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Board of Directors

The NEA Foundation Board of Directors is made up of savvy and strategic leaders from a diverse set of fields. Each member offers a unique perspective on public education, drawn from his or her own experiences and relationships within the public, private, nonprofit and government sectors. The Foundation benefits greatly from the Board’s leadership, thinking and commitment to public education.

  • Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh

    Chair
    NEAF Board of Directors
    Salt Lake City, UT

    Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh was a special education/elementary educator in Salt Lake City, Utah for 32 years. In 2010, Sharon was elected, in a statewide vote, as the President of the Utah Education Association and served in this position for a total of six years. She has more than 38 years of experience in public education.

    Gallagher-Fishbaugh is a National Board Certified Teacher, a distinction earned by just 112,000 teachers nationwide who meet rigorous teaching criteria set by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). She is the current vice-chair of the NBPTS Board of Directors.

    Sharon is the 2009 Utah Teacher of the Year and is a recipient of the 2009 California Casualty Award for Teaching Excellence and the 2009 Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence. In April 2010, the NEA Foundation awarded her its top honor, the $25,000 NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence.

    Sharon has participated in the NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellowship, and traveled with the fellowship to schools in Peru and China.

    Sharon is a member of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY), and the Utah State Teachers of the Year (UTSTOY) chapter. Sharon has served on many national commissions and task forces including the Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching, The Council of Accreditation of Teacher Preparation Programs, the Teacher Residency Task Force, the Teacher Accountability Task Force and the Governor’s Education Excellence Commission.

    Sharon received her Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education/Elementary Education from Loretto Heights College, Denver, Colorado and her Master’s Degree in Education/National Board Certified Teacher Leadership from National University, La Jolla, California.

    Follow her on Twitter @SharonGF_NBCT

  • Donna Meacham Blackman

    Secretary-Treasurer
    NEAF Board of Directors
    Washington, DC

    Donna Meacham Blackman is a financial and strategic planning executive recognized for her ability to maximize corporate results and individual performance. She currently serves as BET Network’s Senior Vice President of Business Operations. Prior to her current role, she served as Senior Vice President of Finance for BET Networks, where she led all planning, budgeting and financial reporting for the organization, while providing strategic advice to the Chairman and CEO. She also served as a financial business partner to the operating units, including providing accounting guidance, business insights and strategic advice on how best to position the division for success.

    Prior to joining BET, she held several finance leadership positions at Marriott International, Inc., including Vice President, Development Asset Management; Vice President, Finance – Global Lodging Services; Vice President, Investor Relations; and Director, Financial Reporting and Accounting Policy. Prior to joining Marriott, Blackman was a senior manager with KPMG LLP in New York and Washington, DC, where she served a variety of both public and private clients in the financial services, broadcasting, university and nonprofit industries.

    Blackman is very active in the community and currently serves as Secretary-Treasurer of the NEA Foundation Board of Directors and as a member of the Robert H. Smith School of Business Advisory Board. She previously served on the Board for the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of Inroads, the Women and Family Issues Executive Committee of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and as Vice President of the Washington, DC chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants.

    Blackman is a Certified Public Accountant. She holds an MBA degree from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Accounting from North Carolina State University.

  • Crystal L. Brown

    VP of Communications and Chief Communications Officer, Howard University
    Washington, DC

    Crystal Brown, a seasoned communications leader, currently serves as the Vice President of Communications and Chief Communications Officer for Howard University. She has more than 15 years of experience leading award-winning communications campaigns for some of the nation’s leading education-focused corporations, nonprofit organizations and foundations. At Howard, Brown is responsible for the development of communications strategies that enhance the university’s reputation locally, nationally and internationally. She serves as the university’s spokesperson and oversees the central communications office, including reputation management, media relations, social media, public affairs and strategic communications initiatives.

    Previously, Brown held the positions of Chief Communications Officer for the University of Maryland and Senior Vice President for the PK-12 education practice at Widmeyer Communications agency, overseeing the firm’s largest education clients, including the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Brown also served as Senior Vice President of E-Luminate Group, a marketing and strategic communications firm specializing in education technology and education policy. During her 10-year tenure, she successfully raised the national profile of many companies and advocacy organizations, including the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, Dell Computer, LeapFrog, Blackboard, NEA Member Benefits, the Institute for Museums & Library Services, 3M, and the National Council on the Aging. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where she received a bachelor’s degree in Rhetoric and Communications Skills.

    Brown currently serves as the Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Directors for the NEA Foundation, is a member of the Advisory Board for DreamBox Learning and a member of the Executive Committee for Association of Public and Land-grant University’s Council on Strategic Communications. She is also a member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and a recent recipient of the PRSA Toth Award for public relations campaign of the year. In her leisure time, Brown enjoys running, reading, and interior design, and is actively involved in the Columbia, Maryland Chapter of Jack and Jill and the Columbia, Maryland Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta. She resides in Fulton, Maryland with her husband and two children.

