TEAM BIOGRAPHIES

Jeff Edmondson

Jeff Edmondson

Jeff Edmondson is Managing Director of StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. Prior to founding StriveTogether, Edmondson was the founding executive director of the StrivePartnership in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, a partnership of postsecondary, K-12, business, philanthropic, non-profit, and civic organizations aimed at increasing education outcomes for students throughout the region. StrivePartnership is one of the most notable collective impact initiatives and Edmondson has drawn on the work of the Partnership to develop StriveTogether and the national Cradle to Career Network.

Edmondson also served as the Foundation Officer for KnowledgeWorks Foundation. In this role, he was responsible for assisting the President & CEO by leading and providing support for priority initiatives, communicating on the vision and strategies of the Foundation, and managing the relationship with the Board of Directors. He also 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., where he was an advocate for teachers and students in the school, built partnerships between the school and 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 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. He was a fellow to the Ashoka –Innovators for the Public and completed the prestigious Annie E. Casey Family and Children Fellowship.

In 2012, Jeff was named the recipient of the American Express NGen Leadership Award, which honors one accomplished nonprofit leader age 40 and under who has already demonstrated significant impact in addressing society’s critical needs. Currently, he is a Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation Social Entrepreneur.

Jennifer Blatz

Jennifer C. Blatz is the Senior Director of the Cradle to Career Network for StriveTogether.

Jennifer Blatz serves as Senior Director, Strategy & Operations for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks, where she oversees StriveTogether’s strategy for accelerating the progress of cradle to career partnerships.  This includes providing strategic guidance and oversight to the Cradle to Career Network, as well as StriveTogether’s impact and evaluation, knowledge management and strategic assistance functions.

Prior to joining StriveTogether, Blatz served as the Director of Operations for StrivePartnership, the cross-sector cradle to career partnership serving Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky and one of the most notable collective impact initiatives.  As part of StrivePartnership’s founding leadership team, Blatz has helped to translate the lessons learned from the work on the ground in Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky to support and launch the Cradle to Career Network.

Blatz has made her career in the social sector, drawing upon her passion for improving education outcomes for underserved populations. This includes serving as Executive Director of the Ohio College Access Network and supporting the growth of the National College Access Network.  She also served as Program Officer, College & Career Access at KnowledgeWorks, where she managed a portfolio of initiatives focused on improving postsecondary attainment.

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. She 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.  She resides in northern Kentucky with her husband and three young children.

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.

Pranav Kothari

Pranav Kothari

Pranav Kothari serves as Senior Director, Innovation for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks, where he oversees development of new strategies and partnerships to support Cradle to Career Network members and business planning more broadly. Kothari also serves as Vice President, Strategy & Innovation for StriveTogether’s parent company, KnowledgeWorks.

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, Education Pioneers, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Lynch Leadership Academy, USA Funds, and Vulcan Productions.

Kothari serves as a guest lecturer at the Kellogg School of Management Executive Education and MBA programs at Northwestern University. Kothari also speaks nationally on measuring social impact, national nonprofit effectiveness, and education philanthropy. Prior to Mission Measurement, Kothari served as a Program Director at KnowledgeWorks focused on college access & success as well as growth initiatives and previously held market research and product development positions with Student Loan Funding and ACNielsen BASES.

Kothari is board president of the National College Access Network and 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 and is a native of Pittsburgh, PA. 

Colin Groth

Colin Groth is the Director of Innovation at StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks.  Groth provides leadership for StriveTogether’s Innovation strategy, with an emphasis of applying the principles of results based leadership and continuous improvement to the work of building cradle to career civic infrastructure.  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 the President of the Charter Committee of Greater Cincinnati, 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).

Carly Rospert

Carly Rospert is the Associate Director, Knowledge for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. Rospert manages lessons learned and knowledge from communities across the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network and codifies this information into resources and visuals to share with the Network and broader collective impact field. She contributes to innovative tool development that helps provide accelerated means to help communities achieve cradle to career milestones.

Rospert earned a bachelor’s of Urban Planning degree at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning. Before joining StriveTogether, Rospert interned with the local StrivePartnership and the Community Building Institute, driving her passion for community engagement and equity. She is currently a tutor for Rothenberg Preparatory Academy, serves on the board of the Rothenberg School Rooftop Garden, and is a seven year veteran of community building and beautification efforts across Cincinnati.

Teri O'Brien

Teri O'Brien serves as Senior Facilitator for StriveTogether where she works with many of the national Cradle to Career Network members on building collaborative action teams/networks within their own communities. O’Brien got her start with StrivePartnership and is an experienced continuous improvement coach/facilitator with knowledge and expertise 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, Arizona State Board of Education, and served on the Arizona 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 to her work with StriveTogether, 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.

Linda Brandin

In her role as Executive Assistant for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks, Linda Brandin supports the Managing Director, as well as the Senior Director and Director of Innovation while also managing effective relationship building 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 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 in stage, commercials and network television. 

Parvathi "Parv" Santhosh-Kumar

Parvathi “Parv” Santhosh-Kumar is the Associate Director of Innovation at StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. She manages the implementation of the Cradle to Career Accelerator Fund to expedite the progress of local partnerships toward Proof Point. Parv also supports StriveTogether’s equity strategy and helps to build strategic partnership opportunities for StriveTogether.

Before joining the team, Parv served as Associate Director of Education Policy and Programs in the Office of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Working directly for the Deputy for Education, she developed and implemented action plans aligned with top priorities across the cradle-to-career continuum, including supporting the launch of Chicago City of Learning, managing the Mayor’s $36 Million commitment to expanding early learning, and supporting the incubation of Thrive Chicago, an Emerging member of the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network.

