Our Team - Digital Promise

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Jessica Alanis

Jessica Alanis

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. Jessica can be reached at jalanis@digitalpromise.org.

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Anthony Baker

Anthony Baker

Project Director, Next Generation Science

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

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

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Kacey Baker

Kacey Baker

Senior Director of People

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

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

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Mahsa Bakhshaei

Mahsa Bakhshaei

Senior Research Scientist

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

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

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

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

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Elliott Barnes

Elliott Barnes

Technical Project Manager, 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 a technical project manager 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, FL. 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 to together to form solutions that positively impact the method of learning. Elliott can be reached at ebarnes@digitalpromise.org.

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Jessica Bates

Jessica Bates

Program and Events Manager, League of Innovative Schools

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

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

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

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Stanley Berry

Stanley Berry

Program Associate, Educator Engagement

I learn through all my senses! It’s important that I can see, touch, and hear what is going on so I can understand something in its entirety”

Stanley is an Educator Engagement Associate with Digital Promise. They joined in 2020 after working with the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington for three years as a site director in school-age child care. They also work with D.C. grassroots organizations to address issues of homelessness, food deserts, political education, and community organizing. Stanley earned his B.A. in English from the University of the District of Columbia in 2016. They are a member of the English Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta. They can be reached at sdberry@digitalpromise.org.

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Sara Bordelon

Sara Bordelon

Instructional Technology Trainer, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

“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 is 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. She can be reached at sbordelon@digitalpromise.org.

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Jenny Bradbury

Jenny Bradbury

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 Bradbury 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 and can be reached at jbradbury@digitalpromise.org.

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Kristal Brister Philyaw

Kristal Brister Philyaw

Project Director, Learning Experience and Design Operations

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

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

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Jean-Claude Brizard

Jean-Claude Brizard

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. He can be reached at jcbrizard@digitalpromise.org.

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Comaneci Brooken

Comaneci Brooken

Director of Professional Learning, SouthEast

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

Bio

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

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Steve Brown

Steve Brown

Technical Project Director

“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.

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Derrick Browning

Derrick Browning

Comptroller

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

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

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Quinn Burke

Quinn Burke

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.”

Bio
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. He can be reached at qburke@digitalpromise.org.

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Sarah Cacicio

Sarah Cacicio

Senior Project Director, Adult Learning

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

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

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Trisha Callella

Trisha Callella

Product Partnerships Director, Learner Variability Project

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

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

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

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Carly Chillmon

Carly Chillmon

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.”

Bio
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. You can reach Carly at: cchillmon@digitalpromise.org.

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Christine Chiu

Christine Chiu

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. She can be reached at cchiu@digitalpromise.org.

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Merijke Coenraad

Merijke Coenraad

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. She can be reached at mcoenraad@digitalpromise.org.

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Corinne Colgan

Corinne Colgan

Video Project Director, Research

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

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

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Jennifer Cooley

Jennifer Cooley

Project Manager, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

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

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

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Sara Martinez Crawford

Sara Martinez Crawford

Deputy Director for Professional Learning, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

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

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

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Antione Cuff

Antione Cuff

Senior Staff Accountant

“I typically take the Ms. Frizzle approach by taking chances, making mistakes, and getting messy. Additionally, I like to learn through observation and repetition, which allows me to learn from mistakes to perform better the next time around.”

Prior to joining Digital Promise, Antione served in public accounting for more than eight years within the nonprofit and governmental accounting industries. Antione holds a dual bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance and is a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Antione has traveled to more than 40 countries and enjoys spending time with his wife and three children.

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Krishna Desar

Krishna Desar

Staff Accountant

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

Bio

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

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Diane W. Doersch

Diane W. Doersch

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.”

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

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Jillian Doggett

Jillian Doggett

Associate Director of Professional Learning, Content and Learner Experience

“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. She can be reached at jwetzel@digitalpromise.org.