  • Kevin A. Anderson

    Vice Chair
    NEAF Board of Directors
    Washington, DC

    Kevin A. Anderson currently serves as Senior Vice President of National Partnerships at EverFi, Inc., the nation’s leading educational software company for life skills education. Anderson works in business development and secures public and corporate partnerships to support digital innovation in cities and school districts across America.

    Before joining EverFi, Anderson was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of City First Homes, Inc.—a community land trust created to support workforce housing and ensure ongoing affordability for working families in the District of Columbia. Launched in 2008 as the District’s most aggressive affordable housing initiative, CFHomes navigated the financial crisis stabilizing mixed income development and created over 100 units of affordable housing during Anderson’s tenure.

    Prior to his appointment at CFHomes, Anderson was Chief Financial Officer and Vice President for Equity Capital at the Jair Lynch Companies, Inc., a for-profit residential and community development firm in Washington, DC, where he was responsible for the financial management of JLC’s corporate and real estate ventures. He helped establish JLC’s initial investment fund, a $120 million facility for commercial and housing development in the DC region.

    In 2000, Anderson served in Mayor Anthony Williams’ administration as Special Assistant to the City Administrator and Chief of Staff at the D.C. Department of Transportation. He helped usher an era of accountability and transparency in city operations and managed the restructuring of DDOT to a cabinet-level agency. Anderson led the hiring of over 100 new employees, the establishment of a local trust fund for street and infrastructure maintenance and implementation of performance metrics to meet citizen needs. Mayor Anthony A. Williams proclaimed March 31, 2004 “Kevin Anderson Day” in the District of Columbia.

    Anderson began his professional career at the investment banking firm of Pryor, McClendon, Counts & Co., Inc. in Philadelphia, PA as an Institutional Bond Salesman where he served pension funds, insurance companies, investment advisers, and money center banks. He provided coverage for PMC’s landmark financings as lead manager for the $320 million Atlanta Hartsfield Airport financing and the $390 million Denver Airport financing.

    In addition to being a member of the NEA Foundation’s Board of Directors, Anderson serves on the Board of Trustees of Lawrence Academy (Groton, MA) and on the Board of Directors of City First Homes, Inc. Kevin is a member of Leadership Greater Washington’s Class of 2006 and Leadership Prince George’s Class of 2008.

    A native of Washington, DC, Anderson received his BA in Economics from Stanford University and has completed finance, leadership, and executive programs with the National Development Council and at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

    He lives in Upper Marlboro, MD with his wife, The Honorable Tiffany H. Anderson, daughter, Kendall, and twin sons, Kennedy and Kolby.

  • Nick Archuleta

    President, North Dakota United, and Representative, National Council of State Education Associations (NCSEA)
    Bismarck, ND

    Nick Archuleta currently serves as the first President of North Dakota United (NDU) (formerly the North Dakota Education Association), which is an affiliate of both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. He was elected in 2013.

    Born in San Francisco and raised in New Mexico, Colorado, and North Dakota, Archuleta began his teaching career in Minnesota where he was very involved in his local. Upon returning to North Dakota, Archuleta remained involved in his union, serving in many capacities at the state and local level.

    In addition, Archuleta serves on the NEA MLT/WLT planning team as well as the NEA Human and Civil Rights committee. As an enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes, he is especially proud to serve on these two important councils.

    Archuleta also served on the NDEA Board of Directors and is former Vice Chairman of the Education Standards and Practices Board having been appointed by former Governor John Hoeven as well as by Governor Jack Dalrymple.

    Archuleta is devoted to Mary Pat Archuleta, the Director of choral music at Century High School in Bismarck. They are the proud parents of three talented daughters and one outstanding son.

  • Dáaiyah Bilal-Threats

    Special Assistant to the Executive Director and Senior Advisor for Strategic Initiatives, National Education Association (NEA)
    Washington, DC

    Dáaiyah (pronounced Dye-ya) Bilal-Threats is the current Special Assistant to the Executive Director and Senior Advisor for Strategic Initiatives at the National Education Association. She began her career in conservation and health advocacy with the World Wildlife Fund, American Red Cross, and NEA Health Information Network. She joined NEA in 2000 and has enjoyed a long career in nonprofit management, labor and education policy. She holds a master’s degree in public policy from the American University and serves NEA as a cabinet-level advisor on policy issues, as well as organizational strategy and priority initiatives. She also currently oversees NEA’s donor, philanthropic and international relations work. In her prior NEA role, she was responsible for designing and overseeing NEA’s leadership development programming as well as directing NEA’s international relations division, which advocates that every child deserves a quality public education to help them succeed in a diverse and interdependent world. In this capacity she directed the work of 30 professional staff providing direct support to high-level leaders in the areas of speechwriting; scheduling and advance; good governance; leadership; as well as policy development and implementation. She lives in Washington, DC.

