms through the use of global project-based learning. Currently, she is working on a project to support community college faculty in internationalizing their courses to benefit all students.
In addition to speaking and writing regularly on global education, including as the former host of Education Week’s Global Learning blog for eight years, Heather delivers professional development workshops for K-12 and postsecondary educators. Heather worked at the Center for Global Education at Asia Society for 18 years and is excited to continue this work at Digital Promise. Previously she held positions at the Council on Foreign Relations, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Office of the United States Trade Representative.
Heather holds a master’s degree focused in Anthropology from New York University and a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from George Washington University. She is proud to serve on the board of the Longview Foundation for World Affairs and International Understanding.
Chief Inclusive Innovation Officer
“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.”
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.
Senior Project Manager, Powerful Learning Design
“I learn from my kids and the elderly. They teach me to be fearless, empathetic and to live in the now.”
Maria Teresa Solorzano has 14 years of experience as an advocate for early learning education, focused on educational justice by helping every child succeed in school and life. Maria Teresa served as the director of quality assurance where she developed systems of program implementation, streamlined project management and business operations, and built enduring relationships with school administrators, educators, and families in the city of Los Angeles and surrounding communities. In addition, she oversaw the development of digital innovation efforts to provide educators the tools needed to create equitable learning environments and spearheaded the creation of immersive virtual reality classroom tour experiences aimed at helping parents find quality early childhood education programs for their children.
Maria Teresa holds a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies from California State University Dominguez Hills and a Master of Arts in Learning Technologies from Pepperdine University.
“There is a saying that if you are the smartest person in the room, you’re surrounding yourself with the wrong people. I’m lucky that I can learn by watching, doing, or hearing. For me, the most important part of learning is being open to what others have to teach.”
Blake is a certified public accountant that comes to Digital Promise with experience in finance/accounting, human resources, and technology operations. Prior to joining Digital Promise, he was senior manager for Elliott Davis, a top 40 U.S. accounting firm, providing accounting and management consulting services to high-growth mid-market healthcare companies. Blake also spent 6.5 years as dead of finance for Catoosa County Public Schools in northwest Georgia. During his tenure, he helped guide the system to a low-risk audit designation, received the system’s first ever Award of Distinction for Excellent Financial Reporting from the state of Georgia, and was named a finalist for K-12 Financial Innovator of the Year by Arista Consulting Group.
Blake comes from a family of educators, and he strongly believes a quality education is the foundation on which every child should be able to build their life. He currently serves as board treasurer for two non-profit organizations and was previously board president for Georgia Accounting Information Network Support. Blake holds an M.B.A and B.B.A in accounting.
Deputy Director, Learning Design and Delivery, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“I embrace the notion that learning is change. I learn by breaking things apart, examining the relationships among smaller pieces and how they fit into larger systems, then experimenting with new and different ways to reassemble them.”
Dr. Jeffrey Starr leads the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools Learning Design & Delivery department, overseeing the development and facilitation of a range of professional learning opportunities. He brings a wealth of experience as a learning designer, curriculum developer, educator, and leader with a specialty in online learning. Prior to joining Digital Promise, Jeffrey served served as the senior director of instructional design for Relay Graduate School of Education; led the learning experience design for a popular edtech startup, Zearn Math; and oversaw the development and implementation of the curriculum for the startup teacher residency program that became the Alder Graduate School of Education. He has extensive experience teaching and coaching in K-12 schools, where he helped to codify effective instructional practices that supported the growth of successful charter schools in Massachusetts, New York, and California. Dr. Starr has also taught graduate level courses for a number of institutes of higher education, where his research interests center on active learning in online spaces, responsive models of professional learning, and digital equity. He earned a B.A. in history and education from Brown University, an M.A. in computing and education from Columbia University’s Teachers College, and an Ed.D. in leadership and innovation from Arizona State University.
Associate Director, Learning Design, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“I am a hands-on learner who likes to jump in headfirst when learning new things.”
