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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.

  • Kevin A. Anderson

    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.

  • Valeria Lassiter

    Vice Chair
    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.

  • Joy Whitlow

    Secretary-Treasurer
    NEAF Board of Directors
    Alexandria, VA

    Joy Whitlow is the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of DIA, founded as the Drug Information Association. As CFO, she guides the business performance and strategic risk processes of the organization, which provides the largest neutral, multidisciplinary forum for life science professionals to engage with key stakeholders and each other, ultimately resulting in faster, better patient outcomes worldwide.

    Prior to joining DIA, Joy served as CFO of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA), where she oversaw all financial operations with federal agencies, financial partners, and member jurisdictions. Before AAMVA, Joy spent eight years as CFO at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), and prior to that, served in various finance roles in public radio and television, including at WGBH in Boston, the largest public broadcasting station in the country. She is a licensed CPA, who holds a Master’s Degree from The Johns Hopkins University and an undergraduate degree from Brown University. Joy resides with her husband and two youngest children in Alexandria, Va.

  • 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

    Daaiyah Bilal-Threats directs NEA’s domestic and international alliance building and serves as special assistant to the NEA Executive Director. She oversees NEA’s philanthropic giving and cultivates relationships for the organization across a broad-spectrum of issues.

    She has worked in large-scale social change her entire career beginning with the World Wildlife Fund, American Red Cross, and Health Information Network. Daaiyah joined the National Education Association in 2000 as a policy analyst focusing on public health and education policies. She has wide-ranging experience on national campaigns supporting social justice and pro-public education candidates and issues.

    She serves in leadership positions with numerous progressive political and civic organizations. She currently represents NEA with the Democracy Alliance, Neighborhood Funders Group-Labor Advisory, and FCCP. She also serves on the boards of The American Prospect magazine, State Voices, Committee on States, New Media Ventures, and the Partnership for the Future of Learning.

  • Sean Patrick Corcoran

    Associate Professor of Education and Public Policy, Peabody College of Education and Human Development, Vanderbilt University
    Nashville, TN

    Sean Patrick Corcoran is an Associate Professor of Education and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development. He is also a faculty fellow at the Tennessee Education Research Alliance. He was formerly on the faculty of New York University’s Steinhardt School, where he remains a Senior Technical Adviser for the Research Alliance for New York City Schools.

    Corcoran currently serves on the editorial boards of Education Finance and Policy, the American Educational Research Journal, 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 published papers have examined long-run trends in teacher quality, the impact of income inequality and 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 high school choices of middle school students in New York City. Together with colleagues at Princeton, Columbia, and Seton Hall University, he is fielding a large randomized control trials of information supports for school choice 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, Fonbnk, Inc.
    Washington, DC

    Christian L. Duffus (“Chris”) is the founder and CEO of Fonbnk, Inc. Prior to launching Fonbank, Duffus founded and led 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.

  • Bertis Downs

    Entertainment Lawyer & Advisor
    Athens, GA

    Since graduating from Davidson College in 1978, Bertis Downs has lived in Athens, Georgia, where he received his law degree in 1981 from the University of Georgia’s School of Law. He represented the band R.E.M. throughout the band’s career and has remained an advisor to their various endeavors since disbandment. In 1988, Downs originated the Entertainment Law course at the University School of Law. Since then, he has regularly nourished his interest in teaching by speaking at various continuing legal education, law schools and music industry conferences. His main civic and charitable interest emphasizes advocacy for our nation’s public schools. He is a member of the boards of Network for Public Education and People For the American Way. His chief concern is the growing corporatization of public schools to the detriment of the teaching and learning.

  • Laura Engel

    Associate Professor of International Education and International Affairs at the George Washington University (GW), Director of the International Education Program, and co-chair of the GW UNESCO Chair in International Education for Development
    Alexandria, VA

    Dr. Laura Engel is an Associate Professor of International Education and International Affairs at the George Washington University (GW), Director of the International Education Program, and co-chair of the GW UNESCO Chair in International Education for Development. She was recently appointed by the US Department of State and World Learning as a Fulbright Specialist (2019-2022). Prior to coming to GW, she served as a research fellow at the University of Nottingham (UK), working on two European Union funded projects on education and social policy to advance social cohesion and enhance the well-being of individuals and communities of marginalized and minoritized backgrounds.

