TEAM BIOGRAPHIES

Jeff Edmondson

Jeff EdmondsonJeff Edmondson is the Managing Director of StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. StriveTogether is a national cradle-to-career initiative that brings together leaders in Pre-K-12 schools, higher education, business and industry, community organizations, government leaders, parents and other stakeholders who are committed to helping children succeed from birth through careers.

Edmondson most recently served as executive director of The Strive Partnership in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, a partnership of postsecondary, K-12, business, philanthropic, non-profit, and civic organizations in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky aimed at increasing educational aspirations, achievement, and attainment of students throughout the region. The Cradle to Career Network was formed using lessons learned from the development of the partnership, and are currently being applied in cities across the country through a collaborative relationship with Living Cities and the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities to help ensure resources in these regions are efficiently and effectively supporting the success of every child. He also served as the foundation officer for KnowledgeWorks Foundation. In this role, Edmondson was responsible for assisting the President & CEO by leading and providing support for priority initiatives, communicating on the vision and strategies of the Foundation locally and nationally, and managing the relationship with the Board of Directors.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Edmondson served as a Program Assistant at the 21st Century School Fund where he conducted research, published papers, and wrote legislation on local and national policy issues related to school facilities. Edmondson also worked as the Peaceable Schools Coordinator at Woodrow Wilson Senior High School, the largest public secondary school in Washington, D.C. In this role he was an advocate for teachers and students in the school; built partnerships between the school, organizations and businesses in the community to improve student outcomes; and trained students and staff in mediation and other alternative conflict resolution techniques.

Edmondson has a bachelor’s of science in biology from the University of Richmond and a master’s in public policy from Johns Hopkins University. In addition, he served as a volunteer and supervisor for three years in Peace Corps Gabon, Central Africa.

Pranav Kothari

Pranav Kothari

Pranav Kothari currently serves as Senior Director, Strategy & Innovation for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks where he oversees strategic partnerships and planning. Previously, Kothari co-founded and served as Managing Director of Mission Measurement. As an expert in measuring the social impact of organizations and programs, Kothari advised leading funders, education initiatives and nonprofit organizations on measurement and program strategy. His clients included Carnegie Corporation of New York, Cristo Rey Network, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Lynch Leadership Academy, USA Funds and Vulcan Productions.

Kothari has been working in the philanthropic sector for 15 years. He speaks nationally on measuring social impact, national nonprofit effectiveness and education philanthropy. Kothari also serves as a guest lecturer at the Kellogg School of Management Executive Education and MBA programs at Northwestern University. Prior to Mission Measurement, Kothari served as a Program Director at KnowledgeWorks, a Cincinnati-based education enterprise. There, he worked to ensure that philanthropic dollars were reaching those most in need of support to succeed in postsecondary education. The Ohio College Access Network and the Ohio Appalachian Center have recognized his distinguished work in postsecondary education access.

Kothari is board president of the National College Access Network and a board member of the Associated Colleges of Illinois. He also serves as chair of the Chicago Advisory Board of Education Pioneers. He holds an A.B. in Economics from Washington University in St. Louis and an MBA in Corporate Strategy and Organizational Behavior from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. Kothari is based in Chicago, IL.

Jennifer C. Blatz

Jennifer CJennifer C. Blatz is the Senior Director of the Cradle to Career Network for StriveTogether.. Blatz currently serves as Senior Director of Strategy & Operations for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks, where she oversees the work of creating and facilitating a growing network of cradle to career partnerships throughout the country and abroad. This includes management and oversight of the Network’s convening strategy, impact and evaluation and support and assistance to members.

Blatz most recently served as Director of Partner Engagement and Advocacy to ensure strong relationships with key thought leaders and policymakers. Blatz also served as the Director of Operations of The Strive Partnership – Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, which is a unique partnership of education, business, nonprofit, philanthropic and civic leaders in the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region. Prior to her work with StriveTogether, Blatz served as the Executive Director of the Ohio College Access Network. Blatz also served as Program Officer for College & Career Access at KnowledgeWorks.

