Gaby Martinez Chio

Associate Education Designer

Gaby brings project coordination and designing community aspects to the Education Design Lab as an Associate Education Designer working on the rural practice area projects. She is excited to join the Lab because of its human-centered design focus.

Prior to joining the Lab, Gaby was a project and team coordinator with the Opportunity@Work STARs Innovation Team. She was also the DC Opioid Response Community Mobilizer, working with a variety of stakeholders to prevent drug use in Washington, D.C.’s, Ward 1 and 2 communities. 

HOMETOWN: Mexico City

SKILLS: Project Management and Critical Thinking 

WHEN I’M NOT AT WORK I’M… doing nail art or spending time with my dog and family. 

Thaddeus Gros, Jr.

Assistant Education Designer

Thaddeus brings a different perspective along with a background in the arts and information technology to  Education Design Lab as an Assistant Education Designer. Currently, he is supporting the Unlock Potential project.

Before joining the Lab, Thaddeus supported his cohort members as a leader in the Presidential Scholars Program at Montgomery College while he obtained his associate degree in fine arts. He is thrilled to be with the Lab team to drive forward new ways of accessible upward mobility for underserved communities.

HOMETOWN: Vacherie, Louisiana

EDUCATION: Montgomery College


FAVORITE QUOTE: “I am the me I choose to be”. ― Sidney Poitier

WHEN I’M NOT AT WORK I’M… looking for inspiration wherever I can find it.

Elizabeth Ham

Associate Education Designer, Community College Growth Engine

Elizabeth brings her experience in K-12 education, community college instruction, curriculum design and design thinking  to the Education Design Lab as an Associate Education Designer working with the Community College Growth Engine. Through this project, she will play a critical support role in the development of micro-pathways to drive sustainable transformation to facilitate learner success & create talent pipelines to address labor shortages through the development of strong employer relationships.

Prior to joining the Lab, she had the privilege of serving the rural K-12 learning community through the North Carolina Public Education System and the North Carolina Community College System through employment at Johnston Community College. In addition, she has had the privilege to serve as a curriculum designer, through Design for Change, USA, a non-profit organization centered on empowering students to create change in their communities using the design thinking process. Throughout her career she has engaged in data-driven research and active exploration within her classroom to provide authentic instruction, support and connection for students and colleagues at varying levels. Her experiences have led her to understand that she wants to serve as a creator and collaborator of various professional networks to share common goals and values as we work together to co-create a better future for learners across our nation. She is excited to join the Lab because she is eager to engage with the work of learning, leadership, equity and innovation as she focuses on the interconnection between research, practice and application within the field of education.

HOMETOWN: Mooresville, North Carolina 

BACHELOR’S: History, University of Mount Olive 

MASTER’S: History, University of North Carolina at Wilmington 

DOCTORATE: EdD in Community College Leadership, North Carolina State University – Graduation Pending: 2026 

FAVORITE QUOTE: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”. – Eleanor Roosevelt

WHEN I’M NOT AT WORK I’M… enjoying making memories with my family!

Halle Hall

Senior Associate, Philanthropic Partnerships

Halle Hall is thrilled to be joining the Education Design Lab as Senior Associate, Philanthropic Partnerships. Halle will work to provide key administrative, logistics, and proposal development support to the Partnership Development team. Halle will also contribute to a range of operational and partnership development activities for the team, including leading the Lab’s grant reporting process, performing funder research, pipeline management, and supporting proposal development.

Halle has spent the past five years working in philanthropy and fundraising in Cleveland, Ohio. Most recently, as the Philanthropy and Outreach Manager for the ASM Materials Education Foundation. Previously, Halle worked as the Gift Planning Coordinator for the world’s first and largest community foundation, the Cleveland Foundation. Halle is passionate about giving back to the community and working to support equitable access to higher education success.

HOMETOWN: Cleveland, Ohio

BACHELOR’S: B.A. in Political Science, John Carroll University

MASTER’S: M.A. in Nonprofit Administration, John Carroll University 

FAVORITE QUOTE: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. — Nelson Mandela

WHEN I’M NOT AT WORK I’M… exploring new foodie spots in Cleveland, getting outside, and loving life with my husband, son and doodle mix.

Meghan Raftery

Instructional Designer

Meghan brings expertise in project management, stakeholder engagement, 21st century skills, and performance assessment to Education Design Lab as an Instructional Designer working on the XCredit team. She’s responsible for leading the improvement and expansion of our skills validation tools, establishing a new suite of skills validation services, and supporting the work of the Skills Validation Network.

Prior to joining the Lab, Meghan served as a freelance educator, specializing in authentic learning and assessment, innovation, community engagement and adult development. She has led professional development for educators in more than 38 states! She is excited to join the Lab because she is passionate about human-centered design and thrives in work environments where there is a balance of big ideas and practical solutions.

HOMETOWN: Lancaster, Pennsylvania

BACHELOR’S: B.S. Ed, Shippensburg University

MASTER’S: M.Ed, Penn State

FAVORITE QUOTE: “Decide what to be and go be it”. – The Avett Brothers

WHEN I’M NOT AT WORK I’M… at the beach with my family and dogs, reading!

Karen Parker

Vice President, Product

As Vice President of Product at the Lab, Karen will use her strategic orientation combined with her operational, technical and crossindustry savvy to help bring the Labs innovations to market. Karen will focus on bringing some of the Labs innovations through the product launch journey, from market identification to product definition, pricing, distribution strategy and commercialization. In this role, Karen will work closely with our innovation, partnership, and digital transformation teams.

