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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 is a former Senior Vice President of National Partnerships at EverFi, Inc., the nation’s leading educational software company for life skills education. Anderson worked in government relations and business development and secured 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.

  • 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.

  • Bret A. Conklin

    Illinois

    In April 2017, Horace Mann, the largest national multiline insurance and financial services company focusing on educators, announced the promotion of Bret A. Conklin to Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. He previously served in the role in an interim capacity.

    Bret is a seasoned corporate finance executive with a passion for the education sector. He has been with Horace Mann since 2002, holding roles such as Senior Vice President, Controller and Chief Accounting Officer.

    In his current capacity, Conklin oversees finance, accounting, treasury, investments, investor relations, procurement, P&C reserving, enterprise risk management and internal audit functions.

    Conklin has more than 30 years of experience in the insurance and financial services industry. Conklin previously served as Vice President of Kemper Insurance from 2000 through 2002, where he was responsible for all corporate financial reporting and accounting operations. Before that, he was Vice President and Controller of Horace Mann from 1998 through 2000, and Vice President and Controller of Pekin Insurance from 1992 through 1998. He has seven years of public accounting experience with KPMG Peat Marwick from 1985 to 1992, specializing in its insurance industry practice.

  • Pedro DeJesús Jr.

    Chicago, IL

    Pedro DeJesús serves as Head of International Business& Corporate Secretary for Tampico Beverages, Inc. He is a member of the Company’s Executive Leadership Team and serves on its Board of Directors. 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 category-leading flavored drink brand in the United States and in over 40 countries around the globe. Tampico Beverages is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Houchens Industries, Inc., a diversified conglomerate that employs over 16,000 employee owners in a wide variety of 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.

    Mr. DeJesús directs and manages a range of strategic and business initiatives for Tampico Beverages. His principal areas of focus include overall executive leadership and management of the Company’s global operations and providing business and strategic advice to the management team and the Board of Directors. He plans, develops and leads comprehensive strategies for the Company’s International Business Division and manages a team of 20+ sales and marketing professionals with a focus on accelerating volume growth and integrating the Company into core markets through relationship management of customers in over 40 countries. He has substantial experience managing culturally diverse teams in the United States, Africa, Brazil, Spain, Asia and throughout Central and Latin America. He also oversees and directly manages all domestic and international commercial negotiations and global legal affairs, including intellectual property rights management, M&A, corporate governance, risk management, corporate facilities management, domestic and international litigation and arbitration, global outside counsel management, and internal legal compliance education and strategies.

    Mr. DeJesús serves as an Independent Non-Executive Director of Lake Forest Bank & Trust Company, N.A., the flagship bank of Wintrust Financial Corporation (NASDAQ: WTFC) and is Chair of the Audit Committee. He is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago and serves on the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Science and Industry (Member, Building & Grounds Committee) and on the Boards of Directors of the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago (Compliance Committee Vice Chair and member of the Audit Committee), the City Colleges of Chicago Foundation, the NEA Foundation (Co-chair, Succession Planning Task Force and member of the Audit Committee) and the Latino Corporate Directors Education Foundation (Member, Finance Committee). In addition, from 2011 to 2018 Mr. DeJesús also served, through a joint appointment by the then-Secretary of Commerce and then-United States Trade Representative, on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Industry Trade Advisory Committee on Consumer Goods (ITAC-4). ITAC is a public-private partnership that engages business leaders in formulating U.S. trade policy.

    Mr. DeJesús received Chicago United’s Business Leaders of Color Award and Diversity MBA Magazine selected Mr. DeJesús as one of the Top 100 Under 50 Diverse Executive Leaders in the United States. Mr. DeJesús was featured as one of Chicago’s Very Own by Chicago’s WGN Television and the American Diabetes Associations honored him as Father of the Year. Mr. DeJesús received the Individual Corporate Excellence award by Negocios Now publication, who also recognized him as one of the 50 Most Influential Latinos in the Chicago Area.

    Mr. DeJesús holds a B.A. from Roosevelt University and a J.D. from Northwestern University School.

  • Ted Dintersmith

    Boston, MA

    Ted Dintersmith is one of America’s leaders in innovation, entrepreneurship, and education. He grew up in a middle class family about 20 minutes from Washington, DC in Virginia. His father was a carpenter and his mother was a homemaker.

    Ted’s professional experience includes two decades in venture capital, including being ranked by Business 2.0 as the top-performing U.S. venture capitalist for 1995-1999. He served on the Board of the National Venture Capital Association, chairing its Public Policy Committee. From 1981 to 1987, he ran a business at Analog Devices that helped enable the digital revolution. In the public sector, he was a staff analyst in 1976-78 for the U.S. House of Representatives.

