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Oregon Learns Fellows Bring Expertise to Redesign Issues

Education redesign and implementation requires substantial experience and knowledge in both education policy and practice. That’s the role of our Oregon Learns Fellows.

Our Fellows advise the OBC Education Task Force and the Oregon Learns staff, and they communicate with and engage policy makers and stakeholder groups in a variety of formats. Our roster of Fellows includes distinguished practicing teachers, education administrators, consultants, researchers, policy advisers, policy makers, thought leaders, and others.

Here are bios for our Oregon Learns Fellows.

Bridget Burns

Executive Director, University Innovation Alliance

Bridget is the executive director of the University Innovation Alliance, a national consortium of universities working to improve outcomes for students across the socioeconomic spectrum. Before that she served as the 2013-14 American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow in the office of Arizona State University President Michael Crow, where she facilitated the development of the University Innovation Alliance.

Bridget was previously the chief of staff and senior policy advisor for the Oregon University System, leading both state and federal relations while also serving as the official representative of the Chancellor. In 2011 she led the successful legislative effort to free Oregon’s seven public universities from state agency status, for which she received the 2013-14 Edwin Crawford Award for Innovation in Government Relations.

She has been a national associate for the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education and an advisor to the Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS.) She has served on several statewide public boards including the Oregon State Commission on Children and Families, Public Commission on the Oregon Legislature, and the State Board of Higher Education. She also chaired the Oregon Student Assistance Commission. She has a master’s degree in Public Policy from Oregon State University.

Dave Conley

Founder & President, EdImagine Strategy Group
Professor of Educational Policy and Leadership, University of Oregon

In addition to his roles with EdImagine and the University of Oregon faculty, Dave is founder and director of the Center for Educational Policy Research (CEPR) at the University of Oregon. He was the founder, chief executive officer, and chief strategy officer of the Educational Policy Improvement Center (EPIC) based in Eugene. He conducts research on a range of topics related to college readiness and other key policy issues.

His latest publication Getting Ready for College, Careers and the Common Core: What Every Educator Needs to Know, was recently published by Jossey Bass. His previous books on these topics include College and Career Ready: Helping All Students Succeed Beyond High School, and College Knowledge: What It Really Takes for Students to Succeed and What We Can Do to Get Them Ready.

Before joining the University of Oregon faculty, Dave spent 20 years in public education as a teacher, building level and central office administrator, and state education department executive. He has authored numerous journal articles, book chapters, and monographs. He serves on technical and advisory panels, including the Common Core State Standards Validation Committee, which he co-chairs, and the Smarter Balanced Technical Advisory Committee.

He received his B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Colorado, Boulder. 

Sarah Denny

Language Arts Teacher & Instructional Coach
Hillsboro High School

Sarah teaches language arts at Hillsboro High School and works as an instructional coach for the school and district, offering coaching and professional development across content areas.

She has served in a variety of leadership roles, including department chair, site council member, International Baccalaureate MYP coordinator for instruction and assessment, mentor teacher, TAG coordinator, and a member of the Oregon Business Council’s LearnWorks project on education redesign.

Sarah’s professional focus over the last few years has been on standards-based teaching and learning, professional learning communities, and equity. She has a particular interest in the effects of high-level policy decisions on classroom instruction and learning. She has two small children, a second-grader and a pre-schooler.  She is a graduate of Aloha High School and Pacific University.

Beth Gerot

Eugene 4J School Board

Beth has served on the Eugene 4J Board of Directors since 1999.  She chaired the board from 2003-2006.  Beth also serves on the Oregon Quality Education Commission and the Eugene 4J Equity, Budget, Legislative Priorities, and Elementary Schools Design Committees.
Beth was a board representative on the Minority Student Achievement Network from 2004-2009.  She also served on the Oregon School Boards Association Board of Directors from 2002-2011, including as President in 2009. 

Beth is co-owner of Woodruff Nursery & Landscapes, Inc. and partner in Woodruff Homes, LLC. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. from the University of Oregon and attended the Harvard University Executive Leadership Program for Educators. 

Whitney Grubbs

Public Policy Consultant

Whitney assists organizations in advancing innovative projects, systems and policies in early learning, education, workforce, and economic/community development in Oregon. 

From 2011-2015, she served as an advisor to Governor John Kitzhaber and Governor Kate Brown, and as Chief of Staff and Legislative Director for the Oregon Education Investment Board (now Chief Education Office). In those roles, Whitney worked to develop a seamless P20 education system, championed strategic investments to promote student success, helped design the Network for Quality Teaching and Learning, launched the Regional Achievement Collaborative initiative, took a lead role in writing Oregon’s ESEA waiver, and participated in the LearnWorks design process.