Prior to joining the Lab, Karen implemented strategic initiatives at Southern New Hampshire University and developed and operationalized products at startups and Fortune 500s. Karen brings a unique blend of start-up energy, drive, and adaptability coupled with Fortune 500 discipline and operational expertise to the Lab.

HOMETOWN: Nashua, New Hampshire

BACHELOR’S: B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Santa Barbara

MASTER’S: M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley

MASTER’S: MBA from Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College

Angelique Bennett

Senior Manager, Accounting + Finance

Angelique Bennett brings her accounting background to Education Design Lab as Senior Manager of Accounting and Finance. She is excited to join the Lab to support the great work bringing Education to those that don’t fit in traditional academic environments. 

Prior to joining the Lab, Angelique worked at Deloitte and Touche, Fannie Mae, and Pfizer pharmaceuticals traveling the world as an Internal Auditor. While raising four children, Angelique worked as an accountant for a small family computer company and Treasurer for many schools and organizations. 

HOMETOWN: New Orleans, Louisiana

EDUCATION: Catholic University of America

BACHELOR’S: Accounting and Finance

MASTER’S: Accounting

FAVORITE QUOTE: “You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think” – Christopher Robin (AA.Milne)

WHEN I’M NOT AT WORK I’M… hanging out with my husband, children, foster children and friends, playing tennis or pickleball, managing rental properties in Bar Harbor, Maine, watching a good mystery or traveling in the country and overseas.

Faby Gagne, PhD

Deputy Director, Digital Transformation

Faby brings  20 years of experience in higher education to the Education Design Lab. As Deputy Director of Digital Transformation, Faby manages the day-to-day Digital Transformation activities, supports and coordinates the Digital Transformation team members to ensure program milestones and goals are met, implements a LAB-wide entrepreneurial spirit for new opportunities and future go to market efforts, and leads diverse stakeholder groups (partners, employers, and community colleges) in designing supportive work flows and managing complex projects.

Prior to joining the Lab, Faby was the founding Executive Director for SNHU Labs, a strategic research and development (R&D) unit at Southern New Hampshire University aimed at dismantling outdated student engagement models and stimulating paradigm shifts. She is excited to join the Lab where she can continue to help higher education institutions and the workplace prepare for a better future by leveraging social psychology theory and research methods, data-informed insights, and human-centric technology to inform strategy and innovation while ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Her programmatic academic research on decision-making and goal implementation won the prestigious international Society of Experimental Social Psychology Dissertation Award, was recognized by the John Templeton Foundation and the Canadian Psychological Association, was published in top-tier journals such as the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin and the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and was cited in several media outlets including the New York Times and the New Yorker. 

HOMETOWN: Grand Falls, New Brunswick, Canada

BACHELOR’S: Bachelor’s in Psychology, l’Universite de Moncton

MASTER’S: M.A. in Experimental Social Psychology, McGill University

DOCTORATE: Ph.D. in Experimental Social Psychology, McGill University

WHEN I’M NOT AT WORK I’M… gardening or walking my dogs.

Jackie C. Thomas Jr., PhD

Lonestar Community College-Tomball

Dr. Jackie C. Thomas, Jr., has over 18 years of progressively responsible higher education leadership experience during which he has established himself as a visionary and innovative leader with a proven ability to set, define, and accomplish the goals he sets for himself, a team, and an organization. Throughout his career, he has been actively involved with coaching and mentoring leaders, building high-performing teams, strengthening communities, and working to get more people access to higher education.

Thomas currently serves as the Chief Strategist/ Interim Vice President for Student Success at Lonestar Community College-Tomball, located just outside of Houston, Texas. In this capacity, he leads the Division of Strategy and Innovation which is comprised of the following areas: college relations, professional development, multimedia services, diversity and inclusion, grants, strategic planning, alumni relations and fundraising, community engagement, research and innovation, and institutional effectiveness.

Thomas is a graduate of the Aspen Institute Rising Presidents Fellowship, American Association of Community College’s Future Presidents Institute, and the Thomas Lakin Institute for Mentored Leadership.

BACHELOR’S: B.S. in Consumer Science and Merchandising, the University of Houston

MASTER’S: M.S. in Higher Education, Florida State University

DOCTORATE: Ph.D., Educational Psychology and Individual Differences, the University of Houston

Miguel Duenas, EdD

East Los Angeles College

Dr. Miguel Duenas is the Vice President of Student Services at East Los Angeles College (ELAC) in California.

Duenas is the oldest of six. He is a product of Los Angeles Unified School District, graduating from Bell High School. He then attended East Los Angeles College, where he attained his associate degree in Liberal Studies, then transferred to California State University, Dominguez Hills, where he received his bachelor’s degree in history, minored in political science, and attained a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. Duenas also received his master’s at California State University, Northridge, in educational administration along with his Administrative Services Credential. He recently graduated from the University of Southern California, where he earned his doctoral in educational organizational change and leadership.

Duenas worked in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) for over 20 years as a teacher assistant, elementary school teacher, categorical coordinator, instructional coach, and district administrator. He transitioned to East Los Angeles College in 2015 as an associate dean and was promoted to dean four years later. In 2021, Duenas became Vice President of Student Services, where he oversees all programs related to student services.

ASSOCIATE’S: Liberal Studies, East Los Angeles College

BACHELOR’S: History and Political Science, California State University, Dominguez Hills

MASTER’S: Educational Administration and Administrative Services Credential, California State University, Northridge

DOCTORATE: Ed.D. in Organizational Change and Leadership, University of Southern California