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Ximena Dominguez

Ximena Dominguez

Director, Early STEM Research

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

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

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Dalila Dragnić-Cindrić

Dalila Dragnić-Cindrić

Postdoctoral Researcher, 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 Postdoctoral Researcher in Learning Sciences and Technology at the Center for Integrative Research in Computing and Learning Sciences and 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. You can reach Dalila at daliladc@digitalpromise.org.

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Ashley Emerson

Ashley Emerson

People & Culture Manager

“I learn best by observing the process, absorbing the information, creating a game plan for myself, then trying my hand at it.”

Ashley Emerson is a People & Culture Manager with Digital Promise. Ashley joins the Digital Promise Operations team with 19 years of HR and payroll experience across various industries, primarily focused on all things related to employee culture including employee relation issues, the employment process, and employee-related benefits programs. Ashley holds an AA in Accounting and plans to pursue a BS in Business & Management focusing on HR. She can be reached at aemerson@digitalpromise.org.

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Dr. Ashlei Evans

Dr. Ashlei Evans

Senior Manager of Professional Learning, 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 a senior manager for professional learning 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 aevans@digitalpromise.org.

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Rita Fennelly-Atkinson

Rita Fennelly-Atkinson

Associate Director of Professional Learning Content, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

“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.”

Prior to joining Digital Promise, Rita Fennelly-Atkinson worked as an instructional designer, technology coach, and researcher in PK12, higher education, and the nonprofit sector. She has previously supported humanized integration of technology as the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools coach for an all-girls school in Austin Independent School District. With more than 15 years of experience in education, she is passionate about ensuring equitable access to learning through inclusive instructional design. Rita received her bachelor’s degree in biology and master’s in secondary education from Concordia University, Irvine. She is currently a doctoral candidate studying accessibility issues in education at Sam Houston State University.

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Santos A. Flores

Santos A. Flores

Associate Director of Professional Learning, 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. He can be reached at sflores@digitalpromise.org.

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Dan Foreman

Dan Foreman

Director of Professional Learning and Training, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

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

Bio
Dan Foreman is the 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. He can be reached at dforeman@digitalpromise.org.

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Ryan Forman

Ryan Forman

Financial Manager

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

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

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Kristen Franklin

Kristen Franklin

Micro-credential Development Manager

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

 

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

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Cricket Fuller

Cricket Fuller

Director, 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.”

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

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Judi Fusco

Judi Fusco

Senior Research Scientist, STEM Teaching and Learning

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

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

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Elyse Gainor

Elyse Gainor

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.”

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

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Anshul Gang

Anshul Gang

Director of Data and Analytics, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

“Curiosity and action empower my learning. I have always learned by doing things, be it riding a bike at 4, making my first line follower robot at 14, or learning how to code at 23. I have always learned the most by failing forward and learning from my mistakes.”

 

Bio

Anshul first joined Digital Promise as an Education Pioneers Fellow, working on the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools initiative. He supports the VILS team to identify solutions related to data strategy, measurements, and information technology. Before joining Digital Promise, Anshul had three years of experience in education management. He ran the biggest test preparation division in Northwest India as a senior manager and led a cross-functional team of 30 people. He has also taught competitive mathematics for two years. He has a Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in Information Systems and Technology from George Washington University, and a Bachelor of Engineering in Polymer Science and Chemical Technology from University of Delhi. You can reach Anshul at anshul@digitalpromise.org.

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Marci Giang

Marci Giang

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 and can be reached at mgiang@digitalpromise.org.

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Lindsay Gratton

Lindsay Gratton

Staff Accountant

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

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

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Camden Hanzlick-Burton

Camden Hanzlick-Burton

Senior Manager of Professional Learning, 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 joins Digital Promise as a senior manager of professional learning for Verizon Innovative Learning Schools. Most recently, 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. He can be reached at chburton@digitalpromise.org.

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Angela Hardy

Angela Hardy

Researcher

“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.”

Bio
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. Angela can be reached at ahardy@digitalpromise.org.

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Dr. Stanley Harris

Dr. Stanley Harris

Director of Professional Learning, 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. Stanley can be reached at sharris@digitalpromise.org.

