Our Team

The NewSchools team draws on extensive experience from across the education, business, policy and nonprofit sectors to help build high-quality education organizations.

Our Mission

NewSchools is committed to transforming public education through powerful ideas and passionate entrepreneurs so that all children — especially those in underserved communities — have the opportunity to succeed.

Team Members

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Stacey Childress

Chief Executive Officer

Stacey Childress is the CEO at NewSchools Venture Fund.

Prior to joining NewSchools, Childress led the K-12 Next Generation Learning team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, investing in schools and technologies that support personalized learning for middle and high school students in the United States.

Prior to joining the foundation, Childress was on the faculty of the Harvard Business School where she wrote and taught about entrepreneurial activity in public education in the United States. Her work focused on urban public school districts, charter schools, and nonprofit and for-profit enterprises with missions to improve the public system. During her time at Harvard she wrote three books and more than thirty cases and articles about education entrepreneurship. She also won teaching awards from her students and the HBS dean for her elective course on education entrepreneurship, which was taken by nearly 1000 students between 2004 and 2010.

Before working in academia, Childress was a co-founder of an enterprise software company and also spent ten years in a Fortune 500 company in sales and general management.

Early in her career, she taught in a Texas public high school. She is a graduate of Baylor University and Harvard Business School. In 2012, she was named one of Forbes Magazine’s Impact 15, a group of innovators revolutionizing education in the United States and around the world.

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Sandra Becker

Chief Financial Officer

Sandra Becker is the Chief Financial Officer at NewSchools Venture Fund, and works in NewSchools’ Oakland office. Previously she was Chief Financial Officer at the Jewish Federation and the Jewish Community Foundation of the East Bay. As CFO, Sandra oversaw the financial reporting and operating budgets of both organizations and managed the Foundation’s assets of $100MM. 

Sandra focused her career on the nonprofit sector while Audit Manager at Ernst & Young, where she counted both the Rockefeller Foundation and the International Rescue Committee as clients. Upon leaving public accounting, Sandra served as Controller for the Marin Community Foundation, overseeing financial reporting for the country’s third largest community foundation. 

Sandra has expertise in the real estate and software industries. She also spent five years as owner and COO of  Ft. Docs, an independent document management company that provides hard copy and electronic storage, and scanning services, as well as compliance services for hospitals and medical offices during the initial period of HIPAA. 

Sandra is former Treasurer of HeadsUp, a foundation that raises supplemental funding for schools in the San Rafael School District. Currently, she is on the board of WeAreSr!, which raises funds for arts, music and athletics at San Rafael High School. Sandra received her B.S. in Business Administration from San Francisco State University.

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Joseph Cabrera

Full Charge Accountant

Joseph Cabrera is the Full Charge Accountant at NewSchools Venture Fund’s Oakland headquarters where he administers the fund’s financial activities including full-cycle general ledger and grantmaking.

Joseph has more than 20 years of finance and accounting experience. Before coming to NewSchools, Joseph served as controller for the Community Action Agency of San Mateo County for eight years.  

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Alex Caram

Associate Director

Alex Caram is an Associate Partner in the NewSchools Oakland office and focuses on investment strategy, due diligence and management assistance for ventures in the Learning to Teach Fund.

Prior to joining NewSchools, Alex was an Induction Coach with New Teacher Center, where she worked with first and second years teachers in Chicago Public Schools to develop the practices and mindsets that are required for effective teaching. Alex began her career teaching high school science in both Northern California and in Chicago. During graduate school, Alex was an Education Pioneer Fellow at Leadership for Educational Equity, a leadership development organization catalyzing leaders who have classroom experience to impact polices, priorities and resources, so we can achieve educational equality.

Alex earned a BA in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton University, an MA in Education from Stanford University and an MBA from University of California, Los Angeles.

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Jennifer Carolan

Managing Director, Seed Fund

Jennifer Carolan is Managing Director of the NewSchools Seed Fund, which she co-founded to make investments in early-stage education technology companies with potential for big impact in K-12 education.

Jennifer began her career as a teacher in traditional district schools where she became interested in differentiated learning. After studying master teachers at Stanford School of Education, she published her research on differentiation in Education Leadership. Jennifer is most interested in the intersection of technology, differentiated instruction and access. Jennifer is on the Boards of: BetterLesson, Education Elements, EdSurge, Equal Opportunity Schools and FreshGrade. She still teaches sometimes, most recently Innovations in Teaching 338 at Stanford’s School of Education/d.school and a home math camp for her kids and their friends. Jennifer has three children who attend a charter school in Los Altos California.

