Behind the scenes is a dedicated team moving the mission of NGLC forward, helping to bring next gen learning to today’s students. It’s the network of innovative educators working to improve student success that inspires us. Learn more about who we are, what we do for NGLC, where we live, and what we care about. See the smiles? We love what we do!

Amanda Avallone

Amanda Avallone | Content Manager
Home base: Boulder, CO
Connect: @avallonian1

I joined EDUCAUSE in 2017. In my role as Content Manager for Next Generation Learning Challenges, I support educator reflection and collaboration by telling the stories of the educators, grantees, and other partners who are embracing next generation learning. I began my career as a secondary English and French teacher and later served as a founding educator and leader at Boulder Valley’s first charter school. More recently, I worked as a consultant and in leadership roles in a variety of settings: small rural schools, large urban districts, and education nonprofits. My passions include adult professional learning, innovative school and program design, and connecting educators to one another via online stories, tools, and resources.

I am inspired by the power of storytelling to move individuals, connect diverse people, and support systemic efforts to transform education.

Stefanie Blouin | Deputy Director
Home base: Burlington, VT
Connect: @StefanieBlouin; LinkedIn

My job is to catalyze the development of personalized, competency-based, blended learning schoolsby working with our team to develop programs of support for our national and regional breakthrough school model grantees.

Before joining NGLC, I was the director of curriculum for a district in Vermont facilitating curriculum and assessment development, analyzing data, and supporting teachers and administrators with ongoing professional learning. I was a classroom teacher for eight years and a teacher leader for three yearsI will always be a teacher at heart! I look through this practitioner’s lens, thinking about what’s best for students, as I develop grantee supports.

As a classroom teacher, my passion was connecting with and growing each individual student. I LOVE that I get to support breakthrough model designers as they implement personalized learning. I’m a systems-thinker and detail-orienteda mix of big picture thinking and get-it-done muscle. I love to run, hike, and explore the world. My favorite place to be is on a beach with my kids.

Andy Calkins | Director
Home base: Gloucester, MA
Connect: @AndrewCalkins; LinkedIn

I am passionately in love with my job, which is to work with the crackerjack team you can meet on this web page (among other ace staffers at EDUCAUSE) and with our more than 150 pioneering grantees and partners to catalyze a next gen learning revolution across K-12 and higher ed. At EDUCAUSE, I manage strategy development for NGLC and help to support program execution for all phases of that initiative.

Prior to joining NGLC in April, 2011, I served as Senior Program Officer at the Stupski Foundation, Senior Vice President at the influential education reform group Mass Insight, Executive Director of Recruiting New Teachers, Inc. (the non-profit behind the national “Reach for the Power: Teach” campaign working to build a highly skilled, diverse teacher workforce), and as the editor of Electronic Learning magazine at Scholastic Inc.

I hold a B.A. from Harvard College and was a Henry Fellow at Cambridge University in the UK. I am the lead author of The Careers in Teaching Handbook and The Turnaround Challenge, Mass Insight’s 2007 report on turning around the nation’s persistently underperforming schools. When I’m not working to catalyze next gen learning, I’m enjoying the life of Cape Ann, in Massachusetts, where my wife and I have raised three daughters including one budding art teacher, an actress/drama teacher, and a film studies/marketing pro in NYC. We are hoping that Daniel Pink was right and that the MFA is “the new MBA.”

Silke Koester

Silke Koester | Program Manager
Home base: Boulder, CO

I support all of NGLC’s grant management processes and our effort to build communities of leaders committed to implementing next generation learning.

Prior to joining the NGLC team, I worked for the International Baccalaureate in New York City for over five years during which time I supported English, French, and Spanish-speaking schools and practitioners across the Americas region as Middle Years Programme associate and as the Professional Development Associate manager. I earned a Bachelor of Science in International Business and Organizational & Human Resource Management, as well as French Language and Literature from Washington University in St. Louis.

In addition to French, I speak German and am a native Spanish speaker. I love spending time in the mountains running and camping. Before moving to Colorado, my husband and I spent a full year doing just that all around the world! And speaking of running, I've completed over 50 marathons & ultramarathons since 2006. My favorite distance to race is 50 miles, although I have run as far as 100 miles in one day!

Sarah Luchs | K-12 Program Officer
Home base: Columbus, OH
Connect: @SarahLuchs1

For the past two years, I’ve been coordinating our K-12 grant making strategies where we invest in promising educators and the next gen learning designs that define Breakthrough Schools. Our investment strategy of incubating proof-point schools is scaling rapidly in DC, Chicago, Oakland, New Orleans, Colorado, New England, and Massachusetts, thanks to the efforts of our regional partners. Each partner approaches the work a little differently, so it is an opportunity to “walk our talk” by enabling flexibility and personalization while upholding some common expectations needed to ensure quality at scale.