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Carissa Harrison

Carissa Harrison

Senior Manager of Professional Learning, 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.

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Kasha Hayes

Kasha Hayes

Instructional Technology Trainer, 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. Kasha can be reached at khayes@digitalpromise.org

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Nicola Hodkowski

Nicola Hodkowski

Mathematics Learning Researcher

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

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

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Helen Hoepfner

Helen Hoepfner

Salesforce Administrator

“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. Helen can be reached at hhoepfner@digitalpromise.org.

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Richard Irvan

Richard Irvan

Senior Manager of Professional Learning, 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 joins Digital Promise as a Senior Manager of Professional Learning 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. He can be reached at rirvan@digitalpromise.org.

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Emi Iwatani

Emi Iwatani

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.”

Bio
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. She can be reached at eiwatani@digitalpromise.org.

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Jessica Jackson

Jessica Jackson

Practitioner Partnerships Director, Learner Variability Project

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

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

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Jessica K. Jackson

Jessica K. Jackson

Technical Project Director, 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.”

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

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Lisa Jobson

Lisa Jobson

Project Director, 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.”

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

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Marcelino Justo

Marcelino Justo

Technical Operations Manager, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

“As a visual learner, technology grants me the ability to see and interact with content in a way that is meaningful to me.”

Marcelino Justo is the technical operations manager for the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools initiative at Digital Promise. He oversees the procurement and delivery management of technical peripherals for the program, manages the IT helpdesk, collects and reports out on data from VILS schools, and compiles reports essential to the program. Before joining Digital Promise, Marcelino served as project coordinator at American Institutes for Research (AIR) in Washington, D.C. During his time at AIR, Marcelino provided technical, research, and communications leadership and support to projects and national centers funded by the U.S. Department of Education. You can reach Marcelino at mjustozavaleta@digitalpromise.org.

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Danae Kamdar

Danae Kamdar

Early STEM Education Researcher

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

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

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Zareen Kasad

Zareen Kasad

Project Director, United2Read

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

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

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Danielle Khordi

Danielle Khordi

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. She can be reached at dkhordi@digitalpromise.org.

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Karla Kiper

Karla Kiper

Technical Project Director, 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. You can reach her at kkiper@digitalpromise.org.

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Rebecca Lama

Rebecca Lama

Associate Director of Professional Learning, 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. You can reach Rebecca at rlama@digitalpromise.org.

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Erica Lawton Weinschenk

Erica Lawton Weinschenk

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.”

Bio
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. You can reach Erica at: erica@digitalpromise.org.

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Sangyeon Lee

Sangyeon Lee

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.

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Kristian Lenderman

Kristian Lenderman

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.

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Tiffany Leones

Tiffany Leones

Early STEM Education Researcher

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

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

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Sam Lindauer

Sam Lindauer

Senior Communications Manager

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

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

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Cameron Lineberger

Cameron Lineberger

Associate Director of Professional Learning, 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. He can be reached at clineberger@digitalpromise.org.

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Sherry Loftin

Sherry Loftin

Instructional Technology Trainer, 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. Sherry can be reached at sloftin@digitalpromise.org.

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Carol Lopez

Carol Lopez

Project Manager, Micro-credentials

“I learn from everyone and everything, especially when I travel. There’s so much to learn from unique experiences and stories from people around the world. I’ve met the most inspiring women with the strongest desire to thrive. I’ve been amazed by how some women facing difficult situations are more interested in learning and thriving collectively rather than individually.”

Before joining Digital Promise, Carol worked at Women for Women International, an international NGO that delivers programs for women in conflict-affected areas. She was responsible for monitoring the progress of the program, training staff around the world, managing system improvement projects, and using technology to make data collection processes more efficient. Carol’s exposure to gender equality work created a formative base that evolved into a compromise for developing more equitable and inclusive practices in her personal and professional life, and her experience working in international development helped her to understand how education comes in different shapes and forms. Carol is fascinated by how even the smallest piece of information can have a profound impact on someone’s life, their family, and their community, and an even greater impact when that information is shared. Carol holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from Florida International University.