Speaking at:

  1. DFJ Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders SeriesNovember 5, 2014

Recent news:

  1. FreshGrade Raises $4.3M to Connect Teachers, Students and Parents
  2. Investors Debate Possible Bubble in the Ed-Tech Marketplace
  3. Venture capitalists learn to love education
  4. Baltimore, Boston Move to Build Ed-Tech Hubs
  5. A Tale of Different Deals: Diving into Early Stage Edtech Investments
  6. Boston, Baltimore Seeking to Become Hubs for Ed-Tech Startups
  7. Education Startup Tales2Go Raises $750K for ‘Netflix-Like’ Audiobook App
  8. Engrade Raises $3M to Unify Classroom Management into Single Platform
  9. Social Entrepreneurs Try to Offer Solutions to K-12 Problems
  10. NewSchools Venture Fund Announces Early-Stage Education Technology Fund to Accelerate Student Achievement
  11. Blended Learning Startup Education Elements Raises $2.1 Million
  12. BetterLesson Grabs $1.6 Million to Let Educators Find and Share the Best Lesson Plans

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Venture Board Seats

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Rich Crandall

Associate Partner

Rich Crandall is an Associate Partner in the NewSchools Venture Fund’s Oakland office, where he splits his time between planning NewSchools’ annual Summit and Community of Practice events, and the work on the National Network of Charter Schools to enhance college readiness and success.

Prior to joining NewSchools, Rich was the K-12 Lab Director at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford (also known as the “d.school”). At the d.school Rich worked to instill creative confidence in innovators across the K-12 system – from district leaders to kindergartners. Rich is thrilled to be at NewSchools helping entrepreneurs to realize their big ideas of making meaningful change in education.

Rich studied mathematics at Colgate University and has his MBA from Stanford University. He first worked in Oakland as high school math teacher through Teach For America, where he lives with his wife Heather and their pug Payton.

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Melissa Estrada

Operations Manager

Melissa Estrada is the Operations Manager for NewSchools Venture Fund. Melissa has been employed with non-profit organizations for over 10 years and brings a wide range of experience to NewSchools.

Prior to joining NewSchools, Melissa was assistant to the Superintendent at Aspire Public Schools and quickly proved herself invaluable. Prior to that, she was the Executive Assistant to the CEO at ILWU-FSC Federal Credit Union for 8 years. While working full-time, she received her BA from CSU East Bay with a B.S in Administration of Criminal Justice with a minor in Sociology and a Masters in Counseling Education with a PPS Credential from San Jose State University. Melissa enjoys spending time with her family, traveling and helping underserved students in the East Bay communities.

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Thea Fennira

Executive Assistant

Thea Fennira is an Executive Assistant in the NewSchools Venture Fund’s Oakland office, supporting the office of the President and CEO. Thea’s experience in the Bay Area includes eight years in semiconductor investment banking, four in financial services private equity, and a year and a half in biotech. She has a broad base of experience, and a commitment to service. As the first in her family lineage to graduate college, she believes every person must have access to a quality education.

Born and raised in Iowa, Thea chose to attend a liberal arts school with a music therapy program, Clarke University, and graduated with a BA in computer science, and a minor in music. Her interests include foreign culture, music, travel, and the arts.

Photography for HGSE annual report and other publications.

Jamal Fields

Resident

Jamal is a Harvard Ed.L.D. Program resident working with the Oakland Fund team on investment strategy, due diligence and management assistance for Oakland Fund ventures.

Jamal began his career in education as a snowboard instructor at Squaw Valley, CA where he taught kids of all ages how to ski and snowboard. That experience provided the spark that ignited his passion for teaching which has continued to this day. He taught Kindergarten through fifth grades in San Francisco’s Hunters Point and Western Addition neighborhoods and then went on to become a site administrator. He served as the principal for several turnaround schools in Modesto and Livermore which all made significant gains in student performance under his leadership. As a school principal Jamal joined the National League of Democratic Schools and then became a national Five Freedoms Fellow furthering his commitment to creating schools in which democratic practice is an explicit part of the curriculum. In his time at Harvard, Jamal represented his classmates as the Ed.L.D. Senator on the student council where he helped organize events and advise administration on policies concerning the student body. Jamal holds a BA from the University of California at Santa Cruz in Sociology, and an MA from the University of California at Berkeley in Education as part of the inaugural cohort of the Principal Leadership Institute. He is currently completing a Doctor of Education Leadership degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education to be conferred in May 2015.

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Sosanna Folz

Venture Assistant

Sosanna Folz is a Venture Assistant in NewSchools Venture Fund’s Boston office. Prior to joining NewSchools, Sosanna was a Resource Consultant for Right Management Consultants, a global organizational consulting firm. While at Right, she provided organizations and transitioning executives with project management, marketplace intelligence and career coaching.

