70 Difference Makers at SXSWedu

The most exciting element of SXSWedu is the chance to meet, learn, and collaborate with other educators, EdLeaders and edupreneurs. Here’s 70 impact players, conversation leaders, and solution builders — the difference makers we met in Austin.


  1. Daniel Kao (@Diplateevo) founder of Evocado, Web and Systems Administrator for  Student Voice and GenDIY contributor.
  1. Margaret Roth (@teachingdaisy), CMO, Yet Analytics and co-founder of EdTechWomen.
  1. Amy Vreeland, TrueSchools, is helping educators create next-gen learning environments.
  1. Mark Limburg, Panther Learning, is promoting better peer reviews of essays with Peerspective.
  1. Mark Milliron (@markmilliron), Civitas Learning, is advising next-gen HigherEd.
  1. Doug Stein (@douglas_stein), Metacog, is leading the learning events analytics platform that’s providing insights into learner behavior.
  1. Joy Deep Nath (@nanosage), co-founder, Splash Math, develops fun b2c practice math games.
  1. Andrew Cohen (@acohenNY), CEO, leads Brainscape, the web and mobile study platform that supports learners, learn faster.
  1. Victor Karkar (@victorkarkar), CEO, Scrible, is working to transform how we read, research and share the web information.
  1. Bruce Umpstead (@umpstead), former Michigan Virtual lead, is now the biz dev lead for Double Line Partners, an Austin data shop based on the Ed-Fi solution.
  1. Larry Irvin, Brothers Empowered to Teach (@REALBRUHSTEACH), recruits men of color to education.
  1. Carol Barash (@CarolBarash), Story2, helps young people tell stories in college essays.
  1. Marina Walne, EduStart, is working on affordable schools in a kit (e.g., see feature on Bridge International).

Teacher Leaders

  1. Moss Pike (@mosspike), Latin Teacher at Harvard-Westlake School, contributing author of Elevate and Empower.
  1. Eric Nentrup (@ericnentrup), co-led Lost In Translation on Monday that addressed the language and culture divide in ed roles and how to close them.
  1. Michael Kleba @mikekleba, Brooklyn-based educator co-led Lost In Translation with Eric. Founder of Teachernomics.
  1. Cicely Benoit (@cicelybenoit), amazing blended teacher at Houston A+UP (@HoustonAlusUP).
  1. Rachel Parker, American YouthWorks (@AmerYouthWorks) english teacher using storytelling to teach low-income students in Austin.
  1. Andrea Keller (@akbusybee), a Texan Instructional Tech Specialist from Irvin IS, NSBA 20 to Watch, and past 2011-2012 TCEA Teacher of the Year.
  1. Annie Bush (@Annie_M_Bush), Untitled Films – Co-Producer, led Mobile Video Storytelling Lab alongside storytellers from CreatorUp! Executive Director of queer multi-arts fest & conf. @OUTsiderFest.
  1. Sara Akhteh, Co-Founder of CreatorUp! (@creatorup) USC Film School alum, led the Mobile Video Storytelling Lab.
  1. LightSail CAO Jessica Reid Sliwerski debated the ever contentious John Katzman about data use. She was cheered on by CEO Gideon Stein and the rest of us that want to see portable student data
  1. Lindsey Own, Seattle-based 7th grade bio teacher at The Evergreen School who spoke about leadership and innovation.
  1. Michael Tringe, Co-Founder of CreatorUp! Facilitated the Mobile Video Storytelling Lab at the Alamo Drafthouse Theatre.

On A Mission

SXSWedu is a great place to visit with non-profit leaders.

  1. Karen Cator (@kcator) , Digital Promise, spoke on the role of micro-credentialing in teacher prep and learning support systems.
  1. Pam Cantor (@DrPamelaCantor), Turnaround for Children, talked about the brain science of poverty.
  1. Brian Greenberg (@briangreenberg), CEO, Silicon Schools Fund, is blending the valley.
  1. Bart Epstein (@Bart314) leads the new Jefferson Education Accelerator at UVA.
  1. Chris Jackson (@cjacksonj13) led the CWRA for the CAE and is now Chief Communications Officer with Big Picture Learning joining Andrew Frishman (@AndrewFrishman), Director of Program Development.
  1. Joe Mazza (@Joe_Mazza) leads leadership development for the Penn GSE.
  1. David Lowensten, leads content development for PBS Kids (@PBSKIDS).
  1. Christina Jean (@ChristinaJeanMc), blended learning specialist for the Colorado Department of Education.
  1. Chris Liang-Vergara (@LiangVergara) is leading short cycle trials at LEAP Innovations in Chicago.
  1. Cleary Vaughan-Lee (@cvaughanlee) shares powerful stories for Global Oneness Project.

