Who We Are

The Learning Agenda Team

Our national team of consultants are experts in summer and expanded learning and innovative school and program design. We collectively hold extensive experience in: nonprofit leadership and philanthropy, youth program and system development, research and evaluation, and adult learning and group facilitation.

All of our results-focused team members are thoughtful and organized, collaborative, and genuinely interested in expanding the impact of the field. In addition to team members listed here, we regularly partner with other leading minds in education, youth development, and research on our projects. We carefully assess the requirements of each project and provide you with the ideal team to achieve your goals.

Monica Armendariz helps youth serving non-profit organizations and schools build their capacity to reach their full potential and amplify their impact in the world. She has over 15 years of experience working in and with youth development programs and initiatives, with specialties in program design, facilitation and training, strategy development, and quality improvement. During the span of her career, she worked inside of and alongside organizations in out of school time, workforce, youth health, and dual generation learning. Most recently, Monica has been helping organizations and professionals intentionally develop, center and practice diversity, equity and inclusion values and approaches in their work.

Monica has been extensively involved in the out of school time ecosystem at the local, statewide and national level. She served as the Program Director and Director of Education for a community based afterschool program in Austin, TX called Heart House, developing nationally-recognized program models and curricula and training systems for the organization that were influential in partner organizations’ program design. She was a Technical Assistance Consultant for Texas 21st CCLC programs in both rural and urban areas across the state, where she supported programs in enhancing program quality and pollinating best practices across grantees. She also served as a leader in the development of the Texas Partnership for Out of School Time (TXPOST)’s  Texas Standards of High-Quality Afterschool, Summer, and Expanded Learning Programs and for the Central Texas Afterschool Network (now Learn All of the Time), coordinating major professional development and advocacy events to support OST professionals and advance the field in Central Texas. Later in her career, she joined EngenderHealth U.S. office where she helped manage and formalize Re:MIX, an innovative sex positive and inclusive sexual health program funded through the Office of Adolescent Health, implemented in partnership with Austin charter schools, several local health organizations, and a national evaluation team. Over the course of her career, she has trained or coached hundreds of youth development professionals and co-authored numerous curriculum and implementation materials on various topics in youth programs and non-profit leadership.

During her personal time, Monica enjoys playing with her dog, road trips, at home karaoke with her partner (until in-person karaoke is safe again!), and listening to comedy and true crime podcasts. One of her most favorite things is riding rollercoasters at theme parks across America.

Great things happen when people come together, face-to-face, to solve a problem and learn from one another. As a consultant for The Learning Agenda, Ryan Berlin brings a passion for making connections rooted in the belief that together, we can make a difference in the lives of youth and their families. Ryan brings more than 10 years of experience in the nonprofit field convening networks for peer learning, professional development, and advocacy.  Her background in marketing and event management brings an attention to detail and participant experience to her project management work. Ryan leverages her experience to promote adult learning and engagement and youth voice within communities of practice.

Prior to working with The Learning Agenda, Ryan worked with the National Summer Learning Association, most recently serving as the Director of Events where she convened youth advocates from across the country for formal and informal learning opportunities.

Ryan resides in Baltimore, MD with her husband and two daughters. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communication from George Mason University.

Joe Bertoletti brings over 20 years of experience in working to change the odds for young people through direct service, capacity building, and building systems in the education, human services, and youth development fields. His approach to consulting combines social worker facilitation skills and social justice and ecological frameworks with engineering systems building and problem-solving skills. He has partnered with policy makers, funders, and system leaders using data driven and people centered approaches to build systems of support that inspire and equip leaders and educators to improve their evaluation and assessment practices to ensure high quality instructional practices and high quality settings where young people spend their time.  Joe’s bring experience and knowledge based on his proven track record of fee-for-service and philanthropic fund development, client and partnership development, team building and management, building organizational business systems to support scaling of continuous improvement approach and other proven innovations, designing, implementing, and assessing organizational strategy, health and culture, thought leadership, relationship building with a wide range of stakeholders, and customizing supports to ensure long-term client partnerships that have grown to meet the evolving needs of the educational youth serving field.

In 2008, Joe was one of a small team that helped launch and scale the Forum For Youth Investment’s Weikart Center from a small unit that was serving a handful of partners to partnering with over 150 local, state, and national systems in 3 countries by 2020. During his 15-year tenure at the Forum, he has played a role in multiple rigorous research and evaluation projects, multi-year initiatives, nurtured long term partner relationships, and supported organizational development and change management efforts around operations and business systems.

Amanda Lin Boyd is resolute in her pursuit for being a lifelong learner. The vast breadth of her career includes: being an early childhood educator, executive leadership, theatre artist, social justice advocate, and community leader. 

Amanda’s divergent background allows her to have a broader focus on the connection between education, implementation and impact. During her tenure as an early childhood educator, she served as an not only an educator, but also taught and adapted a music/movement program as well as developed and facilitated an early childhood arts curriculum for an upstart. 

Prior to consulting, Amanda gave her talents to the corporate world for over a decade, coordinating events, spearheading projects that facilitated growth, equity and agency to individuals and the company at large. During that time she also worked as a professional stage manager, director and performer in and around Cleveland, Ohio, (home to one of the largest performing arts centers in the U.S. outside of New York). Amanda has welcomed aligning her skills and accomplishments to serve as a tech facilitator, creative thought partner and event and logistics coordinator for The Learning Agenda. 