    During the 2015-2016 school year, Ted went to all fifty states, visiting some 200 schools. He was stunned by the innovative classrooms and schools I found across the country. He observed ways leaders can change schools at scale by putting in place the conditions that let teachers and students thrive. His book, titled What School Could Be: Insights and Inspiration from Teachers Across America, brings these stories to readers. He’s convinced that the country’s education system is obsolete and discourages children from being bold and inquisitive. But he sees hope in patches of innovation he’s seen around the country.

    Ted organized and funded Most Likely to Succeed, a feature-length documentary on education that was directed by the remarkable Greg Whiteley. The film has been an official selection of thirty major film festivals, including Sundance. To date, more than 7,000 communities in some 35 countries around the globe have screened the film, using it as a powerful resource to spark discussion and inspire change.

    In 2012, he was appointed by President Obama to represent the United States at the United Nations General Assembly, where he focused on education and entrepreneurship. His mission, per the bio on his website, is: “I’m on a mission to help catalyze and accelerate
    progress in our schools. We need to equip our children with skillsets and mindsets that are essential in a world of innovation. I can’t overstate how fast machine intelligence is accelerating (and this short video makes the point). No school can be complacent. My travels have convinced me that our best path forward is to let our teachers do what they entered the profession to do — engage and inspire our kids — and draw on the insights of our most innovative teachers.”

    Ted is married to Elizabeth Hazard, and they have have with two grown children. Daughter Sterling is a design student at Stanford and social entrepreneur, www.manateegear.com. Son Gibson is a concert photographer.

    Ted earned a BA, with honors in English & Physics, William & Mary 1974 (Phi Beta Kappa). He sits on the College’s bboard and created a fellowship to support honors research. He also has aPhD in Engineering from Stanford.

  • 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.

  • Oleta Garrett Fitzgerald

    Jackson, MS

    Oleta Garrett Fitzgerald is Director of the Children’s Defense Fund’s Southern Regional Office (CDF-SRO), and also serves as the Regional Administrator for the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative for Economic & Social Justice (SRBWI). SRBWI operates in 77 counties across the Black Belts of Alabama, Southwest Georgia and Delta Mississippi. CDF-SRO also serves as the lead for the W.K. Kellogg funded Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids (SPARK) Initiative.

    In 1970 she was employed by the Atlanta-based Southeastern Public Education Program of the American Friends Service Committee. In this position she participated in the Children’s Defense Fund’s Children Out of School in America, a national study of exclusion of children from public elementary and secondary schools; and monitored Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. In 1976, she was hired as southern director for the Children’s Foundation, which educated citizens and members of Congress about the need for expanded access to federal food programs.

    In 1982 Ms. Fitzgerald became a project director for the Southern Regional Council working with rural electric power customers in 12 southern states to increase minority representation on rural electric cooperative boards. Moving back to her native Mississippi, she served as former Congressman Mike Espy’s District Director from the beginning of his first term in 1987 until she joined the Clinton for President Campaign in 1992.

    Before joining the Children’s Defense Fund, Ms. Fitzgerald was appointed White House Liaison and Executive Assistant to then Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy by President Bill Clinton in January 1993. Shortly thereafter, she was named the Department’s Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, where she worked with local, state and tribal governments; coordinated the Administration’s long-term recovery of midwestern states affected by The Great Flood of 1993; and was a member of USDA’s executive review panel selecting rural Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities.

    Ms. Fitzgerald serves as a board member for the Mississippi Head Start Association, the Mississippi Children’s Museum, the advisory committee for the Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University, and is a member of the State Children’s Welfare Coalition and the Global Women’s Action Network for Children.

    She also received honorary membership to Pi Alpha Alpha, the National Honor Society for Public Affairs & Administration from Mississippi State University in 1999. Ms. Fitzgerald holds a B.A. in sociology from Tougaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi. She is the proud mother of four children, Rashida, Yusef, Layla and Joi.

  • 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.

  • Jane Quinn

    New York, NY

    Jane Quinn is a social worker and youth worker with over four decades of experience that includes direct service with children and families, program development, fundraising, grant-making, research and advocacy. She stepped down in 2018 from her post as the Vice President for Community Schools at The Children’s Aid Society (CAS) in New York City, where she directed the National Center for Community Schools and contributed strategic planning and sustainability expertise to The Children’s Aid Society’s 16 local community schools in New York City. Jane came to CAS from the Wallace-Reader’s Digest Funds, where she served as Program Director for seven years. She has a Master’s in social work from the University of Chicago and has done post-graduate studies at the University of Hawaii, New York University and Columbia University.

