As the Chief People Officer in some companies you can struggle to find a way to keep employees engaged and proud of where they work; making certain they are compelled to get out of bed in the morning.

If the company mission is only focused on “increasing shareholder wealth” or “being the leader in an industry which increases needless consumption,” it can be hard to find enough connections into the hearts and minds of employees.

But, when your motto is “Every Mind Matters” and when you go home every night knowing that lives were changed for the better because the folks at HotChalk showed up today…well, it is not hard to keep employees engaged, proud of where they work and proud of whom they are affiliated with.

At HotChalk, our mission is to help people reach their potential. That is also my role in the lives of the employees at HotChalk. And one by one, day by day we are moving toward that goal, and in doing so, making the world a better place.  Who wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning for that?

That’s why it’s not surprising that HotChalk is made up of some pretty outstanding individuals. I’d love to catalogue each of our 300+ employees here but thought I’d start by highlighting just a few of our key leaders.  More to come!

Take a look below to learn a little bit more about some of our leaders and what drew them to HotChalk:

Patty Lev – Vice President, Student Services

“I’m passionate about the fact that we help people from all walks of life access high-quality graduate education. From program research to application support to finding work-school-life balance, we offer the structure and guidance necessary for individuals to truly reach their full academic potential. We cut out all of the unnecessary clutter so that students can focus on learning. Through our collaborations with great universities, we have the ability to change lives, communities and, ultimately, the world.”

Patty leads teams of incredibly talented and credentialed academic counselors, who serve students on behalf of universities that have contracted with HotChalk to power their online programs.

Patty  has more than 12 years of academic and student services experience. Patty has served as a student services leader for nonprofit universities as well as for-profit colleges, helping them improve their student retention practices. She holds a master’s in Education with an emphasis in Counseling and Student Personnel from San Jose State University.

Sean Fahey – Senior Vice President, Education Analytics & Chief Data Scientist

“As a data scientist, I know the value that the right data in the right context can bring to an organization. What drew me to HotChalk, and what sets it apart from other education technology companies, is that it focuses its technology on delivering data and insights in the proper context to allow educators, students and administrators to achieve meaningful educational outcomes. We don’t simply build technology; we understand our partners’ challenges and work to deliver insights that help drive decisions and outcomes.”

Sean makes data sing. He is obsessed with aligning “people, processes and tools” to help our university clients make decisions about their online programs.

Sean has more than 15 years of higher education and data analysis experience. Before HotChalk, he was vice provost for Institutional Research at Johns Hopkins University, where he surfaced timely data and analyses to support academic planning and decision-making across the university. Sean joined the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in 2004, where he served as Group Supervisor for the Information Sciences Group in the Research and Exploratory Development Department and, prior to that, as Program Manager for Knowledge Management and Domestic Cybersecurity in the Asymmetric Operations Department. Before joining Johns Hopkins, he served as a submarine officer in the U.S. Navy, was a political science instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy, and was a consultant to large corporations on executive development and succession management strategies. Sean holds a master’s in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from the University of Oxford, which he attended as a Rhodes Scholar, and a bachelor’s in Systems Engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy.

Nicolas Smith – Senior Vice President, Learning Products

“When I first visited HotChalk three years ago, I noticed hundreds of names etched in the glass of the meeting room I was sitting in. ‘Who are all these people?’ I asked. ‘Those are the names of every student in one university partner’s first online graduating class,’ came the reply. Successful student outcomes were literally carved into the company’s foundation. As someone who has spent most of his life devoted to education — both as a teacher and technologist — it was easy to recognize an organization that aligned with my priorities and focused on the right things.”

Nicholas is passionate about almost everything. He is particularly passionate about solving problems for students and teachers in elegant ways. He believes that excellent user experience is born from empathy, close and ongoing collaboration with users, and using data to inform decisions. He hates feature creep: “Add a feature, go to jail” is Nicholas’s moto.