Sosanna holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wofford College in South Carolina. She attended Wofford on a Bonner Scholarship for community service during which time she helped develop and run after-school programs for middle schools in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

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Yulia Frid

Program Manager

Yulia Frid is a Program Manager with NewSchools Venture Fund where she provides support to the organization’s Partners and helps manage the Aspen Institute – NewSchools Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education fellowship program.

Yulia brings a wide range of experience to this role, as she has worked in the medical, finance, and telecommunication industries. In the last 10 years, she has managed the planning and execution of several companies’ events including event design, site selection, budgeting, logistics, collateral, product display, event analysis, collateral and marketing campaigns. While working full-time, Yulia received her bachelor of science degree in business administration with concentration in marketing from San Francisco State University and a masters degree in business administration from University of Phoenix.

Yulia was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia and immigrated to San Francisco, California at the age of 13 in 1992.

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Eva Gonda Green

Director of Portfolio Development

Eva Gonda Green is the Director of Portfolio Development for the NewSchools Venture Fund Seed Fund. In this role, Eva works closely with portfolio companies on a range of strategic areas, including business and market development, and strategic partnerships. Eva has a background in elementary school teaching, education policy analysis, business leadership, and public interest law. Throughout her career, Eva has been driven by a commitment to helping organizations overcome challenges to improve outcomes for low-income students. 

Before joining the Seed Fund, Eva oversaw strategic initiatives for Ted Mitchell, CEO of NewSchools Venture Fund. Prior to her work in education, Eva was a professional equestrian and trained the Gold Medal winning horse and rider for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. A graduate of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, Eva attended Stanford Law School and graduated cum laude with honors from Occidental College earning a BA in American Studies with an emphasis in Education.

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Vanessa Gonzalez

Associate Partner

Vanessa Gonzalez is an Associate Partner in NewSchool’s Washington, DC office and focuses on diligence and management assistance for ventures in the DC Schools Fund. 

Prior to joining NewSchools, Vanessa was a Design and Implementation Consultant at Education Elements, where she worked closely with school leaders and teachers across the country to launch blended learning models. Vanessa began her career as a consultant at Bain and Company, where she advised clients in a variety of industries on strategic and operational issues. She also advised nonprofits as a consultant at The Bridgespan Group. During graduate school, Vanessa was an Education Pioneers Fellow at AUSL, a teacher residency and school turnaround operator in Chicago.

Vanessa earned a BA in Economics and Spanish from Emory University, as well as an MBA and MA in Education from Stanford University.

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Simin Hailu

Development Operations Coordinator

Simin Hailu is Development Operations Coordinator at NewSchools Venture Fund. She manages the development data system and ensures operations run smoothly for the development team. Additionally, she provides administrative support to the Chief Advancement Officer.

Simin brings experience with development operations from her previous years at Raising A Reader, a national early childhood literacy nonprofit. Prior to that she volunteered as an adult literacy tutor with the San Mateo County’s READS Program and assisted children with special needs at the National Center for Equine Facilitated Therapy.

Simin was born in Botswana but returned to California with her family at the age of three. Since then she has called Northern California home. Simin graduated summa cum laude from San Francisco State University with a B.A. in Liberal Studies.

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David Havens

Senior Analyst

David Havens is a Senior Analyst in NewSchools Venture Fund’s Palo Alto office, where he focuses on market research and supporting education technology ventures.

David has focused on innovation in education for the last two years. At Stanford, he co-founded The Flying Treehouse, a volunteer group that teaches creative writing to elementary students and turns their stories into a full-length performance. Prior to that, he pioneered high-school outreach as an intern at the first year of the Tallapoosa Theater Festival, which helped bring improv and Shakespeare to rural Georgia. He also worked as a teaching assistant in the Drama and Biology departments at Stanford, and was the first improv teacher for adults at a Stanford alumni camp in the Sierras. 

David earned a BA in Human Biology with a focus on Neuroscience from Stanford University. He also studied computer science, design, and education.

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Jessica Henry

Senior Analyst

Jessica Henry is a Senior Analyst in NewSchools Venture Fund’s Washington, DC office, where she focuses on management assistance and strategy development for the DC Schools Fund.

Prior to joining NewSchools, Jessica was the Program Director for All Stars Helping Kids, a Bay Area grant-making organization. While at All Stars, she oversaw grant-making initiatives in both California and New York working effectively with grantees, managed philanthropic activities for a portfolio of professional athlete clients, and managed operations for the organization. Jessica earned a BA in Human Biology with a focus in child health and development from Stanford University.