  • Sean Patrick Corcoran

    Associate Professor of Educational Economics, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, New York University
    New York, NY

    Sean P. Corcoran is an Associate Professor of Educational Economics at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, and an affiliated faculty of the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service. He has been a research associate of the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, DC, since 2004, and was selected to be a visiting scholar in residence at the Russell Sage Foundation in 2005-06.

    Corcoran currently serves on the editorial boards of Education Finance and Policy and Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, and is a former member of the board of directors of the Association for Education Finance and Policy (AEFP).

    His research focuses on three areas: human capital in the teaching profession, education finance, and school choice. His papers have examined long-run trends in the quality of teachers, the impact of income inequality and court-ordered school finance reform on the level and equity of education funding in the United States, the properties of value-added measures of teacher effectiveness, and the political economy of school choice reforms. In 2009, he led the first evaluation of the Aspiring Principals alternative certification program in New York. He is currently conducting several studies on the high school choice behavior of middle school students in New York City.

  • Pedro DeJesús, Jr.

    Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Tampico Beverages
    Chicago, IL

    Pedro DeJesús is Executive Vice President, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary for Tampico Beverages, Inc. where he serves on the Company’s Executive Leadership Team. Tampico Beverages is one of the world’s leading manufacturers and marketers of high quality and value added flavored drink concentrates. Selling under the TAMPICO brand name, it is a leading flavored drink brand in the United States and in more than 50 countries around the globe, outselling many well-known beverages. Tampico Beverages is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Houchens Industries, Inc., a diversified conglomerate that employs over 16,000 employee owners in businesses such as retail grocery and convenience stores, quick-to-service restaurants, insurance, manufacturing, software, recycling, tanning supply distribution, franchising of optical stores, financial services and property management. Houchens Industries is the largest 100% employee-owned company in America.

    DeJesús’s principal areas of focus are commercial negotiations, corporate governance, mergers and acquisition, intellectual property rights management, domestic and internal legal affairs and providing business and strategic advice to the management team and its Board of Directors. Prior to joining Tampico Beverages, DeJesús practiced at several nationally recognized law firms and private sector corporations and also completed a Fellowship in the Chicago office of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (“MALDEF”).

    DeJesús is active in numerous civic and philanthropic organizations. He serves on the Boards of Trustees of Roosevelt University and the Lake Forest Country Day School and on the Boards of Directors of Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital, the Better Government Association and the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. In addition, on March 13, 2014 the Secretary of Commerce and the United States Trade Representative jointly reviewed and approved his re-appointment to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Industry Trade Advisory Committee on Consumer Goods (“ITAC”) for the 2014-2018 charter term. ITAC is a public-private partnership that engages business leaders in formulating U.S. trade policy. Industry advisors provide detailed policy and technical advice, information and recommendations regarding trade barriers and the negotiation of multilateral, regional and bilateral trade negotiations, ensuring industry has a voice as the Administration advances its trade agenda to improve economic opportunities for America’s businesses, workers, and consumers.

    The Chicago Sun-Times has described DeJesús as a “self-made son of Dominican immigrants” and the Chicago Tribune has stated “DeJesús…has the makings of a leader in Chicago.” He was named one of Chicago’s top minority executives by Chicago United, receiving the celebrated Business Leaders of Color award as featured in Crain’s Chicago Business. He received the Chicago Latino Network Founder’s Award for his work on behalf of Chicago’s Latino community and Diversity MBA Magazine selected him as one of the “Top 100 Under 50 Diverse Executive Leaders” in the United States. DeJesús was selected and featured as one of “Chicago’s Very Own” by WGN Television in 2012 and he is featured in Negocios Now’s “Who is Who in Hispanic Chicago Power.”

    DeJesús received his undergraduate degree from Roosevelt University and his Juris Doctor (JD) from Northwestern University School of Law. He lives in Lake Forest, IL with his wife Carroll and their two children, Isabella and Ethan.

  • Christian L. Duffus

    Founder and Managing Director, LEAF College Savings, LLC
    Washington, DC

    Christian L. Duffus (“Chris”) is currently a Founder and Managing Director at LEAF College Savings, LLC (“LEAF”). LEAF is an education focused, social gifting platform that makes it easy for third-parties to contribute to a child’s college savings (529 Plans) utilizing a proprietary, FDIC-insured funds distribution network. At LEAF he is responsible for the overall strategy, business and corporate development activities in addition to product management.

