Meet the Team

About the Getting Smart Team

Tom Vander Ark | CEO + Partner

Tom Vander ArkTom is author of Getting Smart: How Digital Learning is Changing the World and CEO of Getting Smart, a learning advocacy firm. Tom is also a partner in Learn Capital, an education venture firm. Previously he served as President of the X PRIZE Foundation and was the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Tom served as a public school superintendent in Washington State and has extensive private sector experience. Tom is chair of Charter Board Partners, Treasurer for the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), and serves on several other boards.

Twitter @TVanderArk

Karen Vander Ark | CFO + Partner

Karen Vander ArkKaren began her career at the University of Denver Development office over 34 years ago and she’s been raising money for, speaking on behalf of and supporting education and community organizations since. Karen was a gubernatorial appointed college trustee and lead a community college through a leadership transition. Politics and education have been involved in her service and professional life while serving on numerous political campaigns, bond and levy campaigns and a statewide education initiative.Karen has helped shape education reform from Colorado to Washington State, participating in charter school activities and grassroots campaigns. Karen’s passion and life long goal of supporting her community and education revolves around supporting the Boys & Girls Club teen center -EX3, Rotary Scholarships, & Advancing Leadership youth programs. Karen holds a BSBA in Marketing from Waynesburg College.

Twitter @KarenVanderArk

Caroline Vander Ark Davis | COO + Partner

110618A-038-RS-5x7x300xA copyCaroline oversees the day-to-day operations of the company and participates in client projects on various levels. Previously she worked at Capital Sports & Entertainment. At CSE she focused on trip planning and execution, managing schedules for executives and traveled both domestically and internationally for work. Caroline has also worked for the Seattle SuperSonics Professional Basketball Club in the basketball operations department. Prior to her role with the Sonics she worked at WilliamsWorks a strategic advocacy firm as a Project Coordinator, managing the orchestration of high-profile, large-scale events and advocacy trips and daily client work for non-profits. She has also worked for Goodwin Sports Management, an elite sports management firm. Caroline has extensive domestic and international travel experience spanning the globe from Japan, India, Africa and Brazil. She holds a degree in Communications from Washington State University and has served as the VP-Finance for Austin Delta Gamma Alumnae and was on the Board of Directors for Communities In Schools of Central Texas.

Phone 206-234-1600
Twitter @CVanderArk

Carri Schneider | Director of Policy + Research

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetCarri joins the Getting Smart team with diverse experience across K-12, higher education and education policy.  Her career in education began as a second grade teacher, before leaving the classroom to get more involved in the decisions that impact students and teachers.   Carri continues to keep one foot in policy and one foot in practice. She has served as an online educator since 2005 in a fully-online Master’s program in Educational Leadership and has taught graduate courses in School Law and Curriculum.  Carri has authored several pieces on education reform and the future of education, including journal articles, policy reports, blog posts and book chapters. She co-edited the book Building a 21st Century U.S. Education System with Bob Wehling, published by NCTAF.   Carri has been actively involved in supporting education policy efforts to advance digital and blended learning opportunities as a consultant to state and national organizations, including KnowledgeWorks and its Ohio Education Matters subsidiary. She holds a M.Ed. in Educational Administration and an Ed.D. in Urban Educational Leadership with emphasis on education policy and social justice.

Phone 206-604-6059
Twitter @CarriSchneider

Alison Anderson | Managing Editor

Alison Anderson

Alison manages by coordinating with regular and guest bloggers and integrating those posts with the daily content produced by the passionate Getting Smart staff. Throughout her years in the classroom, Alison found incredible value in attending educational events and conferences, is an organizer as well as regular attendee of edcamps, and is a member of ISTE and an active member of the OAts (Oregon Academic Technology Society) Board. On the Getting Smart team, Alison transfers that energy while covering these types of events for the blog and shares the benefits and inspiration a great education conference can give all educators. She holds a degree in Secondary Education and English from Marquette University and a MS in Curriculum and Instruction from Portland State University.

