This month Getting Smart is acknowledging people and organizations making a difference with a series of back to school top 10 lists. During August we will run about 40 ‘best of’ lists, not in order, not exhaustive, just people we appreciate.

Today we are recognizing 30 thought leaders and important actors shaping the future of U.S. K-12 education.


Nonprofit Thought Leaders Defining What’s Next in K-12

More Relevant Than Ever in K-12

Chiefs Making a Difference

  • Janet Barresi, OK

  • Stephen Bowen, ME

  • Chris Cerf, NJ

  • Deb Gist, RI

  • Kevin Huffman, TN

  • Hanna Skandera, NM

  • John White, LA

  • Stefan Pryor, CT

  • John King, NY

  • Terry Holiday, KY

We appreciate Tony Bennett’s work in IN & FL and we’re excited to see Rich Crandall going to work in WY.  Who would you add?


Pearson and Digiatl Learning Now! are Getting Smart Advocacy Partner.  Tom is a director at iNACOL


  1. I would add Kecia Ray, President of International Society for Technology in Education to a list of people to watch in EdTech. She should be on this list next year.

  2. Twitter comment about the lack of women on the list–perhaps a legacy male leadership in tech & edu, perhaps an oversight on our part. It would be easy to build a list of 30 prominent women leaders shaping edu. Thought leaders include Heather Staker, Audrey Watters, Betsy Corcoran, Tina Barseghian, Annie Murphy Paul, Tammy Battaglino. Foundation leaders include Janet, Lori & Cheryl at Dell; Vickie & Stacey at Gates, Michele & Leah at Carnegie. Add all the great CMO leaders like Diane, Dacia, Eva, Yasmin, and lots of great superintendents. Many of these orgs will be recognized for their contribution in upcoming posts.

  3. I would agree with David Cook’s suggestion for Gene Wilhoit of the National Center for Innovation in Education. I met Gene in July and like what he and his colleagues are attempting to do to promote and support innovation in education.

  4. We received an email nomination for Nick Donohue, Nellie Mae President & CEO for the list. “Nick’s thought leadership around innovative approaches to education (particularly student-centered, and personalized approaches) make him a fitting candidate for this list.” We agree, Nick is great!
    There are a bunch of foundation leaders that belong on this list; we recognized 30 innovative funders here:


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