Board of Directors

Steve Fleischman - Managing Member, Change Dynamics, LLC

Steve Fleischman provides consulting, coaching, and strategic planning services that support leadership and business development in nonprofits and social benefit-oriented companies. He recently retired as CEO of Education Northwest, an education nonprofit in Portland, Oregon, having led its transformation from government contractor dependent on federal funding to a professional services firm with a diversified client base, well-honed strategic direction, commitment to evidence, and strong mission orientation.

Before joining Education Northwest, Steve was a vice president at the American Institutes for Research, where he created and led various US Department of Education-funded evidence use and school improvement projects. He also provided senior leadership for the National High School Center, What Works Clearinghouse, Doing What Works, and several Regional Educational Laboratory, Comprehensive Center, and National Science Foundation projects.

Steve began his 35-year education career as a middle and high school social studies teacher. After leaving the classroom, he served as deputy director of educational issues at the American Federation of Teachers and, later, as the founding executive director of the Education Quality Institute. He holds both a BS and an MS in political science from the University of Florida.

Steve currently serves as chairperson of the Forum for Youth Investment board and as a member of the Program Designs Committee of the City Club of Portland.

Ericka Miller - President and Chief Executive Officer, Isaacson, Miller

Ericka is president and CEO of Isaacson, Miller. She rejoined the executive search firm as partner in 2016 and led the firm’s pre-K–12 education and education improvement practice. Her search practice has included nonprofit, foundation, and advocacy leaders as well as college and university presidents and deans. She assumed her current role in 2021.  

Ericka brings leadership experience in the nonprofit sector and government, as well as experience in the for-profit arena and academia. She was a senior advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Education in the Obama administration after being nominated for Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education in the U.S. Department of Education. Earlier in her career, Ericka served as the vice president for operations and strategic leadership at The Education Trust; president and chief operating officer of the McKenzie Group (now part of American Institutes for Research); and an assistant professor of English literature at Mills College.

Ericka received her BA from Georgetown University and PhD in English literature from Stanford University. Ericka serves on several nonprofit boards and is a member of Leadership Greater Washington. 

Patricia E. Smith - Self-employed, Board Service

Patricia Smith served as president and CEO of Unitus Community Credit Union, one of the oldest credit unions in Oregon, from 2002–2016. Prior to joining Unitus Community Credit Union, Patricia served nearly 22 years with BECU (formerly Boeing Employees’ Credit Union) in Seattle, WA in a variety of executive positions, including Chief Lending Officer.

She was actively involved in the Northwest Credit Union Association and co-chaired the Oregon Governmental Affairs Committee for approximately eight years. She served as chair on the Filene Research Institute’s board of directors for three years and on its board for nine years. She formerly served as treasurer on the Financial Service Centers Cooperatives Shared Branch board and chaired its budget oversight committee prior to the merger with CO-OP Financial Services in December 2011. Patricia served as a member of the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Foundation board of directors and served on the finance and audit committee. She served on the board of the Oregon Business Association (now known as OBI), and currently serves on its former chairs’ council. She earned an executive MBA from the University of Washington, is a graduate of the executive development program at Cornell University, and received her certified senior executive designation from the Credit Union Executive Society.

Patricia has served on the NWEA board since 2014 and currently serves on the NWEA audit and finance committee and compensation committee.

Tony Smith - Founder and CEO, Whyspeople

Tony Smith is the CEO and founder of Whyspeople, providing strategic advising and executive coaching to leaders working to create thriving communities. Most recently Tony served as the Illinois State Superintendent of Education. Prior to serving in that role he was the Executive Director of the W. Clement and Jessie V. Stone Foundation funding early childhood, youth development, and education.

Tony has served in leadership roles in the non-profit, higher education, and public preK-12 district sectors including as Superintendent in Emeryville and Oakland, Ca. He earned a Ph.D. in Language, Literacy, and Culture from UC Berkeley.