Lucara comes to Digital Promise with more than 15 years of experience in K-12 education. She most recently served as the instructional technology specialist at a middle school in Houston, Texas. In this role, Lucara developed a partnership with students, teachers, and parents as she transitioned the campus to one of the first 1:1 middle schools in her district. During her tenure, she managed all IT and instructional technology programs, including device deployment and management, technical support, and professional development. Before her work as an instructional technology specialist, Lucara was a middle school social studies teacher and a district content specialist, instructional coach, and curriculum writer. Lucara received her Bachelor of Arts in political science and sociology from Houston Baptist University and her Master’s degree in learning technologies from the University of North Texas.
Director of Research, Learner Variability Project
“The most interesting thing I learned in the past year is what the infrastructure of a house looks like. With the fearlessness only hours of YouTube videos can provide, my husband and I have successfully completed both a major kitchen and bathroom renovation in our old Victorian. If an expert plumber turned YouTuber can cut into a wall and move pipes around, why not us? The internet makes anything seem possible, as long as you have the right tools.”
Jennifer comes to Digital Promise from New Classrooms Innovation Partners, where she served as the Director of Assessment and Evaluation, delving into better understanding the most effective aspects of Teach to One, a personalized math learning model. Previously, she worked as a researcher for the New York City Department of Education’s Office of Innovation, studying early blended learning models and whole school redesign efforts. Jennifer’s commitment to school innovation also included many years of service on the board of the International Charter School in Brooklyn. As the author of “Gentrification and Schools,” Jennifer is an advocate for making progress where it can be made, even if entire systems cannot easily be changed. Prior to earning her doctorate in Politics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, Jennifer taught government and politics to high school students in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Fairfax County (Virginia), and served as a research, press, and legislative assistant to U.S. Senator Harry Reid.
Associate Director, Sustainability and Support, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“The best way I learn, outside of observation and talking with others to gain their perspectives, is to jump right in and get my hands dirty! Personalized learning is ever-evolving; therefore, we must be willing to do the same!”
Nipa comes to Digital Promise with more than 15 years of experience in the education and professional learning fields. Prior to Digital Promise, Nipa was an education consultant for edtech companies, ensuring quality implementation of programs, building strong professional relationships, and improving customers’ optimal learning outcomes. She also brings classroom and leadership experience, having served as a teacher, team lead, instructional coach, and instructional technology specialist for the largest school district in Texas. Nipa closely supported K-12 schools and built strong partnerships through multiple district-wide initiatives, including piloting project-based learning in K-8, a 1:1 Chromebook initiative, and increased usage of digital literacy programs throughout grades K-8. Leading multiple programs, she has directed effective professional developments; presented various innovative trainings locally, regionally, and nationally; and co-created courses for students to receive micro-credentials. After being part of the original Parent University program, where parents receive lessons on core content so they could reinforce their child’s learning at home, Nipa is a strong believer in and a passionate advocate for empowering the community as a whole: parents, students and educators for all to grow and succeed. Nipa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Michigan State University and a Master of Arts from Wayne State University.
Deputy Director, Internal Professional Learning and Coaching, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“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.”
Dr. Courtney L. Teague is the Director of Professional Learning Content and Learner Experience with the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools initiative at Digital Promise Global. She collaborates across school districts, external partners, and Digital Promise Global to help craft a synchronized approach to define instructional strategy & approach to instructional tech coaching, mentoring, professional learning, and efficiency. Prior to Digital Promise, she served as a technology training integration specialist, special education teacher, and a Digital Learning System Administrator on assignment at McKinsey & Company. She also is the author of “How to win students and inspire them” and she serves as a contributing blogger for various educational think tanks. Dr. Courtney’s current research focuses on coaching; diversity, equity, and inclusion; powerful instructional technology use; and leadership development.
She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Collaborative Teaching, a Master of Public Administration from Troy University, an Education Specialist in Brain-Based Teaching from Nova Southeastern University, and a Doctorate in Instructional Technology and Distance Education from Nova Southeastern University. She is also a certified executive coach and Prosci Certified Change Practitioner. Dr. Courtney lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her dog, GoHan.
Deputy Director, Operations, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“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).”
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.
Manager, Technical Systems, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“The smartest person in the room is the room. Every voice is important, and breakthroughs can come from anywhere. I believe learning is a lifelong process, and people and systems can always be improved. A lot of times, all it takes is a little push.”
