Board of Trustees
Editorial Projects in Education
Larry Berger is Chairman and co-founder of Wireless Generation, an education company that has pioneered the application of emerging technologies to PreK-12 teaching and learning. Wireless Generation is now a part of Amplify. Mr. Berger led the invention of Wireless Generation's mCLASS® system, which enables educators to administer early reading and math formative assessments using mobile devices and then immediately receive results, analysis, and support for differentiated instruction. Today, Wireless Generation serves millions of teachers and children and hosts one of the largest databases of longitudinal education data in the country. Wireless Generation also launched FreeReading.net, the first open source curriculum to be approved through an official state adoption.
Prior to founding Wireless Generation, Mr. Berger served as the educational technology specialist at The Children's Aid Society. Mr. Berger was a Rhodes Scholar and a White House Fellow working on educational technology at NASA.
Mr. Berger was a 2007 inaugural fellow for the Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education Program, created by The Aspen Institute and the New Schools Venture Fund. He serves on the Board of Trustees for the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, is a member of the Board of Overseers for the Annenberg Institute on School Reform at Brown University, and is a Board Member of Peer Health Exchange.
Sarita E. Brown
Sarita E. Brown is President of Excelencia in Education, a not-for-profit organization accelerating Latino success in higher education by linking research, policy, and practice to serve Latino students. She has spent more than two decades at prominent national educational institutions and at the highest levels of government working to implement effective strategies to raise academic achievement and opportunity for low-income and minority students. She started her career at the University of Texas at Austin by building a national model promoting minority success in graduate education. Coming to the nation’s capital in 1993 to work for educational associations, Ms. Brown was appointed as Executive Director of the White House Initiative for Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans under President Bill Clinton and U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley. Maintaining her commitment to improving the quality of education, Ms. Brown applied her talents and experience to the not-for-profit sector and in 2004, co-founded Excelencia in Education. Ms. Brown currently serves on the Board of Directors of ACT, Catch the Next, Editorial Projects in Education and Excelencia in Education.
Christopher Curran, Vice Chair
Chris Curran is a founding partner of Tyton Partners, the leading provider of investment banking and strategy consulting services to the global knowledge sector. Chris has 20 years of experience in investing, banking, consulting, operations, and policy in the education industry and is a well-known thought leader and speaker in the field.
Prior to founding Tyton Partners, Chris led the education and training practice at Berkery Noyes, a mergers and acquisitions firm serving the information industry. In his six years at the firm, Chris personally initiated, negotiated, and managed over $2 billion in transaction volume in virtually every growth sub-segment within the preK–12, postsecondary, and corporate training markets.
Chris began his career as the research and policy director for the Massachusetts House of Representatives, where he was intimately involved in the development of several education initiatives regarding educational reform, charter school funding, and the implementation of educational technology in public schools. Chris then became the managing director at Eduventures, a market research and consulting firm supporting the education industry.
Chris currently serves as vice-chair of the board of trustees of Editorial Projects in Education, the publisher of Education Week, and serves as a member of the Games and Learning Publishing Council, a Joan Ganz Cooney Center project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Chris has a BA from St. Lawrence University, an MA in economics from Boston University, and a JD from Suffolk University Law School.
Francesca Forzani is the associate director of TeachingWorks at the University of Michigan School of Education. With colleagues, she directs efforts to design and study practice-based approaches to teacher education and to develop training opportunities for teacher educators around the country. Her current research is focused on developing measures of high-leverage teaching practices in English language arts and mathematics, focused on the Common Core State Standards. Before coming to the University of Michigan, Forzani taught high school English for four years in Greenville, Mississippi, where she was a Teach for America corps member. She also served as a teacher educator for three years in Teach for America’s training institute and for a year in Teach First’s summer institute in London, U.K. She holds a B.A. in English from Smith College, a master’s degree in public policy from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. in education foundations and policy from the University of Michigan.
Mike Lawrence, an Emmy Award-winning former journalist, serves as chief reputation officer and executive vice president of Cone Communications. Mr. Lawrence is responsible for leadership on reputational issues arising for Cone’s corporate and non-profit clients, as well as for the agency itself. Mr. Lawrence founded Cone’s Corporate Responsibility discipline and continues to provide counsel to CR clients on issue management, stakeholder engagement, sustainability. Mr. Lawrence also plays a key role on Cone’s Crisis Prevention & Management team and serves as a member of the agency’s executive leadership group.