Amanda resides in Parma, Ohio with her husband where she serves on the Board of Building Appeals as well as the Executive Cuyahoga County Central Committee for her ward. During her personal time, Amanda enjoys continuing to be involved in theatre as well as making macrame, creating pressed flower art, traveling, and hiking.

Michelle brings nearly 30 years of experience in the nonprofit and education sectors, with a specific focus on youth development, expanded learning and arts education. She has extensive experience in strategic planning, cross-sector partnership and collaboration, program design, resource development and sustainability, and system building. Whether working directly with school districts, nonprofit organizations, public or private funders, she is focused on addressing the persistent achievement and opportunity gaps that exist among our nation’s young people and developing solutions that bring about positive change.

Toward that end, over the past 15 years, Michelle has worked on the local, state and national level to strengthen out-of-school-time learning programs and systems; build the capacity of the nonprofit youth development sector; facilitate school district-community partnerships and collaborations to support student learning; develop strategic plans and sustainability strategies for school districts, schools, and nonprofits; conduct landscape reviews, asset mapping, feasibility studies; develop scaling/growth plans; and support private and corporate foundations in achieving strategic objectives.

Her recent work includes serving on the Sperling Center for Research and Innovation (SCRI) team as a Design and Implementation Partner supporting Texas Education Association’s ADSY PEP Summer Learning Program. In this capacity, she provides comprehensive multi-year technical assistance and support in strategic planning and implementation to four LEAs in Texas who are designing and implementing high-quality summer programs. As part of the SCRI team, Michelle also provides support to two LEAs implementing high-quality afterschool. Other recent projects include district and nonprofit learning communities; urban school district arts education initiatives; standards-aligned art curriculum writing/development; philanthropic grant management; OST enrichment programming resource tool development; strategic planning and sustainability.

Michelle previously worked for The Prudential Foundation, where she managed the youth development portfolio as part of the foundation’s education strategy. Michelle holds a BA in fine arts and psychology from The Catholic University of America and is pursuing a Master of Education at Johns Hopkins University.

Brytani Cavil is a passionate change agent that has dedicated her professional career to developing organizations capacity to provide equitable support to children and families. She has led youth initiatives providing diverse supports ranging from direct service to professional capacity development. She has a decade of experience in youth development and utilizes her business background to streamline program implementation for her partners. Her work with communities is grounded in anti-racist principles that supports community building with partners through cultural connections, balancing power dynamics in decision making, and promoting a culture of healing through conflict. 

Brytani provides full-scope services to her partners and engages them at every step to co-create intended outcomes for their collaborative work. Her goal is to enhance her partners competencies to complete their professional duties as well as promote and support cultural exploration within their roles. She provides tailored learning and capacity development solutions for organizations that are designed to authentically engage youth and adults in their work together.

Her professional interests are centered around crafting prevention and intervention strategies for youth that include youth voice as a central and critical component. Her research interests are diverse, but primarily focus on interdisciplinary strategies of combating the lifelong effects of poverty for underserved communities. 

Brytani is an entrepreneur and spends her free time curating content with her children for their first business endeavor, The Brown Book Box, a children’s book subscription service that provides creative learning activities and books highlighting characters of varying identities and abilities to encourage a love for learning in households. She is the loving mother of twin boys and a baby girl and is a passionate leader within her communities.

Since 1995, BiNi Coleman has achieved extraordinary results in helping non-profits, for-profits, and systems agencies reach their goals. She is an expert in collaborative program and systems design to meet identified need and produce positive measurable outcomes at the individual, program, and systems levels. For their contributions to campus improvement, BiNi’s educational projects have been recognized and documented in research studies by reputable educational agencies such as SEDL, Stanford University, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), and the U.S. Department of Education (USDE). BiNi co-founded the St. Johns Community School Alliance in Austin, Texas, which won the “100 Best Communities” award (2007-12) by Colin and Alma Powell’s America’s Promise Alliance, and assisted with interventions that helped save three public schools from closure and move six schools from Academically Unacceptable to Acceptable state ratings.

BiNi developed systems and processes for coordination of partnerships bringing over $50 million in added value to Austin ISD, and she provided technical assistance for over $80 million in federal grant projects for the Texas Education Agency. She facilitated the Central Texas Ready By 21 Coalition, which brought together various youth-development-focused agencies and coalitions in the Austin/Travis County area, and hosted the Forum for Youth Investment’s 2017 Ready by 21 National Meeting in Austin, which highlighted Central Texas achievements to over 500 city, county, state and school district leaders from across the U.S.

Coleman is an alumnus of the University of Texas (UT) Women’s Intercollegiate Athletics program and has held trusted positions on several boards of directors. She earned a B.A. in Public Relations from the University of Texas at Austin, MBA from the University of Phoenix, and a Certification in Non-Profit Development from the Rice University Glasscock School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. She serves as a mentor to groups such as the UT RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service, UT McComb’s School of Business, Leadership Austin, and local youth-serving non-profits, and is now a happy wife and mother living in amazement of her beautiful 5-year-old daughter.

Recent recognitions of Coleman’s work in the community include the 2019 Achievements in Black Austin Award, 2018 Distinguished Changemaker Award, and the 2017 Legacy Award for out-of-school time champions in Central Texas.

