Thursday 13th February, 2014
12:00pm to 1:00pm
Connie Yowell is the Director of Education for U.S. Programs.
She oversees a $85 million program on Digital Media and Learning, one of the first philanthropic efforts in the country to systematically explore the impact of digital media on young people and implications for the future of learning.
Prior to joining the Foundation, Yowell was an Associate Professor at the University of Illinois, publishing scholarly work that examined the complex interplay among young people’s emerging identity, their social context and achievement. Her research integrated the fields of adolescent psychological development and organization change to address the problem of high school dropout among immigrant students in the United States. Yowell briefly served as Policy Analyst in the U.S. Department of Education during the Clinton Administration, and has worked closely with teachers and administrators to develop and implement literacy curricula for Latino youth, and as evaluator and program coordinator for youth development programs in New York City.
Yowell received the Distinguished Fellows Award from the William T. Grant Foundation, an award to support scholars seeking to bridge research and practice, under which she worked with the National Writing Project to develop approaches that integrate web 2.0 technologies into the social practices of teachers.
Yowell earned her bachelor’s degree from Yale, and her PhD from Stanford University.
The Sprout Fund
Cathy is the founding executive director of The Sprout Fund, Pittsburgh’s leading non-profit supporting innovative ideas, catalyzing community change, and making the Pittsburgh region a better place to live, work, play, and raise a family.
Sprout provides critical support for projects and programs in the early stages of development—when just a small amount of investment has the potential to yield big results in the community. Sprout projects create new initiatives, events, and organizations that help citizens take action on a pressing issue in the Greater Pittsburgh region.
Since 2011, Sprout has served as strategic steward for Kids+Creativity, an interdisciplinary network of leading civic, commercial, cultural, and academic organizations and institutions working to create remarkable learning experiences for children and youth—forging a 21st century ecosystem for learning, innovation, and creativity.
Over the last decade, Sprout has worked successfully across political and geographic boundaries to make community-decided investments totaling more than $4 million in more than 500 early-stage projects, organizations, innovators, and activities in areas as varied as learning, arts and culture, transportation, biodiversity, and civic engagement.
As an active member of many of Pittsburgh’s civic and cultural organizations, Cathy currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania and The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. She is a member of the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the International Women’s Forum. Cathy is a former board member of Artist and Cities, Beginning with Books, the Community Design Center of Pittsburgh, The Ellis School, and Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens.
Robert Torres, PhD, is a Senior Program Officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation serving on the Next Generation Learning team where he leads two portfolios, one focused on Games for Learning and Assessment and another focused on Competency-Based Education/Anytime, Anywhere. Before joining the foundation Robert served at the Chief Research Officer at the Institute of Play where he co-founded Quest to Learn, a games-based school in New York City. His research at Quest to Learn and on Gamestar Mechanic, a video game designed to support kids’ development of basic game skills, has focused on the potential game design and games-based environments have in supporting learners’ cognitive development. Robert has worked as a teacher, school principal and education consultant since 1988. He taught 5th grade as a Teach for America (TFA) teacher, served as a school director as part of TFA teacher induction programs and eventually became President of Teach for America’s National Faculty. As a spin-off of TFA, Robert designed and became principal of The Learning Project One Middle School from 1995 to 1999, a school primarily serving low-income students from New York’s Lower East Side. Since 1999, Robert has focused on the design and research of high-impact learning environments, which included founding and leading for eight year designbydesign, a not-for-profit consulting group, which led the design of over 30 middle and high schools across New York City and Connecticut.
National Science Foundation
Janice Earle, PhD, has been at the National Science Foundation since 1991 and has worked with several of the Foundation’s education programs in the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR). She currently serves as Senior Program Director for K-12 STEM Education where she is responsible for several Foundation-wide activities. She serves as the coordinator for implementation of the Co-STEM strategic plan, a plan to increase leverage and coherence across all the federal agencies that fund Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). She coordinates EHR’s STEMSmart outreach activities, highlighting NSF funded work for practitioners; leads the activity exploring revisions of K-12 Indicators; and is the NSF lead on implementation of the Common Guidelines for Education Research and Development co-developed with the U.S. Department of Education.
Previously Dr. Earle served as Coordinator for EHR’s program evaluation activities and as the cluster lead for the Research and Evaluation on Education in Science and Engineering (REESE) and CAREER programs housed in the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings. Dr. Earle works with several of the agency’s policy oriented efforts such as those with the National Academy of Sciences National Research Council, and the U.S. Department of Education. Dr. Earle received a BA in history from the University of Michigan, a MA from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a PhD in education policy and planning from the University of Maryland.
3pm Closing Session
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