My background in policy, evaluation, and political science proved a good fit for the Ohio Department of Education where I spent more than a decade of my career and worked on a breadth of challenges from closing achievement gaps to extending quality digital learning to ensuring college and career readiness. Yep, some of the same challenges for which NGLC schools have or are designing solutions! The design process excites me and I enjoy learning from this community. If I didn’t do this, I’d be a fashion designer, blues singer, or professional globetrotter (think Rick Steves, not “Curly” Neal).

Tony Siddall | Program Officer
Home base: Boston
Connect: @horacemanifesto

A mentor of mine once said that careers in education reform only really make sense in retrospect—often the path isn’t clear until you arrive a job that perfectly draws on the experience you’ve acquired over the years. This is very true for me, and that job is supporting the Assessment for Learning Project community at NGLC.

I’ve worked at schools and districts building community partnerships to support youth development, and I’ve also worked on charter school governance and accountability at a state agency and at a network of charter schools. And I also had a cup of coffee in edtech. But before NGLC, my most formative professional experience was actually a volunteer one.

A few friends and I felt that too many important decisions in education get made behind closed doors by a very small group of people. So we decided to send out an invitation to meet up at a bar, forget about our job titles, and just talk about the future of education in Boston. We thought ten people showing up would be a success. More than 100 came. We had tapped into something. So we issued a challenge: if you can get a team of educators together to propose an innovative idea, we can give you something more important than money (which was good, because we didn’t have any money): access. When the mayor and superintendent saw the hundreds of people turning out, they agreed to meet with all the teams who submitted a proposal. The late, great Tom Menino asked me, “How did you get all these people to show up? They’re not the usual suspects.”

The answer is that we invited them to help build the future. I learned that there are untold numbers of educators who desperately want to contribute beyond their classrooms, if only someone would ask them (and possibly offer them beer). What I love about working with NGLC is our profound faith that if we invite educators to build the future of public education, if we create spaces for them to bring their full selves, they have both the expertise and the passion to deliver beyond our wildest dreams.

Liza Veto | Program Officer, Mass IDEAS
Home base: Boston, MA
Connect: LinkedIn

My job is to develop and grow Mass IDEAS, a multi-year initiative to create next generation schools for Massachusetts, engaging educators and community members across the Commonwealth to design and launch genuinely bold models of learning designed for equity, student-centered learning, and 21st-century definitions of student success.

Prior to joining NGLC, I spent six years supporting some of the most struggling schools and districts in Massachusetts to interrupt their history of low performance to ensure that all students received high-quality educational experiences. My work at the state and district levels was both immensely rewarding and extremely challenging; it also made me want to substantially rethink how we “do” school on the front end instead of trying to remedy schools’ many challenges once they underperform. NGLC is a great place for me to do that!

As a recovering English major (Dartmouth College), I love reading and listening to fiction, and think there’s nothing better than watching a child (or an adult!) become wrapped up in a story. I earned a Master of Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis, concentrating on health policy, which led me to 13 years in public health policy at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including as CDC’s liaison to the U.S. Department of Education, which led me to strong interest in school health. Following my time at CDC, I joined the Broad Residency in Urban Education, during which I began my turnaround efforts in Massachusetts and earned a Master’s degree in Education.

Kristen Vogt | Knowledge Management Officer
Home base: Philadelphia
Connect: @KVogt300; LinkedIn

My job is to create and share content. Through our website, publications, social media, and blogging, I work with our team to document the strategies NGLC grant recipients are using to transform education, capturing the lessons they are learning along the way and highlighting the outcomes that result from their efforts.

Before joining NGLC, I was the assistant director for early college high school at the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. I also worked in student and academic affairs in programs like first-year transitions, service-learning, undergraduate research, and academic support for college students.

I majored in math at the University of Notre Dame and there’s a special place in my professional heart for supporting women and students of color in STEM. I then earned degrees in higher education administration from the University of Michigan and college student personnel from the University of Maryland. My passion is to make education work for students from groups that have been least served educationally. I’m detail oriented (a blessing and a curse), reflective (don’t make me give an answer on the spot!), and appreciate sarcasm. I want to explore the natural wonders of the world, even those in my neighborhood, watch my kids grow up, and read, read, read.