We Give Our Founders Access to the Best Minds

Great Startups Need Strong Support and Experienced Mentors

Michelson Runway’s network includes some of the brightest innovators, foundation leaders, and institutional decision-makers who will work with program startups to help them succeed.

Interested in being a mentor? Contact Us.

Our Mentors

Grant Taylor

Co-Founder & CEO, Quotanda

Grant Taylor is the co-Founder and CEO of Quotanda, a student financing platform providing turnkey student financing solutions to schools and lenders globally. Grant has a liberal-arts degree from Colgate University and an MBA from IESE Business School in Barcelona. He previously worked in venture capital, fund of hedge funds and as a Consultant and grew-up in Seattle.

Sabrina Manville

Director of Marketing & Strategy, College for America at SNHU

Sabrina leads the marketing team at College for America, the workforce development arm of Southern New Hampshire University. College for America partners with employers nationwide to offer radically affordable, relevant, and flexible competency-based degree programs. Sabrina has held a variety of entrepreneurial roles developing innovative business models for education and social impact. She launched new digital publishing products for the academic market at ITHAKA and JSTOR, and worked with several venture-backed ed-tech start-ups in Silicon Valley. She has also lived and worked in East Africa. Prior to SNHU, Sabrina worked with Pearson’s Chief Education Advisor on the company’s efforts to measure and improve the efficacy of its global portfolio. Sabrina has a BA from Yale University and an MBA from Stanford, where she earned a Certificate in Social Innovation and Public Management.

Jill Leafstedt

Executive Director of Teaching & Learning Innovations, CSU Channel Islands

Jill Leafstedt, Ph.D. is an educator and technology leader with broad experience in P-12 and higher education. She is currently the Executive Director of Teaching & Learning Innovations and the Senior Academic Technology Officer at CSU Channel Islands. She is a former Professor of Education with considerable expertise at the intersection of technology and learning. Jill received her doctorate in Special Education, Disabilities, and Risk studies with an emphasis in Cognitive Science from UC Santa Barbara.

Charles Eason

Small Business Sector Navigator, California Community Colleges Economic and Workforce Development Program

Mr. Eason is currently the Small Business Sector Navigator for the California Community Colleges Economic and Workforce Development Program where he coordinates the small business programs at 112 community colleges across the state. Prior to assuming this position, Mr. Eason was the Director of the Solano College Small Business Development Center. He has also held previous statewide leadership positions as the Associate Director of the California Community College’s Statewide Economic Development Network and former chair of the Small Business Programs committee.

Toby Liang

Founder, Spain-North Africa Project

Gen “Toby” Liang is excited to collaborate with innovators on new ideas and to connect those ideas to students and educators. Toby is founder of the Spain-North Africa Project, an international network of researchers who produce interdisciplinary knowledge on Muslim, Jewish, and Christian relations in the western Mediterranean. He is co-founder of the Wheaton Institute for the Interdisciplinary Humanities, a center that develops liberal arts educational programming to train undergraduates in critical professional skills. He is also a member of the founding editorial board of the journal The Medieval Globe and the founding committee of the Asian Federation for Mediterranean Studies. Toby loves teaching Islamic and Spanish histories to Taiwanese, American, and international students at National Taiwan University, Taipei and previously at Wheaton College, Massachusetts. He holds a Ph.D. from Princeton University and was a Fulbright scholar in Syria. He speaks English, Mandarin, Spanish, Arabic, and French and has lived in Taiwan, Syria, Spain, and the United States.

Nicholas Ross

Assistant Professor, University of San Francisco

Nicholas Ross is an assistant professor at the University of San Francisco. His research interests include how asymmetric information affects decision­ making and how companies use information. In his classes, students learn how information structures are often the key to making informed and conscientious management decisions.

Prior to joining the University of San Francisco faculty, Dr. Ross led analytics teams in the mobile gaming industry. As Director of Analytics and User Acquisition at TinyCo, an Andreessen­-Horowitz backed startup, his team used statistical techniques to create actionable data insights. In his marketing role Dr. Ross oversaw multi­-million dollar performance advertising campaigns.

Mo Dhaliwal

Director of Strategy, Skyrocket

Mo is the director of strategy at Skyrocket, a Vancouver-based digital branding agency. His day-to-day consists of brainstorming ideas with potential to turn client companies into brand powerhouses.