    Engel has been actively involved in interdisciplinary and international projects related to education policy. She specializes in international comparisons in education policy, including education policy uses of international large-scale assessments, and internationalization of education. She is the author of two books and over 50 articles, book chapters, and policy briefs. Her current research, funded by the American Educational Research Association and the National Geographic Society, examines student outcomes associated with the DC Public Schools Study Abroad program and issues of equity in global educational opportunities. She also is a member of the National Science Foundation funded Arctic PIRE team.

    She is recipient of several teaching awards, including the 2013 GSEHD Excellence in Teaching Award and the 2017 DEL Award in Teaching Excellence, and has led a series of Fulbright Commission sponsored seminars. She is the former Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) co-Chair for the Large Scale Cross National Studies in Education Special Interest Group and serves on the editorial board of International Studies in Sociology of Education.

  • 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.

  • Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh

    Immediate Past 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

  • 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

    Dean and Professor of Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation University of Kentucky College of Education
    Lexington, KY

    Julian Vasquez Heilig is the Dean of the University of Kentucky College of Education. Vasquez Heilig, an award-winning leader, teacher and researcher, came to UK from California State University, Sacramento, where he was a professor of educational leadership and policy studies and director of the Doctorate in Educational Leadership program. Vasquez Heilig received his Ph.D. in educational administration and policy analysis and a master’s degree in sociology from Stanford University. He also earned a master’s in higher education and a bachelor’s degree in history and psychology from the University of Michigan. A prolific scholar, in the last decade alone, Vasquez Heilig has been an author or co-author on nearly 50 peer-reviewed journal and/or refereed articles or law reviews as well as chapters. Topics have been diverse in range and scope, covering issues such as racial equity and teacher preparation among many others. He has been honored with more than 30 teaching, research and service recognitions, including a Ford Foundation fellowship, the American Educational Research Journal Outstanding Reviewer award, and named as a Diversity in Education Magazine Multicultural Champion. He also served as the education chair for the California Hawaii State Conference of the NAACP. Vasquez Heilig’s work in higher education also includes serving on the faculty and as an academic leader at the University of Texas at Austin from 2006 to 2014.

  • Stacey A. Herndon

    Senior Vice President and Senior Institutional Client Advisor, PNC Institutional Asset Management
    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 Institutional Client 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.

  • Joanne Krell

    Founder & Managing Partner, Defy Communications
    Ann Arbor, MI

    Joanne Krell is a senior executive in communications with deep experience in both the social and corporate sectors. In late 2017, she co-founded and launched Defy Communications, a strategic communications firm dedicated to working with great people and organizations to help society get the outcomes it deserves.

    Before launching Defy, Joanne served as executive director of corporate communications for General Motors, a senior leadership role responsible for reputation management; executive, internal and external communications; and the GM brand. Earlier in her career, she spent a dozen years at GM in a wide range of communications roles including as director of communications for Cadillac and Saab, for GM’s financial services division and as communications lead for GM’s global issues. She has worked on countless product, reputation and issue-based campaigns as well as through multiple high-profile crises.

    Prior to her return to GM, Joanne was the vice president of communications for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, among the nation’s largest philanthropic foundations. While there, she implemented a strategic communications approach and structure to improve its organizational communications, an identity process to clarify the organization’s “golden why” writ large, and to propel efforts to amplify the grant-making and mission-driven investing work of the organization and its grantees, which focuses on social change toward better life outcomes for vulnerable children.

    Joanne began her career in Washington, D.C., working for the American Federation of Teachers and the Air Line Pilots Association before spending several years with Widmeyer Communications (now Finn Partners) on issues ranging from education reform to health care and reproductive rights to energy policy. She later managed communications for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, helping introduce and seed board certification for teachers as a way to improve both learning and the teaching profession.

    Joanne has been active in community service and local initiatives and was a board member of the Communications Network, the national organization for foundation and nonprofit communications professionals, serving as its vice chair from 2013 to 2015. She holds a bachelor’s degree in government and politics from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree in marketing and advertising from Michigan State University. She has completed executive education at Oxford University and studied abroad as an undergraduate at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel.