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Pengju Lu

Pengju Lu

Staff Accountant

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

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

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Steven Luhr

Steven Luhr

Senior Operations Associate, 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. Steven can be reached at sluhr@digitalpromise.org.

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Christina Luke Luna

Christina Luke Luna

Senior Director, Lifelong Learning Pathways

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

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

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Michael Mades

Michael Mades

Technical Project Director, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

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

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

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Sarah Martin

Sarah Martin

Graphic Designer

“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.

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Tabatha Mason

Tabatha Mason

Program Manager

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

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

 

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Jeremy McBrayer

Jeremy McBrayer

Associate Director of Professional Learning, 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. You can reach Jeremy at jmcbrayer@digitalpromise.org

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Dewayne McClary

Dewayne McClary

Director of the League of Innovative Schools

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

 

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

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Shawn McCusker

Shawn McCusker

Director of Professional Learning, Central Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

“I like to get hands-on and learn by making mistakes, then figure out what works best. I think the best test of understanding is to ask, “Can you teach it?” That requires nuanced understanding.”

Before joining Digital Promise, Shawn spent 25 years as a classroom teacher and school leader in public, private, and alternative schools. In 2006, he was recognized as a finalist for the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching. Shawn is passionate about using the power of technology to make storytelling a part of student learning. His creative lessons and student products have been highlighted in THE Journal, Educational Leadership, and The Huffington Post. An innovator in creating and organizing online learning communities, he has led the #sschat, #1to1techat, and #engsschat communities on Twitter, and served as the lead organizer for EdCamp Chicago. In 2016 he was named a Top Trailblazing Educator on Twitter by eSchoolNews. Shawn received his BA in History from Northern Illinois University and his MA in Educational Leadership from Concordia University Chicago. His column, “The Tech Savvy Classroom,” is featured in Digital Learning Magazine. You can reach Shawn at smccusker@digitalpromise.org.

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Kevin McElhaney

Kevin McElhaney

Senior Research Scientist, STEM & CS Education

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

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

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Barbara Means

Barbara Means

Barbara Means

Executive Director, Learning Sciences Research

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

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

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Sara Meierding

Sara Meierding

Project Director, Program Development, 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. Sara can be reached at smeierding@digitalpromise.org.

 

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Adha Mengis

Adha Mengis

Program Manager, Online Communities

“I learn by reading and doing—searching for patterns and making connections across different contexts.”

Adha is a program manager of online communities. He designs learning experiences for educators rooted in equity and metacognition. He has always been passionate about excellent pedagogy and supporting people to actualize their innate potential, specifically Black and Brown students. He started his career as a teacher in Oakland, California. He holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley and a Bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. He can be reached at amengis@digitalpromise.org.

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Jane Miller

Jane Miller

Associate Director of Professional Learning, 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 joins Digital Promise as an associate director of professional learning for the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools initiative. 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. She can be reached at jmiller@digitalpromise.org.

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Antionette Miller

Antionette Miller

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.

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Kelly Mills

Kelly Mills

Project Director, Computational Thinking

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

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

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Stefanie Mills

Stefanie Mills

Technical Systems Manager for Professional Learning, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

“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. You can reach her at smills@digitalpromise.org.

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Allison Modica

Allison Modica

Program Director, Edcamp Community

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

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

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

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

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Neilou Mogharabi

Neilou Mogharabi

Associate Director of Professional Learning, 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. She can be reached at nmogharabi@digitalpromise.org.

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Farheen Mohammad

Farheen Mohammad

Technical Project Manager, 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.

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Julie Neisler

Julie Neisler

Quantitative Researcher

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

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

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Karissa Nelson

Karissa Nelson

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. She can be reached at knelson@digitalpromise.org.

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Victor Ngo

Victor Ngo

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.

 

Bio

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

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My Nguyen

My Nguyen

Senior Manager, Communications & Engagement

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

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

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Sierra Noakes

Sierra Noakes

Research Project Director, 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.”

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

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Hillary Greene Nolan

Hillary Greene Nolan

Education Researcher

“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. You can email Hillary at hgreenenolan@digitalpromise.org.

