Our Team 2021-04-01T17:24:07+00:00

Who We Are

Our 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.

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 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.

Dr. Barbara Crock serves as the lead facilitator for the Barr Foundation’s School Leaders and Wider Learning Ecosystem communities, as well as technical assistance provider and coach to the Portrait of a Graduate community. As a Senior Advisor to The Learning Agenda, Barbara brings deep experience in public education, urban school reform, and high school redesign. She builds sustainable leadership development systems with large urban school districts through the development and delivery of coaching and professional development training programs and actively coaches principal supervisors and executive leadership coaches.

Barbara previously worked within Chicago Public Schools, Boston Public Schools, San Francisco Unified and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis as a secondary mathematics teacher, instructional coach, school administrator for PK-12, founding principal of a 6-12 public charter school, and central office administrator. Through her experience in high school redesign, she has led the transformation of technical curriculum to college preparatory pathways and programs; brokered central office services in providing incubation efforts for new high school start-ups; and led the community development, engagement and partnership work for the founding and redesign of secondary schools.  She partners with districts nation-wide to develop leaders, lead learning, and deepen school transformation.

Barbara is a graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Urban Superintendents Program. She lives with her partner in Kalamazoo, MI, but is most often found working, biking, watching livestock shows and scuba diving in places around the nation and world.

Dawn 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.

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).

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.

As The Learning Agenda’s Managing Partner, Hillary Oravec brings over 15 years experience leading projects for foundation, school district, independent school, and nonprofit partners in the areas of program strategy and development, strategic and sustainability planning, professional learning and network management, and research and evaluation. Hillary leads the Barr Foundation’s communities of practice focused on developing new and equitable high school models and technical assistance for The Wallace Foundation’s social emotional learning and summer initiatives. She managed the development of The Wallace Foundation’s Summer Planning Toolkit website, which features a comprehensive set of evidence-based resources to plan and implement a large-scale summer program. She previously led strategic planning projects for the Birmingham Summer Adventures in Learning (SAIL) and Central Texas Summer STEM Investment Hub funding collaboratives, 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.

Jason D. Perry serves as a senior consultant and facilitator for The Learning Agenda’s projects with the Barr Foundation high school redesign communities of practice and State of Texas’ Additional Days of School Year summer learning community. Jason’s background is in social and administrative communications. He uses communication in all its forms as a springboard for organizational change management. With thirteen years of experience in non-profit marketing and communications, student and family stability, and program planning and development, Jason designs unique approaches to help organizations and individuals achieve more optimal outcomes.

As a Certified DISC and Values Communications Coach, Jason leverages his subject expertise in strategic planning, executive coaching, team development, workshop design and facilitation, and language design to aid multi-sector leaders in developing high-performing teams and maintaining positive work cultures. Before consulting, he served as a youth services program planner, non-profit communications coordinator, family support coordinator for ten interconnected out-of-school-time programs and served as the director of operations and strategic partnerships for an education advocacy organization. Jason has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication from North Carolina A&T State University and a master’s degree in leadership and organizational change from Pfeiffer University.

Jason’s everyday mission is to positively impact individuals and organizations who simply want to do well.

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 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.

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’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 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.

Griselda Young-Ojeda is a senior consultant with The Learning Agenda with expertise in educational technology and adult learning. Her background is in Bilingual Education & Interdisciplinary Studies, with over a decade of experience as an elementary school bilingual educator. Griselda was honored as Bilingual Teacher of the Year and became a District-Level Specialist for the Second Language Education Department in Alief ISD.

Her mission is to facilitate professional learning communities, maximize student impact and learning success, all through the use of technology that is anchored in equitable opportunities for all students.

If you are interested in partnering with The Learning Agenda, contact Hillary Oravec at 570-847-8473 or hillary@agenda4learning.com.  We welcome opportunities to diversify our team and expand our network!

“The Learning Agenda team skillfully addressed our programmatic needs by uncovering evidence to help us formulate our post-secondary program and ultimately secure funding to support it. In addition to higher-level data to make the case, TLA teased out easy-to-tackle, yet critical, things that really make a difference in the personalized support we provide our students after high school.”
- Allison Blankenship , Director of the KA‘I Program, ‘Iolani School