The Collaborative Team
Our people make the difference. Collaborative has deliberately built a team with a unique combination of deep knowledge of the education landscape and specific communications and engagement skills. In that way, we’re bilingual: We are as fluent in education content as we are in the communications approach you need to move your ideas forward.
Our fluency comes from experience. Our team members have worked with the nation’s leading not-for-profit organizations and membership groups. They have developed and led premier communications departments and campaigns. They have served in government, schools and communities.
But what really sets us apart is our commitment to our partners and focus on the improvement of learning opportunities for all. The Collaborative difference is how much we care about getting it right—every single time, every single day.
We exist to serve you and to accelerate your progress. Let us introduce our network to you and show you how our capabilities can advance your goals.
If you have an interest in joining the Collaborative team, please send a resume and compelling cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Asha oversees office operations while utilizing her extensive research and writing skills, and knowledge of state education policies, to provide support across teams on various client projects.
Prior to joining Collaborative, Asha worked as a State Advocacy Coordinator for non-profits focused on quality cancer care. There, she collaborated with state society account executives to meet the policy needs of clients, including growing their advocacy profiles with elected officials and positioning clients as a resource for state and federal policymakers. Asha also worked as a Legislative Aide in the Ohio House of Representatives. While there, she worked tirelessly to simultaneously handle a wide variety of duties that included writing press releases on strict deadlines, coordinating meetings with lobbyists and advocates, and helping constituents with detailed casework. In addition, she worked with elected officials, lobbyists, and interested parties on legislative proposals addressing a wide-range of public policy areas including education reform, healthcare regulations, civil rights, and climate change.
Asha is a proud alumna of The Ohio State University and holds a bachelor’s degree in African American and African Studies.
Melinda Colón is a meeting professional with more than a decade of exceptional meeting and conference planning and possesses almost 20 years of association management experience. In addition to being proficient in event management, she has diverse skills and knowledge that include governance, membership, award administration, continuing education, program content, and budget development.
Prior to joining Collaborative Communications, Melinda served as the Director of Conferences and Events at the Society for Conservation Biology, promoting the science and practice of biodiversity. At the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, she worked to advance health professions education as the Director of Governance Programs and Meetings.
Melinda has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Political Science from the University of South Carolina and earned a Professional Certificate in Event Management from George Washington University. She is a certified meeting professional since 2012 and is committed to professional development, trends, and innovations in the industry by being an active leader in the Professional Convention Management Association.
Melinda is committed to volunteering in the Washington DC community and is a member of the Junior League of Washington, an organization dedicated to literacy.
Terri Ferinde is committed to broad definition of educational excellence for all young people, and strives to support a vision for a well-rounded education that meet each student’s unique academic needs, learning styles and interests.
She works with organizations focused on both in- and out-of-school learning to strategize new initiatives and build capacity. She offers expertise in network development, bringing together like-minded organizations and people with smart facilitation, collaborative tools and structures that support and measure collective success. She has managed hundreds of convenings from task forces to large conventions with a unique focus on outcomes leading to student success.
For more than a decade, Terri has managed the 50 State Afterschool Network funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. Creating more opportunities for youth to succeed in school, life and future jobs, the statewide afterschool networks bring together state policymakers, educators and community leaders to increase and improve afterschool and summer learning programs. Known for her work in afterschool systems building, Terri was named one of the top 25 most influential people in afterschool in 2014 by the National AfterSchool Association.Terri is the publisher and author in the groundbreaking compendium, Expanding Minds and Opportunities, Leveraging the Power of Afterschool and Summer Learning Programs for Student Success (2013) and the companion collection, STEM Ready America: Inspiring and Preparing Students for Success with Afterschool and Summer Learning (2017).
As a partner at Collaborative Communications Group, she has managed, facilitated and supported groups that expand learning opportunities for clients including STEMNext, 100Kin10, The Wallace Foundation, the NoVo Foundation, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and more. Prior to her role at Collaborative, Terri served for 10 years at the U.S. Department of Education where she produced a live, interactive television program featuring school and community leaders. For this work, she was recognized as a Fellow with the Council for Excellence in Government. She holds a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in communications and government from the American University.
In her community, Terri serves on the board of Aspire!, an afterschool and summer learning program serving students in Arlington, VA. She is a former PTA president and school-board appointed chair of an out-of-school time advisory committee.
