Leslye A. Arsht, Co-Founder and Board Chair
Leslye Arsht’s career in communications and education has spanned over thirty years, eleven of those as StandardsWork’s President where she advocated for best practices in the early years of education reform.
In 2003, Leslye was recruited by the White House and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to be Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Education in Iraq, where she was instrumental in reestablishing the K-12 Education Ministry. Shortly after her return, she served as the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy with responsibility for policy, advocacy, and oversight of quality of life programs for service members and their families. Since retiring from DoD, Leslye has advised a variety of clients who support military families and the DoD mission; she is particularly focused now on cybersecurity training.
Earlier in her career, Leslye was counselor to now U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) when he was U.S. Secretary of Education, associate vice chancellor at Vanderbilt University, and served as both deputy press secretary and deputy assistant to President Ronald Reagan.
Leslye serves on the Board of Trustees of Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire, which awarded her an Honorary Degree. She is a Special Advisor to both Tutor.com and Socratic Arts, Inc. A graduate of The University of Houston, Leslye has been Chairman of StandardsWork’s Board since 2003*.
*Two exemplary Chairman preceded Leslye; they live on in our work. Dan Spalding (1955-2002) and Ed Donley (1921-2017).
John Danielson is an accomplished nationally and internationally respected executive who believed early in his 25-year career that the private sector, working closely with the public entities, had an important role to play in the creation of improved education systems and technologies for all children. John co-founded the Chartwell Education Group in 2005 with former United States Secretary of Education Rod Paige. Chartwell is an international education consulting firm that has successfully executed a variety of global education projects in Europe, India, South America, China, and the Middle East. In 2009 Chartwell was restructured into the Chartwell Hamilton Group. John is Chairman and CEO. John’s federal education experience began at the US Department of Education when he served as a senior aide to Lamar Alexander and continued later when he was appointed Chief of Staff for Rod Paige. John co-founded a national network of schools serving at-risk middle and high school students in partnership with large urban school districts. He serves on the board of the USC Schwarzenegger Institute for Global Public Policy and the AfterSchool Alliance.
Barbara Davidson, President & Executive Director, Knowledge Matters Campaign
Barbara is an education industry executive with deep hands-on experience in K-12 education policy, practice, and operations. She started her career in education as a teacher of learning-disabled students in Norfolk, Virginia, has trained teachers on behalf of two educational publishing companies, as well as serving in key leadership positions at the U.S. Department of Education under two secretaries of education.
Barbara is the former Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at the National Council for Teacher Quality (NCTQ) and Deputy Director of Great Minds where she ran operations during a period of dramatic growth due to the successful development and market launch of Eureka Math. She has led StandardsWork in executing high-profile projects on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education, the National Assessment Governing Board, the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence, the Indiana Higher Education Commission, the District of Columbia Public Schools, National Endowment for the Humanities, Texas Education Agency, the Center for Education Reform, and others.
Barbara’s degree is in elementary and special education from the University of Iowa. She lives in Barnesville, MD with her son Aidan.
Dr. LaTonya M. Goffney
Dr. LaTonya M. Goffney serves as the Superintendent of Schools for the Aldine Independent School District where she took the helm in July 2018. She is a dedicated and fearless champion of the entire Aldine community, but particularly its 67,000 students and more than 9,000 employees.
Dr. Goffney has increased student achievement in every district she’s served in by focusing on literacy, targeted professional development for teachers, and collaboration across the community by developing business and school partnerships, parent engagement, and prioritizing communication.
In recognition of her efforts, Dr. Goffney was named Superintendent of the Year by the Texas Association of School Boards in 2017. She was also selected by the Texas Association of School Administrators to be the Texas nominee for the 2018 American Association of School Administrators National Superintendent of the Year award.
A native of Coldspring, Texas, Dr. Goffney is a graduate of Sam Houston State University. She earned her bachelor’s degree in history, a master’s in educational administration, and a doctorate in educational leadership. She served as superintendent of schools for both Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD and Lufkin ISD before becoming Superintendent of Aldine ISD.
Thomas L. Howard, Board Secretary/Treasurer
Tom Howard, an experienced tax attorney, has been StandardsWork’s Secretary/Treasurer since the organization’s founding in 1992. Specializing in estate planning, estate taxation, and tax-exempt entities, Tom has had an abiding interest in improving K-12 education throughout much of his professional life. He is a former attorney in the Chief Counsel’s Office of the Internal Revenue Service and has been a partner at several large law firms, including Baker Donelson Bearman and Caldwell and Ballard Spahr. Tom is a graduate of Washington and Lee University and holds a Juris Doctorate from Vanderbilt Law School and an LLM in taxation from the Georgetown Law Center.