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Melissa Kim

Director of Instructional Practice

Melissa Kim is the Director of the Instructional Practice at NewSchools Venture Fund and is responsible for leading the DC Pilot for the DC Schools Fund. In her role with NewSchools, Melissa currently serves on the board of directors for the DC International School and Paul Public Charter School

Prior to joining the NewSchools team, Melissa served as the principal of Alice Deal Middle School, the highest-performing and largest public middle school in the District of Columbia.  During her seven years as principal, Melissa transitioned the school from a traditional junior high serving 700 students in grades 7-9 to a team-based middle school serving more than 1,000 students in grades 6-8.  During this time, classrooms were desegregated and detracked and math standards were raised to ensure that all 8th graders enter high school with at least an Algebra or Geometry credit.  She also led the successful effort by Alice Deal to become certified as the first International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program in DC Public Schools.  She was able to lead these changes while managing a $60 million in situ modernization of the historic school facility.

Melissa came to the District of Columbia as a Teach for America Corps member and taught for six years in Northeast and Southeast DC.  After receiving her Masters in school leadership, she joined the inaugural cohort of NewLeaders in Washington, DC.  She has served as an assistant principal in Washington, DC, as well as in Arlington, VA.  Melissa holds a BS from Colby College, an MS from Trinity College, and an Ed.D from the University of Pennsylvania.  Her dissertation focused on practices to integrate within schools to close both the academic achievement gap as well as the social engagement gap.

Venture Board Seats

Laura Kushman

Lauren Kushman

Principal

Lauren Kushman is a Principal in NewSchools Venture Fund’s Boston office, where she manages the Boston Charter School Fund and focuses on investment strategy, due diligence and management assistance for the firm’s portfolio ventures.

Lauren serves on the boards of Excel Academy Charter Schools and Brooke Charter Schools in Boston, MA.  Prior to joining NewSchools, Lauren was a high school science teacher at North Star Academy Charter School of Newark, New Jersey. In addition to teaching, she established the high school’s chemistry and physics courses. During graduate school, Lauren was an Education Pioneers Fellow at Building Excellent Schools, where she designed financial models and developed practitioner-based, finance-focused case studies for multiple charter school territories. Lauren holds a BA in chemistry from Princeton University and an MBA and Education MA from Stanford University.

Venture Board Seats

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Gloria Lee

President & COO

Gloria Lee is the President and Chief Operating Officer at NewSchools Venture Fund, and works in NewSchools’ Oakland office. Previously, she was Bay Area Superintendent for Aspire Public Schools. As Area Superintendent, Gloria was responsible for the “double bottom line:” both academic achievement and fiscal stability. Under her leadership, Aspire’s Bay Area schools grew by an average of 66 points on the state’s Academic Performance Index (4.5x the state targets for growth) over a three year period, and received average parent satisfaction ratings of 90%. Aspire’s Bay Area schools also increased enrollment by nearly 40% to over 2700 students – making Aspire’s Bay Area region larger than 60% of the districts in California.

Prior to becoming Area Superintendent, Gloria served as the Founding Chief Operating Officer of Aspire for the organization’s first eight years. As COO, Gloria crafted key elements of Aspire’s growth and business strategy, and developed the systems and processes necessary to bring the Aspire network successfully from 1 school to 17 schools.

Prior to joining Aspire, Gloria was a consultant for McKinsey and Company, helping Fortune 500 companies address major strategic challenges. Gloria also founded a Bay Area office for UCLA School Management Program, a university-based school reform support organization that provided training and coaching to school principals and teachers in leadership and change management. She received her BS in Agricultural Economics at Cornell University, and both a Masters of Business Administration and Masters in Education at Stanford University.

Recent news:

  1. What Three Big EdTech Investments Say About The Future Of Education
  2. NewSchools Venture Fund leads $1.1 Million funding round for MasteryConnect
  3. Veteran Education Entrepreneur Gloria Lee Joins NewSchools Venture Fund

Latest tweets

Venture Board Seats

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Tiffany Lee

Senior Development Associate
Tiffany Lee is the Senior Development Associate at NewSchools Venture Fund, working with the development team to raise funds to support high-impact education entrepreneurs. She also leads the work on NewSchools’ annual reports and other visual communications projects.
 
Prior to joining NewSchools, Tiffany worked at Housing Development Fund, Inc., a nonprofit that provides low- and moderate-income families with access to affordable housing and financial counseling in the high-cost state of Connecticut. While at Housing Development Fund, she redesigned the website, managed development operations, improved public relations strategy, and assisted in the planning of state program and philanthropic activities.
 
Tiffany graduated with a B.A. in Architecture from Princeton University. She is also a freelance graphic designer.
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Maura Marino

Managing Director, DC Schools Fund

Maura Marino is the Managing Director of the DC Schools Fund in NewSchools Venture Fund’s Washington, DC office. As part of that role, Maura serves on the boards of Charter Board Partners, DC Prep, Ingenuity Prep, and LearnZillion.