Kate Coleman, CPA serves as the fractional Chief Financial Officer for The Learning Agenda, overseeing accounting and financial reporting, providing financial planning and analysis, and working closely with the management team to ensure achievement of financial objectives. Kate is the founder and President of Fusion Solutions LLC, an outsourced CFO advisory and consulting firm that helps small businesses with financial strategy and accounting oversight at every stage of the business lifecycle.  

 Before devoting her work full time to Fusion Solutions LLC, Kate served as an Audit Partner at a mid-size public accounting firm where she worked with privately held companies servicing both commercial and Federal customers.


Kate holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Degree in Accounting from the University of Richmond. 

Sharon Crockett-Alexander is a passionate, lifelong educator who believes that we can create more impactful educational outcomes for students through the modeling of best practices in instruction and leadership. She has dedicated the last 20+ years to creating equitable learning opportunities for all students. She most recently served as the principal of Edna Rowe Elementary School, a Two-Way Dual Language campus in Dallas ISD. During her principalship, she spearheaded the design of an ADSY Full Year Redesign calendar, adding 30 days of instruction for all students attending the school in the 2021-22 school year. Campus approval to redesign the school calendar was granted after an effective stakeholder engagement campaign which generated over 90% positive parent and over 80% positive teacher support for campus participation in an extended school year optional calendar to mitigate student learning loss.

Sharon had the foresight to anticipate that social-emotional learning would be critical to navigating education during the COVID-19 pandemic. To support the campus and community through this challenging time, she penned and received a $30,000 grant for installing an outdoor learning space. The outdoor learning area included three outdoor classrooms and a sensory walk to allow students and teachers to relieve stress and tension while navigating learning during the global pandemic.

Sharon currently serves as the Director of the Additional Days School Year initiative for the Texas Impact Network, a joint venture between Educate Texas and Commit. In this role, she is responsible for leading the statewide vision and efforts to support and expand the effective implementation of extended learning opportunities for students through increased instructional time and redesigned school calendars. In addition, Sharon directs the portfolio of strategic initiatives for students across the state to mitigate student learning loss from COVID-19 and the summer slide.

Sharon holds a bachelor’s degree in management from Jackson State University and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Missouri–St. Louis, and a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of North Texas.

Reed Dyer has been active in the struggle for educational equity for nearly 30 years, working as a teacher, interventionist, literacy coach, curriculum designer, principal, and educational consultant. In his eight years as a Senior Associate for Great Schools Partnership, Reed provided direct, context-specific support at the elementary, middle, and high school level, to traditional district schools, charter schools, alternative education programs and career and technical education programs. 

Before working as a consultant and school coach, Reed spent 20 years in public schools across the country. Reed was the principal of a progressive K–5 charter school in Denver, taught in classrooms in New Jersey, New York City, and Maine, and served as a literacy coach and intervention teacher. Through these experiences, Reed developed deep professional interests in the role of child development on quality teaching and learning, the social-emotional development of students within school settings, and the role of race and identity within supportive learning environments. He has presented about literacy, assessment, proficiency-based learning, and parent engagement at the state, regional, and national levels

Reed received a bachelor’s degree in English from Princeton University and earned his master’s degree in education from the University of Maine, where he also trained as a literacy coach with the Maine Literacy Partnership. He lives in Maine with his awesome educator wife and trombone-playing son. 

Matt Eskin’s 30-year career in education has been driven by his commitment to helping students, educators, administrators, and school communities intentionally illuminate strengths and leverage them strategically to increase their individual and collective impact. Matt’s fifteen years as an administrator have been marked by his abilities to cultivate collaborative cultures, engage stakeholders in making values-based decisions, and implement innovative programming, particularly around diversity and inclusion for students, faculty and families. 

Matt received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Rochester and a Master’s of Education in School Leadership from Harvard University. As a teacher, Matt’s career has been focused on partnering with colleagues, families, and administrators to best support student growth and development. Before working with The Learning Agenda, Matt was the Middle School Director for Abington Friends School in Jenkintown, PA, where among other initiatives, he spearheaded Conscious Communities, a weekly race and gender affinity-based program where all students (grades 5th – 8th) gather to reflect on their identities, experiences, and the deep impacts their choices can create. For seven years, Matt was the Assistant Head of School at The Philadelphia School, where he oversaw all programming for preschool through eighth grade. Throughout his time as an administrator, Matt has refined his expertise in professional development, meeting facilitation, hiring for greater equity, and setting and implementing organizational priorities. He has also played a key role in developing multiple strategic plans, supporting fundraising efforts, and working with board committees to develop and further strategic priorities . 

Matt lives in Philadelphia, PA, with his wife and two children. He enjoys cooking, mountain biking, and he loves a good building project around the house!

