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, nonprofit 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 and 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 Deputy Director 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 as a mentor for 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.

Kimberlin Butler

Kimberlin Butler is Director of Strategic Partnerships for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. Working closely with StriveTogether Managing Director Jeff Edmondson to cultivate relationships with investors and build partnerships to advance StriveTogether’s work, Butler brings more than 14 years of combined experience in public education, public affairs and philanthropy.

Dissatisfied with the state of public education and its widening achievement gap, she began her career with Teach for America as a middle school social studies teacher in Atlanta. Butler worked for The Zeist Foundation, a place-based family foundation. She later served as program & network manager at Grantmakers for Education, the nation’s largest network of funders dedicated to improving educational outcomes and increasing opportunities for all learners.

Butler went on to serve as an Education Pioneer in the U.S. Secretary of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement and advised the Office of Strategic Partnerships on philanthropic alignment. She led operations for the Place-Based Initiatives Pilot team, advancing the White House Community Solutions agenda to transform the country’s most distressed communities. As interim director, Butler launched the Atlanta office of Beyond 12 in partnership with Achieve Atlanta to dramatically increase the number of low-income, first-generation and historically underserved students who graduate from college. 

She is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; The Links, Incorporated; Rotary Club International; and Junior League of Atlanta. Butler is a Connecting Leaders Fellowship Program alum as part of the Association of Black Foundation Executives. She was named a 2016 recipient of the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 40 under 40 Award and a Knowledge Universe Rising Star. Butler received the Outstanding Atlanta Award and graduated from Leadership Portland. She currently sits on the Fulton County Schools Governance Council.

A Baton Rouge native, she earned a bachelor of arts degree in mass communication from Louisiana State University and graduated from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University with a master of public administration degree concentrating in education policy. As a fun fact, Butler loves all things Disney, rollercoaster rides, hiking, and Broadway musicals. She is based in Atlanta.

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 bachelor of arts in communications (Interactive Communications Processes) from 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).

Bridget Jancarz

Bridget Jancarz is the Project Manager, Impact & Improvement for StriveTogether.

Bridget Jancarz is the Director, Network Advancement for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. In this role, Jancarz is responsible for managing the Cradle to Career Network strategy and Network Member services. This includes providing strategic guidance and oversight to the Cradle to Career Network, which includes Network events and training, member engagement and the Civic Infrastructure Assessment. 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 leads the development and execution of the Systems Change Assessment to identify if and how partnerships are sustainably changing systems in their communities. Prior to this role, she served as Associate Director, Network Quality.

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, summa cum laude, with a concentration in advertising and promotion from Western Michigan University and has previous experience in both the marketing and financial sectors.

Parvathi 'Parv' Santhosh-Kumar

Parvathi “Parv” Santhosh-Kumar is the Director, Network Learning for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. She manages strategies to support StriveTogether staff and Network members in identifying, sharing and applying actionable and relevant insights to accelerate progress to Proof Point and influence the broader field. Santhosh-Kumar previously led the launch and early implementation of the Cradle to Career Accelerator Fund.

Before joining the team, she served as Associate Director of Education Policy and Programs in the Office of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. She developed and implemented action plans aligned with top priorities across the cradle to career continuum, including launching 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.

Santhosh-Kumar earned a bachelor of arts in American Studies from Northwestern University and a master in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. She is based in Chicago, IL.

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, D.C., 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. She lives in Cincinnati with her husband.

Linda Brandin

In her role as Strategic Partnerships Manager for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks, Linda Brandin supports the Managing Director and the Director of Innovation while also managing effective relationship building for the StriveTogether team. Her daily responsibilities include scheduling, coordinating speaking engagements, providing logistical support, overseeing record documentation and building/maintaining prompt follow up for the team. Often, Brandin is the first point of contact when calling the main information line and will efficiently answer questions will making sure the connection is made to the appropriate staff person.

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 bachelor of fine arts in theatre arts from Ithaca College and has several professional acting credits in stage, commercials and network television. 

Robert Harris

Robert Harris is Senior Manager, Network Engagement for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. He manages StriveTogether’s engagement strategies, such as the Partner Portal, as well as provides coaching and strategic assistance to cradle-to-career partnerships.

Harris moved to Indianapolis from Chicago in 2014 to begin studies as a William Randolph Hearst Endowed Fellow in the master’s program at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. He holds the belief that an understanding of the how and why of collective action will allow for a focused approach toward building networks and is working to engage leaders in the creation of spaces allowing students to prepare for next-generation careers. Working inside of Chicago public high schools — primarily Wendell Phillips Academy and Harper High School (the first school in the nation impacted by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001) — shaped Harris’ belief in the need for better support of talent and properly directed resources to improve learning spaces for students.