Whitney brings knowledge of systems, a broad and deep network, respect for local context and collective action, and a commitment to equity, continuous learning, and student-centered practices as key to sustainable transformation.

Greg Hamann

Linn-Benton Community College

Greg has served as LBCC’s seventh president since 2010. In addition to his 16 years of service in community colleges, he has taught middle school, led counseling and residence life programs at Bethel College (MN), served as chief administrative and financial officer at Northwest College (WY), and directed student development, human resources, and other administrative services at Whitworth College (WA).

Greg is leading the LBCC campus in turning its historically strong commitment to access into an equally strong commitment to completion, partnering with other colleges and state and national initiatives like Win-Win, Foundations of Excellence and Achieving the Dream, all part of a wider campus redesign initiative. He is a member of the American Association of Community Colleges 21st Century Initiative Implementation Team, Oregon’s Quality Education Commission, and the Executive Board of the Oregon Community College Association. His community connections include board service for the Linn County United Way, the Boys and Girls Club of Corvallis, and the Albany Workforce Development Task Force of the Albany Chamber of Commerce.

Greg has a doctorate in educational leadership from Gonzaga University and a master’s in counseling psychology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.  He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology and social studies at the University of Minnesota.

Andrea Henderson

Executive Director
Oregon Community College Association

Andrea has been executive director of the Oregon Community College Association since 2000, concentrating on greater partnership among the state’s 17 community colleges in supporting Oregon’s economic growth and preparing students as both productive workers and engaged citizens.

Before taking the helm of the Oregon Community College Association, Andrea was the Legislative Director of the Oregon Senate Majority Office (1996-2000), the State Affairs Director of the Associated Students of Oregon State University (1986-1987), and the Program Director for Citizens for Oregon Schools.

Andrea, who is a doctoral candidate in Oregon State University’s Community College Leadership program, has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Oregon State and a law degree from Willamette University School of Law. She is a member of the Oregon Bar Association.

Curtis Johnson

Managing Associate
Education Evolving
Citistates Group

Curt is the president of the Citistates Group, a public affairs communications firm; president of Citiscope, a new global news service; and managing associate of Education Evolving, a design network with roots going back to the pioneering days of state policies on school choice. This group created the first charter school law.

Curt has long been a leader in education and government, first as a teacher, then a decade as a community college president, and another decade as the head of a public policy research organization.  In the 1990s he was a policy adviser and chief of staff to Minnesota’s governor, then chairman of the Metropolitan Council, one of America’s only two regional governments.  As an analyst and author he co-authored two books about American regions and more than a hundred feature articles published in newspapers nationwide.  In 2008 he and Washington Post columnist Neal Peirce wrote Century of the City, based on a 2007 global conference sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation. He was involved, with Gov. Kitzhaber’s office and the Oregon Business Council in setting Oregon’s education redesign strategy.

Most recently, Curt is a co-author of the 2008 award-winning book, Disrupting Class, with Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen and Michael Horn – explaining the inevitability of radical changes in how students will learn, and how educators might respond to these disruptive forces. He has a bachelor’s degree in history from Baylor University and a PhD from the University of Texas.

Todd Jones

Teacher, Government, Economics, World History
West Linn High School

Todd teaches government, economics and world history at West Linn High School. He has been a public school teacher for 16 years. He advises West Linn’s Model United Nations team and Lobby Club, and coaches middle school cross country and track.

Outside of teaching he has worked four years in public and government relations, mostly with Northwest Strategies. He served four years as an assistant to Secretary of State Phil Keisling, two years as an assistant to State Treasurer Randall Edwards, and a year with Governor John Kitzhaber’s Office as policy director for the Oregon Education Investment Project.

Todd serves on the Chalkboard Project Advisory Council, the Oregon Coalition for Quality Teaching and Learning, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Educator Advisory Council, and the City of West Linn Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. Beyond work, he enjoys time with his wife Chris and his daughters, Ellie and Katie.

Kali Thorne Ladd

Executive Director
Kali is executive director of KairosPDX, a nonprofit dedicated to closing the achievement gap and serving children from early childhood to grade 5 in North Portland. A native of New England, she has a 16-year background as a teacher, education program manager, policy maker, and advocate for education equity. Before co-founding KairosPDX, she served four years as education director for Portland Mayor Sam Adams.

Kali is a member of the Portland Community College Board of Directors and the Oregon Early Learning Council. She has worked on equity initiatives for State Superintendent Susan Castillo, rural development in South Africa, and starting up the SUN Program at King Elementary School in Northeast Portland.