He has spent more than 25 years in education and technology. Before HotChalk, he was president of Macmillan Labs for Higher Education, an R&D group dedicated to building innovative technology products that solve problems for students and teachers in elegant ways. Prior to joining Macmillan, Nicholas spent nine years at Aplia, a leading provider of online homework for higher education, where he helped to grow the company from startup to profitability and finally to successful acquisition by Cengage Learning in 2007. Nicholas remained with Cengage Learning as Vice President of Software Products until 2009. His experience also includes work at SRI Consulting, Pensare, and Agile Mind, as well as a decade teaching middle school students. He earned his master’s at Brandeis University.

Joe Ross – Senior Vice President, Education Solutions & Chief Legal Officer

“To be great online requires being obsessed. Ferociously obsessed with ‘user experience’ — which, in our world, means student experience.  If we do anything here at HotChalk, we help universities remodel themselves to better serve students who have grown up taking the Internet for granted. Think of it as remodeling the Ivory Tower for the 21st Century. It’s impossible to know what online education will look like in even three years, but what I can say now, definitively, is data will lead the way: HotChalk empowers universities with the data and insight they need to become great online. Great — that is — because of the insanely great ‘user experience’ they deliver for online educators and learners.”

Joe wears many hats here at HotChalk. He’s our in-house strategist, evangelist and instigator of innovation.  My suspicion is that Joe is also a frustrated academic. Not just because he was president of the law review at Stanford, yet somehow ended up running business development at HotChalk. He just seems to be in his element on a university campus, talking about abstract pedagogy with a provost.

Joe has over 20 years of combined experience in business, education and public service. Since 2012, Joe has served in California as an elected trustee of the San Mateo County Board of Education. Prior to HotChalk, he was vice president of Citizen Schools, an education nonprofit operating in seven states. Joe also managed international expansion for consumer products at Cisco Systems, and was Chief of Staff to the founding CEO of Pure Digital Technologies, the startup that created Flip Video. During an eight-year military career, he served as Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff for the fleet component of the U.S. Southern Command, and managed security cooperation programs in Latin America and Asia. A Truman Scholar and a fellow of the Truman National Security Project, Joe holds a bachelor’s in Political Science from Yale and a J.D. from Stanford Law School, where he was the 59th President of the Stanford Law Review.

Mary Jane Pearson – Vice President, Academic Affairs

“I have been educating teachers for more than 30 years, and I’ve noticed that technology is often imposed on educators who do not receive proper guidance or support around how that technology will help them achieve their goals. What’s truly outstanding about HotChalk is that it’s teacher-centric. The technology has been created to empower teachers to engage learners and ultimately present the best opportunities and outcomes for students.”

Dr. Pearson is our professor-in-residence. She works with our university clients to design training for their online faculty, helping them be effective communicating with adult learners. She also leads a mini-recruitment agency, helping universities find incredibly passionate and talented faculty candidates.

Dr. Pearson has been involved in “educator education” for more than 30 years. Dr. Pearson’s unique credentials as a teacher educator include chairing the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC), the largest educator licensing agency in the U.S. During her nine-year tenure as a commissioner, she co-authored the research on beginning teacher support and assessment that has become the worldwide standard for the support of new teachers. In addition, Dr. Pearson was appointed by the U.S. president to serve as the regional representative for the U.S. Department of Education. In recognition of her service to education, Dr. Pearson was named California Teacher Educator of the Year. Dr. Pearson earned her Ph.D. from the University of Kansas.

Edward Fields – Co-Founder, CEO, Executive Chairman

“I strongly believe in the power of technology to transform our world and until very recently, we, as a society, have been going about education reform and technology all wrong. It’s not about replacing teachers, it’s about empowering them. It’s about putting teachers back at the center of education, as they are truly its heart. A large part of our mission at HotChalk is to help facilitate that shift.”

Edward is our visionary leader. The entrepreneur who sees around corners, spots trends before anyone else, and has the courage to take the leap. I’ve never witnessed a more inspirational communicator. He inspires us all to be our best.

Edward has more than 20 years of experience developing and marketing educational technology and enterprise software solutions. Prior to founding HotChalk, Edward served as Senior Vice President of Marketing, Agile Software Corp., President and CEO of ProductFactory, Inc. (a software firm he co-founded that was acquired by Agile Software in 2003), and Director of Interactive Publishing at The Learning Company. Edward has a bachelor’s in Mass Communications from the University of Denver.