    Previously, Duffus was Vice President of Finance and Corporate Development for Spectrum Bridge, Inc. (“SBI”); the leading wireless networking company in the emerging TV White Space market where he was responsible for all financial and strategic matters. During his tenure with SBI, Duffus created and was awarded a patent for a system and method for establishing an econometric, spectrum allocation algorithm for use in a wireless network (USPTO 8,290,848).

    Prior to his position at SBI, he was the Deputy CEO of Finance and Administration for the 2008 Democratic National Convention Committee (“DNCC”) in Denver, Colorado, where he was responsible for a budget of more than $100 million.

    Before joining the DNCC, he was Vice President of Finance and Corporate Development for M2Z Networks, Inc. a development stage entity formed to acquire AWS-3 spectrum (2155-2180 MHz) for use in a nationwide wireless broadband network.

    Formerly, he served as the CFO for Govolution, Inc. (“Govolution”) a leading provider of electronic payment software and services to the public sector and the banking industries. At Govolution, Duffus led the company in various roles from start-up, growth, profitability and successful trade-sale to First American Payments (a Lindsay Goldberg portfolio company).

    Earlier, he worked in the family investment office for John Kluge at Metromedia Company where he focused on Internet and telecommunications investments. Duffus began his career with Goldman Sachs in the North American, Mergers and Acquisitions Group.

    He is a Graduate of Florida A&M University and the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business Administration where he currently serves as a member of the Alumni Board of Trustees.

    Finally, Duffus is the Founder of the Scholar’s Club, an extracurricular academic organization focused on developing a peer culture of accomplishment and academic excellence among disadvantaged and underserved students. It has become one of Southwest Florida’s premier academic organizations, having served over 100,000 students since its founding in 1989 while Chris was a high school student.

  • Jeffrey R. Freund

    Senior Counsel, Bredhoff & Kaiser, PLLC
    Washington, DC

    Jeffrey Freund is Senior Counsel with Bredhoff & Kaiser. He has been with the firm since 1981 when VanArkel, Kaiser and Rosenberg, the firm with which he had been practicing since 1977, merged with Bredhoff, Gottesman, Cohen, Chanin, Weinberg and Petramalo to form Bredhoff & Kaiser. Over the past 35 years, Freund has represented international and local unions in the entertainment, baking, airline, hospitality, newspaper, construction, steel, rail, bus and service industries in negotiations, litigation (both trial and appellate and before courts, administrative agencies and arbitrators) and as general counsel. He is currently the General Counsel of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union and the American Federation of Musicians.

    As the AFM’s General Counsel, he advises the Union in national collective bargaining with the motion picture, network television, record, and traveling Broadway musical industries, among others. In addition, Jeff has an extensive practice representing pilot groups in connection with airline mergers, and representing unions of all kinds in connection with internal matters—elections, mergers, trusteeships, discipline and related events.

    Freund received his BA with honors from Northwestern University in 1967 and his JD from the University of California at Berkeley (Boalt Hall) in 1970, where he was the Executive Editor of the California Law Review. He served as a law clerk to Judge Alphonso Zirpoli of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California (1970-1971) and then served as Legal Assistant to Commissioner Nicholas Johnson on the Federal Communications Commission (1971-1972). From 1972 to 1977, Freund worked at the District of Columbia Public Defender Service, where he tried dozens of jury cases and argued numerous appeals. In his last year at PDS, he was Training Director, running the new lawyer training program and supervising these new lawyers in their early cases.

  • Lily Eskelsen García

    President, National Education Association (NEA)
    Washington, DC

    Lily Eskelsen García is president of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest labor union. Lily began her career in education as a school lunch lady and now leads a professional association of three million educators — she is the first Latina to lead the NEA and one of the country’s most influential Hispanic educators.

    Prior to assuming the top post, Lily served two terms as NEA Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer. She became a vocal critic of the standardized testing movement and raised alarms on the outsize role that testing is playing in public education: taking over the time students spend in the classroom, being used as a weapon against their teachers, and distracting from real problem of inequality.

    Her new role is an extension of her teaching days in Utah. She was named Utah Teacher of the Year in 1989 after nine years in the classroom. She also worked with homeless children and gifted children; as a mentor for student teachers; and as a peer assistance team leader at Orchard Elementary School in the suburbs of Salt Lake City.

    In 1998 she attempted to put her 20 years of experience working with small children to practical use by becoming her party’s nominee for the U.S. Congress. The rookie effort didn’t work out but she made her mark: she was the first Hispanic to run for Congress in her state and earned 45 percent of the vote against the incumbent.

    Lily is a sought after speaker and has keynoted hundreds of education events across the country, earning her recognition by Education World in their “Best Conference Speakers” edition. She also blogs at “Lily’s Blackboard” bringing a teacher’s voice to topical education issues. Her advice has been published in Parenting magazine and she has been featured on MSNBC, CNN en Español and as the noble opposition on Fox & Friends.