Josie Evans-Phillips, Ed.D. has had the opportunity to cultivate over 25 years in education within a broad range of experiences while continuing to be a life-long learner. Many of her experiences are with public colleges and universities, high schools (public, private, and parochial), as well as non-profits and community organizations. Josie started her career in Human Resources working for corporate organizations. After graduate school, she began working in University Admissions with a focus on marketing, alumni, and high school administration stakeholders. Other higher education highlights include enrollment management, EEO, and community partnerships, just to name a few. As past Assistant Dean of Inclusive Excellence & Community Partnerships, Josie is credited with being the chief designer for the diversity, equity, and inclusion path within the University of Cincinnati’s College of Education, Criminal Justice, Human Services, & Information Technology. Her scope of work included creating and facilitating processes and programs for students (Diversity Research Day), for faculty (Anti-Racism Community Space), for the university (Office of Research Diversity Board Founder) and external communities (Cincinnati Public Schools District). Josie also leaned into the high school side of the education experience to develop pathways to college/post-secondary counseling for the sixth largest district in the city. She worked for a non-profit organization with success in growing access and retention to increase graduation numbers for first-generation, low-income, and underserved students attending targeted colleges and universities. Her most recent high school role allowed her the opportunity extend her portfolio to include strategic and systems work such as writing the school’s ethos document, re-defining the school’s Advisory program, supporting an inclusive hiring practice, and collaborating on a series of professional development for teachers around deeper learning.
Josie received her undergraduate degree in Industrial Psychology at Ball State University (Muncie, IN), her master’s degree in Educational Leadership at Miami University (Oxford, OH), and recently her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership at Northern Kentucky University (Highland Heights, KY). Josie’s research focuses on transformational leadership and how the dual pandemics served as catalysts that impact equity within educational organizations. She also co-authored an article in Women in Higher Education focused on Women & Race Conscious Leadership. Josie enjoys reading, dancing, and spending time with her husband and son.0

Carmen Gaines is an experienced educator dedicated to promoting equitable post-secondary career opportunities for students. With over 15 years of experience in the field, she has become a recognized leader in Career Technical Education that provides equity and access to post-secondary careers and college for students. She has led and managed Cincinnati Public Schools CTE high schools. She successfully evaluated and analyzed the district’s Work-Based Learning and CTE best practices to identify programs to improve students’ post-secondary career success through work-based learning experiences. In addition, she fostered relationships with key stakeholders to develop advisory boards, work-based learning experiences, career training, and events. Although the schools experienced many barriers, Carmen developed an educational ecosystem to include community organizations, workforce boards, employers, and colleges to support the implementation of the strategic plan for each high school graduate to have a post-secondary career plan. Carmen’s commitment to post-secondary success for all students led to 40+ CTE partnerships and employment pipelines with local stakeholders. As a result, the school district saw an increase in academic performance from underachievement status to making annual progress through implementing the Career Enrichment Program to increase student engagement by 85%. In 2021, Carmen transitioned to consulting as a platform to share her best WBL practices with the career pathways of Detroit Public Schools Community District, the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, and the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio. 

Schools Community District, the United Way of Greater CIncinnati, and the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio

Xochitl Garcia is an experienced educator committed to working with schools and nonprofits to create more equitable learning environments for young people. She brings over 14 years of experience as an educator, curriculum developer, professional development leader, and program manager. Xochitl is the K-12 education program manager at Science Friday, where she focuses on supporting educators (of all types) as they engage students in science, engineering, math, and the arts. She collaborates with educators to develop new science experiments based on current research, leads STEM professional development, and designs programming to increase justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion work in STEM. Xochitl is also an advisory board member for the Center for Antiracist Education, a project of STAND for Children and an education consultant working with districts nationally on educator and leader professional development.

Xochitl was the Manager of Instruction and School Design at Springpoint: Partners in School Design, where she worked nationally to both design and redesign high school models with a focus on equitable design grounded in student and community voices. She was a teacher for seven years in the South Bronx in New York City, where she led work in both Special Education and STEM. Xochitl began her career working with GEAR-UP Project Higher Learning in LAUSD to develop peer mentoring programs to increase support and access to post-secondary opportunities.

Xochitl holds a BA in politics from Occidental College, an MA in leadership and special education from City College of New York, and was a Lehman College Teacher Education for Advanced Science Preparation in Biology Fellow.

Rebecca Goldberg is a non-profit and philanthropic advisor who is passionate about uplifting the youth development sector and creating equitable learning environments for all young people.  She facilitates two funder groups and designs programming for Grantmakers for Education focused on out-of-school time and equitable grantmaking practice and works with other clients on leadership transition, partner engagement, research, and grantmaking strategy. Rebecca spent seven years in philanthropy leading a national youth development portfolio at the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation. Rebecca worked with large, national youth organizations and key intermediaries in the California expanded learning field to bolster social-emotional learning, improve program quality, develop organizational capacity and sustainability, and infuse equitable policies and practices within the organizations.

Prior to the foundation, Rebecca led career pathway programs at a local community-based organization in Los Angeles and professional and workforce development initiatives at California School-Age Consortium supporting afterschool professionals in California. Outside of work, you can find her going for long walks with her toddler son, in the backyard practicing her grilling skills, or looking for new cat cafes to visit and rate on her own personal quality rating scale.

Allison Hardt has over 20 years of experience in public policy analysis and research administration.  Her 23-year career with the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) begin in 1998 as a graduate intern in the Office of Policy and Research.  After receiving her Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Baltimore, she was hired by MDOT SHA to work as a project manager in the Research Division.  From 2005 – 2021 she managed a federally funded research program, facilitated relationships with several universities including establishing research agreements and internship programs, and managed MDOT SHA’s participation in national research activities.  Allison has served on several national committees and technical advisory panels including four for the Transportation Research Board, part of the National Academy of Sciences.   From 2013 – 2021 Allison also served as the Deputy Director of Policy and Research, where she was exposed to policy analysis and development at the state and federal level.

Allison completed her undergraduate studies at West Virginia University and received a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Baltimore.  A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she currently lives in Millersville, Maryland, with her husband and son.