Bill Glover is the founding principal of Design Partners and has served as Collaborative’s creative director since 2001. He leads Collaborative’s team approach to design; the process spanning from ideation to delivery, resulting in the creation and extension of unique brands that make client products accessible and vital. He creates multifaceted and multimedia products, including complex print publications, branding elements, interactive graphics, electronic presentations, marketing materials, and creative solutions to maximizing technology.
Before starting Design Partners, Bill was vice president of environmental design for Creel Morrell Inc., a national graphic design firm in Austin Texas. His responsibilities included design and project management for exhibits, as well as for graphics used in everyday environments. He has also held the position of Senior Designer at Design Link in Bethesda, Maryland as well as Senior Designer for the Rockbridge Group, a marketing, public relations and communications firm in Bethesda, Maryland.
His experience includes being a professor of graphic design and three-dimensional design at Marymount University, and as a participating member of Society of Environmental Graphic Designers and American Institute of Graphic Arts. Bill graduated from Western Michigan University with dual majors; a BFA degree in graphic design and a BA in photography.
Ian leads content development and strategy at Collaborative, guiding our approach to creating a broad range of digital and print products. He works across practice areas and project teams to help clients tell their stories and engage audiences in ways that build their influence, shape key conversations, and inspire change.
Ian directs the production, from concept to delivery, of many of Collaborative’s most ambitious client publications and digital assets, from major reports and policy briefs to innovative websites and multimedia projects.
Before joining Collaborative, Ian conducted strategic and market research for school districts, higher education institutions, and advocacy organizations. He was also a founding editor of an online journal showcasing fiction, poetry, visual arts, and critical works.
Ian holds a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree in the humanities from the University of Chicago. He is also a graduate of the Education Policy Fellowship Program at the Institute for Educational Leadership.
Rhyla has an extensive background in creating and extending brand identities for a diverse clientele, ranging from fashion and high-end home good products, to innovative tech start-ups and international corporations. As a Visual Strategist, she not only develops new brands and identity packages, but also provides companies with the tools to maintain and execute the brand guidelines she has established.
Rhyla led the creative strategy and design execution for the launch of Education Forward DC, NUARI’s Decide Platform, and Consensus. She has also produced several successful rebranding efforts, including The Writing Revolution, EdFuel, and STEM Funders Network. These efforts include logo design, supporting collateral, brand guidelines, toolkits, and infographics. In addition to print design, Rhyla has also demonstrated the ability to define the user experience for online platforms, including most notably the transformative enhancements on the Illinois State Board of Education’s Illinois Report Card website.
Rhyla earned her BFA from Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis, IN with a minor in Art History. She is passionate about utilizing her design skills to help create a company’s visual message.
Katherine is an experienced strategist with a proven track record of success in leading teams, forging partnerships, developing products, and creating growth and sustainability strategies. She knows that strong communication and dissemination strategies are buoyed by a diverse set of stakeholder relationships, intentionally cultivated and reinforced over time. She has contributed to successful public relations campaigns and launch strategies for clients including NWEA, the U.S. Department of Education Office of Education Technology, and World Bank, among others, and has advised senior leadership of public school districts and institutes of higher education nationwide. She is an expert facilitator, strategy developer, and activator for organizational change processes.Katherine has a demonstrated ability to make education data and resources more meaningful and actionable for policymakers, educators, families, and communities. She leads Collaborative’s digital endeavors, including website redesign and creation experience for Data Quality Campaign and The Writing Revolution, among others, as well as her related work leading LearnDC.org for the D.C. office of the State Superintendent of Education, the Foundation for Excellence in Education’s Know Your School Project, George W. Bush Institute State of Our Cities and Economic Competitiveness Scorecard tools, and supporting enhancement of the Illinois State Board of Education’s Illinois Report Card. Katherine has presented on the topic of public reporting and effective data visualization for the Council of Chief State School Officers, Data Quality Campaign, and the Education Writers Association. Katherine also served as a leading member of the Collaborative team working with the Department of Defense Educational Activity (DoDEA) staff in developing content for the publication Students at the Center: A Resource for Military Families, Military Leaders and School Leaders and the subsequent development of nine online learning modules supporting military families.
Katherine received her Culture and Politics degree and a Certificate in Justice and Peace Studies from the Georgetown University Walsh School of Foreign Service and is a graduate of the Education Policy Fellowship Program of the Institute for Educational Leadership.
Liv Jacobson is an Associate at Collaborative Communications with 3 years of experience, primarily working with nonprofits with a background in content development, digital media and graphic design. Prior to joining Collaborative, Liv was the Assistant Communications and Marketing Officer at Medical Care Development International, a global public health nonprofit.