    Lily believes in the sacred duty of all educators to be professionals and to care for the whole student – mind, body and character — no matter how students arrive and no matter their learning conditions, their home conditions or their health conditions. And she believes that professionalism carries the responsibility to take action, individually and collectively, to fight to make the promise of public education a reality and to prepare the whole and happy child to succeed in becoming a whole and happy adult.

    Lily is a graduate of the University of Utah, graduating magna cum laude in elementary education and later earning her master’s degree in instructional technology.

  • Peter H. Heckman

    Former President and CEO, The Horace Mann Companies
    Arden, NC

    Peter Heckman is the recently-retired President and Chief Executive Officer of The Horace Mann Companies, the largest multiline insurance group focusing on the personal insurance and retirement needs of the K-12 educational community.

    Heckman, a 40 year veteran of the insurance industry, joined the Springfield, Illinois-based company in 2000 as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, and was appointed to the CEO position and elected to Horace Mann’s Board of Directors in 2010. During his tenure, the company’s assets nearly doubled to over $8 billion and its book value increased by more than 300%. In addition to its recognized financial strength, the company was awarded the 2013 Gold Halo Award by the Cause Marketing Forum—North America’s highest honor in the field of cause marketing—in recognition of the company’s partnership with DonorsChoose.org, an online charity supporting K-12 public school classroom projects. Additionally under Heckman’s leadership, Horace Mann was recognized by Forbes magazine as one of America’s 100 Most Trustworthy Companies for demonstrating transparent and conservative accounting and financial management practices, and strong corporate ethics and governance.

    Prior to joining Horace Mann, Heckman served as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the Allstate Life Insurance Company, the financial services arm of the Allstate Insurance Group. Over his 28 year career with Allstate, he held a number of increasingly responsible positions in strategic planning, marketing and financial management.

    Heckman received his MBA degree (with distinction) from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, where he also graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

    Heckman and his wife, Sandra—a former high school guidance and college counselor—have four grown children, one of whom is an Elementary School Teacher in the Chicago suburbs. Their recent community involvement includes the St. John’s Hospital Samaritans and the United Way of Central Illinois. Heckman also served on the Board and as Treasurer of the Springfield Public Schools Foundation.

  • Julian Vasquez Heilig

    Professor, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, and Director, Doctorate in Educational Leadership, California State University Sacramento
    Sacramento, CA

    Julian Vasquez Heilig is an award-winning researcher and teacher. He is currently a Professor and Director of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at California State University Sacramento. Previously, he was Associate Professor of Educational Policy and Planning and African and African Diaspora Studies (by courtesy) at the University of Texas at Austin. He was also a Faculty Affiliate of the Center for Mexican American Studies and the Warfield Center for African and African American studies at the same institution. Since 2007, he has served as an Associate director for the University Council of Education Administration.

    In addition to educational accomplishments, Heilig has held a variety research and practitioner positions in organizations from Boston to Beijing. These experiences have provided formative professional perspectives to bridge research, theory, and practice.

    Heilig’s current research includes quantitatively examining how high-stakes testing and accountability-based reforms and incentive systems impact urban minority students. Additionally, his qualitative work considers the mechanisms by which student achievement and progress occur in relation to specific No Child Left Behind (NCLB)-inspired accountability policies in districts and schools for students of different kinds. His research interests also include issues of access, diversity and equity in higher education.

    His work has been cited by the New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press, Education Week, Huffington Post and other print and electronic media outlets. He has also appeared on local and national radio and TV including PBS, NBC, NBC Latino, NPR, and MSNBC.

    He obtained his PhD in Education Administration and Policy Analysis, and a Masters in Sociology, from Stanford University. He also holds a Masters of Higher Education and a Bachelor’s of History and Psychology from the University of Michigan.

    He blogs at Cloaking Inequity.

  • Stacey A. Herndon

    Vice President and Senior Investment Advisor, PNC Institutional Investments
    Washington, DC

    Stacey Herndon is a seasoned investment professional with over 20 years working in the financial markets. Currently, Herndon is a Vice President and Senior Investment Advisor with PNC Institutional Asset Management. Her client practice consists mostly of nonprofits, endowments, and foundations in the Metropolitan DC Area. She works closely with her clients to create diversified portfolios to enable increased returns and lower volatility in a manner consistent with the client goals. On an ongoing basis, she communicates with clients about their portfolios and the capital markets. She works closely with her clients’ senior management and boards of directors on a daily basis.

    Previously, Herndon worked in an institutional sales capacity for Salomon Brothers, Citigroup, and Friedman Billings and Ramsey. Herndon has served as Treasurer on Board of Court Appointed Special Advocates and worked briefly in a fundraising capacity with Management Leadership for Tomorrow.