Jim started his technical and training career in the United States Army. After his last tour at the Fort Knox Armor School, Jim moved into the private sector, conducting electrical and solution training from coast to coast, before moving into public education in 2009. Jim was the Verizon Innovative Learning Coach for the 2018-19 school year in a Jefferson County Cohort 5 middle school. His systems and processes helped to maintain a below-average breakage and loss rate. After a successful year, Jim moved to the Jefferson County Public Schools Digital Innovation team as a technical lead, where he supported 31 elementary schools and 28 middle schools with technology and digital tool implementation. Also, through his direction, the Minecraft for Education strategy for the district serving 100,000 students grew to more than 25,000 users per month. Jim loves building systems and scaling strategies to help support a large audience, whether adults or students.
Research Program Manager
“I like to hear and read a lot of different perspectives when I am learning something new so I can connect the ideas together to get a full picture of the thing I am learning about. This is as true for learning a new recipe as it is for understanding some new aspect of my work.”
Rochelle is the research program manager for Learning Sciences Research. Prior to joining Digital Promise, Rochelle worked at Lucas Education Research where she focused on managing work related to project-based learning, science curriculum, and interdisciplinary education, as well as translating research findings to a practitioner audience. Rochelle has also managed a wide range of formal and informal science education programs from leading and developing field trip programs at California Academy of Sciences, to designing curriculum at Lawrence Hall of Science, to managing K-12 engineering outreach at the University of Southern California. Rochelle received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from University of California, San Francisco, where she focused on understanding chronic pain.
Senior Project Manager, Marketplace Initiative
“I’ve recently learned to lean into feeling uncomfortable. When you’re uncomfortable, it often means you have an opportunity for growth. Turning moments of uncertainty into skill building is a great way for me to continue my own learning journey.”
Parker has a background in teaching language arts at a bilingual school, in edtech student operations, and in high school and college admissions. He brings a passion for language-identity and language-learning equity to his role at Digital Promise, where he supports the creation and adoption of Product Certifications for edtech tools. He holds a B.A. in Applied Linguistics from Grinnell College and an M.A. in Linguistics from the University of Amsterdam, where he researched the long-term efficacy of bilingual school programs in Europe.
Senior Researcher, Center for Inclusive Innovation
“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.”
Mai Chou is a researcher with more than ten years of experience in education. At Digital Promise, her research focuses on coaching and mentoring, early literacy, and middle school writing.
Prior to Digital Promise, Mai Chou worked on evaluation, research, and technical assistance projects related to youth financial capability; state standards, assessments, and accountability systems; college and career readiness; and teacher incentives. Before that, she helped run an after-school program and worked with teachers and students in the classroom through Americorps.
Mai Chou earned an MA in Education Policy from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a BA in Architecture (with a minor in education) from UC Berkeley.
Director, Systems Design and Architecture, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“I learn by doing and reading everything I can about new technologies. Watching how kids use technology every day has been a big indicator of how important it is to education, and I’m always looking for the next exciting tech to emerge.”
Triet is the director of systems design and architecture for the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools team. Prior to joining Digital Promise, he developed learning management systems and platforms for higher education. As a solutions-oriented technologist and developer, his focus is to find technology solutions to simplify and improve the functions and methods for problems for which he is tasked to solve. Triet holds a bachelor’s degree in cellular biology from the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in information management systems from Harvard University.
Chief Strategy 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.”
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.
Chief Digital Equity Officer
“I learn best when the content is meaningful, engaging, and slightly above my comfort zone; when the learning experiences are authentic and personalized; when it can happen anywhere and at anytime; and when I’m able to produce something new and real as a result of what I’ve learned.”
D’Andre J. Weaver. Ph.D. is a native of Chicago’s South Side who understands the life-changing power of amazing teachers and a quality public education. As Digital Promise’s first Chief Digital Equity Officer (CDEO), he oversees the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools (VILS) program, part of Verizon’s flagship education initiative with a national network of more than 500 Title I schools. In addition, he works with a variety of stakeholders at the federal, state, regional, and local levels to advance digital equity across the United States.
As a former public school teacher, principal, senior leader, and superintendent, Dr. Weaver cares deeply about helping students realize their dreams. His leadership is centered around equity and access, learner-centered approaches, advancing digital equity, and organizational health. He is a board member at the Chicago Public Education Fund and the Mastery Transcript Consortium, as well as a Pahara Fellow, Racial Equity Leadership Network Fellow, and a member of Education Leaders of Color (EdLoc), Men of Color in Educational Leadership (MCEL), and several local and national educator associations.