In his free time, Harris likes spending time at museums and cooking with his 4-year-old son, Noah. After earning his bachelor’s degree, he studied improv comedy at The Second City of Chicago’s Conservatory.  Harris is also a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan. Forgive him if you catch him pinching himself from time to time — he is only checking to see if the World Series really happened. He is based in Indianapolis, IN.

Colleen Maleski

Colleen Maleski is the Senior Manager of Continuous Improvement at StriveTogether.Colleen Maleski is the Senior Manager of Continuous Improvement at StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. Maleski builds the capacity of local leaders and practioners to use data and continuous improvement tools and processes to improve cradle-to-career outcomes. She also supports the implementation of the Cradle to Career Accelerator Fund to expedite the progress of local partnerships.

Maleski earned her master of public policy degree at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College. where she served as a research assistant for the Accelerated Academic Achievement Research Center and the Tennessee Consortium on Research, Evaluation and Development. She served as a consultant for the Tennessee Department of Education and led the expansion of Colorado State Senator Mike Johnston’s Urban Leaders Fellowship to Nashville.

Maleski earned a bachelor of arts in strategic communications and business marketing from The Ohio State University and worked previously in Public Affairs and Corporate Social Responsibility for Raytheon.


Michael Mozina

Michael Mozina is Senior Manager, Network Experience for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. He manages various network offerings including webinars, collaboration among network members and the member advisory council, and supports communities that are exploring network membership.

Mozina started his career as a seventh-grade science teacher at Cleveland’s Citizens Leadership Academy. He also has served as an Urban Leaders Fellow working with Texas State Board of Education Rep. Erika Beltran on science standards revision and district school board legislation. 

Mozina received his bachelor’s degree in social relations and policy from Michigan State University’s James Madison College. As an undergrad, he served as vice president of the student body and campus Greek life. Mozina hails from Chicago and enjoys traveling across the U.S., breathing in the unique characteristics of each city and town along the way. He just moved to the Cincinnati area and will live in Oakley, OH.

Dawn Raftery

Dawn Raftery is Communications Strategy Lead for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. In this role, Raftery develops and executes strategic communications plans across the Cradle to Career Network and the education field through the StriveTogether website, social media, email marketing, media relations and other initiatives.

Raftery previously worked at IFF, the largest community development financial institution in the Midwest, where she was the Corporate Communications Manager. She managed communications and implemented rebranding efforts for the Chicago-based organization, including writing all digital and print content, engaging the media, working on the redesign of the annual report and collateral system, and leading social media efforts. During her career, Raftery spent more than a decade in journalism, working as a top editor for a suburban division of the Chicago Sun-Times News Group and overseeing a team at a global marketing and internet services company in launching and managing more than 130 monthly community magazines in 11 states. 

Raftery graduated from Northern Illinois University with a bachelor of arts in English. She is based in Chicago, IL, where she is a Women United Giving Council member at Chicago Foundation for Women, a mentor for Goodman Theatre’s Young Critics program and a former board member of the Association for Women Journalists-Chicago.

Eleni Towner

Eleni Towner is Senior Manager, Network Experience for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. Towner’s responsibilities include the Network Navigator strategy, which launches in January; the National Convening; the civic infrastructure assessment for network members; and network membership processes. Towner began working with the StriveTogether team as a fellow, where she made many contributions, including creating content for network communications, creating summaries of Stories of Impact and executing tasks around the National Convening.

Before coming to StriveTogether, Towner taught algebra for four years in a low-income school district in Covington, KY, as a corps member of Teach for America in the Southwest Ohio region. With a passion for equity and education, she worked tirelessly to ensure that her students had access to a high-quality education — a goal she continues to pursue as a StriveTogether team member. Previously, Towner also participated in the Leadership for Educational Equity policy fellowship at KnowledgeWorks, researching and reporting state legislation as it related to personalized learning. Towner graduated from the University of Kentucky with a bachelor’s degree in economics. She lives in Cincinnati with her husband.

Janice Ungruhe

Janice Ungruhe serves as Operations Manager for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. In her role, she reports to Senior Director Jennifer Blatz and is responsible for creating and administering business processes for contract management, invoicing, human resources, payroll and benefits. She also provides executive support and meeting/planning execution.

Prior to joining the organization, Ungruhe worked six years at KnowledgeWorks supporting staff and events focused on the future of education. She also worked 15 years as a human resources professional in the manufacturing, investment banking and social service sectors. She earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Bowling Green State University and resides in Cincinnati with her husband and two daughters.

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