    She attended Princeton University and received her MBA in Finance from the Wharton School of Pennsylvania. Currently, she resides in Washington, DC.

  • Paige Johnson

    K12 Solutions, Amazon
    Portland, OR

    For more than two decades, Paige Johnson has led initiatives to transform and personalize education through the effective use of technology, both in the US and abroad. As an Education Strategist for Intel Corporation, she collaborated with school systems around the world to determine their needs, issues, and resources and used this information to help them build effective solutions – hardware, software, professional development programs, curricula, technical support – that would improve learning and teaching. She recently joined Amazon Web Services, where she is promoting the newest advances in integrating technology and education – Cloud services with virtual systems and servers.

    Among her many accomplishments, Paige created and scaled the Intel Teach Program, an professional development initiative serving more than 10 million teachers in 80+ countries. Intel Teach helps K-12 educators engage students with project-based approaches and using technology to prepare them for the global innovation economy. She also developed a suite of innovative teacher productivity and higher-order thinking tools, free for educators at intel.com/education/k12.

    Paige is an advocate for policies necessary for systemic reform efforts to gain real traction (i.e., scale and sustainability). She served on the Steering Committee for the National Assessment Governing Board on Technological Literacy, defining the new framework for the 2012 NAEP Technology Literacy Assessment, and on the ISTE advisory group for development of the NETs standards, which provide a global standard for ICT literacy. As a former Chair of the Partnership for 21st Century Learning, she led a coalition that became the leading advocacy group focused on preparing students for the 21st century marketplace by emphasizing STEM skills. She currently serves as Treasurer of ISTE and as chair of the NEA Foundation’s Task Force on Global Competencies.

  • Valeria Lassiter

    Founder and CEO, Lassiter & Associates, LLC
    Chevy Chase, MD

    Valeria Lassiter is the Founder and CEO of Lassiter & Associates. With more than 20 years of experience in designing and managing campaigns and strategies to advance relationships and grow revenue for nonprofits, Lassiter is described by clients as a top strategist. She has applied her analytical skills and considerable energies to campaigns ranging from $100,000 to $25 million.

    Lassiter also has worked in public affairs and community-based organizations and in corporate philanthropy for a Fortune 500 company. As an instructor with the Georgetown University Executive Nonprofit Management Certificate Program, she has trained more than 1,000 executives in corporate and nonprofit partnerships, development, and fundraising.

    She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from East Carolina University and a master’s of divinity from Colgate Rochester Divinity School. She is current Chair of the Board of Directors for the Women’s Roundtable at East Carolina University and serves on the executive committee for the board of directors of Leadership Montgomery.

  • Carmen Ortiz-McGhee

    Senior Vice President, Resident Sales Director, Aon Risk Solutions - The Capital
    Washington, DC

    Carmen Ortiz-McGhee is a passionate advocate for the growth and success of diverse businesses and regularly presents at conferences focused on the U.S. Emerging Domestic Market including The U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency events, Hispanic IT Executive Council meetings, the New America Alliance Wall Street Summit and the American Association of Blacks in Energy among others.

    Currently, she is Executive Vice President of Sales for Aon Cornerstone Innovative Solutions, a division of Aon, the leading global risk management, reinsurance and human resources consulting/outsourcing firm. Aon Cornerstone sources and vets high performance certified minority business enterprises that specialize in risk management and human resources consulting/outsourcing to deliver supplier diversity inclusive professional services solutions to Aon’s clients worldwide.

    Before joining Aon Cornerstone, Ortiz-McGhee served as Vice President, Investor Relations and Business Development for a boutique real estate private equity firm where she was charged with developing targeted fundraising strategies to grow the firm’s assets under management.

    Prior to that role, she served as President of The Marathon Club (TMC). Understanding that access to capital has often been one of the biggest challenges facing underserved communities, Ortiz-McGhee led TMC and its unprecedented network of affluent, diverse, deal-focused professionals comprised of The Executive Leadership Council, the National Association of Investment Companies and New America Alliance.

    Ortiz-McGhee successfully broke ground, deepening relationships for TMC among some of the most prominent groups of African-American and Hispanic business leaders in the U.S. Under her leadership TMC developed vehicles that enabled these groups to close deals in the U.S. and on the international stage, fostering relationships across the globe as delegates to the World Business Angel Association or Committee of 100—Greater China Conference in China. Her initiative expanded the scope, reach and access of each of the partner organizations in the fastest growing region in the world.

    Prior to leading TMC, Ortiz-McGhee engineered programs for a number of nonprofit organizations including the New America Alliance, the World Airline Entertainment Association and the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC). It was her time at the New America Alliance, an organization comprised of some of the most prominent Latino business leaders in the country, that changed her belief in what was possible, resulting in tremendous strides accomplished by a small group of focused, passionate, and dedicated individuals. These strides represented a game changer for Latinos and for money managers of all diverse ethnicities in the public pension fund and financial services arena, two of this country’s last bastions of largely monolithic participation.