Prior to joining NewSchools, Maura was Program Director and Lead Teacher at East Palo Alto High School, a charter school in Northern California. As Program Director, she coordinated student support services and managed external relations in addition to teaching humanities. Maura served on the steering committee for the Stanford Schools Corporation and was a member of the Stanford School of Education’s Performance Assessment Collaborative. During graduate school, Maura worked on the Network Growth Team at the KIPP Foundation, implementing their “smart growth” strategy.

Maura earned a BA in American Studies from Stanford University, an MA in teaching from Teachers’ College, and an MBA from Harvard University.

Venture Board Seats

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Jay Martinez

Analyst

Jay Martinez is an Analyst in NewSchools Venture Fund’s Washington, DC office, where he focuses on management assistance and strategy development for the DC Schools Fund.

Prior to joining NewSchools, Jay worked at Chicago Public Schools as an Education Pioneers Fellow and then continued on as analyst. At Chicago Publics Schools, he maintained compliance analytics and conducted data analysis to improve instructional supports and services provided to students. Jay earned a BA in Psychology as well as a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Chicago.

Deborah McGriff

Deborah McGriff

Managing Director

Deborah McGriff is a Managing Director at NewSchools Venture Fund.

Deborah has been committed to transforming the lives of underserved urban school students for more than four decades. In 1993, Deborah became the first public school superintendent to join EdisonLearning (formerly Edison Schools). There, she held numerous positions at the company, including President of Edison Teachers College, Executive Vice President of Charter Schools, and Executive Vice President of several external relations functions.

Prior to joining EdisonLearning, Deborah served as the first female General Superintendent of Detroit Public Schools. Crain’s Detroit Business named her Newsmaker of the Year for 1992. Before that, she was the first female Assistant Superintendent in Cambridge, Massachusetts and the first female Deputy Superintendent in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was a teacher and administrator in the New York City Public Schools for more than a decade.

Deborah is former President of the Education Industry Association. In addition to serving on the boards of several high-performing charter management organizations, she is the Chair of the board of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and Beyond 12. She serves on the executive committee of the Policy Innovators in Education Network, and is a founder and national board member of the Black Alliance for Educational Options. She also serves on the advisory board of the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and is a member of the Review Board for the Broad Prize in Urban Education.

Deborah holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Norfolk State University, a master’s degree in education with a specialization in reading pedagogy from Queens College of the City University of New York, and a doctorate in Administration, Policy and Urban Education from Fordham University.

Recent news:

  1. PIE Network Welcomes Three Leading Education Reformers to Board of Directors
  2. Charter Operators Face Challenges in ‘Scaling Up’
  3. Future schools: Blending face-to-face and online learning

Latest tweets

Venture Board Seats

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Clare Middleton-Detzner

Development Manager

Clare Middleton-Detzner is the Development Manager at NewSchools Venture Fund, where she manages efforts to raise philanthropic dollars from donors interested in transforming education.Prior to joining NewSchools, Clare worked as a researcher and development manager at ISKME. Her research was focused on developmental education, teacher professional development, educational resource design and use, and education policy. She also served as project manager for Big Ideas Fest, an annual convening of education stakeholders. Clare also served as a Research Associate with the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center at the University of Minnesota, where her academic research focused on cross-sector collaboration, public policy implementation, and nonprofit governance and accountability. Clare started her career at Greater Twin Cities United Way and has held numerous roles in nonprofit development and program management. Clare received her B.A. in Sociology from Mills College and earned a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Minnesota.

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Taylor Miller-Freutel

Program Assistant

Taylor Miller-Freutel is a Program Assistant in NewSchools’ Washington DC office, supporting the DC Schools Fund Team.

Prior to joining NewSchools, Taylor was an intern for Congressman Jared Polis, where she worked closely with the Education Legislative Assistant. She attended Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) hearings and conducted research for Congressman Polis’s education legislation including, the GREAT Act, the Race to the Top Act of 2013, and the Student Non-Discrimination Act. Taylor began her career working as a Field Organizer in Henrico, Virginia for Organizing for America, President Obama’s 2012 Presidential Campaign.

Taylor earned a BA in Political Science and a BS in Business Administration from University of Mary Washington.

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Deborah Mintz

Chief Advancement Officer

Deborah leads NewSchools’ development, marketing and convening functions, including NewSchools’ annual Summit.  As Chief Advancement Officer, Deborah serves as NewSchools’ story teller in chief; develops strategic partnerships with like-minded individuals, foundations and corporations; recruits passionate and innovative leaders to the NewSchools board and leadership council and creates  conversations among entrepreneurs, policy makers and thought leaders with the goal of improving their practice and catalyzing change for students. What gets her up in the morning and keeps her awake at night is the urgent need to reimagine education for all students and to close the persistent opportunity and achievement gaps that hold back too many young people in our country.