It is said that our lives can be measured by what we have done to touch the lives of others. Marina Hopkins has been dedicated to education and outreach for 16+ years and brings her dynamic expertise as a strategic collaborator alongside her strengths of compassion and discipline. Her most recent experience as a Director of Operations at StrivePartnership/KnowledgeWorks Foundation utilized her gifts in thoughtful intervention to focus the company’s impact, better define company-wide goals and aid in budget management. This initiative has given her outstanding skills and experience to identify critical community needs, secure resources and implement programs and partnerships to address the community challenges. Marina’s many strengths stem from a purposeful approach to strategic thinking combined with strong relationship building and compassion. She inspires others with responsible, motivated and informed leadership. She excels at program development and effective direction due to her relational focus alongside an outward-facing love of community. As a strong collaborative executive, her capabilities span from project management to executive functions, a strong commitment to excellence and a lifelong dedication to strengthening communities through education. As a collaborative leader, she is effective in facilitating and aligning groups to achieve maximum impact and implementation for educational proficiency and equity. She is able to bring out the best in others who strive to emulate her values, fairness, problem-solving skills, and impact. She stands as a strong connector and team builder among her peers in community outreach and beyond. Marina enjoys being a mother of two adult daughters and getting to know her new sons-in-law. She loves traveling and beautiful beaches. She resides in Cincinnati, OH and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from San Diego State University.

Erin Kane is a writer & communications specialist who earned a B.A. in English Literature at Temple University and an M.A. in Strategic Communication from La Salle University. Erin began her career as an AmeriCorps VISTA member, supporting under-served youth in Philadelphia, and has since worked in many roles with nonprofits, schools, and education organizations. Her experience includes program management, fundraising, communications, and advocacy. She has successfully written regional and national grants to support the work of civil rights, education and health equity, housing and re-entry programs, and youth mentorship and empowerment initiatives, and she has strong journalism, writing and product development experience.

Dawn Kilmer provides accounting and bookkeeping services to The Learning Agenda, and supports organizational operations. Dawn founded Accurate Accounting & Bookkeeping Services in 2002, and currently works with several clients in support of their business success.  Prior to founding AABS, Dawn worked for several years in a mid-sized accounting firm in Manchester, NH.

Dawn now resides in Las Vegas, NV, working virtually with the team from The Learning Agenda.  Dawn earned her BS in Accounting from Southern New Hampshire University.

Priscilla M. D. Little is a youth development evaluation and strategy consultant whose current clients include the Forum for Youth Investment, Sperling Center for Research and Innovation, The Learning Agenda, and illuminatED. Through these clients she has worked with private philanthropy, United Way, national and local youth-serving organizations, and local school districts. She has also participated in field-building efforts aimed at supporting young people’s social, emotional, academic, and cognitive development.

Prior to these engagements, she oversaw The Wallace Foundation’s $15 million effort to assist nine cities in providing more high-quality afterschool programs through a coordinated systems approach The former Associate Director of the Harvard Family Research Project, Priscilla has been working in education and afterschool and conducting research for more than 30 years, with a particular emphasis on research and evaluation to support and improve afterschool experiences. Little has also has led research teams to investigate policy-relevant afterschool issues, such as improving access to and participation in quality programs, building afterschool systems, and supporting expanded learning partnerships. Outside the after-school arena, Priscilla has worked in the areas of family engagement, early childhood, and the use of data for continuous improvement. She received her undergraduate degree in music history and theory from Smith College, and her master’s degree from the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study at Tufts University.

Sarah Lohnes is a former nonprofit CEO who is passionate about telling memorable stories that generate support for important causes. As a freelance writer, editor, and consultant for nonprofits and foundations, Sarah takes a journalistic approach to help her clients get to the root of why their work matters and how to communicate that purpose effectively. Whether for fundraising, stakeholder engagement or field building, she translates research and data into impactful tools and content across multiple media. Previously, Sarah held progressive leadership roles in a 10-year career at the National Summer Learning Association, culminating as its chief executive officer from 2013 to 2016.

Sarah is a leading national expert on summer learning, authoring numerous white papers and practitioner guides, making regular presentations to state policymaking bodies, and overseeing implementation of multiple state and federal initiatives. She has served as an expert source for NPR, Education Week, Essence Magazine, and the Baltimore Sun, among other media outlets. Sarah is co-editor and co-author of the research anthology, The Summer Slide: What We Know and Can Do About Summer Learning Loss (Teachers College Press, 2016).

Lisa McIntyre-Hite, Ph.D. brings over 20 years of experience spanning K-12, higher education, non-traditional post-secondary learning, and workforce development. She has worked with 75+ institutions, schools,  and organizations in the U.S. and abroad to conceptualize, pilot, and scale new learning models and has led state-wide efforts to improve education outcomes and address inequity. Lisa started her career as a high-school teacher and principal. Her professional passion is rooted in the desire to take measurable steps that expand access to high-quality, personalized learning experiences for every learner. Her research in CBE and learning innovation has been published by the Clayton Christensen Institute and is featured in several peer-reviewed journals. 

She currently serves on the Advisory Board for the Competency Based Education Network (C-BEN) and Credential As You Go, and is a former member of the CBE Research Advisory Board at the American Institutes for Research. Recently, she served as Vice President of Learning Innovation at Guild where she led strategy and operations to ensure all high-quality learning counts and can stack toward a degree in addition to leading Guild’s Learning Center of Excellence, focused on improving learning outcomes. Lisa served as a Strategic Advisor at the consulting firm Entangled Solutions and Vice President of Partner Strategy and Innovation at Pathstream, a non-traditional post-secondary learning provider. Lisa was Executive Director of Learning Innovation at Laureate Education and the founding Dean of Competency-Based Education at Walden University where she developed their direct-assessment offering, seeing it from pilot-to-scale. 