Parv earned a B.A. in American Studies from Northwestern University and a Master in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. Parv is based in Chicago, IL.

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.

Hany Elena White

Hany Elena White is Senior Manager, Partner Progress at StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. As Senior Manager she supports communities building cradle to career civic infrastructure through delivering strategic assistance and managing special projects.

White joins StriveTogether from Heart of Missouri United Way where she served as the Community Impact Director strategically overseeing and managing quality control and continuous improvement in the areas of Education, Health, Income and Safety Net services. White implemented a collective impact approach and was liaison to Columbia, Missouri’s local Cradle to Career Alliance- one of StriveTogether’s Network Members.

White did her undergrad work at Central Christian College and obtained a Master of Education in License Professional Counseling from Stephens College.

As a first generation college graduate, White came to this country at the age of six from Venezuela and is of Cuban descent. 

Melanie Ervin

Melanie Ervin is a Project Manager for StriveTogether.Melanie Ervin is a Senior Manager, Network Engagement for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks.  In her role, Ervin is responsible for supporting StriveTogether’s efforts to engage, educate, nurture and develop its growing Cradle to Career Network of communities across the nation. This includes managing and moderating StriveTogether’s Partner Portal online community, assisting in the development of StriveTogether’s (Network and external) communications, supporting Cradle to Career partnerships in their communications efforts and coordinating a number of key StriveTogether Network activities.

 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, She 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. She resides in Cincinnati and actively volunteers as a dance leader, mentor and tutor at her local church and within Cincinnati Public Schools.  

Heidi Black

Heidi Black is a Senior Manager, Innovation for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. In her role, Black is responsible for working to support partnerships as they develop collaborative action networks and practice continuous improvement.

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 students identified as difficult or hard-to-reach, English language learners and students 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 health and education issues. 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. In this role she was responsible for education policy research, grant writing and 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 Associate Director, Network Quality for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. In this role, Jancarz is responsible for managing the Civic Infrastructure Assessment, designed to help StriveTogether learn more about the development and work of cradle to career partnerships rooted in the StriveTogether Theory of Action. She also oversees the National Evaluation, a three-year evaluation to determine how communities across the Cradle to Career network build civic infrastructure and the relationship to community-level outcomes. Jancarz also leads the development and execution of the Systems Change Evaluation to identify if and how partnerships are sustainably changing systems in their communities. Jancarz works with the Cradle to Career Network team to identify resources and support to help partnerships progress to impact outcomes for students from cradle to career. Prior to this role, she served as Manager, Network Quality on the StriveTogether team.

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. She also actively participated in Collaborative Action Networks for The Learning Network in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Jancarz earned a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in Advertising and Promotion from Western Michigan University and has previous experience in both the marketing and financial sectors.

Kelly D. Robinson

Kelly D. Robinson is Senior Manager, Network Engagement for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. As Senior Manager she works to support communities who are members of the Cradle to Career Network. This support includes planning and execution of Network activities and events, with special focus on the National Convening, Network communications and managing the Partner Portal.

Robinson joined StriveTogether from Children, Inc. where she served as a Mayerson Service Learning Initiative Coordinator. Before Children, Inc., she 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 volunteer with Give Back Cincinnati, CityLink Center, tutor at Rothenberg Academy and a board member of the Avondale Community Council.

Kaci Roach

Kaci Roach is the Project Manager, Knowledge & Tool Development for StriveTogether.

Kaci Roach serves in the role of Manager, Knowledge for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. In her role, Roach organizes knowledge gained from working with communities from around the network and uses this knowledge to develop resources and interactive tools for the Cradle to Career Network.  She also assists in the management of the StriveTogether Partner Portal.

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. While at NOCHE, she also managed NOCHE’s social media accounts.

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

Katie Varatta

Katie Varatta serves in the role of Manager, Knowledge for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. Varatta helps develop lessons and information garnered from working with communities and synthesizes the knowledge gained into resources that are both visually appealing and instructive in advancing Cradle to Career efforts.

Before joining the StriveTogether team, Varatta worked on Staff at the 8th Day Center for Justice in Chicago, Illinois as a Social Justice Coordinator and Visual Communications Coordinator. Along with advancing the visual communications efforts of the Center, her work focused on documenting and analyzing human rights work. In 2009, she represented Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Coalition on the Ethics Commission in Bogota, Colombia. She joined more than 24 International human rights organizations to create international partnerships, highlight systemic interconnections and advance US policy on globalization, territory and environment.

Varatta has a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Communications and Design from the University of Dayton and a Master of Arts in Social Justice and Community Development from Loyola University Chicago.

Geoff Zimmerman

Geoff Zimmerman serves as Associate Director, Data Utilization for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks.  In this role, he supports StriveTogether’s efforts to build the capacity of communities to utilize data in strategic and innovative ways. >

Zimmerman also serves as Director of Continuous Improvement for StrivePartnership, where he manages the data and information initiatives of the partnership.  StrivePartnership serves as a catalyst for partners working together, across sectors, and along the educational continuum to drive better results in education, for every child, every step of the way, from cradle to career. 

Zimmerman also plays the Director of Continuous Improvement role for EDWorks, helping support bold and innovative school design efforts to ensure all students graduate prepared for college and career.

Zimmerman has worked in the nonprofit and education sectors throughout his career. His experience includes data use, research and analysis, data and information systems and design, outcomes development, continuous improvement, and strategic planning. He has a bachelor's of science in business administration from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and a master's in business administration from the University of Cincinnati.

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