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Vivek Murali

Associate

Vivek Murali is an Associate in the NewSchools Venture Fund’s Palo Alto office, where he focuses on due diligence, impact evaluation, and management assistance for education technology ventures.

Prior to joining NewSchools, was a business manager at the Royal Bank of Scotland supporting the investment bank’s global currency trading business where he monitored financial and credit risk to the division.  Vivek began his career working in fixed income sales at J.P. Morgan providing market color and trade ideas to the firm’s institutional clients.  While living in New York, he also spent weekends as a volunteer tutor and mentor for at-risk youth at a local elementary school.  As an Education Pioneers Fellow at NewSchools, Vivek recommended changes in data collection methods toward impact evaluation based on benchmarking and interviews with portfolio companies.

Vivek received his BBA in Finance and BA in Philosophy from Temple University, as well as an MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

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Amy Omand

Controller

Amy Omand is the Controller at NewSchools Venture Fund, and works in the Oakland office. As Controller, Amy is responsible for efficient accounting processes, sound internal controls, monthly financial reporting, and managing our annual audit. 

Prior to joining NewSchools, Amy was the Director of Finance & Operations at Tipping Point Community, as well as the Controller at Revolution Foods. At both organizations she helped define fiscal policies and procedures in growing organizations. She started her career as an auditor at PwC and then worked in various finance and accounting roles at Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream/ Nestlé. While attaining her MBA, she took a course on the social responsibility of business, and was inspired to always apply her skills in finance and accounting at organizations that were working toward making a positive social change.

Amy received her BS in Accounting from Georgetown University, and MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. She is a Certified Public Accountant as well as a Certified Non Profit Accountant. She lives in Oakland with her husband and two daughters.

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Jim Peyser

Managing Director, City Funds

Jim Peyser is the Managing Director of NewSchools City Funds at NewSchools Venture Fund’s Boston office, where he leads NewSchools’ city-focused investments. From 1999 through 2006, Jim served as Chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Education. Prior to joining NewSchools, Jim was Education Advisor to two Massachusetts Governors, where he helped shape state policy regarding standards and assessments, school accountability, and charter schools. In 1995, he served as Under Secretary of Education and Special Assistant to the Governor for Charter Schools. He spent more than seven years as Executive Director of Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research, where he helped to launch and support Massachusetts’ first charter schools. Prior to joining Pioneer Institute, Jim held various positions at Teradyne, Inc. in Boston, an electronic test equipment manufacturer.

In his role with NewSchools, Jim currently serves on the board of directors for Achievement FirstSuccess Charter Network, and Uncommon Schools. He is also a member of the Board of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) and the Massachusetts Center for Charter Public School Excellence. Jim holds a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School (Tufts University) and a Bachelor of Arts from Colgate University.

Recent news:

  1. Strong standards, political air cover, and talent: Exporting the success of Boston’s charter school sector
  2. NewSchools Invests $1.6m In Three Boston-Area Charter Schools: Organization’s Boston Fund Supports Growing CMOs in Mass.
  3. NewSchools Announces $3 Million in Grants for Expansion of Four High-Performing Boston Charter Schools
  4. Statement by Jim Peyser on the Mathematica Study of Charter Management Organizations
  5. Charter Operators Face Challenges in ‘Scaling Up’
  6. Unlocking the Secrets of High-Performing Charters
  7. NewSchools Venture Fund Managing Partner Jim Peyser Named to National Charter Schools Hall of Fame
  8. Jim Peyser inducted into National Charter School Hall of Fame

Venture Board Seats

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Shauntel Poulson

Principal
Shauntel Poulson is a principal at NewSchools Venture Fund’s Oakland office, where she focuses on investment strategy, due diligence, and management assistance for the organization’s portfolio ventures.
 
Prior to joining NewSchools, Shauntel was a Senior Engineer at Procter and Gamble where she developed product innovations, designed supply chains, and managed technology partnerships for the global laundry business. She also facilitated an afterschool program for Cincinnati high school students from underserved communities. Shauntel is passionate about the intersection of education and technology and has worked with education technology companies globally. As an Education Pioneers Fellow at Wireless Generation, Shauntel recommended program enhancements for the School of One program based on an analysis of student performance data.
 
Shauntel received her BS in Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her MBA and MA in Education from Stanford University.

Speaking at:

  1. Startup Weekend EDU OaklandSeptember 12, 2014

Recent news:

  1. Shauntel Poulson, Principal, NewSchools Venture Fund
Kristi Ransick

Kristi Ransick

Principal

Kristi Ransick is a principal in NewSchools Venture Fund’s Oakland office, where she supports the firm’s Academic Systems Initiative.