But, of course, that wasn’t always the case. Mo left business school to work as a software engineer in Silicon Valley, only to return several years later, after the bubble burst, to start a festival dedicated to bhangra-style dance that eventually grew to a nine-day celebration reaching tens of thousands of people.

Mo’s business acumen wasn’t dormant for long though, and he soon joined Hamazaki Wong to develop strategies for brands like BMW, Air Canada, Coast Capital Savings and FortisBC. In 2011, he co-founded Skyrocket with a mission to transform the relationship companies have with their audiences through creative brand strategy. Although Skyrocket takes up most of his time, somehow, Mo remains active in the arts and culture community.

Andrew Cohen

CEO & Founder, Brainscape

Andrew Cohen is the founder & CEO of Brainscape, a web & mobile education platform that helps millions of people study more efficiently. Having raised two rounds of Venture Capital for Brainscape and having learned a lot about mobile user growth and monetization, Andrew has advised several dozen early stage startups through TechStars, DreamIt, and the Edge EdTech Accelerator over the past few years.

Andrew holds a Masters degree in Instructional Technology from Columbia University and has previously worked as a teacher (General Assembly), international economist (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), and government corruption fighter (World Bank).

Esther Tricoche

Associate Partner, NewSchools Venture Fund

Esther Tricoche is an Associate Partner on NewSchools’ Tools & Services team. Prior to joining NewSchools Venture Fund, Esther was a founding team member, Program Manager and Acting Vice President at the Laura & John Arnold Foundation, where she led the Foundation’s education team and directed over $130 million in grants to sustainable, scalable, and transformative initiatives in K-12 Public Education. Prior to that, Esther worked as a policy researcher for a Fortune 500 company focusing on international human rights and corporate sustainable development. She also served as a cultural affairs policy researcher through a partnership with the Houston Mayor’s Office and is a former member of a Rice University research team that focused on memory and cognition in relation to learning. As an inaugural Pahara Institute NextGen Fellow, Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans National Scholar, and community volunteer, Esther brings deep passion to the NewSchools Venture Fund to transform the United States’ public education system. Esther holds a degree in Cognitive Science from Rice University, with a concentration in Neuroscience.

Mike Berlin

Director of Strategic Initiatives, Macmillan New Ventures

Mike Berlin is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at Macmillan New Ventures, where he is responsible for strategic planning, acquisitions and identifying market trends. Prior to Macmillan, Mike was a consultant specializing in media & entertainment at L.E.K. Consulting. He graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Soma Mukherjee

Investment Officer (Higher Education), International Finance Corporation

Seema Mishra

Managing Director, Northeastern University

Seema is a key strategy and innovation leader guiding Northeastern University’s expansion into new domestic and international markets through transformational borderless education. Seema focuses on exploring new partnerships, modalities, technologies, marketing strategies, growth initiatives, and product portfolio enhancements to strengthen and emphasize Northeastern’s cutting edge, experiential learning brand.

Amy Bevilacqua

Managing Director, Bevilacqua Advisors LLC

With over 25 years of product, strategy and marketing leadership experience in the intersection of the education, media and technology sectors, Amy has an abiding passion for disrupting the status quo in education. She personally led organizations with revenue lines up to $25 million and with staffs as large as 92 people, gaining the reputation as someone who empathetically and effectively serves as the connective tissue between the world of business and the world of education. A personal passion of Amy’s is to support and advise early stage entrepreneurs in the education and social sector, helping them accelerate social change.

Ted Kahn

Co-founder, DesignWorlds for Learning

Dr. Ted M. Kahn is the co-founder, President and CEO of DesignWorlds for Learning, Inc. and Chief Learning Officer for DesignWords for College and Careers. He has been actively involved in developing and marketing innovative uses of interactive technologies for creative lifelong learning for over 36 years. Over the past 18 years, his special areas of expertise have been in the uses of digital video and multimedia, as well as the Internet and the Web, as media for supporting distributed learning and knowledge design communities. Ted is known internationally as a pioneer and innovator in action-research projects involving technology and learning in both K-12 schools and higher education, homes, workplaces and museums.