  • Patricia (Pat) W. Jones

    CEO, Women’s Leadership Institute
    Salt Lake City, UT

    The mission of the Women’s Leadership Institute is to elevate the stature of female leadership in the state of Utah. The organization was formed in January, 2015 through the visionary efforts of key business leaders to address Utah’s deficiencies in the presence of women at top levels of corporate and political leadership.

    Jones was tapped as CEO because of her background and expertise in the business and political worlds as well as her ability to engage, collaborate and lead.

    As co-founder and former President of Dan Jones & Associates, a successful public opinion and market research firm for 35 years, Jones helped lead and manage the company while serving on numerous community and company boards. Jones is an experienced and highly-regarded researcher, specializing in qualitative research, having conducted hundreds of focus groups throughout the country for a variety of industries since 1980.

    Senator Jones served in the Utah Legislature for 14 years, serving in leadership positions 12 of those years. She was a member of the Utah House of Representatives from 2000-2006 and was elected to the Utah Senate in 2006-2014, serving eight years there, including serving as the first female leader in either
    party and in either House. While in the Utah Legislature, Jones was a member of various committees, including Public Education, Higher Education, Health and Human Services, Judiciary, Economic Development, Law Enforcement, Government Operations and Executive Appropriations.

    A University of Utah graduate in Communications (magna cum laude), Jones currently serves on the Utah Board of Regents, the Salt Lake Chamber Executive Board, Zions Bank Advisory Board, Chair of Intermountain Healthcare Community Care Foundation, Dominion Energy Advisory Board, Strategic Communications Committee for USHE, Chair of Governor’s Education Excellence Commission, Silicon Slopes Board, Chair of Mental Health Working Group for the Board of Regents, a Commissioner on the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education, Garff Foundation Success in Education Board, Utah Commission on Financial and Economic Education, and on the National Advisory Board of the University of Utah School of Dentistry.

    Jones has served on the boards of United Way of Salt Lake, Zions Bank Women’s Financial Group, Utah Symphony and Opera, St. Mark’s Hospital, Hale Centre Theatre, Columbus Community Center, University of Utah Alumni Association, Coalition for People with Disabilities, This is the Place State Park, Utah Commission on Aging, and the Coalition for the Understanding of Substance Abuse Disease.

    Pat Jones’ interests are many, but she prefers to move rather than sit. She enjoys exercising, biking, skiing, playing pickle ball, tennis, watching sports (especially basketball and football), reading, politics, cooking, having fun with her children and grandchildren and traveling. Her least favorite thing to do is to wait in long lines.
    Patricia was married to the late Dr. Dan E. Jones and has four children and 11 grandchildren.

  • Miguel Angel Saldaña Villegas

    Mathematics Educator at Pasco School District
    Kennewick, WA

    I was born and raised in San Isidro, Jalisco, Mexico. I attended public schools and graduated from high school in 1998. Due to scarce resources, limited academic opportunities, and an oppressive financial situation, I came to Walla Walla, Washington in the United States of America as an undocumented immigrant when I was 18 years old.

    Shortly after my arrival and not knowing how to communicate in English, I enrolled in Walla Walla Community College. I graduated with my AA and transferred to Washington State University becoming the first one in my family to graduate with a four-year degree. I earned my BS in Mathematics, with an emphasis in Theoretical Mathematics, a BA in Spanish, a teaching certificate, and a master’s in education.

    I have been working with the Pasco School District teaching mathematics since 2007. I have been serving all students, especially those bilingual and recent immigrants, and I am also teaching at Columbia Basin College teaching students who want to earn their GED. My passion as a union member and advocate for students started when I was trying to find ways to fulfil not only students’ academic and educational endeavors but also their emotional and personal needs. Currently, I am serving as an NEA State Director from Washington State.

    I have been working with educators in my local and across the state to train other members about implicit biases, culturally responsive classroom strategies, and human and civil rights and equity issues.

    I am currently married to Martha Nallely Aceves Velazquez and have a daughter, Sofia, who was born on a special day, 7/11/17.