Rebecca Kockler has extensive experience building the most innovative education systems at scale in America. Her focus and expertise are on reading instruction, but she has spent her career helping large systems implement teaching and learning changes.
As the former Assistant Superintendent of Academics at the Louisiana Department of Education, Rebecca is the architect of Louisiana’s nationally recognized academic model. She led the state’s work to support more than 2,000 schools, 38,000 teachers, and 800,000 students while simultaneously producing a nationally recognized, publicly available English curriculum (LearnZillion Guidebooks), winning federal approval to build a first-of-its-kind English assessment to show the country another model of measuring reading ability, and supporting the development of a cohort of states in building a curriculum and teacher training system using the Louisiana model. Over the last 10 years, Louisiana is one of the only states in America to see increases in reading and mathematics instruction on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
Rebecca began her career as a middle school history and science teacher in Newark, New Jersey where she had the highest results in her school and some of the highest student results in the district.
C. Bradley Miller
Brad Miller has spent most of his career in financial services and asset management with firms such as Salomon Brothers, Daiwa Securities, Bridgewater Associates, and The Carlyle Group. He joined Bridgewater when it was a relatively unknown firm to lead their hedge fund marketing. With Wall Street sales/trading experience, Brad possesses deep expertise in structuring innovative asset cash flows. Many of the transactions he has structured were first of their kind.
Brad’s philanthropic activities currently revolve around K-12 education and criminal justice reform. Both of his parents were high school teachers—and he has been a long-time advocate for improving literacy through the implementation of a curriculum that builds knowledge of the world. A graduate of the University of Virginia, Brad serves on the Board of Directors of the Core Knowledge Foundation, the TeamCFA Foundation, Achievement for All Children, and StandardsWork/ Knowledge Matters Campaign. He is Chairman of PREP Inc, a nonprofit focused on reimagining the last two years of incarceration with a program that is socially aligned to dramatically reduce prison recidivism.
A former state and district education chief, Jim Nelson currently consults on Texas education policy and funding issues. His legal background, deep knowledge of K-12 education, and success over many years navigating the politics of school reform provide an important perspective on StandardsWork’s Board.
Jim’s career in K-12 education began as a local school board member and included stops as Chair of the Texas Board for Educator Certification, Commissioner of Education under then-Governor George W. Bush, Senior Vice President at Voyager Expanded Learning Systems, and Chief Executive Officer at AVID, a global nonprofit that helps prepare students for post-secondary education (and is one of the leading providers of professional development for educators in the US). He also served as superintendent of a large Dallas area school district.
Jim received his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Texas at Arlington and a JD from Texas Tech University School of Law. He and his wife Karen have three married sons and eight beautiful grandchildren, whom they happily babysit whenever possible.
Susan Pimentel, Co-Founder
One of the nation’s top K-12 literacy experts, Susan Pimentel is best known for her work leading the development of some of the nation’s most highly regarded college-and career-ready standards in English language arts/literacy. Widely respected for her success at facilitating complex conversations around standards and their implementation, Susan has a deep commitment to producing high-quality results characterized by stakeholder buy-in and has a gift for making this happen.
A founding partner of Student Achievement Partners, Susan now works tirelessly to support curriculum, assessment, and professional development efforts to ensure full implementation of rigorous standards. As co-founder of StandardsWork, she has led many of the organization’s most significant projects, perhaps most importantly as the chief architect of the American Diploma Project benchmarks, precursors to many of today’s college-and career-ready standards.
For over a decade, Susan has been a lead consultant, content developer, coach, and trainer for seminal federal adult education initiatives, including the Adult Education Content Standards Project: Standards-in-Action that led to the current StandardsWork project, Implementing State-Adopted Challenging Content Standards.
Natalie Wexler is an education writer and the author of The Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America’s Broken Education System—and How to Fix It (Avery 2019). She is also the co-author, with Judith C. Hochman, of The Writing Revolution: A Guide to Advancing Thinking Through Writing in All Subjects and Grades (Jossey-Bass, 2017), and a senior contributor to the education channel on Forbes.com. Her articles and essays on education and other topics have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and other publications.
She has spoken on education before a wide variety of groups and appeared on a number of TV and radio shows, including Morning Joe and NPR’s On Point and 1A. She holds a BA from Harvard University, an MA in history from the University of Sussex (UK), and a JD from The University of Pennsylvania. She has worked as a reporter, a Supreme Court law clerk, a lawyer, and a legal historian. The author of three novels, she lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband and has two adult children.