Blatz earned a bachelor's degree, summa cum laude, in English from the University of Kentucky, and a master's degree in college student personnel from Miami University.
Blatz has been an active community volunteer through her participation in the Junior League of Cincinnati and mentoring a Cincinnati Public Schools student. She is a member of the YWCA Rising Star Class of 2003, a graduate of the United Way of Greater Cincinnati’s Volunteer Leadership Development Program, and was named one of the Cincinnati Business Courier’s “Forty Under 40” in 2006.

Colin Groth

Colin Groth is the Director of Strategic Assistance for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. StriveTogether is a national initiative working to build the cradle to career civic infrastructure in communities to identify, sustain and scale what works. The son of a public school librarian, Groth has always been passionate about the improvement of educational outcomes for all young people.

Before joining StriveTogether, Groth served as the Government Relations Director for Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority where he oversaw the organization’s government affairs, served as liaison to elected officials and government bodies and developed relationships with local business and civic groups to advance public transportation issues.

Groth holds a B.A. in Communications (Interactive Communications Processes) from The Ohio State University where he also completed the Goodlinks Non-profit Management Internship program. He is a graduate of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s C-Change leadership development program and the City of Cincinnati’s Citizen’s Government Academy, an alumnus of 40 under Forty awards for both the Cincinnati Business Courier and Mass Transit Magazine and an Eagle Scout (Troop 502).

Katy Silliman

Katy Silliman is the Director of Strategic Assistance at StriveTogether.Katy Silliman is the Director of Strategic Assistance at StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. Before joining the team, Silliman served as the Vice President of Regional Initiatives for the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, a 10-county economic development organization. In her role at the Partnership, Silliman oversaw the Vision 2020 Initiative, which focused on transforming the region’s economy by aligning strategies with one common vision, as well as the Big Goal Collaborative, Northeast Indiana’s cradle to career partnership focused on increasing the percentage of the region’s residents with high quality degrees and credentials to 60% by 2025. Previously, she worked for Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Togo, West Africa.

Silliman holds a B.A. in Political Science from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. She was a member of the 2009 Rotary Group Study Exchange team to Turkey and has served on the Manchester University’s President’s Leadership Council.

Jennifer Perkins

Jennifer Perkins is the  Director of the Cradle to Career Network for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks.

Perkins joins StriveTogether from L’Oreal USA where she served as a Scientist managing a qualitative consumer testing department. She has a B.A. in Sociology from Kenyon College in Gambier, OH and holds a M.A. in Higher Education from the University of Michigan. She has previously worked as a teacher’s assistant in an elementary school, a market researcher and as a graduate assistant for the University of Michigan’s Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program.

Perkins enjoys travel and has lived in 14 different cities including Maastricht in the Netherlands and Tuebingen in Germany.

 

Carly Rospert

Carly Rospert is the Associate Director of Knowledge & Tool Development for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. Rospert manages lessons and knowledge learned from the many communities doing this work and codifies this information into resources and visuals to share with the Network. She also contributes to innovative tool development that helps provide accelerated means across the framework to help communities better achieve cradle to career milestones. Rospert has a special interest and skill in using simple, visual graphics to communicate complex concepts effectively.

Rospert earned a bachelor’s of Urban Planning degree at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, summa cum laude, where she was an office member of the Planning Student Organization and avid volunteer. She is currently a tutor for Rothenberg Elementary and a 5 year veteran of community beautification efforts across Cincinnati.

Kelly D. Robinson

Kelly D. Robinson is Senior Project Manager of the Cradle to Career Network for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. As Senior Project Manager she works to support communities who have joined the Cradle to Career Network. This support includes handling general StriveTogether inquiries, managing the Partner Portal, planning and execution of Network events, with special focus on the Annual Convening, and Network communications.

Robinson joins StriveTogether from Children, Inc. where she served as a Mayerson Service Learning Initiative Coordinator. Before Children, Inc., Robinson held communications positions at The Center for Closing the Health Gap in Greater Cincinnati and Powers Agency. Robinson has a B.S. degree in Broadcasting from Belmont University and a M.A. degree in Television, Radio & Film from Syracuse University.

Robinson is active in her community as a committed volunteer with Give Back Cincinnati and as a board member of the Avondale Community Council.

Heidi Black

Heidi Black is a Senior Project Manager for the StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks.