Kristi has extensive experience in project management, product development, instructional design, and teaching and learning. Kristi began her career teaching at The Children’s Museum, Boston and then worked on several science and technology curriculum development projects at Education Development Center. She created and led staff development programs at both Teachers College and at Columbia University focusing on science education and integrating technology into science curriculum. This led to a position developing and leading several aspects of the Seminars on Science online courses for the American Museum of Natural History. These courses won two Codie awards for Best Post-Secondary Education Instructional Solution and Best Lifelong Learning product or Service. Most recently Kristi spent more than seven years at Teachscape, a professional services company serving classroom teachers and instructional leaders. There, she held several positions, including Vice President, Product Design and Development, where she oversaw the development of all online courses and print materials.

Kristi received her undergraduate degree from Middlebury College and her master’s degree from Harvard University Graduate School of Education.

Recent news:

  1. Ed Tech Market Map Goes Live Today; Helps Investors, Donors, and Entrepreneurs
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Benjamin Riley

Director of Policy and Advocacy (Currently on Leave)

Benjamin Riley is the Director of Policy and Advocacy at NewSchools Venture Fund, and is responsible for leading NewSchools’ work in developing and advocating for a policy agenda that creates opportunities for education entrepreneurs. Ben is currently on leave from NewSchools in order to work with the New Zealand government on digital-learning policy issues. 

Immediately prior to joining the NewSchools team, Ben worked as a Deputy Attorney General for the California Department of Justice. In that role, he closely advised Attorney General Jerry Brown on California’s first Race to the Top application and other education policy issues, and he helped draft Race to the Top-related legislation. Ben also represented and advocated on behalf of the California State Board of Education in a variety of capacities, including serving as the Board’s interim chief counsel. In 2009, he was named one of two “Rising Stars” in education law by a Northern California legal periodical.

Ben’s previous work experience includes four years in private practice, a brief stint on Wall Street, and a summer clerking for the Land Claims Court of South Africa. He holds a BA from the University of Washington and a JD from Yale Law School.

Recent news:

  1. Race To The Top Innovates Backwards, Education Venture Nonprofit Says
  2. Bipartisan Bill Seeks to Remake Teacher Training Programs

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Beth Sears

Director of Investor Relations

Beth Sears is Director of Investor Relations at NewSchools. She raises philanthropic dollars from donors who share our belief that entrepreneurs can change public education.

For many years, Beth worked in the for-profit sector as a management consultant at Price Waterhouse and as a Vice President at JPMorgan Chase. 

In 2004, Beth and her family moved to Canberra, Australia where she developed a passion for working with nonprofits in the education sector, initially working for Room to Read and setting up a volunteer chapter for them in Canberra. Back in the Bay Area, Beth was an Advisor to the Strategic Partnerships group at Raising A Reader where she connected with foundations, corporations and individual donors to raise funding on behalf of this national early childhood literacy non-profit that bridges achievement gaps and increases school success of some of the country’s most vulnerable children. 

Beth serves on the boards of the Gunn Foundation, a need-based scholarship program for Gunn High School students in Palo Alto and as President of the Mount Holyoke Alumnae Club of the Peninsula. Beth earned a B.A. in International Relations from Mount Holyoke College and a Masters of Creative Writing from the University of Canberra. 

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Anne Soto

Associate Partner

Anne Soto is an Associate Partner at NewSchools Venture Fund’s Oakland office, where she focuses on investment strategy, due diligence, and management assistance for the organization’s portfolio ventures.

Prior to joining NewSchools, Anne worked as a member of the teacher recruitment and support team for Aspire Public Schools. During graduate school, Anne helped grow the IU Innovation Center, an incubator for student entrepreneurs. Anne started her career as a Teach For America Corps Member in Eastern North Carolina, where she founded a school-based reading intervention program which partnered community volunteers with struggling readers. She has worked for Teach For America’s teacher preparation institute as a School Director, leading a team that trained and supported over 40 new teachers.

Anne received her BA from University of Minnesota and her MBA from Indiana University.

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Matt Stephenson

Associate Partner

Matt Stephenson is an Associate Partner at NewSchools Venture Fund’s Washington, D.C. office, where he focuses on investment strategy, due diligence and management assistance for the organization’s portfolio ventures. 

Prior to joining NewSchools, Matt was a high school Math Teacher and Leadership Fellow at AF Amistad High School, the flagship high school of the Achievement First charter network. Matt started his career as an Analyst at Goldman Sachs where he covered the Credit Derivatives and Mortgage-Backed Securities product lines from 2004-2006, while also co-managing the portfolio reporting efforts of the Credit Risk Management department. He later joined Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) as a Program Manager, where he managed the Sales & Trading internship program and mentored 100+ interns over two years. Matt’s thrilled to be working with ventures poised to transform public education and deliver on the promise of a high-quality education for all students.