    Ortiz-McGhee is a Dean’s List graduate of the University of Virginia where she received her BA in Psychology. She is the Chair of the Economic Inclusion Committee for the venture catalyst JumpStart, Inc., a board member of the NEA Foundation, an Advisor to the Hispanic IT Executive Council and a former board member of the mobile data analytics company Discourse Analytics dba Votifi.com, and previously served on the University of Virginia Alumni Diversity Advisory Committee. She lives in Virginia with her husband and their three children.

  • Harriet Sanford

    President and CEO
    The NEA Foundation
    Washington, DC

    Harriet Sanford is the President and CEO of the NEA Foundation, a position she has held since 2005. The Foundation is a public charity founded by educators for educators to improve public education for all students. Since its beginning in 1969, the Foundation has served as a laboratory of learning, offering funding and other resources to public school educators, their schools, and their districts to solve complex teaching and learning challenges. During her 12-year tenure with the Foundation, Sanford has transformed the depth and breadth of its programs and grantmaking by investing in educators to improve their instructional practice and unleash their own power, ideas and voices, so that communities, schools and students all benefit.

    Sanford began her professional journey as a public school classroom teacher, which led to a senior executive career spanning more than 30 years with nonprofit and public organizations, including the Arts and Science Council in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the Fulton County Arts Council, in Georgia. Immediately prior to joining the NEA Foundation, Sanford served as the conceptual lead and manager of “South by South Africa: Crafting Cultural Understanding,” a project that built economic links and cultural understanding between South Africa and U.S. partner cities. Her career is bound together by an unwavering commitment to strengthening community by building on the skills, talents and aspirations of each of its members.

    Sanford has managed annual budgets of more than $18 million and capital funds of $200 million. A recognized specialist in the field of charitable fundraising, Sanford has led several initiatives that have raised more than $72 million to support the mission of various nonprofit organizations. She also has served as a member of the Board of Directors of more than a dozen nonprofits, contributing her vision and leadership expertise to these institutions. For example, Sanford helped guide the merger of the National Association of Local Arts Agencies with the American Council for the Arts that resulted in the formation of Americans for the Arts, a major arts advocacy organization.

    Numerous groups, such as the North Carolina Arts Education Association, Americans for the Arts, National Black Arts Festival, the National Association of Counties, and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, have recognized Sanford’s contributions to the advancement of public and arts education, culture, and cultural understanding. Through the generous support of grants from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation, Sanford also served as a United States Information Agency (USIA) fellow to South Africa in the late 1990s. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Active Citizen Project, DC Jazz Festival, Caversham Centre (South Africa), Editorial Projects in Education, the Hispanic College Fund, and the National Network of State Teachers of the Year. She also is an advisor to First Book, a donor advisory group member of the Communities for Just Schools Fund and a member of the International Women’s Forum of Washington, D.C.

    Sanford holds a BA in Education from New England College, a MPA from the University of Connecticut, and was awarded the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education in 2015.

  • Katherine Underwood

    President and Representative, National Council of Urban Education Associations (NCUEA)
    Moreno Valley, CA

    Katherine Underwood is the President of the National Council of Urban Education Associations (NCUEA) and previously served as Regional Director and Vice President of the organization. Other leadership positions include Secretary on the Executive Board of the Moreno Valley Educators Association (MVEA); Chapter President for the California Teachers Association (CTA) State Council Representative; and Service Center Chairperson for the NEA Board of Directors. She has taught elementary school since 1988 in the Moreno Valley Unified School District.

    Underwood earned her Bachelor and Master of Arts at California State University, Fullerton and her Teaching Credential from University of California, San Bernardino. Her son, Eric, is an Automotive Tech Instructor in Georgia and her second son, Alan, is a High School Music Teacher in California.

  • Sändra Walker

    Physical Education Teacher, Lawrence Public Schools
    Lawrence, KS

    Sändra Walker has been a strong and passionate voice for educators and kids for over 30 years in the Lawrence Public Schools in Kansas, where she teaches Physical Education at South Middle School. Prior to that, she taught Elementary Physical Education at Hillcrest Elementary. Walker became active in her local and state organizations over 19 years ago. She has served on the Communications Commission, Instructional Advocacy Commission, Kansas NEA Board of Directors, NEA Resolutions Committee and as Co-chair of her district’s Professional Development Council. She currently serves on the NEA Board of Directors representing Kansas.

    Walker earned her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Adapted Physical Education/ Motor Development at The University of Kansas.