David Harris

Editor in Chief, OpenStax College

David Harris is a graduate of the University of Connecticut and has worked extensively in higher education publishing. During his career David has held a range of leadership positions allowing him to collaborate with the best authors, editorial groups, and media development teams in the industry. Most recently David was the president of WebAssign, the largest independent online homework provider. At OpenStax College David hopes is contributing to the teams effort of improving access to high quality materials by working with authors, developers, and partners to substantially improve access for all students.

Barbara Illowsky

Chief Academic Affairs Officer, Online Education Initiative

Barbara Illowsky received the 2013 OCW Consortium Educator Award. She was one of the early leaders of open education in community colleges. She is the co-author of the open textbook Introductory Statistics published by OpenStax College, formally published as Collaborative Statistics, housed at the Connexions repository. The OER are available in web, pdf, and ePub format. Throughout her career, she has been an advocate of using technology to increase access to education. Dr. Illowsky is currently Dean of Basic Skills and OER for the California Community Colleges Online Education Initiative. She is a tenured professor of mathematics and former department chair at De Anza Community College where she has taught since 1989. She was the first project director of the Community Colleges Consortium for Open Educational Resources. She is the past president of the CMC3 (California Mathematics Council, Community Colleges) where she has demonstrated leadership in improving math instruction through the use of online technologies and interactive curriculum.

Charles Thornburgh

Founder & CEO, Civitas Learning, Inc.

Charles Thornburgh started Civitas Learning with the idea that technology and data, used in the right way, can help address a growing problem in higher education, one that is costing the U.S. more than $4 Trillion. By focusing on deep data science and creating a business model of partnering with higher education institutions to help create and test new ideas and build new solutions, Civitas Learning has become one of the fastest growing ed-tech startups of all time and is reaching over 2.5 million students.

Rahim Rajan

Senior Program Officer, Postsecondary Success at Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Rahim Rajan leads grant making and investments in the development and adoption of high quality personalized learning technologies such as adaptive learning, blended MOOCs, and high quality interactive courseware to advance and improve undergraduate education in the United States. Prior to joining the foundation, Rajan helped develop and launch a number of not-for-profit technology startups working at the intersection of network technologies, scholarly communications, and the global academy.

Karen Cator

Founder & CEO, Digital Promise

Former Director of the Office of Educational Technology in the U.S. Department of Education, Karen Cator was drawn to Digital Promise because of its mission, which supports many of the goals laid out in the National Technology Plan that she helped write in 2010. Cator’s past experience includes 17 years in public education as a teacher followed by 11 years at Apple, leading the company’s advocacy work in education.

Gary Brahm

Chancellor & CEO, Brandman University

Gary Brahm previously served as the executive vice president for finance and administration and chief operating officer of Chapman University for over 13 years. He has presented on non-traditional education, online, and competency-based education at the American Council for Higher Education annual meeting, the Association of Governing Boards National Conference on Trusteeship, the Credit Suisse Global Conference, the WASC Academic Resource Conference and many others. Brahm previously served as director and officer at numerous nonprofit and public organizations.

Cheryl Vedoe

CEO, Apex Learning

After experiencing the impact of innovative technologies as a software engineer, marketer, and executive for computer companies including Digital Equipment, Apollo Computer, and Sun Microsystems, Cheryl Vedoe now helps educators integrate technology to create new solutions to the challenges confronting schools today. Cheryl currently leads Apex Learning’s efforts to helps schools make learning more accessible, relevant, and effective for today’s students.

Borre Ulrichsen

Associate Vice President & CIO, CSU East Bay

Borre Ulrichsen is a technology and business leader with broad experience in IT leadership. He is former Director of Information Systems Projects for San Francisco State University and Project Director for Talaris. Borree received a Master of Science in Engineering from Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and MBA in International Finance from Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley.

Thomas Squeo

Founder & Strategist, Continuum Education

Thomas Squeo is a recognized expert in Education Technology, eLearning, Assessment & Academic Publishing technologies, a dynamic thought leader, practitioner and innovator. He has deep experience in enterprise and education solution implementation demonstrated throughout the K20 and human capital management value chains. Thomas focuses on lowering technical barriers to entry through simple, human-centered solutions.

Jon Stowe

President, Dev Bootcamp

Jon is currently the President of Dev Bootcamp, an an immersive 19-week computer programming program for aspiring software engineers. Jon is an experienced leader in education and software, with a background in product and engineering. Former COO of Teachscape and VP of Technology Products for Pearson Education, Jon’s expertise lies in global learning technology solutions and educational content, with exceptional communication, presentation, and relationship building skills.