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George-Mathias Oma

George-Mathias Oma

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

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Zac Opps

Zac Opps

Technical Project Manager, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

“I am a relentless question-asker when tackling new things. I feel that I can’t really come to know topics unless I devise the right questions, even when those questions don’t have an actual answer. Through questioning, I make sense of unfamiliar territory.”

Zac Opps is a Technical Project Manager in the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools initiative at Digital Promise. He has spent the majority of his life working and learning in K-12 schools. Zac began his career as a computer science teacher at the middle and high school levels. After observing many deserving students miss out on opportunities in the field, he has worked to shape the vision, systems, and procedures of a variety of educational technology systems to help them evolve and become more equitable for all students. Zac is right at home supporting adolescent learners as he is a middle schooler at heart. You can reach him at zopps@digitalpromise.org.

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Kristyn Palazzolo

Kristyn Palazzolo

Project Manager, Professional Learning Networks

 “I want students to become creators and changemakers in the world, and I think if we can hone in on specific skill sets, build a network, and support student advocacy we can create a generation that makes an impact.”

Kristyn Palazzolo is a Program Associate for Educator Engagement with the Powerful Learning team. Prior to joining Digital Promise, Kristyn taught at the middle and elementary school levels as a library media specialist. In this role, she pushed STEAM initiatives, created digital makerspaces for her students, and led technology-based professional development for the staff. She also had the opportunity to work as the Director of Fun for the nonprofit Engaging Creative Minds’ Summer STEAM Institute, where she implemented engaging learning experiences and environments for students through immersive, arts-integrated STEAM programming. Additionally, Kristyn served as a research associate for Digital Promise’s Learning Sciences Research team on the STEAM Studio Model for Innovation, a project designed to expand access to high-quality computing education for all. She is interested in providing educators and students unique learning experiences where they are engaged and creative in their work.  Kristyn holds a B.S. in elementary education from College of Charleston and a M.L.I.S. focused in school library media from the University of Rhode Island. She can be reached at kpalazzolo@digitalpromise.org.

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Barbara Pape

Barbara Pape

Director of Communications and Policy, Learner Variability Project

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

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

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

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Daniel Parker

Daniel Parker

Quantitative Researcher

“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.

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Megan Pattenhouse

Megan Pattenhouse

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.”

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

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Stefani Pautz Stephenson

Stefani Pautz Stephenson

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.”

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

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Vanessa Peters Hinton

Vanessa Peters Hinton

Senior Learning Sciences Researcher

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

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

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Kathryn Petrillo-Smith

Kathryn Petrillo-Smith

Chief Operating Officer

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

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

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Jonathan Pittman

Jonathan Pittman

Project Manager, Learning Sciences Research

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

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

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Brian Raszka

Brian Raszka

Brian Raszka

Creative Director

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

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

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Tyler Richendollar

Tyler Richendollar

Director of Product

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

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

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Maria Romero

Maria Romero

Project Manager, Maker Learning and CT

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

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

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Jeremy Roschelle

Jeremy Roschelle

Jeremy Roschelle

Executive Director, Learning Sciences Research

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

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

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Sara Rosenthal

Sara Rosenthal

Project Director for 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!”

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

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Pati Ruiz

Pati Ruiz

Researcher, Learning Sciences Research

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

 

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

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Khyati Sanjana

Khyati Sanjana

Senior Manager of Professional Learning, 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. She can be reached at KSanjana@DigitalPromise.org.

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Nick Schiner

Nick Schiner

Project Director, Maker Learning

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

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

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Jessica Schuler

Jessica Schuler

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.”

Bio
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. You can reach her at jschuler@digitalpromise.org.

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John Seylar

John Seylar

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.”

Bio
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. He can be reached at jseylar@digitalpromise.org.

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Zohal Shah

Zohal Shah

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. You can reach Zohal at zshah@digitalpromise.org.