Mr. Lawrence has worked with corporations such as Timberland, Nestlé Waters North America, Starbucks, CVS/Caremark, Whole Foods Market and Ben & Jerry’s, and nonprofit organizations such as Outward Bound. Mr. Lawrence is the recipient of two national crisis management awards for work done on behalf of Crayola.
Mr. Lawrence spent 26 years as a television anchorman and reporter, including a decade as bureau chief at two daily newspapers. Covering business, technology and politics, Mr. Lawrence won five Emmy Awards, including two for overseas reporting, in addition to a variety of other news honors. He is a past president and a current board member of the New England local of the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists, and is a graduate of Brown University.
Christopher Liedel is the president of Smithsonian Enterprises. Before joining the Smithsonian, Liedel was at National Geographic for 16 years. He began as vice president for strategic planning and the following year was named executive vice president and CFO. He reported directly to the president and board of trustees and had oversight of more than $1 billion in investments, information services, distribution and facilities management. He oversaw a plant expansion to produce National Geographic magazine and negotiated subscription fulfillment outsources with Time Inc. Liedel assisted with the launch of National Geographic Channels and acquired a school publishing business.
His board affiliations include the Nobel Prize Education Fund; National Philanthropic Trust, which he chaired from 2005 to 2008; U.S. Golf Association, where he serves on the executive committee; and Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research Foundation.
From 1991 to 1996, Liedel was senior vice president at Ringier America Inc., an international media organization based in Switzerland. He established its Non-Traditional Business Group with seven technology units at Ringier.
Liedel, a resident of Vienna, Va., earned his bachelor’s degree at Bowling Green State University in Ohio and his master’s degree at Georgia State University in Atlanta. He is a Wharton Fellow from the University of Pennsylvania.
Harriet Sanford is the President and CEO of the NEA Foundation and has led the work of the Foundation since 2005. The Foundation’s work is built on its commitment to support the collaborative efforts of public school educators, their unions, school districts, and communities to focus on learning conditions that improve student performance.
Harriet began her career as a public school classroom teacher, which led to a senior executive career that spans more than 30 years. She has managed annual budgets of more than $18 million and capital funds of $200 million. A recognized specialist in the field of charitable fundraising, Harriet has led several initiatives that have raised more than $62 million to support the mission of various non-profit organizations. She has also served as a member of the Board of Directors of some 13 non-profit organizations. Her career is bound together by an unwavering commitment to strengthening community by building on the skills, talents, and aspirations of each of its members. She holds a BA in Education from New England College, as well as a MPA from the University of Connecticut.
Jim Sexton has worked in digital media for the past 14 years. He specializes in content development, monetizing content via advertising, and building websites, mobile apps, and social media products that attract audiences.
Mr. Sexton is the Chief Digital Officer for B.A.S.S., the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, where he manages Bassmaster.com and other digital products. B.A.S.S. also has two magazines, TV shows on ESPN and Outdoor Channel, fishing tournaments throughout the U.S., and more than 500,000 members.
Prior to B.A.S.S., Mr. Sexton served as Senior Vice President of Edit & Product for Time Inc. Lifestyle Digital, where he led the relaunch and growth of eight websites, including MyRecipes.com, MyHomeIdeas.com, CookingLight.com, SouthernLiving.com, Sunset.com, CoastalLiving.com, RealSimple.com and AllYou.com.
Previously Mr. Sexton was Senior Vice President of Interactive Brands for Scripps Networks where he managed HGTV.com and DIYnetwork.com. During his tenure, the sites won three prestigious Webby Awards. Earlier in his career, Sexton worked in magazine editorial roles, including USA Weekend and several Whittle Communications publications. He received his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee. Mr. Sexton serves on the Board of Visitors for the University of Tennessee’s College of Communication and Information.
Lester Strong, Chair
Lester Strong is the Vice President and Chief Executive of AARP Experience Corps, which tutors and mentors elementary school children (K-3) who struggle with reading by utilizing the skills and experiences of adults age 50 and over. AARP Experience Corps serves 20,000 in 19 cities across the United States through a program recognized as the one of the most effective in-school interventions in the country.
Prior to his service at AARP Experience Corps, Lester has served a leader in educational entrepreneurship and development. He was the Chief Development Officer for the BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life) Foundation, which also provides tutoring and mentoring services to underserved children. His efforts doubled the foundation's endowment and propelled expansion from three to five cities: Baltimore, Boston, Detroit, New York and Springfield, MA.
