Tom Vander Ark | CEO + Partner
Tom is author of Getting Smart: How Digital Learning is Changing the World and Smart Cities That Work for Everyone: 7 Keys to Education & Employment. He is CEO of Getting Smart and a partner at Learn Capital an education venture fund. Tom advocates for innovations that customize and motivate learning and extend access. Previously he served as 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 Treasurer for the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), chair of Charter Board Partners, and serves on several other boards.
Karen Vander Ark | CFO + Partner
Karen 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.
Caroline Vander Ark Davis | COO + Partner
Caroline oversees the day-to-day operations of the company, business development 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, serves on the Board of Directors for Advancing Leadership and the SXSWedu Advisory Board.
Carri Schneider | Director of Policy + Research
With a background in policy and practice, Carri brings to Getting Smart her diverse experience across K-12, higher education and education policy. Since leaving her second grade classroom, Carri has been actively involved in supporting education policy efforts to advance innovations in teaching and learning. She served as an online educator from 2005-2013 in a fully-online Master’s program in Educational Leadership and taught graduate-level courses in School Law and Curriculum. She has authored several pieces on the future of education including white papers, journal articles, policy reports, blog posts, and book chapters. In addition to managing Getting Smart’s publication portfolio and co-authoring dozens of pieces with writing partner Tom Vander Ark, she co-edited NCTAF’s “Building a 21st Century U.S. Education System.” Carri has also presented at national conferences including SxSWedu, iNACOL’s Blended Learning Symposium and AERA. She holds a M.Ed. in Educational Administration and an Ed.D. in Urban Educational Leadership with emphasis on education policy and social justice. Carri’s passion for education advocacy is ignited by her personal experiences as a first-generation college student and by her two young daughters who love to poke their heads into her home office in Cincinnati and wave to her co-workers on Skype.
Mary Ryerse | Senior Project Manager
Mary brings extensive experience in K-12, higher education, and EdTech to the Getting Smart team. She has served in roles emphasizing curriculum, college and career readiness, leadership, and the effective use of technology. Her career began as a high school teacher and administrator before serving in both district and state administrative roles. Mary then served as an EdTech executive, designing, writing, and delivering online curriculum and professional development. She has taught graduate-level courses in principals and superintendent preparation programs. Mary has co-authored papers with Tom Vander Ark and Carri Schneider, and was project manager and editor for Tom’s most recent “Smart Cities” book. Mary holds a B.A. from Gustavus Adolphus College, a M.Ed. in Education Administration from Whitworth University and a Superintendent’s Credential from Gonzaga University. Mary is committed to opening up opportunities for students of all ages and lives in the Twin Cities with her husband and their three sons, who span elementary, middle school, and high school ages.
Bonnie Lathram | Project Manager
Bonnie joins the Getting Smart team as a Project Manager with extensive experience as a school design coach in the development of engagement-driven schools. Bonnie has taught elementary, middle, and high school students in the United States and Tanzania. Before becoming a school design coach, Bonnie taught at an innovative public high school near Seattle, where she honed her skills working with students, mentors, and families. Bonnie has extensive experience coaching and training teachers across the United States, and has led professional development for school-based teams in the US and internationally. Bonnie has also designed school-wide college and career programs and recently co-authored the Big Picture Learning’s guide on the metacognitive factors related to student success in college and career. Bonnie is passionate about fostering student voice and personalized learning. She holds a BA in Political Science and History and a Master’s Degree in Education from Antioch University. She lives in Seattle with her husband, daughter, and rescue pit bull, Roxy.
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 is currently the Chair of the South Sound PRSA group. Jennifer is also working on obtaining her Masters degree in Management and Leadership from Western Governors University, an online, competency-based program.
Allison Brumley | Operations Manager
Allison 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.
Megan Mead | Project Manager + Math Contributor
As 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 GettingSmart.com 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.
Jessica Slusser | Project Coordinator
Jessica 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. Jessica obtained a BS in Business Administration with a focus on Project management through an online degree program.
Tyler Nakatsu | Content Coordinator
As Content Coordinator Tyler focuses on the creation and curation of content for the Getting Smart channel. Tyler specializes in digital storytelling. He believes in the power of stories to inspire action and create positive change. He believes that education is about addressing poverty and EdTech can be a solution to closing the learning opportunity gap. Previously, he served as an AmeriCorps VISTA and worked at YouthBuild USA in Boston, Massachusetts as the Digital Communications Specialist. His past projects include participating in the Sundance Stories of Change Impact Lab, filming for One Day on Earth’s Your Day Your City Your Future One Day in Boston, and strategy for the JobRaising Challenge. Tyler is a graduate of The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University.
Kelley Tanner | Communications Designer
Kelley 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.