Board of Directors Bios

Board of Directors Bios2020-06-05T16:02:31-04:00

Shannah L. Varón (Chair)

Shannah Varón is the Executive Director of Boston Collegiate Charter School, a 5th-12th grade college preparatory public school in Dorchester with the mission of preparing each student for college. For the last two years, BCCS has been ranked in the top ten of all high schools in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts according to US News and World Report. Shannah chairs the Boston Charter Alliance and co-chairs the Boston Compact, organizations which are dedicated to leading the charter sector and district-charter collaboration for improved academic outcomes in all Boston schools.

Prior to joining BCCS in 2011, Shannah was a principal with the Parthenon Group where she focused on the firm’s Education Center for Excellence. Shannah was a 2001 Rio Grande Valley Corps Member, teaching bilingual special education. Shannah holds a BS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Nathaniel C. Donoghue

Nathaniel C. Donoghue is an Associate at Rich May, PC, a Boston-based law firm that provides an array of legal services to clients throughout the United States and abroad. Mr. Donoghue began working with Transforming Education, Inc. in October of 2015, assisting the organization in its transition into an independent nonprofit. In addition to providing legal advice to Transforming Education, Inc., Mr. Donoghue was elected to the Board in 2016.

Mr. Donoghue earned his J.D. from Boston College Law School after receiving his A.B. from Harvard University. Prior to attending law school, Mr. Donoghue worked as an Associate Analyst at Abt Associates Inc. in the field of education and nutrition research.

Danielle Gonzales

Danielle Gonzales is the Managing Director for the Education & Society Program at the Aspen Institute, which works to inform, influence, and inspire education leaders across policy and practice to improve Pre-k-12 education, especially for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds. In this role, she leads efforts to convene and foster partnerships with senior education leaders. She also develops publications and resources associated with professional learning; social, emotional, and academic development; and educational equity.

Prior to this, Danielle was a Senior Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation working to advance the Foundation’s K-12 strategy in key states and developing the Foundation’s strategy for engaging faith communities in education reform. She began her career teaching fourth grade in Brownsville, TX.

John Maycock

John Maycock is the Co-Founder and former president of the Achievement Network (ANet). He co- founded ANet in 2005 and helped lead the organization’s service and expansion for almost 12 years. John worked directly with thousands of system and school leaders across the country while at ANet, leading system academic strategy and developing a consulting arm within ANet, focused on system advising across curriculum, assessment strategy and instructional precision. John transitioned to the ANet Board in 2016 to help grow another national non-profit, UnboundEd, focused on spreading high quality open source materials and training to disrupt inequities in education. John currently consults with a variety of organizations in the K-12 space around strategy, business planning and their educational programs.

John began his career as a teacher and tutor in reading, math, and writing for elementary and middle school students and a coach for school leadership teams. John is a graduate of Middlebury College and the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Andy Sokatch

Andy Sokatch joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as a Senior Program Officer in 2016. Prior to joining the foundation, he served as the founding Director of Research and Evaluation at The New Teacher Project (TNTP), overseeing all research activities and contributing the methodological approach and data analysis to TNTP’s early policy papers, including Missed Opportunities and Unintended Consequences. He went on to serve as the Vice President for Research at Teach For America. Most recently, Sokatch served as the founding Director of Research at Character Lab. Andy began his career as a classroom teacher in New York City, and has taught at the elementary, middle, college, and graduate school levels.

He holds a BA in English Literature from Carleton College, an MA in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a PhD in Social Policy and Children’s Welfare from Brandeis University.

Ila Deshmukh Towery

As a Principal with Education First Consulting, a national mission-driven strategy and policy consulting firm, Ila Deshmukh Towery works closely with funders, nonprofits, districts and states to improve college and career readiness and support teacher and leader preparation, growth and effectiveness. Her past and current clients include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, Raikes Foundation, Syracuse City School District and U.S. Department of Education.

Ila previously served as TNTP’s Director of External Evaluation where she launched and/or completed six studies in partnership with leading researchers and some of the nation’s largest school districts. Ila was a key contributor to TNTP’s $20M+ i3 grant and served as Project Director. Ila also taught mathematics and was research director at the Boston Plan for Excellence. Ila holds a BA in Political Science & Education from Swarthmore College and a PhD in Child Development from Tufts University.

Sara Krachman (Ex Officio Board member; President)

Sara Krachman is the Founder & Executive Director of TransformEd. Sara is responsible for setting TransformEd’s strategy, building internal capacity, fundraising, building new partnerships, and nurturing collaborative relationships with leading researchers and practitioners. Sara has led TransformEd’s work to support school systems serving over 1M students across 20+ states and has authored more than a dozen publications and toolkits that translate research into actionable guidance and strategies for K-12 educators.

Before founding TransformEd, Sara was a Senior Associate in the Parthenon Group’s Education Practice. In that role, she served as a strategic advisor to leading national foundations, large K-12 school districts, and state departments of education on the design and rollout of large-scale education reform efforts. Sara earned an A.B. in Government from Harvard University, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She also holds a certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from Tufts University and the Institute for Nonprofit Practice.