A long-time proponent and practitioner of meditation, Lester was also CEO of the SYDA Foundation, an educational organization that provides instruction in yoga and meditation in 46 countries. He spent 25-years in the television industry as an executive, producer, reporter and anchor in Charlotte (WBTV), Atlanta (WSB), New York (ABC Entertainment) and Boston (WHDH). His work earned him a host of national and regional awards, including five regional Emmy Awards and a White House commendation from President Ronald Reagan.
Lester serves as a member of the board of trustees for both the Noyce Foundation and Editorial Projects in Education (Education Week). Lester holds a bachelor's degree from Davidson College and is a graduate of the Columbia Business School's Institute for Non-Profit Management.
Jerry D. Weast, Treasurer
Jerry D. Weast is a 35-year veteran of education leadership. Dr. Weast led Montgomery County Public Schools—16th largest school district in the nation—to achieve both the highest graduation rate among the nation’s largest school districts for four consecutive years and the highest academic performance ever in MCPS at a time when the non-English-speaking student population more than doubled and enrollment tipped toward low socioeconomic demographics.
Dr. Weast’s approaches to early childhood education, differentiation of resources, professional growth systems, predictive analytics, and relationship strategies for both unions and business involvement are the subjects of numerous Harvard Business School case studies, and of the book Leading for Equity (Harvard Education Press, 2009). Montgomery County Public Schools was a 2010 winner of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for management excellence and a 2010 finalist for the Broad Prize in Urban Education. Dr. Weast’s leadership is analyzed in the book Team Turnarounds: A Playbook for Transforming Underperforming Teams (Frontiera and Leidl, 2012); and the success Montgomery County Public Schools achieved during Dr. Weast’s tenure is held as a model in the book Renewal: Remaking America’s Schools for the 21st Century (Kwalwasser, 2012).
Dr. Weast was named superintendent of the year in two states. He has twice been awarded North Carolina’s highest honor, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, for his work on behalf of the state’s children, received an award from the Yale School of Child Development for his support of initiatives in early learning, the C. Jackson Grayson Award for managerial excellence, has been named a Washingtonian of the Year, and received awards from the Schott Foundation and the American Educational Research Association acknowledging his leadership in developing strategies leading to improved student achievement across all racial and socioeconomic groups.
Dr. Weast has served on the boards of various policy, educational, business, and community organizations, including the Peabody College (Vanderbilt University) National Ed.D. Advisory Board and Junior Achievement Worldwide Education Group and is a current trustee of the Committee for Economic Development, board member for the Institute for Educational Leadership, and member of the National Education Foundation Senior Fellows Advisory Group. In furtherance of his work in educational leadership development, he is founder and president of the Partnership for Deliberate Excellence, LLC, through which he is working with school districts across the United States to improve the quality of public education.
Dr. Weast has presented extensively across the United States and internationally including at the European Council of International Schools and through Fulbright-funded travel to Northern Ireland to consult on school integration. He has twice been invited to the People’s Republic of China, has spoken to professional educators in Near and Middle Eastern countries, and has been invited by Japan’s Ministry of Education to speak in Japan on the topic of school reform. He holds an Ed.D. in Educational Administration from Oklahoma State University, where he was named to the Hall of Fame in the College of Education.
Ron Wolk, Chair Emeritus
Ron Wolk is the former chairman and editor of Editorial Projects in Education, the nonprofit organization that established The Chronicle of Higher Education, Education Week, Teacher Magazine, and Quality Counts.
Throughout his career, Mr. Wolk has kept one foot in journalism and the other in education. He spent 20 years in higher education at Johns Hopkins and Brown universities in charge of external affairs. He worked with Clark Kerr on the Carnegie Commission on the Future of Higher Education, and with Milton S. Eisenhower on the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence, established after the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King.
After more than two decades of work in the school reform trenches, Mr. Wolk retired in 1997 and moved to Rhode Island, where he has continued to remain active in trying to improve public education. He is chairman of Big Picture Learning, an organization devoted to creating small, innovative schools, and influencing education policy. He served as founding chairman of What Kids Can Do, an organization that promotes and publicizes the accomplishments of young people across the nation. Mr. Wolk is also an adjunct member of the faculty of the department of education at Brown, and a member of the advisory committee of The Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown.
The Education Commission of the States presented him with the James B. Conant Award in 2008.