Black has spent her career working in education. She spent six years teaching fourth and fifth grade students in a public school district outside of Boston, Massachusetts. During her time as a teacher, Black specialized in integrating student identified as difficult or hard-to-reach, English language learners and student with learning disabilities into her mainstream classroom.

After leaving the classroom, Black moved to Washington, DC to work in the U.S. House of Representatives as a policy aide and scheduler. While working for multiple Members of Congress, Black was responsible for analyzing legislation and developing policy recommendations for issues including education, children and nutrition. Black was also responsible for managing the office’s budget and served as the primary contact for internal and external communication for each Member.

Most recently, Black was the Ohio Education Policy Advocacy Projects Coordinator at KnowledgeWorks. While working for KnowledgeWorks, she was responsible for education policy research, grant writing, project management. She also managed the Ohio 8 Coalition, a strategic alliance of superintendents and union presidents from Ohio’s eight urban school districts- Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown.

Black has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Skidmore College and master’s degree in curriculum and instruction with focus on literacy from Lesley University’s School of Education. Heidi lives in Cincinnati with her husband.

Bridget Jancarz

Bridget Jancarz is the Project Manager, Impact & Improvement for StriveTogether.Bridget Jancarz is the Project Manager, Impact & Improvement for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. In this role, Bridget is assisting in the development and implementation of the Civic Infrastructure Assessment. This work includes building sites’ understanding of the assessment process, developing functional tools for data collection, working with sites to facilitate conversation around assessment results, and identifying and synthesizing applicable lessons learned from administering the assessment.

Jancarz received a Master of Social Work degree, with a focus on Policy, Planning, and Administration, from Western Michigan University where she served as an Intern and Graduate Assistant for Fostering Success Michigan – a backbone organization for a collective impact strategy to improve educational outcomes for youth and alumni of foster care. Jancarz also actively participated in Collaborative Action Networks for The Learning Network in Kalamazoo. She has co-lead work groups and facilitated grant writing focused on incorporating evidence-based programming to improve foster care for the Kalamazoo County Department of Human Services.

Jancarz earned a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in Advertising and Promotion and has previous experience in the financial sector.

Kaci Roach

Kaci Roach is the Project Manager, Knowledge & Tool Development for StriveTogether.Kaci Roach is the Project Manager, Knowledge & Tool Development for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. In her role, Roach organizes knowledge gained from working with communities from around the network. She also collects and develops content for resources and interactive tools used by communities to help them reach Proof Point.

Before joining StriveTogether, Roach interned at the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education (NOCHE). In this role she developed and managed content and designed interactive features for www.OhioMeansSuccess.org, the college and career information website from the Ohio Board of Regents. In this position, she also assisted in the administration and communication strategy of the NEOintern website, a database of internships available in Northeast Ohio, and managed the social media for NOCHE.

Roach earned her Master of Science of Urban Studies, with a focus on Urban Public Policy, from the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University. Here, she completed research on the non-economic benefits in a metropolitan area of college degree attainment and the impact of startups and small businesses on the economy of the Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor Metropolitan Statistical Area.

She previously graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from The Ohio State University, where she was in the University Honors Program.

Derrick Braziel

Derrick Braziel is a Project Manager for StriveTogether.Derrick Braziel is a Project Manager for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. As the Project Manager, Derrick is responsible for helping provide strategic assistance to communities around the country as they work to implement the StriveTogether Framework for Building Cradle to Career Civic Infrastructure.

As the son of two first generation college graduates, Braziel has always been passionate about leveraging educational tools to help people achieve their dreams.

Braziel joins the StriveTogether team from HCCMIS in Indianapolis where he served as the Digital PR/Marketing Intern and from Dreamapolis, an organization he founded in 2011 to help support urban entrepreneurs in the creation of innovative and sustainable businesses. He also worked as a Senior Fellow for Shepherd Community Center where he managed after-school programming as well as coordinated volunteer activities. His work led to recognition by the Indianapolis Star as one of Indianapolis' top "doers, thinkers, communicators and leaders" for 2012, as well as membership in the Indianapolis cluster of CEO’s for Cities.

Braziel holds a B.A in Political Science from Wittenberg University.