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Alison Shell

Alison Shell

Research Scientist

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

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

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Kimberly Smith

Kimberly Smith

Kimberly Smith

Executive Director of the League of Innovative Schools and the Center for Inclusive Innovation

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

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

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

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

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Matt Spears

Matt Spears

Associate Director of Learning Communities, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

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

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

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Lucara Stewart

Lucara Stewart

Technical Project Manager, 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. She can be reached at lstewart@digitalpromise.org.

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Nipa Surati

Nipa Surati

Senior Manager of Professional Learning, 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. You can reach her at nsurati@digitalpromise.org.

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DeLisha Tapscott

DeLisha Tapscott

Project Director, Operations & Equity

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

Bio

DeLisha Tapscott is the Project Director, Operations & Equity at Digital Promise where her focuses are bridging the gap of organizational management and diversity, equity, and inclusion. She comes to the organization with a decade of experience in finance, operations, and human capital functions. Prior to joining Digital Promise DeLisha was an HR & Operations Administrator at a bipartisan nonprofit organization where she was responsible for onboarding, employee experiences, and implementing innovative operations systems. She holds an M.A. in Organizational Management from the University of Arizona and is currently pursuing her doctorate in education at the University of Dayton. DeLisha can be reached at dtapscott@digitalpromise.org. 

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Medha Tare

Medha Tare

Director of Research, Learner Variability Project

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

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

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Courtney Teague

Courtney Teague

Director of Professional Learning Content and Learner Experience, 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.”

Bio
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. You can contact her at cteague@digitalpromise.org.

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Brian Tinsley, Ph.D

Brian Tinsley, Ph.D

Senior Research & Communications Associate, Adult Learning

“I believe there is something that we can all (re)learn from any one person.”

Brian has focused particular attention on social contexts (e.g., social and educational) and their impact on the psychosocial well-being of youth and young adults. He has conducted and published research concerned with challenges and risks found within the home, neighborhood, and educational institutions, examining (mal)adaptive coping mechanisms and increasing understanding of how adolescents form various identities and demonstrate resilience in relation to social contexts. Primarily concerned with racial socialization, academic achievement, and vocational aspirations, Brian’s work has primarily focused on Black and other ethnic minority youth. Brian has also worked with nonprofits as well as government agencies while teaching middle school and GED students in low-resource, urban areas. Brian has a Ph.D. and M.Ed. in Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Development from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in psychology from Howard University. You can reach Dr. Tinsley at: btinsley@digitalpromise.org.

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Kristin Townsend

Kristin Townsend

Deputy Director, IT & 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).”

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

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Kasey Van Ostrand

Kasey Van Ostrand

Project Director, 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!”

Bio
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. You can reach Kasey at kasey@digitalpromise.org.

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Mai Chou Vang

Mai Chou Vang

Education Researcher

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

 

Bio

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

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Vic Vuchic

Vic Vuchic

Chief Innovation Officer

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

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

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Donnaraé Wade

Donnaraé Wade

Senior Manager, School & Community Engagement

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

 

Bio

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

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Josh Weisgrau

Josh Weisgrau

Senior Director, Learning Experience Design

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

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

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Erin West

Erin West

Instructional Technology Trainer, 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. She can be reached at ewest@digitalpromise.org.

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Dr. Latia White

Latia White

Latia White

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.

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Korah Wiley

Korah Wiley

Learning Scientist

“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. She can be reached at kwiley@digitalpromise.org.

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Crystal Williams

Crystal Williams

Communications Manager

“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. Crystal can be reached at cwilliams@digitalpromise.org.

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Shibrie Wilson

Shibrie Wilson

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

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Shaun Wilson

Shaun Wilson

Director of Professional Learning, NorthEast Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

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

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

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Celeste Woodruff

Celeste Woodruff

Staff Accountant

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

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

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Betty Wottreng

Betty Wottreng

Technical Project Director, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

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

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

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Viki Young

Viki Young

Senior Research Director

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

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

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

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

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Odelia Younge

Odelia Younge

Director, Micro-credentials

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

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

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Vanessa Zurita

Vanessa Zurita

Director of Professional Learning, SouthCentral Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

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

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

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