Liv earned her Bachelor’s degree in History and Spanish at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. As a native to the D.C. area, she continues to enjoy exploring all that the city has to offer. Liv also enjoys going back and visiting New Orleans, traveling globally, reading, and trying new cuisines.
With nearly 20 years of experience in communications, strategy development, media relations, and partnership building for nonprofits, foundations, government entities, and corporations, Maura Keaney is an expert in developing communications and engagement strategies focused on improving outcomes for children and families. She develops and manages effective media and communication strategies that effectively navigate political and policy considerations.
Maura came to Collaborative from working at a Bay Area-based firm, i.e. communications, where she created communications and engagement strategies focused on improving outcomes for children and families. Her work covered a wide range of issues from narrowing the achievement gap for foster youth, to creating education and employment pathways for young adults, to improving overall child welfare practices.
While with APCO Worldwide, Maura led the development and management of a variety of partnerships between major corporations and global nonprofit organizations, including the UN Foundation, Clinton Global Initiative, Africare and Malaria No More. Maura’s experience also includes working with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace as well as a policy analyst for the Mayor of San Jose, California.
She participated in the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs in San Francisco and the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in San Jose, CA. She has a bachelor’s degree from James Madison University.
Kris Kurtenbach has a 25-year record in providing strategic and communications counsel to scores of nonprofit leaders, philanthropists, government officials, education entrepreneurs and educators. Her experience includes communications strategy and implementation, facilitation and moderation, and strategic and organizational coaching. She has helped to create seven national and community-based education nonprofits. She helped to create networks of mayors working for education improvement in two states—California and Arizona—the only such existing networks nationally. She has written extensively on education and community engagement to support education improvement.
Kurtenbach founded Collaborative in 1999, building on a career in newspaper reporting and editing, including Congressional Quarterly and Governing magazine; designing and executing education communications strategies at the U.S. Department of Education and Public Education Network, and leading education practices at Widmeyer Communications, KSA-Plus Communications and Millennium Communications.
Clients regularly turn to Collaborative for advice and results in areas of assessment, afterschool, college access and success, early childhood learning, teacher prep and teacher quality, STEM learning in and out of school, social-emotional learning, and the intersection of education and community, economic, and workforce development. As partnerships are developed with these clients—including foundations, non-profit organizations, community-based organizations, school districts, and federal and state agencies—intentional and purposeful projects are delivered in strategic and business planning, communications strategies and execution, media and social media campaigns, events and meetings, digital strategies and solutions, partnership and coalition building, and crisis management.
Kurtenbach has a Master’s degree in education policy and administration from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in magazine journalism and a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in literature from the University of Kansas. Kurtenbach established a scholarship for journalism students interested in editing and copy editing to support the launch of the Bremner Editing Center at the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications. The scholarship is named for John B. Bremner, an influential mentor of hers while in school there.
Elyse Preston is an expanded learning champion with more than 4 years of experience supporting afterschool and summer programs in Maryland.
Prior to joining the Collaborative, Preston worked as the Program Manager of the 29th Street Community Center in Baltimore, organizing year-round, community-led programming for youth and adults. She then served as the Associate Director of Maryland Out of School Time Network (MOST), where she managed multiple professional learning communities, organized trainings and events, led the charge on their Community School Coalition work, and supported the quality of expanded learning programs through technical assistance and resource sharing.
Elyse is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University’s Bunting Neighborhood Leadership Program. A fellowship which provides young leaders with the training, mentorship and tools to promote community health and wellbeing in Baltimore. She is also an alumna of the White-Riley-Peterson Fellowship Program, where she designed a policy project centered around Community School expansion in Maryland.
Elyse earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and Social Advocacy from American University and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Leadership from UMBC. Elyse is a certified yoga instructor and loves restorative yoga, dark chocolate with sea salt, and traveling.
Adam helps lead our communications and strategic planning work with a wide array of non-profit and institutional clients that have included: the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Learning First Alliance, and Norwich University Applied Research Institutes (NUARI). He supports the development of media and public relations campaigns, commentary pieces, social media strategies, and other communications deliverables across the firm.
Additionally, Adam has also led the way in using strategic financing and fiscal mapping as tools that communities can use to support programs and initiatives for opportunity youth. Through work with Jobs for the Future, he co-created a national federal funding map with seven different agencies (including ED, Labor, HHS, and Justice) to inform collaborative, coordinated investments in disconnected youth—and continues to administer technical assistance to federally-designated P3 and Promise Zone communities across the country. Adam has also co-authored a study assessing the availability and need for out-of-school time programs across the greater Houston area, one of the largest in the country.