  • Eric Wayne

    Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Consumer Reports
    Yonkers, NY

    Eric Wayne has been an integral part of CR’s success for more than 20 years and has served as Vice President, Chief Financial Officer since 2013. He leads the oversight of CR’s financial affairs, providing insights to help make better decisions about formulating and executing strategy. Eric is directly responsible for the organization’s financial functions, including accounting, business planning and analysis, treasury, and the oversight of CR’s national headquarters in Yonkers, N.Y.

    In his role as CFO, Eric has primary responsibility for developing CR’s long-term financial vision and operating plan, and he drives the exploration and development of new business models. He is also responsible for developing CR’s budgets, financial reports, and analysis of financial trends in order to assist the organization’s leadership team with developing solutions to business challenges and to drive resource allocation decisions.

    Prior to becoming CFO, Eric served the organization as Senior Director, Treasurer. In that role, he was responsible for investments, debt, cash management, and risk management for the entire organization.

    Before joining CR, Eric held various position for a decade at Mutual of America, including contracts, marketing, and consulting services, serving as an employee benefits consultant to not-for-profit organizations.

    Eric earned his B.S. in business administration from the State University of New York at Oswego and his MBA from Baruch College.

  • Joy Whitlow

    Chief Financial Officer, American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators
    Alexandria, VA

    Joy Whitlow joined the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) in Fall 2017 as Chief Financial Officer. Prior to joining AAMVA, Joy held several finance leadership positions with the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), from 2009 to 2017. Most recently, she served as chief financial officer and executive vice president from 2011 to 2017. In that role, Joy worked closely with the NAB executive, audit and investment committees and served as treasurer for the NAB Education Foundation. Joy oversaw the daily operations of the Finance, Membership, Human Resources, Information Technology and Facilities Administration departments. In addition, she worked closely with the Conventions and Business Operations department to manage the NAB Show and to develop new business opportunities. Joy was also responsible for managing the construction of NAB’s new headquarters building.

    Prior to joining NAB, Joy spent seven years at WETA, Washington D.C.’s public television and radio station. She began her career at WETA as budget manager, and was later promoted to assistant controller and ultimately to controller in 2006. Joy also spent two years as a business manager for WGBH in Boston, the largest public broadcasting station in the country.

    Joy holds a master’s degree from The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and received her undergraduate degree from Brown University. She obtained an accounting certificate from the University of Virginia. Joy is a licensed certified public accountant (CPA) in the state of Virginia and is a member of the American Institute of CPAs. She also serves on the board of the Greater Washington Society of CPAs.

    Joy resides with her husband and two youngest children in Alexandria, Va.

  • Maryann Woods-Murphy

    Gifted and Talented Specialist, Nutley Public Schools
    Teaneck, NJ

    Maryann Woods-Murphy is the epitome of hard work, dedication, and leadership as reflected in her many awards of recognition and skill set. Of her many accomplishments, Woods-Murphy was New Jersey Teacher of the Year 2009-2010, a Horace Mann awardee in 2011, The Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Teacher of the Year as well as a Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow with the US Department of Education from 2011-2012 and an America Achieves Fellow, 2011-2015.

    Woods-Murphy is currently a member of the NEA, NAACP, The Nutley Education Association, The New Jersey Association for Gifted Children, The National Network of State Teachers of the Year, and a founding member of the New Jersey Council of State Teachers of the Year. Woods-Murphy has worked at Nutley Public Schools since 2013 as the Gifted and Talented Specialist, working in a hybrid role teaching fourth, fifth, and sixth graders along with providing professional development to colleagues in the district.

    She holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Montclair State College, Summa Cum Laude and a degree in Spanish from La Universidad de Salamanca, Spain as well as a master’s of Spanish Literature from Montclair State University. In 2016, she earned a Doctoral in Teacher Leadership at Walden University. Woods-Murphy’s diverse experiences have given her the chance to interact with policy makers, meet with teachers across the nation, and connect with the media, she is seeking ways to help empower teachers to collaborate, to break down the walls between disciplines and to energize and support student success. She is deeply committed to antiracism work with young people and has been the Co-Director of “Teens Talk about Racism,” for 12 years.

  • Cathy D. Zier

    EVP Education, K12 Division, CareDox
    Atlanta, GA

    Cathy D. Zier, M.Ed, has over 30 years of experience in Education. Formerly with Promethean as Senior Vice President of Global Solutions and Alliances, she has extensive experience in Special Education and education technology developing products and business strategies to support educators in delivering instruction and managing student achievement.

    She was with Apple Computer, Public Consulting Group and co-founded Learning Tools International, a software company providing tools to manage Special Education programs and Individualized Learning Plans (IEPs) serving over five million students. Throughout her career, her knowledge of the technology industry and classroom experience has helped drive transformations focused on 21st-century modern learning environments to support educators and student learning.

    Zier holds an M.A. in Education from the University of Tennessee.

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