Chief Learning Officer, 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.”
As the lead for Digital Promise’s Learning Experience Design team, Josh supports the development of innovative student and professional learning experiences that center learner variability, real world relevance, and cultural context to empower the next generation of creators and change makers. Focus areas of his work include computational thinking, maker learning, and learning with emerging technologies. 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.
Associate Director, Learning Delivery, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“The next thing I want to learn is a little out in left field: cookie decorating. I played around over the holidays and found it to be a great way to channel my creativity and de-stress. The best part is that you get to eat your mistakes!”
Erin is an instructional technology trainer for the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program. Prior to joining Digital Promise, Erin was an instructional technology coach in Virginia, where she developed division professional learning plans in addition to facilitating and coaching teachers on using data to drive their instruction and meet the needs of all of their learners through PLCs and one-on-one coaching cycles. Erin has extensive experience with integrating technology and holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin.
Inclusive Innovation Researcher
“I am always learning and feel that learning can take place in many forms. I learn from the conversations I have with people, I learn from my observations of people, and I also learn from my interactions with people. I do not limit myself to interacting with people who are similar to me. When I do have interactions with individuals, I like to seek out those who have different life experiences.”
Dr. Latia White grew a passion for equity in education as an undergraduate student at the University of Virginia. It was during her time as a volunteer in a local school that sparked her passion for creating equitable outcomes for Black and Brown students. Dr. White obtained a graduate degree in Special Education and a doctorate degree in Organizational Leadership with an emphasis in Special Education to support her pursuit for reducing the educational disparities and addressing the disproportionality of Black and Brown students in special education. She has spent the last 20 years working in K-12 public school systems in Virginia, North Carolina, and Nevada as a special education teacher, instructional coach, and learning strategist. Dr. White has a passion for increasing the capacity of teachers to use culturally responsive teaching practices and for incorporating equity into schoolwide systems to improve educational outcomes and opportunities for Black and Brown students.
People & Culture Associate
“I am someone who loves to learn by hands-on or immersive methods; this way I can be a better ally, friend, and supporter. Albert Einstein once said, ‘In matters of truth and justice there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same.’ I seek to learn from those who are around me so I can treat each problem or concern with validation. Though I may not understand, there are many who will educate us on the struggle they experience every day.”
Dakota’s passion is emphasizing people and equality. She has worked in a wide array of businesses ranging from Deaf education to real estate to the tattoo and body modification industry. Dakota received her B.S in social psychology with on emphasis in language and child development. In the last three years of corporate work, Dakota has been instrumental in the creation and execution of diversity panels within the work place, promoting accessibility, innovating adult learning, and onboarding within the workplace. As a Deaf Mexican-American woman who is a member of LGBTQ+ community, human and civil rights and equality are what fuels her passion and continues to motivate her to help improve both schools and businesses.
“I learn by seeing, doing, and moving. Keeping still is next to impossible for both my brain and my body.”
Korah Wiley is a Learning Sciences Researcher whose interests lie at the intersection of STEM classroom research and development. She earned a B.S. in Biochemistry from Texas A&M University in College Station, an M.S. in Molecular Cancer Biology from Duke University, and a Ph.D. in Science and Math Education from the University of California, Berkeley. Driven by her academic and professional experiences in the STEM field as a cancer researcher and her 10+ years as a biology instructor at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, Korah has a passion for developing and investigating ways to improve STEM teaching and learning. She is particularly interested in developing education technology that can be used methodologically to provide insight into teaching and learning and in supporting educators to provide students with equitable and empowering learning experiences. In addition to classroom instruction, Korah has engaged in worked at the local and state levels of the K-16 education system. She has designed and conducted professional development for STEM educators, developed and led numerous STEM pathways programs for minoritized and first-generation middle and high school students, and spearheaded a STEM teacher training and retention program. Korah is an avid learner and loves to find connections amongst varied and complex topics.
“I enjoy learning from my peers and community leaders. When we’re together, we tend to discuss everything from current events to the latest fashion trends. I’m grateful to have such friends and family whom I can learn from their experience.”
