Kristen Amundson, NASBE's president/CEO, brings more than two decades of experience as a policymaker to NASBE. She represented the 44th District in the Virginia General Assembly from 1999 to 2009. During that time, she was a member of Virginia’s P–16 Council and the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB). Before her election to the General Assembly, Amundson—a former teacher—served for nearly a decade on the Fairfax County, Va., School Board, including two years as its chairwoman. Most recently, she was the senior vice president for external affairs at Education Sector, an independent think tank. She writes frequently on education issues and has been published in The Washington Post
and the Richmond Times-Dispatch
, among others. In 2017, she was appointed by Gov. McAuliffe to serve as one of Virginia's Commissioners on the Education Commission of the States.
Senior Policy Associate
Megan Blanco is a senior policy associate focusing on school health issues and social, emotional, and academic learning. Most recently, she was a senior legislative assistant within the executive branch under two administrations, assisting congressional offices with drafting legislation, preparing senior administration officials for congressional hearings, and collaborating across the federal government and with congressional offices to advance agency priorities. Previously, she was a policy advisor in the U.S. Senate, where she specialized in education, child welfare, national service, social welfare, and appropriations. She is a proud Teach For America alumna, having taught kindergarten for two years in her home state of Louisiana. Megan has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Louisiana State University and a master’s from The George Washington University’s Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration.
Director of Operations
Sharon Cannon is NASBE's director of operations. Most recently she was a project specialist in the education program at the American Institutes for Research. Prior to her stint at AIR, Cannon was the business manager at Education Sector, where she oversaw human resources, accounting, and managed the organization’s events, while also serving as liaison to the board of directors. Before joining Education Sector, she was membership manager at the Consortium for School Networking (COSN). Her first job in the field of education policy was manager of member services for the American Association of School Administrators, overseeing all aspects of the member services award and recognition programs. A native of Washington, D.C., Cannon is a graduate of San Diego State University. She and her husband Carl live in Arlington, Va., where all three of their children attended public schools.
Director of School Climate, Discipline, and Equity
Kimberly Charis is director of school climate, discipline, and equity. She provides strategic direction for the organization’s advocacy work to ensure that all students receive equal educational opportunities. This includes designing initiatives that strengthen the capacity of state boards to promote student achievement, providing technical assistance to various groups on how to leverage state policy to support local education initiatives, and building collaborative partnerships to improve policy and practice on promoting equity. Charis is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania School of Public Policy & Practice and Spelman College.
Director of Early Learning
Winona Hao, manages NASBE’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) work. She provides state policymakers with ECE policy trends, analyses, and technical assistance. Hao oversees NASBE’s ECE State Network where she supports state teams and works with national partners to advance the workforce for children from birth through age eight.
For eight years, Hao taught children from birth to age five in China and the U.S. As an immigrant, she is a strong advocate for dual language learners and believes all children can thrive through effective early education. Hao also worked at Save the Children and the Institute of Public Policy at the George Washington University, from which she also earned a master's degree in international education policy.
Joey Hedger, associate editor, assists in the writing, editing, and production of NASBE’s reports and the State Education Standard. Previously, he was assistant editor at the American Correctional Association, where he edited its magazine, Corrections Today, and wrote on correctional programs and practices. Born and raised in Florida, Hedger moved to Virginia, after receiving a bachelor’s degree in English from Palm Beach Atlantic University. He also coordinated social media content for the admissions department and served as senior editor of the literary journal, Living Waters Review.
Executive Vice President
As the executive vice president, Robert Hull leads NASBE’s work related to teaching, leading, learning, and governance policy. Hull came to NASBE as the inaugural director of the Center for College, Career, and Civic Readiness following a 40-year career in education reform at the school, district, and state levels. After starting his career as an elementary school teacher in West Virginia’s Putnam County School District, Hull served as a principal for eight years prior to moving to district administrative positions. He served as assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction and directed early childhood education, federal programs, and community outreach for the school district during his tenure there. In 2010, Hull joined the West Virginia Department of Education as assistant superintendent of schools in the division of teaching and learning. As the associate state superintendent of schools, Hull oversaw state programs on educator quality, early learning, career and technical innovation, federal programs, and policy development and deployment for Common Core State Standards and Smarter Balanced assessments. Hull has a background in fine arts and is an advocate for integrating all things creative and innovative in classrooms everywhere.
Valerie Norville, editorial director, manages NASBE publications, including its reports and The State Education Standard
. Norville commissions authors, edits, manages design and production, and coordinates on NASBE outreach efforts. She is an editor and publishing manager with 30 years’ experience producing content that makes cutting-edge research and technical expertise accessible to policy audiences. Previously, she was director of publications for the US Institute of Peace, where she produced reports and books and launched its eBook program. Before that, she was director of publications and web development at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. She received bachelor’s degrees in journalism and political science at the University of Missouri-Columbia and her master’s from George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs.
Director of College, Career, and Civic Readiness
Abigail Potts is the NASBE's director of college, career, and civic readiness. Potts brings over 10 years of experience in federal and state education policy along with a passion for data and educational equity. She previously served as a research scientist at the US Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). At NCES, she worked in partnership with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to administer the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). The CRDC provides wide-ranging data on educational access and opportunity covering topics such as early childhood education, college and career readiness, resource equity, and bullying and harassment. Potts has also served as an independent consultant providing technical assistance and policy analysis and as a senior policy advisor within the US Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education working on assessment and accountability issues. Her first job in education was at the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) reporting on education indicators and state education policies. Potts attended public school in Alexandria, Virginia, and currently resides in Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood.
Renée Rybak Lang
Renée Rybak Lang, communications director, oversees all of NASBE’s communications efforts. Lang has worked in education policy for more than 10 years and brings a wealth of strategic communications, online, and social media expertise to NASBE. Lang also regularly advises education nonprofits on social media and web strategy and has presented at NTEN’s Nonprofit Technology Conference and the PIE-Network's annual conference, among others.
Most recently, Lang was communications manager of Education Sector, where she developed integrated communications strategies to reach policymakers and other key audiences and established the think tank’s award-winning social media and web presence. Prior to this, she was special projects coordinator for the 21st Century Schools Project at the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) and served as an aide to New York State Senator George Maziarz, where she worked on constituent issues and legislation. Born and raised in western New York, Lang is a graduate of Binghamton University in Binghamton, N.Y., where she studied political science.