Scaled Impact

SXSWedu is also a great place to find impact players–the folks working at scale.

  1. David Levin, 11 months into leading the shift from print to digital as CEO & President of McGraw-Hill Education (@MHEducation). Peter Cohen leads K-20 work and discussed how Baltimore County had incorporated Engrade into BCPS One.
  1. Jessie Woolley-Wilson (@jessieww) leads adaptive game-based DreamBox Learning.
  1. Annabel Cellini (@annabelcellini), SVP, Strategy & Marketing for Pearson.
  1. Nadia Pierce leads product development at Curriculum Associates (@CurriculumAssoc).
  1. Trisha McDonell, LEGO Education (@LEGO_Education), leading the effort in hands on instruction with language arts.
  1. Steve Gross (@scg28) left Pearson to run home schooling leader Calvert Education Services.
  1. Ki Karou, MIND Research (@MIND_Research), shared how printed manipulatives support personalized learning environments.
  1. Alvin Crawford, CEO Knowledge Delivery Systems (@KDSI), discussed using iNACOL #BlendedLearning standards in PD.
  1. Brainy Bror Saxberg is CAO for Kaplan and was joined by Maia Sharpley, VP Strategy & Innovation.
  1. Arthur VanderVeen (@avveen) leads strategy for Austin-based Compass Learning.
  1. Teri Rousseau (@TeriRousseau), Reading Rainbow, spoke on inclusion and access.
  1. Sehreen Noor-Ali (@SehreenTech), Noodle Education and featured SXSWedu Change Maker.
  1. Jason Lange, Bloomboard, wants every educator to have a personal development plan.
  1. Rob Mancabelli (@RobMancabelli) is assembling a great analytics team BrightBytes.
  1. Mick Hewitt, Chief Product Officer, MasteryConnect (@MasteryConnect), is helping teachers collaborate around assessments.
  1. Mark Tullis, partnership lead at learning platform Agilix (@Agilix).
  1. Stephan Turnipseed, partnerships lead at LEGO Education (@LEGO_Education).
  1. Jaime Casap (@jcasap) is an evangelist for higher expectations for low-income students (and for Google).
  1. Craig Wilson, Steelcase (@Steelcase), leads the shift to next-gen furniture.
  1. Bharani Rajakumar, LearnBop, was recently acquired by K12 (@K12Learn).
  1. Caryn Voskuil (@CarynVoskuil), IDEO, is helping educators leverage design thinking.


  1. Chip Slaven, advocates for students to graduate from high school and do so with the skills to be successful in life with the Alliance for Excellent Education (@All4Ed).
  1. RiShawn Biddle (@dropoutnation) is a champion for equity and editor of Dropout Nation
  1. Ted Dintersmith (@dintersmith) screened Most Likely to Succeed. We reviewed it here.
  1. Aimee Guidara (@DQCAimee), DQC, advocated for privacy and personalization.

School Operators

  1. Erin Mote and Eric Tucker, Brooklyn Lab School (@BklynLabSchool) are embracing joy and rigor in their planned NGLC winning 6-12 school model.
  1. Mike Olson, Talent Unbound (@talentunbound), is an Acton Academy partner and micro school advocate.
  1. Kara Chesal (@KCintheNYC) leads short cycle trials work for the NYC DOE.


  1. Harold Levy (@HOLevy), Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, is a leading an updated and more aggressive agenda to boost college completion among talented low-income students.
  1. Rob Hutter and Michael Staton (@mpstaton), Learn Capital, gave a great talk on the future of HigherEd.
  1. Chris Nyren (@CNyren), Educated Ventures, the Johnny Appleseed of EdTech.
  1. Godmother of blended learning, Gisele Huff, Hume Foundation.
  1. Mike Berlin (@jaghetermike), is building the bridge between the best EdTech startups and best learning institutions in the U.S with Macmillan New Ventures.
  1. Matt Greenfield (@mattgreenfield), is the thought leader behind ReThink Education and co-author of Boosting Impact.

And The Headhunters

  1. Ralph Protsik, BSG Team Ventures, the Godfather of edu headhunters.
  1. Samatha Simmons, Massachusetts based Koya Leadership Partners, (@KoyaPartners).


For more on SXSWedu, check out:

Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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