Before joining Digital Promise, Crystal served as an Account Executive at Tierney, a Philadelphia-based marketing agency. There created press materials and garnered media coverage for brands such as McDonald’s, Yuengling, Burlington Stores, and more. Previously she spent 3 years as a Communications Manager with Friends of the National Arboretum in Washington D.C. She holds a B.A. in Communications specializing in Public Relations and Advertising.
Senior Operations Associate
“Last year, I decided to learn how to trade currency through the foreign exchange market. It was a rigorous venture that allowed me to learn and communicate the importance of investing as a person connected to the BIPOC community.”
Before joining Digital Promise, Kianie Williams worked with LYRIC: Center for LGBTQQ+ Youth, an organization that supports at-risk youth. She managed building operations and facilities while providing aid across various departments. Kianie brings four years of experience encompassing an expansive range of strategic and organizational planning and project management to her role at Digital Promise. Kianie is intrigued by the changes in education and supports implementing fresh ideas and perspectives through technology and training.
Haiti Project Director
“I like to learn by doing–by trying new things, seeing whether or not they work, and continually problem-solving. I also enjoy closely observing people who are better than me at something, to see what makes them successful. When faced with a complex challenge, I often like to write to process and organize my thoughts.”
April Williamson is the Haiti project director at Digital Promise. Prior to joining Digital Promise, she spent six years as a high school math teacher and instructional coach in public schools in Washington, D.C. She has also served as a distinguished modern classrooms educator and expert mentor for the Modern Classrooms Project, focusing on integrating blended learning, mastery-based grading, and self-pacing into the classroom.
Previously, April worked as a project manager and researcher for global health and education projects around the world. She has also served as an environmental health educator with the Peace Corps in Senegal and an AmeriCorps volunteer partnering with public middle schools in Madison, Wis. She holds a bachelor’s degree in art, French, and African studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree in global affairs from Yale University.
Associate Director of Learning Design, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
“I learn best when I have the opportunity to internalize complex ideas, collaborate with my peers, and share what I’ve learned through discussion or real-world problem solving.”
Savannah Windham joined the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools team in October 2022 as associate director of learning design. She is passionate about using design to solve complex real-world problems in education. As a former public high school English teacher in Durham, North Carolina, Savannah strived to find new and creative ways to engage her students, creating several new course curricula rooted in project-based learning and centering student voice and leadership. While in the classroom, she was awarded the Stanford Hollyhock Fellowship, received her National Board Certification, served as a mentor for beginning teachers at Duke TeachHouse, and participated in international education-focused cultural exchanges to Finland, Canada, and Nepal. Prior to joining Digital Promise, Savannah served as an instructional designer and education consultant for Harvard Medical School, Duke TeachHouse, Red Hat, Metametrics, and Relay Graduate School of Education. Savannah earned her B.A. in English from the University of Kansas, a M.A. in teaching from Duke University, and a M.A. in educational innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Chief Inclusive Innovation Researcher
“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.”
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.
Senior Manager, Research and Development
“We can find brilliance in many spaces and places, and it is our job to document and share that brilliance with the world for innovation through inclusive research and equitable language.”
Tyron joins the Digital Promise team with university and K-12 math and science experience. He has taught in traditional and experiential K–12 settings in public and private schools in Atlanta, Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles. He has researched learning, cognition, and emotional processes in K-12 Math and Science classrooms and after-school settings. His most recent research areas have looked into mind wandering and machine learning. In addition to his service as an educator and researcher, he has served on various boards for charter management organizations and community service organizations.
Tyron is a supporter of innovative schools and districts, having attended The Baraka School in Laikipia, Kenya, East Africa (2001-2003) through the innovation of Baltimore City Public Schools.
Tyron’s current role with Digital Promise as a Senior Manager for Research and Development in the Center for Inclusive Innovation combines his research knowledge and classroom experiences to help push innovative thinking across research, practice, and technology.
Tyron holds an M.S.Ed. in Math and Science Education from Temple University and a B.A. in Child Development from Morehouse College. He has completed post-graduate work in Urban Education Policy and Educational Psychology at the University of Southern California.
Director, Onboarding and Coaching, 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.”
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.