Prior to his time at Collaborative, Adam spear-headed communications, strategic planning, and stakeholder engagement work with an assortment of education and social non-profits in the New York and greater Boston areas. Adam holds a Master’s degree in Public Affairs from Brown University and a Bachelor’s degree with honors in political science from Brandeis University.
Kristina is a mission-driven strategy and communications professional with more than 15 years of experience engaging in partnerships, building coalitions, and crafting engaging stories, all through the lens of equity, sustainability, and K-12 educational improvement. She leads digital work for Collaborative.
She has worked on successful strategic projects with an array of nonprofit organizations, K-12 schools, and districts. She developed an expertise in school accountability and data-driven family communication via her work on ColoradoSchoolGrades.com and GreatSchools.com; she has presented on the topic at the National Association of State Boards of Education Conference, National Charter Schools Conference, and the Education Writers Association National Seminar. Kristina is also adept at coordinating and finding common ground across organizations and individuals. For example, she helped launch and lead coalitions in support of standards and aligned assessments in Colorado. She also engaged partners across the City and County of Denver, Denver Public Schools, and the city’s afterschool providers to develop a long-term sustainability plan for an out-of-school time intermediary. Kristina also has a deep understanding of education finance both through client work and as a member of the winning team for the Policy Innovators in Education (PIE) Network “Best Kept Secret” (2014), awarded for an advocacy campaign that led to the passage of a Colorado state financial transparency law mandating a public, online database for school budgets.
Kristina started her career as a reporter and producer for public radio and television, with a specific focus on the education beat. She is a graduate of Colby College and holds a Masters in Nonprofit Management from Regis University. She has sat on the boards of Colorado Youth for a Change, the Downtown Denver Expeditionary School, and Young Education Professionals-Colorado, an organization she helped co-found.
Maria Elena Smith brings experience in digital marketing, public relations and event planning to the table as an associate at Collaborative Communications. Maria Elena supports work across practice areas, including Special Projects and Media and Engagement. Her work in these areas helps tell the stories of our clients in the media, helps implement digital strategy online, and assists on the ground at client events. With many years of volunteer and work experience working directly with youth in both afterschool and summer programs under her belt, she contributes to our work with the 50 State Afterschool Network as well as WINGS for Kids.
Prior to joining Collaborative Maria Elena worked as a content specialist for a digital marketing firm, working with clients to run smart and creative social media and email marketing campaigns, writing web copy, and working on strategy. Her experience also includes work with a public relations firm in New Orleans where she coordinated media coverage for clients in the tourism and hospitality industry, working with local and national media and serving on the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau PR Council on behalf of clients.
Maria Elena holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Tulane University with minors in English and Spanish, and considers herself to be Collaborative’s resident Mardi Gras expert.
Nicole Wilkins is an accomplished manager for complex, multi-year projects ranging across practice areas, with focus on afterschool and summer learning opportunities, social and emotional learning, parent engagement, and STEM learning. Nicole works with teams to manage staff, identify strengths, solve problems, and ensure quality of deliverables and communication. In particular, Nicole often creates tools around and supports the work of intermediaries and networks such as the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation statewide afterschool networks. Nicole also managed the collection and publication of the 2017 STEM Ready America: Inspiring and Preparing Students for Success with Afterschool and Summer Learning compendium, which features evidence from more than 40 articles on how STEM knowledge and skills are preparing young people for future success. Nicole has led the development of data visualization tools such as the Afterschool Alliance’s America After 3PM tool and Southern Regional Education Board’s Insights tool, and led the manual data collection process for the George W. Bush Institute State of Our Cities and Economic Competitiveness Scorecard tools around such indicators as state assessments scores, FAFSA completion, early childhood enrollment, and access to free pre-K options.
Prior to joining Collaborative Communications, Nicole served as Senior Communications and Policy Associate at the Massachusetts Afterschool Partnership (MAP), a statewide afterschool network. At MAP, Nicole helped to oversee the development of policy and legislative campaigns, implementation of statewide budgetary and advocacy efforts, and creation of innovative communications strategies. Nicole is also an alumna of the national White-Riley-Peterson Fellowship Program, through which she worked to strengthen alignment between afterschool and summer learning opportunities and early education programs.
Nicole holds a Master’s degree in political communication from American University and her Bachelor’s degree in political science, with concentrations in public policy and administration, from Northeastern University.