Melanie Ervin

Melanie Ervin is a Project Manager for StriveTogether.Melanie Ervin is a Project Manager for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. In her role, she supports the delivery of strategic assistance to communities across the country as they work to implement the StriveTogether Framework for Building Cradle to Career Civic Infrastructure.

Prior to joining StriveTogether, Ervin served as a District Executive at Dan Beard Council, Boy Scouts of America. During her tenure, she led and guided volunteers to create Scouting opportunities for youth in Butler and Hamilton Counties. This was done by increasing annual campaign contributions, membership numbers, programs, volunteers, and community support. Through her Scouting career, Ervin developed a passion for improving educational opportunities for all.

Ervin earned her bachelor’s degree in Communications and a certificate in Public Relations from the University of Cincinnati.

William Thomas

William Thomas is a Project Manager for the StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. As a project manager, Thomas supports strategic assistance to communities across the country as they work to implement the StriveTogether Framework for Building Cradle to Career Civic Infrastructure.

Thomas most recently served as the Learning Partner Dashboard Implementation Coordinator for The Strive Partnership, a cradle to career educational partnership working together to improve academic achievement in Greater Cincinnati. He led the implementation of the Learning Partner Dashboard, a data system that brings together academic and non-academic support data into one system so that both the school district and its partners can use data to better serve their students.

Thomas is a co-founder and the vice chair for Bloom Africa. Thomas is active in his community as a tutor at Rothenberg Elementary and as a board member of Rothenberg Rooftop Garden. Additional experience includes field organizing for President Obama’s presidential campaign and an associateship for the White House.

Thomas holds a B.A. in Business Management from Wittenberg University.

Teri O'Brien

Teri O'Brien works directly with several of The Strive Partnership's collaboratives, and assists the Cradle to Career Network members in building collaborative action teams/networks within their own communities. She is a continuous improvement coach/facilitator who is extremely knowledgeable in Six-Sigma and several other continuous improvement process tools/techniques.

Prior to joining the StriveTogether team, she worked as a nonprofit Director operating a Workforce Investment Act (WIA) contract and was a member of the local Workforce Investment Board and WIA Youth Council.

Before to moving to Cincinnati, O'Brien was employed with the Arizona Governor’s Office of Efficiency Review, AZ State Board of Education, and served on the AZ Governor’s Council on Workforce Policy. O'Brien has extensive experience in training, data analysis, strategic planning, and facilitation. She has a bachelor's degree in Business Administration and a Master’s degree in Public Administration.

In addition, she is also currently working with several other local foundations and groups focused on community impact efforts related to workforce and educational initiatives within the Greater Cincinnati Region, and is a member of the Children Prepared Council in Northern Kentucky.

Janice Ungruhe

Janice Ungruhe serves as Senior Adminstrative Assistant for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks where she administratively supports the work of Jennifer Blatz, Senior Director of the Cradle to Career Network, and Colin Groth, the Director of Strategic Assistance and their teams. This includes participating in the planning and execution of the Annual Convening and smaller meetings throughout the year.

Most recently, Ungruhe was a member of the Strategic Foresight team and supported the work surrounding KnowledgeWorks’ 2020 Forecast which was developed to foster innovation in the field and world of learning. She also headed an internal cross-team events taskforce.

Before joining KnowledgeWorks Foundation, Ungruhe worked as a Human Resources Manager at a local non-profit social service agency. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration (BSBA) from Bowling Green State University.

Linda Brandin

In her role as Executive Assistant for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks, Linda Brandin supports the Managing Director, the Senior Director of Strategy and Innovation and the Senior Director of the Cradle to Career Network while also managing effective communication for the StriveTogether team. Her daily responsibilities include scheduling, providing logistical support, overseeing record documentation and building/maintaining prompt follow up for the team.

Prior to joining StriveTogether, Brandin was the tour coordinator for New Tech Network. In that role, she coordinated tours and showcases on behalf of the 23 demonstration sites, was responsible for lead development, and provided support to professional training events, national meetings and marketing/communications. Other professional credits include Volunteer Manager for the Cancer Support Community, retail sales and early childhood education.

Brandin has a BFA in Theatre Arts from Ithaca College and has several professional acting credits including a starring role at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.

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