Board of Directors

Ronald Blocker - Retired

Ronald Blocker retired as the president and CEO of Florida Virtual School, the oldest and largest public online K–12 school in the US. He served as superintendent of the 10th largest school district in America for 12 years. His background in school psychology and experience in urban school administration fosters his interest in meaningful assessments that support productive teaching and learning. He has served as president of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents and was designated by the Florida Department of Education as the District Reading Leader of the Year for his focused support of reading achievement. In 2011, the state of Florida named him Superintendent of the Year.

Ronald has been appointed to key Florida leadership committees by two governors and three education commissioners. He earned bachelor’s, master’s and specialist education degrees from the University of Florida. He is currently chair of the NWEA compensation committee.

Steve Fleischman - Retired

Steve Fleischman served as CEO of Education Northwest from 2012 through early 2019. He was responsible for the overall leadership of the Portland, Oregon-based education nonprofit that provides applied research and evaluation and technical assistance services in the northwest and beyond.

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 board vice chair of the Forum for Youth Investment and as a board member of SREE, the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. He also serves as board vice chair and is a member of the NWEA audit and finance committee.

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.

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, Education Northwest, 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.

Mark currently serves on several education boards, including NWEA, the Buck Institute, and the Alliance for Excellent Education, where he is a member of the executive committee and chairs the finance committee.

He was formerly chairman of SearchSoft Solutions, a Schoolhouse portfolio company recently sold to Vista Equity Partners, and 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.

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 professor at Brown University

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.

Dr. Wong 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.

Dr. Wong currently serves as NWEA board chair and is a member of the nominating and governance committee.