  • Sara A. Sneed

    President and CEO
    The NEA Foundation
    Washington, DC

    Sara Sneed is the President and CEO of the NEA Foundation in Washington, D.C. Sara joined the NEA Foundation in February 2019, after almost 20 years with the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, one of the nation’s largest community foundations. While with the Hartford Foundation, Sara served as director of education investments, promoting educational equity and excellence with partners at the local, state and national levels. Sara also led the development of strategy and policy advocacy to close persistent educational opportunity gaps and improve student outcomes across some of Connecticut’s highest need school districts. She is credited with developing dynamic new learning opportunities both for and with educators and students; successful advocacy for equity-focused fiscal practices among schools and school districts; and effective grants programs, policy advocacy, and cross sector collaboration supporting English Learners, whole child development and increased family, school and community partnership. Her efforts resulted in the development of new infrastructures for teaching and learning in Connecticut, strengthened communities of practice, a growing cadre of regional leaders committed to educational and racial equity, and co-creation of several successful community schools alongside partners from the public, private and independent sectors.

    Sara previously served as senior program manager with the Foundation for the Mid-South, where she was responsible for the Families and Children, Public Policy, and Faculty Fellows (leadership development) programs. As director of maternal and child health with the Medical Foundation in Boston, her leadership resulted in significant expansion of public health partnerships and strategic initiatives throughout the surrounding region. Previously, she served as special projects manager with the Massachusetts Department of Social Services, leading program and systems innovations in several areas, including the Department’s contributions to the education, health and human service components of Blueprint 2000, a comprehensive long-range and statewide strategic planning initiative.

    Sara began her career as director of the Southern New England Network for Black Families and Children, a tri-state advocacy initiative launched by the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts. Directly out of college, she was appointed area manager of the Roxbury, Massachusetts Office for Children, using mediations and the court system to obtain services for children while supporting parents’ self-advocacy in pursuit of children’s entitlements.

    Among her national leadership roles, Sara currently serves as Vice Chair of the Board of the Institute for Educational Leadership in Washington D.C.; on the Grantmakers for Education Equity Impact Group; and on the steering committees of the Education Funders’ Strategy Group and Community Schools’ Funders Group. She is the former co-chair of the Coalition of Community Foundations for Youth (now CFLeads), representing more than 300 community foundations nationwide, and a former executive board member of Grantmakers for Children, Youth and Families.

    An ordained clergywoman, Sara is a former chair of the Board of the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ.  She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and holds an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School (Yale University) where she was named a William and Lucille Nickerson Scholar and winner of both the prestigious Walcott and Charles S. Mersick preaching prizes.

  • Katherine Underwood

    Representative, National Council of Urban Education Associations (NCUEA)
    Cartersville, GA

    Katherine Underwood is a retired educator and former President of the National Council of Urban Education Associations (NCUEA). She also previously served as Regional Director and Vice President of the organization. Other past 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 taught elementary school in the Moreno Valley (Calif.) Unified School District for 30 years.

    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.

  • 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.

  • Monica Washington

    Instructional Coach at BetterLesson
    Linden, TX

    Monica Washington is an instructional coach for BetterLesson supporting teachers and other instructional coaches across the country as they make positive shifts in instruction and leadership. A decorated educator, Monica served 19 years as an English teacher and began coaching teachers in 2017. She has received honors and awards from a wide variety of organizations for her leadership, advocacy, and classroom instruction. She is a 2015 Milken Unsung Hero Fellow and a 2015 NEA Foundation Global Fellow. Monica has served on advisory boards for TeachingPartners and the Educational Testing Service. In addition to instructional coaching, Monica supports teachers through workshops, speaking engagements, and blogging for Education Week and Education Post. Her, “4 Things Great Principals Don’t Do,” was the most read and shared Education Week opinion post of 2017. She is passionate about creating equitable and inclusive school environments that celebrate teacher and student voice, and she serves as Leading Educator Ambassador for Equity for the Education Civil Rights Alliance. Monica is the 2014 Texas Teacher of the Year and an active member of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year.

  • Maryann Woods-Murphy

    Gifted and Talented Specialist (retired), Nutley Public Schools, and Education Consultant
    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.

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