Brenda McLaughlin has worked at the intersection of education and youth development research, policy and practice for 20 years, translating key learnings to positively influence the well-being of youth and their families, and strengthen organizations and systems. Her insight and expertise have led nonprofits, school districts, philanthropies and communities to expand their capacity and better serve young people.

As The Learning Agenda’s Founding Partner and Senior Advisor, Brenda offers strategic guidance and coaching, plans and facilitates learning communities and events, engages in research projects, and develops tools and resources to build the capacity of the field. She is currently co-leading the Strategic Use of Summer and Afterschool Set-Asides Community of Practice for the National Comprehensive Center at Westat, and she previously led capacity-building efforts for districts engaged in The Wallace Foundation’s National Summer Learning Project. 

Brenda founded The Learning Agenda in 2011, and rejoined the team in 2022 after serving as Chief Impact Officer at BellXcel and launching The Sperling Center for Research and Innovation – a division of BellXcel focused on elevating the quality and impact of summer and afterschool programs nationally. She also served as vice president at the National Summer Learning Association from 2004 – 2011, leading research, evaluation, and strategic initiatives.

Brenda holds a MA in Public Policy from the Johns Hopkins University, and a BA in Spanish and Latin American Studies from the University of Pittsburgh.

Steph Moore has spent 20 years working with extraordinarily brilliant people to help them share their expertise and experiences. With experience planning in-person and virtual events, conferences, and educational webinars as a government consultant, she quickly learned that clear and relatable event information resulted in happier and more engaged participants. Working with the Corporation for National and Community Service, Steph organized convenings, webinars, e-newsletters, and phone clinics for groups, including the Social Innovation Fund grantees, Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service grantees, and SeniorCorps.

Her neighborhood blog passion project led her into the world of social media and writing for online content. The now retired blog won numerous local web awards. Working at NOAA on the Joint Polar Satellite System program, she produced consumer education content and was also charged with keeping the website content fresh and engaging.

Most recently, as a senior web specialist at Johns Hopkins Medicine, she managed the web content for departments and institutional priority areas, creating messaging for both internal and external audiences. Steph also created new websites and converted older sites into a more consumer-friendly mobile-first platform with new architectural structures and content.

Throughout her career, she has found success in quickly learning and adapting messaging and media to meet the needs of different audiences. Steph is finishing her master’s degree in communications at Johns Hopkins University.

Desiree Morales is committed to building equity in access to opportunity for young people. She brings 14 years of experience as an educator, professional development leader, and district- and community level systems builder. At Austin ISD’s ACE Austin Desiree supervised multiple 21st Century Community Learning Center grants across twenty Title I schools, where she worked with district leadership to develop new ways of using data to tell a holistic story of student success. Desiree successfully built a multi-year plan to shift the regional approach to summer learning, which included working with area funders, creating demonstration sites, and putting on a conference on summer learning strategies for Out-of-School Time (OST) educators in Central Texas. Currently, she oversees Student INC, a K-12 entrepreneurial pathway piloted by Austin ISD in a community of South Austin schools. Desiree recently participated in a year-long Cultural Proficiency & Inclusiveness initiative, where she developed new skills and deepened her commitment to transforming education spaces into culturally-responsive learning environments that help all young people thrive and grow.

While working at ACE Austin Desiree also led the Central Texas Afterschool Network (CTAN) through a convening of Central Texas youth service providers, funders, and public and private agencies to coordinate services to maximize resources and effectively serve at-risk young people and their families. This led to CTAN becoming Learn All The Time, the regional intermediary guiding a research-based approach to OST programs in Central Texas. Desiree also worked with the Texas Partnership for Out of School Time (TXPOST) to gather input on best practices from Central Texas providers, which helped create the Texas Standards of High-Quality Afterschool, Summer, and Expanded Learning Programs.

Desiree earned a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and linguistics from Pitzer College in Claremont, California. She is the cofounder of the Cherrywood Poetry Workshop, now in its fifth year as a reading and writing meet up for established poets in Austin, Texas. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals in print and online.

Dr. Marshaé Newkirk is a career educator with over 20 years of experience serving public school students and families in New York and New Jersey. Her work as a teacher in the South Bronx, NY served as a springboard for a career in educational leadership and advocacy for children in historically marginalized and under-appreciated communities. She is the lead founder of an independent charter school in Newark, NJ, where she served as the School/Executive Director for 8 years. Marshaé currently serves as a leadership coach and trainer for new and aspiring school leaders. In addition, she is an independent consultant offering leadership coaching with a focus on reimagining “best-practices” in schools in order to disrupt the status quo. Marshaé has earned Masters Degrees in Elementary Education and Administration and Supervision from Lehman College and Fordham University respectively, and holds a doctorate in Educational and Organizational Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.