    Jane Quinn, the vice president for community schools at the Children’s Aid in New York City and director of its National Center for Community Schools, is leaving her post and putting her nearly 50-year social work career on hold to pursue her lifelong professional goal of earning a doctorate degree. Considered to be one of the architects of the community schools movement, Quinn’s long and accomplished career includes work in research, direct service, philanthropy, program development and non-profit executive positions. It began after completing her undergraduate work at the College of New Rochelle in New York, where she earned a bachelor of arts in economics in 1966. She soon got a job as a caseworker at Catholic Charities and discovered her love of helping youth in need. This led to her applying to the University of Chicago’s School of Social Services Administration for her graduate degree. She would earn a master’s in social work and quickly get a job post-graduation as a caseworker once again, but at the Juvenile Protective Association of Chicago, assisting and investigating families accused of child maltreatment. Soon she would meet her husband, Terry, and move to Washington, D.C. with him in 1971.

    In D.C. she got a job in social work at the District of Columbia Health Department. Her passion being in direct service, she would pass up numerous offers in administration to continue working closely with those in need. After nearly seven years working in this capacity, Ms. Quinn would move on to a position at the Center for Population Options (now Advocates for Youth), an organization focused on helping young people make informed decisions about reproductive and sexual health. While there she would work with numerous youth organizations to coordinate and develop educational programs on adolescent sexuality. This job would serve as a jumping-off point as she would be recruited by one of the organizations she worked with,
    Girls Clubs of America. Quinn would become its national program director, pushing her into the national arena.

    Her first year in this position had her traveling the country, visiting sites that served low-income children in 38 states. Based on her experience and these travels, she would spearhead the launch of numerous programs, many of which still operate today. Some focused on getting
    young girls interested in STEM careers while others would help girls to pursue sports and recreational activities traditionally for boys. While at Girls Clubs of America, Quinn also served on a national commission led by the Carnegie Corporation of New York to determine the best reforms for middle grade education. Her specific focus while on this commission was the importance of outside-of-school learning. This focus would lead to a follow-up study and report titled “A Matter of Time: Risk and Opportunity in the Non-school Hours”, which would become a nationally-recognized piece of research leading to numerous changes in after-school and out-of-school time programs across the country. Quinn’s next career move would take her to the Wallace Foundation where she served as its program director for about seven years. It was after this that she arrived at Children’s Aid in New York, overseeing more than 20 community schools and providing technical assistance to others outside her purview. The models developed under her leadership there would spread both domestically and internationally to hundreds of districts and thousands of schools. Quinn has directly or indirectly impacted the lives of millions of children across the world during her nearly-50 year career and now she is taking the time to finally complete her own education and pursue doctoral studies in urban education.

    Quinn has been a regular contributor to Youth Today since 2000, writing more than 30 opinion pieces on several topics within her expertise. Her absence from the sector will be felt by everyone she has worked with throughout her long career. Quinn leaves Children’s Aid at the end of June 2018 and will take a short sabbatical over the summer before beginning her doctoral studies at the City University of New York.

  • Marcy Singer-Gabella

    Nashville, TN

    Teaching
    Courses on inquiry, U.S. public education, learning and design, and teaching as a social practice.

    Scholarship Focus
    My current scholarship starts from the assumption that addressing profound disparities in youth outcomes, especially those tied to economic disadvantage and race, cannot be borne by schools alone and will require the collective investment and sustained collaboration of stakeholders across communities (not only educators, students and parents, but also health and social service professionals, government and business leaders, and members of volunteer and religious organizations). My work thus focuses on designing contexts that
    bring together diverse stakeholders to investigate and act on pressing problems that contribute to inequality – and doing so in ways that honor the voices of those who often go unheard by virtue of power or status. As part of this work, I am a co-investigator on the
    Nashville Longitudinal Study of Youth Safety and Wellbeing, led by Professor Maury Nation and funded by the National Institute of Justice.

    Roles
    In addition to my faculty role, I have served on the Provost’s staff to support the development of academic partnerships between and among Vanderbilt and K12 and higher education institutions, led graduate programs in teacher education, and currently serve as
    Associate Chair in the Department of Teaching and Learning. I have also worked with schools and districts around the country to strengthen student, staff, and family learning.

  • 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.

  • Monica Washington

    Manager of Inclusive and Responsive Educational Practices and Instructional Coach 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Ross Wiener

    Washington, DC

    Ross Wiener is a vice president at the Aspen Institute and executive director of the Education and Society Program. In this
    role Ross leads professional learning networks for urban school district leaders and senior Congressional Education staffers. In
    addition to facilitating networks, the Education & Society Program hosts public conversations as well as off-the-record workshops, and publishes original research and commentary to improve policy and practice in public education with an emphasis on improving outcomes for low income students and students of color.

    From 2002 to 2009, Ross worked at the Education Trust, a national, non-profit organization dedicated to closing gaps in opportunity and achievement gaps. As policy director and then as vice president for program and policy, Ross managed the Education Trust’s research/data analysis, policy development, and technical assistance to educators and policymakers in both K12 and higher education.

    Prior to Education Trust, Ross served for five years as a trial attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Educational Opportunities Section and also clerked for the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

    Ross is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and received a law degree with high honors from the George Washington University Law School.

  • 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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