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In a Year Filled with Change, Our Team Has Grown to Meet a Growing Demand For a New Learn-to-Work System

Leaders  in skills-driven education, human-centered design,  and the future of work join our growing team

In a year filled with uncertainty and turmoil, learners and the education and workforce leaders who serve them have been grappling with multiple crises including historic unemployment, a global pandemic, and a national reckoning on racism and racial justice. Amidst the devastating realities that have shaped this last year, we’ve seen an increased demand to redesign a school-to-work ecosystem that works for the majority of Americans, specifically for learners who have long been excluded and minoritized. And, as this demand has grown, so has our team. 

“The wealth of skills, industry knowledge, and field experience that these experts and leaders have has infused the Lab with new talent at an important inflection point in our history,” said Kathleen deLaski, Founder and President of Education Design Lab. “We’re incredibly excited to have these and other new team members on board: their contributions will make an enormous impact as we continue to grow and scale our impact.”

To meet the growing demand for a learn-to-work system that meets the needs of today’s learners and workforce, the Lab has been steadily expanding its national team, adding seven new team members in 2020 and two more in 2021: 

Team Members New to the Lab!

  • Former HBCU administrator Dr. Penny Smith-Mickey is now leading the Lab’s HBCU transformation and design initiatives, including work with a cohort of more than 20 UNCF member colleges to redesign career pathways for their learners. With more than 20 years of higher education and workforce experience, she formerly served a term as commissioner of the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training under Governor Ernie Fletcher and as Assistant Provost for Outreach and Extended Programs at Kentucky State University.
  • Chike Aguh joined the Lab as the inaugural Head of Economic Mobility Pathways where he led and kicked off the Community College Growth Engine Fund, an innovative, tri-sector and multimillion-dollar effort turning community colleges into bridges to dignified work for every American learner and worker, starting with almost 6,000 in six communities. With a decorated background, Chike has spent his career working across sectors to create a future of work for all. In a bittersweet moment, Chike has left the Lab to join the Biden-Harris administration as Chief Innovation Officer at the Department of Labor. We look forward to working with him in his new role!
  • Veteran nonprofit and advocacy strategist Kevin Stump joins the Lab as Director of Impact, Evaluation, and Thought Leadership. He joined the Lab from JobsFirstNYC and previously served as the Northeast Regional Director for Young Invincibles, where he led the national nonprofit’s regional advocacy and organizing efforts among young adults and millennials on issues related to health care access, college affordability, voting, and civic engagement.
  • Valerie Taylor, a longtime education consultant who has advised community colleges and national nonprofits such as Achieving the Dream, is an Innovation Coach working with the Lab’s Community College Growth Engine Fund and its inaugural cohort of six community colleges.
  • Former  U.S. Department of Labor policy advisor Ana Hageage is an Education Designer and deputy lead of the Lab’s Community College Growth Engine Fund. Prior to the Lab, she served as a program director at the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, a national network of workforce funders and nonprofits focused on closing skills gaps through evidence-based practices.
  • A former university admissions officer and administrator, Dawn Marvino, joins the Lab as a Manager for Business Partnerships and Operations, bringing more than 15 years of experience in higher education and private sector consulting. 
  • A former career services specialist at Whittier College in southern California, Matthew Aranda is supporting the Lab’s micro-credentialing work, leading the development of industry-recognized credentials, namely evolving the Lab’s 21st Century Skills Micro-credentials and new credential delivery platform, vsbl.
  • A specialist in user experience design, Elisabeth Fellowes is an Associate Education Designer. She supports the micro-credentialing team and in 2020 led a project on behalf of the District of Columbia Public Schools that enabled low-income high school students to access remote internships through real-world projects with employers.
  • With a background in competency-based curriculum design,  Tara Laughlin joins the Lab as an Education Designer with the micro-credentialing team to facilitate the design of next-generation skills assessments and contribute to the Lab’s 21st Century Skills Micro-credentials in the vsbl platform.
  • Emily Caplinger, a former event manager for the McChrystal Group, joins the Lab as an Events and Office Manager where she leads the planning and execution of all internal and external meetings and events, in addition to supporting the President, Kathleen deLaski, and managing the Lab’s day-to-day operations.
  • A Strive Foundation Stamp Scholar, Brandon Zhou is working with the micro-credentialing and BRIDGES Rural teams as a Project Consultant.


Check out our About Us page to see the whole team!

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