She has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and psychology from Boston College and a masters degree in education policy from Harvard University.

Dave Squire

Dave recently retired after 45 years of executive leadership in Oregon high tech, with companies such as Tektronix, InFocus, E-Machines, Planar Systems, Digitalk, Lightware, and InControl Solutions. His last position was Vice President of Engineering for Lightspeed Technologies, an Oregon manufacturer of audio systems for K-12 classrooms.

Over the last 30 years he has been actively involved in the community in education, workforce development, and economic development. He has served on the boards of the Lintner Center for Advanced Education, the Oregon Quality Initiative, Worksystems Inc., the Leadership & Entrepreneurship Charter High School, Moyo Jasiri, and Portland Community College. He also served as president of the Entrepreneurs Foundation of the Northwest, a non-profit that works with start-up companies to develop community involvement programs. He is currently the Chair of the Oregon MESA board and board member of Saturday Academy.

Dave grew up in Ashland, Oregon and has bachelors and masters degrees in electrical engineering from Oregon State University.

Christine Tebben

Sapient Solutions, LLC

Chris is a consultant specializing in education policy and philanthropy, with an emphasis on promoting new models of learning and aligning educational systems.

She previously served as Executive Director of Grantmakers for Education, a national network of 290 foundations, corporations, and donors working to improve student achievement and opportunity. She began her career at the Boston Consulting Group and has also served in a variety of roles at education research, policy and government organizations.

Collectively, members of Grantmakers for Education give away more than $2.5 billion each year to improve outcomes in early learning, K-12 public schools, after-school programs and postsecondary education. Under her leadership, the organization achieved significant growth and deepened its role as a catalyst for strengthening the philanthropic field’s impact on education.

Chris is board chair of the Children’s Institute and serves on the board of the national Education Writers Association. She holds a B.A. in Economics with distinction from Stanford University and a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley. She resides in Portland, Oregon with her husband and two sons, who attend public schools.

Ken Thrasher


Ken is chairman of Compli, a software solution provider for managing compliance in employment, regulatory, environmental, health and safety, and corporate governance practices. He was chairman and CEO of the company from 2002 through 2009. Prior to that he served 19 years in executive positions with Fred Meyer, Inc., including president and CEO from 1999 to 2001.

In addition to Compli, he serves on the boards of directors of NW Natural, GSL Solutions, Inc., The Jensen Growth Fund, Oregon Mentors, the Children’s Institute, College Possible, the OSU College of Business Dean’s Circle of Excellence, Cradle to Career Council of All Hands Raised, and the Oregon Business Council. He has also served as a member of the board of directors for the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Friends of the Children, the Portland State University Foundation, Albertina Kerr Centers, the Portland Art Museum, and Oregon’s Quality Education Commission.

Ken earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Oregon State University and in 2012 was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Portland State University.

John Tapogna


John is president of ECONorthwest where he oversees the firm’s overall business strategy and operations. Since his arrival at ECONorthwest in 1997, he has built practices in education, healthcare, human service, and tax policy.

In education, he has directed evaluations of dropout prevention programs, the impacts of small class sizes, and the efficacy of small schools for clients like the Chalkboard Project, Washington’s League of Education Voters and Seattle Public Schools. He has also overseen the development of award-winning software tools in eight states that help low-income families, seniors, people with disabilities and veterans understand their eligibility for safety-net programs.

Prior to joining ECONorthwest, John was an analyst at the U.S. Congressional Budget Office, where he forecasted the nation’s welfare spending and estimated the cost of key legislation. He holds degrees from the University of Oregon and Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

David V. Yaden

OHSU Board

Dave has been a member of the board of directors of Oregon Health & Sciences University since 2009, and he is a former member of the Oregon State Board of Higher Education. He chaired the subcommittee on Education After High School for Governor Kulongoski’s Reset Cabinet. In 1994 he led a consulting team working on strategic planning for the State Board of Higher Education.

Now retired, he has more than 50 years experience in public affairs. He served as special assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation and as chief of staff to a U.S. Congressman. He has served as director of the Oregon Department of Energy and executive director of policy and planning at Tri-Met. He has been an independent public policy consultant and international environmental advisor; worked in corporate planning in the private sector; and operted his own public opinion research firm.

In addition to his career work, Dave has been chair of Sightline Institute, a regional sustainability think tank based in Seattle; done volunteer work as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for abused and neglected children; done consulting work for various civic groups on tax reform and school finance; and chaired the Metro Blue Ribbon Committee for Trails.

A native Oregonian, Dave received a bachelor’s degree from Portland State University and did graduate studies at Claremont Graduate School. He and his wife Janice live in Lake Oswego.