Henry Smith

Assistant Professor, Johns Hopkins School of Education

Former US Assistant Secretary of Education; former Mayor, Dover, N.H.; instructor in community colleges and education policy at George Washington University; former SOE Associate Dean for Development; former SOE Executive Director for Partnerships in Educational Transformation; consultant to education organizations, companies and universities.

James Sparkman

Advisor, Alpha Education LLC

James Sparkman has worked as an entrepreneur and executive in the education sector for 25 years. He currently leads a national practice advising colleges & universities exploring public-private partnership opportunities. Most recently, he served as advisor and interim Chief Marketing Officer at Cogswell Polytechnical College and Senior Vice President, Strategy and Corporate Development at Heald College. Previously, James was the co-founder of HigherMarkets, Inc., a leading university SaaS company which was acquired by SciQuest, Inc. (SQST).

Missy Sherburne

Chief Partnerships Officer, DonorsChoose

Missy Sherburne joined DonorsChoose.org in 2003 as the organization’s third employee, currently serving as Chief Partnerships Officer. In 2007, Missy developed and led an expansion strategy to grow DonorsChoose.org from an organization serving just 12 states to one that served classrooms across the nation. Today, she leads the Partnerships and Business Development teams, who are responsible for building corporate and foundation partnerships that drive $45M of annual revenue. Missy previously served as the North Carolina Executive Director of Teach for America. She started her career as a Tech For America Corps Member in Baltimore, teaching third and fourth grades. Missy holds B.A. degrees in Political Science and Speech Communication from Miami University. She received her Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government where she was a Public Service Fellow.

George Siemens

Executive Director, University of Texas at Arlington

Dr. George Siemens is an internationally renowned author, researcher, and theorist in the field of learning, knowledge management, and technology. Formerly, he was Associate Director of the Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute (TEKRI) at Athabasca University and Associate Director of Research and Development at the Learning Technologies Centre of the University of Manitoba. Dr. Siemens has organized and presented numerous open online courses including two entitles “Connectivism” and “Connective Knowledge.”

Abigail Seldin

Founder & CEO, College Abacus

Within a few years of founding College Abacus, the startup was acquired by the Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC), a nonprofit with the dubious mission of helping the government handle legal issues related to student loans – including aggressively squaring off against borrowers applying for bankruptcy. Afterwards, Abigail became VP of Innovation at ECMC, leading the group’s small “Innovation Lab.” In January 2015, Abigail was listed on Forbes’ “30 Under 30: Education.”

Radhika Seshan

Executive Director of Programs, Bellevue College

Before joining Bellevue College Continuing Education (BCCE) in the spring of 2013, Radhika Seshan was VP of Product Management at Corinthian Colleges, an education company with a nationwide network of colleges that deliver vocational and professional training programs. Radhika earned a B.A. at the University of Madras and a Ph.D. in International Economics from the University of Houston.

Ramona Pierson

Founder & CEO, Declara

At the age of 16, Ramona Pierson enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley, where she eventually was offered a full scholarship from the United States Marine Corps. Learning to visualize algorithms, after losing her sight, Pierson developed Declara; a system that learns how people interact, what types of questions they’re looking to answer, and who can best answer them.

Steven Oxman

Academic Innovation Lead, DeVry Education Group

Executive strategy experience and team leadership in for-profit education environments has lead Steven Oxman to his current position as Academic Innovation Lead for DeVry Education Group. Steven has extensive experience in program development and review, online and on-ground course development, exam preparation, faculty training, and adult learning.

Andrew McCann

GM & VP of Product, Macmillan Learning

Andrew McCann is a technology and product leader with proven skill at imagining, designing, and bringing new solutions to market in organizations large and small. Previously, Andrew founded Waypoint Outcomes, an early leader in competency-based education and learning analytics. Andrew is interested in mentoring early-stage companies in the higher ed ed-tech space and working with non-profits focused on literacy and writing disciplines.

Doug Lynch

Senior Fellow, University of Southern California

As as academic administrator and education entrepreneur, Doug Lynch has made significant contributions to education innovation. Doug’s previous roles served include Vice Dean at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, Academic Director of Wharton Executive Education, and Assistant Dean at New York University. Before joining NYU, Doug worked at the College Board and Arizona State University.