Hillary Oravec is the President and Managing Partner of The Learning Agenda, providing leadership and oversight of learning community design and facilitation, technical assistance, and evaluation strategies for state departments of education, national and regional foundations, national organizations, and school districts. She is also the Summer and Afterschool Project Lead for the National Comprehensive Center, contributing to the National Center’s leadership of Communities of Practice and Engage Every Student partnership with the United States Department of Education and five national partner organizations. She served on the project team for The Wallace Foundation’s National Summer Learning Project, managing district sustainability planning and the development of the Summer Learning Toolkit. Hillary oversees The Learning Agenda’s long-term project for the Texas Education Agency, Barr Foundation, Wallace Foundation, WT Grant Foundation, William Penn Foundation, and other high-profile clients. She also enjoys leading smaller strategic planning projects for organizations such as Birmingham Summer Adventures in Learning (SAIL), Central Texas Summer STEM Investment Hub funding collaboratives, and Newark Thrives! – setting the vision and goals for their governance, program and assessment strategy, and strategic growth.

Hillary previously directed the National Summer Learning Association’s strategic initiatives, research and evaluation, and community system-building initiative portfolios. During her tenure, she led high school program design-focused projects for the MacArthur Foundation, and with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support the transition between middle school and high school to improve graduation rates. Earlier in her career, Hillary managed school accreditation and institutional research projects for Johns Hopkins University, and school, community, and university partnerships and initiatives for the P-12 Project at The Ohio State University.

Hillary received a master’s degree in educational policy and leadership from The Ohio State University and a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and sociology from Kent State University and participated in international study programs in Yunnan Province, China, and the University of Leicester in England.

Michele Phillips serves as a senior advisor for the Learning Agenda’s Portrait of a Graduate learning community with the Barr Foundation bringing over 17 years of experience in public, urban education. Michele has partnered with the Barr Foundation and Springpoint: Partners in School Design to provide guidance for school leaders in improving student outcomes by using data to create strategic plans for student programming and innovative school design.   Through her collaboration with Springpoint, the Barr Foundation and the Urban Assembly network of schools in New York City, Michele has collaborated with dozens of schools nationally to incorporate creative programming solutions, operationalize strategic feedback, and provide ongoing technical support for schools enacting school design and re-design efforts.  Her ongoing mission is to support schools in providing all students with equitable access to a relevant and rigorous curriculum through engaging and rich learning experiences anchored in strong, sustainable school design.

Michele also serves as the current Data Specialist & Program Design consultant for the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice and the Urban Assembly (UA) Bronx Academy of Letters.  Prior to consulting, she was an Assistant Principal and full-time Data Specialist overseeing accountability and compliance at the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice where she began her career as a Spanish teacher in 2002. An alumna of Middlebury College in Vermont, Michele graduated with her B.A. in Spanish and Sociology and her M.A. in Spanish Language & Literature and later, received her licensure in School Administration and Supervision at Massachusetts College for Liberal Arts.  Michele currently resides in her hometown of Sturbridge, MA with her three sons and her husband, Kadion.

Matthew Pilarski is an experienced educator most recently working with Connecticut RISE as the Director of Network Success, where he oversaw the school-facing teams responsible for providing high quality professional development, raising student outcomes in all network schools, and using data to drive decision making. Prior to RISE, Matthew was a Senior Director at Springpoint: Partners in School Design, where he worked nationally to both design and redesign high schools models with a focus on equity-based principles, student-centered design, and instructional leadership. Matthew also worked at TNTP as a Partner on TNTP’s Client Team heading up the SanFranciscoPLUS program which focused on helping school leaders develop and retain irreplaceable teachers, strengthen a school’s instructional culture, and understand how to use data to improve student outcomes. Matthew began his career working for two of the largest urban districts in the country as an Instructional Support Leader with Chicago Public Schools on Chicago’s South Side and as both a teacher and a school leader for eleven years in the South Bronx in New York City, overseeing a high school where over 90 percent of students qualified for free and reduced-price lunch.

Matthew holds a BA in English from the University of Michigan, an MA in Secondary English Education from NYU, and an ME Save d in School Leadership from Columbia University’s Teachers College.

Emily Samose is dedicated to building programs and partnerships that cultivate a community’s education ecosystem. With 20+ years of experience advancing community-driven education initiatives to achieve real impact, Emily works to connect the key constituents needed to drive ideas into action. In her recent consulting practice, her projects have included leading a strategic planning process for a parent engagement organization, facilitating community input gathering to establish common agendas achieving collective impact for children, youth and families, and developing content for national convenings of educators, practitioners and philanthropists.

Previously, Emily was the director of education and learning initiatives for the Urban Libraries Council, (ULC) a membership association of North America’s leading public library systems. In this role, she led a partnership with the National Summer Learning Association that identified the critical roles that public libraries play in addressing summer learning loss by increasing access to critical programming and resources. This initiative resulted in several field publications that supported more libraries in their transition from traditional summer reading to more intentional summer learning. These resources led to one public library securing a $1 million donation when they were able to illustrate that they were aligned with national trends. Prior to joining ULC, Emily served as a consultant for the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, spent seven years with the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and over ten years at the intersection of national service and education in California, developing and executing service-learning programs for universities and afterschool programs. Emily holds a master’s degree in education from San Francisco State University and is a graduate of the Institute for Educational Leadership’s Education Policy Fellowship Program.

With the addition of Liz Scott, The Learning Agenda was able to broaden our offerings into a deeper visual world. Liz’s diverse background gives her an innate focus on consumer-driven work and her passion for design radiates through every project. Her 20+ years of experience have primarily been as an Art/Creative/Marketing Director in many of her own design studios and even her own an award-winning retail storefront. While entrepreneurship continues to keep her occupied, Liz generously gives her time and talents to area and national nonprofits – and loves that TLA shares her commitments to a more equitable world. Liz knows the value of community and can instantly visualize how good design can impact every person. She is committed to making this world a better and kinder place – in any and every way possible.