Tony is committed to creating healthy public systems that fully develop the whole child, whole school, and whole community. He measures his work by the increase in fair access to quality, the increase in student and adult belongingness, and the increase in equitable student outcomes that improve economic and civic well-being in the community.

Mark Strickland - Founder and Managing Partner, Schoolhouse Partners, LLC

Mark Strickland is the founder and managing partner of Schoolhouse Partners, a principal investment and strategic advisory firm focused on US and global education markets. His work focuses on entrepreneurial management, strategic consulting, and principal investing. He has more than 20 years of experience advising, forming, and investing in companies in the education market.

Since forming his firm, Mark’s strategic advisory clients have included diverse organizations across the education sector, including Harcourt, International Baccalaureate, The KnowledgeWorks Foundation, Education Northwest, Thayer Capital Partners, Say Yes to Education, Middle Start, The National Equity Project, EdVisions, Atlas Communities, Los Angeles Educational Partnership, Institute for Student Achievement, The Harvard Graduate School of Education, The Woodrow Wilson Foundation, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Gettysburg Foundation, McREL International, and New American Schools.

He was formerly chairman of SearchSoft Solutions, a Schoolhouse portfolio company recently sold to Vista Equity Partners, and he served as a member of the boards of Edvantia, the National Equity Project, and Sensitech. Prior to starting Schoolhouse, Mark was a principal at The Parthenon Group, where he started the firm’s education practice. He holds a BSE in civil and environmental engineering from Duke University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Mark serves on several education boards, including the Buck Institute, and the Alliance for Excellent Education. He currently serves as NWEA board chair.

Dr. Joseph J. Wise - Chairman and CEO, Distinctive Schools

Joseph Wise has a longstanding record of helping school districts, school boards, and school leaders make rapid improvements to support student achievement. He formerly served as superintendent of schools for the nation’s 19th largest public school district (Duval County Public Schools, Jacksonville, FL) and the state of Delaware’s largest public school district (Christina School District, Wilmington).

Joseph currently serves as co-founder and chief education officer of Atlantic Research Partners, a professional services firm that supports public schools and school districts in 18 states. He is also co-founder and chief education officer of Distinctive Schools,

He is a former executive vice president and chief education officer with EdisonLearning, Inc., which provides education programs and services to 340,000 students throughout 25 states and the UK. He also previously served as director of organizational development for the Disney organization. He began his career in education as a teacher before assuming executive leadership roles in various districts, including Orange County Public Schools and Seminole County Public Schools in Florida and Anne Arundel County Public Schools in Annapolis, Maryland.

Joseph has earned numerous honors, including the 2006 Champion for Children Award conferred by HOSTS Learning, Inc. He served on the National Commission on Writing for America’s Families, Schools, and Colleges, was appointed a fellow to the Eli Broad Urban Superintendents Academy, and served on the Academy’s adjunct faculty and advisory committee.

Joseph is the author of three textbooks: Power of Teaching—The Science of the Art, Power of Coaching—Teachers and Teaching, and The TAO of Interviewing. He holds a doctorate from the University of Florida, an MA from the University of Central Florida, and a BME from Florida State University. He currently serves on the NWEA compensation committee.

Dr. Kenneth K. Wong - Educator, Author, Researcher, and Brown University Professor

Kenneth Wong is the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Chair for Education Policy and directs the urban education policy program at Brown University. He has conducted extensive research in education policy, school improvement, state funding, school governance, equity issues, innovative practices, and accountability systems. His research has received support from the National Science Foundation, the US Department of Education, the Social Science Research Council, the Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Rhode Island Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the Broad Foundation, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, the British Council, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Kenneth has advised the US Secretary of Education, US Secretary of the Interior, US Congress, state legislatures, governors, mayors, and state and district education leaders. He has published several books on education policy and was editor of a major educational policy journal, Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis. He holds BA, MA, and PhD degrees in political science from the University of Chicago. Kenneth is an elected fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and a nonresident senior fellow of the Brookings Institution. His co authored book on administrative presidency won the 2021 Louis Brownlow Award given by the National Academy of Public Administration.