Phone 206-605-1411
Twitter @tedrosececi

Jennifer Aalgaard | Communications Manager

As the Communications Manager, Jennifer leads communications, public relations, and messaging activities to engage, influence, and generate action and support for the EdTech community.  Jennifer has over 10 years of public relations and marketing experience in the not-for-profit industry and specializes in social media, reputation management, and business development. Jennifer obtained her degree in Communications from Eastern Washington University and has served in leadership roles on the Board of Directors for the Association of United States Army, Women Helping Women Fund – Tri-Cities, and served as co-chair of the South Sound PRSA group.

Phone: (206) 291-7190
Twitter: @JenLAalgaard

Allison Brumley | Operations Manager

AllieAllison is our operations guru. She is responsible for making sure the back end of our company is on point and keeps us all organized. She manages our travel arrangements, calls and meetings, speaking engagements, client invoicing and payments, and assists on client projects. She manages our in-house events and client events including small meetings and large scale conferences. She is our jack of all trades, our coordinator of chaos! With a background in office management and event planning, she brings a special set of skills to our team. She has spent time working in various office settings developing her office management skills and working as an event assistant and event intern on all types of events. She received a BA degree from Central Washington University with an emphasis in social service.

Phone 206-992-4592
Twitter @AllisonBrumley

Megan Mead | Project Manager + Math Contributor

Megan smallAs a Project Manager with Getting Smart, Megan works to manage and support client deliverables. Megan is our resident math guru and regularly contributes to the blog. As a Teach for America alum, she developed her passion for math education. In addition to her work in the secondary classroom, Megan helped in the development of the Center for Math and Science Teaching at Loyola Marymount University. There, she researched educational best practices and built on-line curriculum and assessments for math and science teachers. Megan’s background in private sector commercial sales and education has uniquely positioned her for work in the EdTech space. During her time in the sales world Megan developed strong management, communication, and leadership skills. Megan holds a BA in mathematics from the University of Washington and a MA in secondary education from Loyola Marymount University.

Phone 206-790-5242
Twitter @MegMarMe

Jessica Slusser | Project Coordinator

JessJessica is our Project Coordinator. She supports our client deliverables and communication, provides social media support, as well as live reporting and coverage of education events and conferences. She also helps with business development, market research, and branding. With a background in a client focused service industry, she brings a great understanding of customer service to our team. She is currently working to obtain her BA in Business Administration with a focus on Project management through an online degree program.

Phone 206-295-5140
Twitter @Jess_Slusser

Winifred Kehl | Publication Coordinator Winifred

Winifred Kehl is a science writer and museum exhibit developer who specializes in informal (outside the classroom) science education. She especially loves creative projects that help people engage with science. You can find her online at


Nick Manning | Publication Coordinator

Nick is a passionate and dedicated educator currently working as a writer and researcher with Getting Smart. Nick is also engaged in a graduate level program in educational leadership, acts as a tutor for Synapse Learning, and volunteers at a local school. He hails from southwest Colorado where a passion to educate grew out of teaching humanities, special education, math, science, and outdoor education at high performing, college-prep charter schools. Nick believes strongly in connecting with students to uncover and empower their unique abilities and values experiential learning–a value echoed in his own experiences as a photographer, filmmaker, firefighter, cattle rancher and world traveler.


Dave Guymon | Regular Contributor

DaveShotDave is a regular contributor and project consultant for Getting Smart. As an educator with experience in both the traditional elementary classroom and a public online K-12 program, Dave brings a broad perspective on educational best practices to the Getting Smart staff. As an active member of both ISTE and NCCE (Northwest Council for Computer Educators), Dave has developed a strong appreciation for connecting with educators and sharing ideas in person and through social networking. The author of If You Can’t Fail, It Doesn’t Count, Dave also embodies a passion for writing that has transformed his professional development and career. He holds a B.S. in Elementary Education from Brigham Young University-Idaho and is currently pursuing his M.A. in Educational Technology from Boise State University.
Twitter: @DaveGuymon

Kelley Tanner | Communications Designer

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 1.23.03 PMKelley utilizes her diverse background in educational planning, architecture, research, marketing, graphics and communications. Her career began practicing in the world of architecture after obtaining her degree in Environmental Design at Texas A&M University. Since moving to Seattle over a decade ago, Kelley has been completely dedicated to creating great learning environments that inspire and engage students and educators through her skills of facilitation, planning, design and visual communications. She currently serves as Vice President of Citizens for Federal Way Schools, and proudly serves as a mentor every week in her local schools.

Twitter: @tankelbus