While Liz started out studying photojournalism at Ohio University, she honed her eye through a bachelor’s degree from Kent State University’s highly-competitive Visual Communication Design program. From this strong foundation, she has been able to travel the world and work with clients from Cleveland to Los Angeles, throughout Europe, India, and Singapore. A resident of Bath, Ohio she and her husband are often found cooking elaborate meals, planning adventures, and remodeling their mid-century cottage in the woods.

Meeta Sharma-Holt believes that to help youth, especially those from marginalized communities, thrive, you start with a youth-centered mission. Then, build an organization or system which centers its people, streamlined operations, and strong partnerships. 

In the past  30+  years, Meeta has strived to enact this vision. Most recently, Meeta scaled STEM programs for BIPOC girls from three to 20 states at Techbridge Girls. While there, she was also the Principle Investigator for a $2.5 M National Science Foundation grant advancing STEM programs for youth. Before her most recent role, Meeta established a new system of afterschool programs for DC Public Schools in prior roles, with $8M funding from the Wallace Foundation. While in New York City, she scaled after-school and summer camp programs for a large settlement house, and through Big Brothers Big Sisters, she expanded corporate mentoring programs with 20 Fortune 500 companies. Meeta was also an adjunct lecturer in the School of Social Work at Stonybrook University and has operated a private consulting firm advising nonprofits on evaluation and strategic planning. Through her many roles in the non-profit industry, she has presented as a panelist and led numerous workshops. 

In her work, Meeta brings a positive youth development guiding framework, as well as her background in social work and commitment to social justice. As an immigrant and granddaughter of freedom fighters in India, Meeta is compelled to bring about change for large numbers of girls through high-quality programs and services. 

Meeta holds a BS in Marketing and Management from Penn State University and an MSW from Columbia University. She is also an avid garden, part-time yogi, and mother to two amazing children.

Chris Sweeney is a business and community leader with over thirty years’ experience with firms ranging from IBM and Oracle to smaller, entrepreneurial companies and a nonprofit agency called 3 Rivers Connect. He’s an evangelist for regional collaboration and creative uses of information and technology to drive innovation. His consulting practice is focused on advancing educational innovation in K-12 as well as nonprofit/civic sector transformation initiatives through work with leadership teams in articulating their vision and translating it into an actionable plan that can be successfully implemented.

Chris currently leads the Pittsburgh Personalized Learning Network (PLPGH), a network of 25+ school districts in SWPA to build awareness and accelerate the implementation of personalized learning strategies in the region. He formerly served as the President and COO of OnHand Schools, a mission-driven education services company that developed EdInsight, a student performance suite used by over 150 districts in Pennsylvania. Prior to his role at OHS, Chris was CEO of 3 Rivers Connect (3RC). 3RC was a civic sector agency that helped non-profit organizations use innovative technology and better information to optimize the delivery of their services and improve the lives of underserved communities in southwestern PA.

A passionate youth and community advocate, Katie Willse‘s work is rooted in her personal goals to build strong communities that provide positive opportunities for all youth and families.  As a Senior Consultant for The Learning Agenda, Katie brings over 15 years experience in the nonprofit field.  Her background in out-of-school time and youth development runs a full spectrum from working in a direct service capacity to developing and managing community programs and leading organizational development. Katie leverages her experience to support clients with program development and management, meeting planning and execution, and professional development design and facilitation.

Prior to joining The Learning Agenda, Katie Willse worked with the National Summer Learning Association, most recently serving as the Chief Program Officer where she steered the organization’s core work and strategic development. In her time with NSLA, Katie also led the development of community and national system-building initiatives that supported program capacity building and scaling summer learning opportunities across communities.  In addition to summer learning, her expertise in youth programs includes mentoring, youth development and youth employment.

A resident of Austin, TX, Katie has lived in and worked with organizations in cities across the country including Baltimore, Boston, Madison (WI), Miami, New York City, and Sacramento.  Katie holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and communications with an emphasis in rhetorical studies and interpersonal communication from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The Learning Agenda Difference

We are true partners, taking the time to understand your organization’s unique needs.

Your mission is our mission.

We’re passionate about educating and supporting the development of under-served youth and closing the opportunity gap, and we understand the field.

It’s where we came from and what we continue to do.

We get you.

We’re up to speed quickly because we’ve worked in organizations and environments like yours. We’ve navigated the field, tackled issues like yours and we’re well-connected.

We work to help you do what you do better – with greater knowledge, capabilities and efficiency.

We’re with you all the way.

We won’t hand off strategies that you don’t have the capacity to implement.

We’re part of your team from vision through implementation –managing the initiative and collaborating with you, and building your team’s capacity and confidence throughout the process.

If you are interested in partnering with The Learning Agenda, contact Hillary Oravec at 570-847-8473 or [email protected].  We welcome opportunities to diversify our team and expand our network!

“When we started the project, I expected The Learning Agenda to bring knowledge of programs and facilitation expertise, but the full and thoughtful commitment of the team to help our client, our team, project participants and the OST field itself was outstanding. The project benefited from the deep knowledge of The Learning Agenda team about OST programming, current challenges and trends, and the network of experts/trainers brought to bear on the project.”
- Ursula Helminski, Vice President External Affairs at Afterschool Alliance