Kevin Greaney

Founder & CEO, Assessment Innovation

Prior to Assessment Innovation, Kevin Greaney was President and CEO of Children’s Progress, Inc., an educational technology company he co-founded in 1999. In 2009, Kevin was honored as the “Man of the Year” by the Physically Challenged Irish and America Youth Team.

Matthew Cohen

Managing Director, Cohen Strategy Group

Matthew Cohen has an outstanding record of senior-level relationship development, resulting in significant revenue generation. Matthew previously served as Vice President of Corporate Relations for Connect EDU, Inc. He is best known for closing new business, fostering strategic client relationships, establishing value-added partnerships, and creating over-goal revenue by zeroing in on untapped markets.

Kris Clerkin

Executive Director, College for America

With a BA from the University of Wisconsin and an MPA in 2010 from the Harvard Kennedy School, Kris Clerkin is passionate about increasing access to education and skills for people in the U.S. and around the world. Kris previously served as President of Houghton Mifflin’s Higher Education Division and General Manager of Wolters Kluwer Legal Education.

Cabot Brown

CEO, Akadus

Journalist, investment banker, school trustee, teacher, entrepreneur. Cabot Brown is the current CEO of Akadus (Academy for All of Us), a structured environment aiding high school students, their teachers, and their parents find, share, and utilize digital resources that matter.

Sheryle Bolton

CEO, BrainReserves, Inc.

Sheryle Bolton is a social enterprise entrepreneur who uses her business skills leading technology companies to help change and improve people’s lives. She’s interested in learning about almost everything.

Peter Bencivenga

President & COO, Casenex Datacation

With over 15 years of teaching experience in NYC public schools, Peter offers an array of tools to help schools break down complex district, school, teacher and student data to inform and support instructions, professional development, curriculum planning, accountability, and policy. Formerly, Peter served as Technology Coordinator for The New York City Department of Education.

Joseph Moreau

Vice Chancellor of Technology & CTO, Foothill-DeAnza Community College District

Joseph Moreau has been working with technology and media for over thirty years. He completed the certificate program in Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles. He earned his BA in Media Production/Visual Arts at the University of California, San Diego and his MA in Education/Instructional Technology at the California State University, Los Angeles. He began his career working as a videographer and media specialist for a variety of firms in the private sector including aerospace, architecture and graphic design, and a major television network.

Jess Brondo

CEO, Admittedly

David Bergeron

Senior Fellow, Postsecondary Ed, Center for American Progress

David A. Bergeron is a Senior Fellow for Postsecondary Education at American Progress.
David previously served as the acting assistant secretary for postsecondary education at the U.S. Department of Education. In this position, David acted as the education secretary’s chief advisor on higher-education issues and administered more than 60 grant and loan programs that provide nearly $3 billion annually to institutions of higher education and community-based organizations.

Michael Berman

VP, Tech, Communications & CIO, CSU Channel Islands

Michael Berman is the Vice President for Technology & Communication at California State University, Channel Islands in Camarillo, California, which he joined in 2009. He also holds a faculty appointment and teaches in the Computer Science and Information Technology programs. In past years he has been the senior technology administrator at three other universities. Michael is a member of the Board of Trustees of NMC and has participated in the advisory committee for the NMC Horizon Reports on Higher Education since 2009. Michael also operates AmbermanLTD LLC, providing IT consulting services to education and other industries. He was the cofounder in 2010 of EduSoCal, a regional conference that brings together more than 200 participants annually. He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Rutgers University, and he has been a faculty member, a software developer, a systems administrator and a textbook author.

Thomas Arnett

Research Fellow, Christensen Institute

Thomas’ research focuses on the changing roles of teachers in blended learning environments and other innovative educational models. He also studies how teacher education and professional development are shifting to support the evolving needs of teachers and school systems. Additionally, he examines policies and innovations affecting technology access and infrastructure. Thomas previously worked as an Education Pioneers Fellow with the Achievement First Public Charter Schools, where he designed and piloted a blended-learning summer school program.

Cat Alexander

Founder & CEO, CA Group Consulting

Cat Alexander gained experience as a business process consultant with Accenture, an intern with the Chicago Public School District, Chief Operating officer of Rocketship Education, and program officer at the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation. She focuses her education work on public/private school design and replication; personalized learning school design, implementation, and scaling; and strategic grant-making and impact investment support.