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.
Gary Colletti is a policy associate. Previously, he taught social studies and philosophy at public high schools in New York and Virginia and worked with The George Washington University. He studied philosophy and history at Binghamton University, education at Hofstra University, and education policy at the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at George Washington University.
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.
Director of Teaching, Leading, and Learning
Don Long is director of teaching, leading, and learning and has over 20 years of experience in K-12 education policy, advocacy, administration, and research at the national, state, and local levels. Long has devoted his career, which spans public education, labor, welfare, and economic policy, to addressing issues of equity and excellence, poverty, and broadly shared prosperity. Most recently, he served as senior policy analyst with the Campaign for High School Equity, a coalition of civil rights organizations brought together to strengthen the civil rights voice in federal and state education policy. He began his career as a researcher in policy development and program evaluation at the Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources, University of Texas at Austin, where he studied high-performance work organization, comprehensive school reform, professional learning systems for leaders and teachers, and school-to-career issues. He went on to manage the student assessment and planning & evaluation divisions at the Texas Education Agency. Long came to Washington, D.C., as program director of the Statewide Collaboratives on Assessment and Student Standards (SCASS) at the Council of Chief State School Officers, where he supported state leadership and innovation in balanced assessment and accountability systems for improving learning and teaching. He also has consulted for the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education on “whole student” education, teacher evaluation, and full-service community schools. He holds a bachelor’s in history from the University of Virginia and a master’s from the L.B.J. School of Public Affairs.
Sarah-Jane Lorenzo is a research consultant at NASBE's Center for College, Career, and Civic Readiness, where she studies trends in state board policy action. She has a research background and enjoys working on projects that promote public awareness of how schools can help students build successful post-secondary plans. Before joining NASBE, Lorenzo worked at the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, where she helped produce the 2016 Forbes College Rankings and led a national survey exploring faculty dedication to student service and mentoring responsibilities at top-tier versus lower tier liberal arts colleges.
Lorenzo studies journalism and education policy at Ohio University's Honors Tutorial College, where she expects to earn her degree in 2017. She is an active journalist and has published investigative articles on issues including standardized testing, academic tracking, and discipline in schools.
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.
Michael Spaeth, communications associate, plays an integral role in promoting NASBE’s work to journalists, thought leaders, stakeholders in the education sector, and members of state boards of education. Spaeth manages NASBE’s social media efforts, tracks NASBE’s impact, monitors education news and media activity, and helps execute other forms of outreach.
Before joining NASBE’s team, Spaeth was a field organizer with the Pennsylvania Democratic Coordinated Campaign in Pittsburgh. He also worked as a Jewish Service Corps (Avodah) member at The ARK, a nonprofit social service agency that serves low-income individuals in Chicago’s Jewish community. He interned for Congressmen Dan Kildee and Sander Levin’s Washington, D.C. offices, Congressman Brad Schneider's 2016 campaign, U.S. Senator Gary Peters’s 2014 campaign, and at the Stimson Center, a global security think tank. Spaeth led and assisted with creative writing workshops for elementary and middle school students at the nonprofit youth writing centers 826CHI and 826michigan, and he was a workshop facilitator at a juvenile detention center as part of the University of Michigan's Prison Creative Arts Project. He received a B.A. with distinction in political science and communication studies from the University of Michigan, where he also undertook research projects on education issues.
Anna Toth, administrative specialist, assists with management and administration. She responds to members’ queries, performs research, handles scheduling, and manages the office. Toth is a graduate of James Madison University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a concentration in public policy and inequality. Her minor was in women and gender studies. Before joining NASBE, she interned for the Arab American Institute and was a fellow for the Virginia Democratic Party.