Matt received a BS in Finance and Information Systems from the Stern School of Business at New York University and his MBA in Entrepreneurial Management from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Maria Torres

Administrative Assistant
Maria Torres is an Administrative Assistant in the NewSchools Venture Fund’s Palo Alto office, supporting the Seed Fund team. Maria’s experience includes ten years in the medical industry, assisting and supporting clinic operations and patient scheduling. Born in Mexico and raised as part of a first generation American immigrant family, Maria is passionate about ensuring all students have the opportunity to realize their full potential through a quality education. Maria attended at Andon College, where she studied Medical Office Administration.
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Graham VanderZanden

Associate Partner

Graham VanderZanden is an Associate Partner at NewSchools Venture Fund’s Boston office, where he focuses on the Boston City Fund.

Prior to joining NewSchools, Graham served as a Corps Member with Teach For America in the Mississippi Delta region. He led the regional foreign language professional development team, founded a nonprofit to expand cultural exchange opportunities, and led educational trips to Spain, France, and Honduras. During graduate school, Graham helped conduct a randomized controlled trial study of a new education policy in Morocco. He has also worked with Boston Public Schools, conducting a budgetary analysis of waste reduction programs that helped inform the district as it considers adopting single-stream recycling.

Graham has a BA in International Studies from the University of Washington and an MPP from Harvard University.

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Cameron White

Associate Director, co.lab

Cameron White is the Associate Director of co.lab, an accelerator by NewSchools Venture Fund and Zynga.org that supports startups leveraging the power of digital games to build transformative educational technologies for PK-12 students and teachers.

Previously, Cameron worked at NewSchools as a Fellow and Learning Technology Specialist. He has also worked at E.L. Haynes Public Charter School in Washington, DC, where he helped to align out-of-school programming with the school’s broader missions.

Cameron graduated with a B.A. in Architecture from Princeton University, where he wrote his undergraduate thesis on the intersection between child psychology and environmental design. He is currently a doctoral candidate at Columbia University’s Teachers College, studying instructional technology and media.

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Clay Willis

Digital Media Associate

Clay Willis is the Communications Associate at NewSchools Venture Fund, working on communications, digital media and NewSchools Summit to support NewSchools’ mission.

An enduring commitment to promoting and defending natural and human rights led Clay to NewSchools where he is committed to addressing systemic issues plaguing public education.

Prior to joining NewSchools, Clay worked in communications at the Oakland based Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, which focused on juvenile justice system reform and green job growth. He also worked on Richard Raya’s 2012 campaign for Oakland City Council. Before moving into communications, Clay worked for several years in print and digital journalism at publications including The Post Standard and Palm 2 Jupiter Media.

Clay graduated with a B.S. in journalism and anthropology from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

August 2014

Stephanie Wood-Garnett

Managing Director, Learning to Teach Fund

Dr. Wood-Garnett’s professional and academic experiences have focused on closing achievement gaps and enabling all students to reach their full potential.  Prior to joining the team at NewSchools, Dr. Wood-Garnett was the Assistant Commissioner of Teacher and Leader Effectiveness in the Office of Higher Education at the New York State Education Department (NYSED) where she helped shape state policy related to educator preparation.  She led New York State’s Race-to-the-Top initiatives aimed at transforming teacher and leader preparation programs to ensure that every student has well-prepared teachers and principals who can support their readiness for college and careers. Under her leadership, NYSED implemented new, more rigorous certification examinations for teachers and school building leaders, piloted 13 clinically-rich teacher preparation programs across the state, and provided support for faculty professional development initiatives at CUNY, SUNY, and independent colleges. Dr. Wood-Garnett was also responsible for several state initiatives aimed at recognizing excellent teachers and enhancing teacher professional development.  

Prior to joining NYSED, Dr. Wood-Garnett was the Director of the Teacher and Principal Evaluation Project at the University of Washington’s Center for Educational Leadership, where she also taught a course on Race and Disability.  Wood-Garnett also served as a central office leader for the District of Columbia Public Schools where she was credited with the development of the Student Support Team process aimed at reducing unnecessary referrals to special education in public and charter schools.  In 2009, Wood-Garnett was selected by the California Department of Education, Special Education Division, to develop its state plan to address the over-representation of specific student populations in special education programs and to provide technical assistance to identified school districts.  Dr. Wood-Garnett has also directed three national technical assistance centers funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

Dr. Wood-Garnett obtained her B.A. in English Literature and Women’s Studies from Dartmouth College; M.S. in Higher Education Administration from The George Washington University; and Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.