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.
The Collaborative team, is growing! If you have an interest in joining us, please take a look at this open position or send a resume and compelling cover letter to email@example.com.
Maggie is a dynamic event planner, conference coordinator, and communicator who Is dedicated to helping clients present their best virtual or in person events. Maggie’s natural organization, leadership, and project management abilities will ensure that each event or project goes off without a hitch. Her “can do” attitude and experience with complex projects have enabled her recent client success stories.
Prior to her role at Collaborative Communications, Maggie worked at the Society of Conservation Biology as their International Conference Intern where she collaborated with the Director of Events and Executive Director to plan the International Congress for Conservation Biology in 2019 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In this role, Maggie demonstrated her skill for conference planning by managing the registration of over 2,000+ presenters, attendees, and VIPs, overseeing the conference sponsorship program, and working with international exhibition companies and volunteers.
Maggie graduated Cum Lade from Cornell University where she received a Bachelor of Science in Food, Agriculture, and Society. During her time at Cornell, she participated in the Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity and was a Student Caller for the Cornell Annual Fund. In 2019, Maggie’s research entitled “Bolstering the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Supplemental Food Program: An Analysis of Adopting Pre-Existing Policy Solutions” was recognized as a top 3 paper in her cohort, exemplifying Maggie’s exceptional research and writing abilities.
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.
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.
Liz has two decades of experience at the nexus of public policy, communications, and media. She has worked as a policy and communications consultant to foundations, public agencies, and nonprofits throughout California on technology, public health, and education issues, with a focus on supporting equity outcomes for children and families.
Liz has advised a range of clients including the California Health Care Foundation, the California Department of Public Health, the Culturally Responsive Domestic Violence Network, The Children’s Partnership, and the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. She previously served as vice president of advocacy for Common Sense Media, a managing editor at Mother Jones magazine, and as a policy analyst at the San Francisco Department of Children, Youth, and their Families.
Liz graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree in biological anthropology, and earned a master’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in public policy from the University of California, Berkeley.
Makaya has always had a passion for event planning; she loves being a part of the team that makes the magic happen. Her project management and creative problem-solving skills have helped her bring a myriad of diverse events to life, from the inaugural TEDx Talk at the University of Maryland, College Park, to the first virtual Leading Together Conference for the Council on Foundations.
As an Events Associate, Makaya is a savvy user of multiple web-based project management tools, to ensure a smooth process for designing, planning, and managing events from initial inception to the day of the event. She has expertise planning in-person, virtual, and hybrid events.
Prior to joining Collaborative, Makaya supported the production of corporate conferences, networking events, and social gatherings for the Council on Foundations, the American Bankers Association, and San Diego State University, and also helped coordinate logistics for a city-wide DJ Battle at the House of Blues in San Diego.
A Washington DC resident for the past decade, Makaya enjoys exploring the capital’s extensive cultural offerings and also spends her free time traveling and studying dance, including modern, West African, hip-hop, and acrobatics. Makaya holds a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a masters of arts degree in Theater/Live Event Production from San Diego State University.
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 Creative Director, 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 a Senior Associate at Collaborative Communications 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.
Jen has a decade of experience managing programs for recreation, public safety, and education nonprofits including the East Bay Regional Park District, Playworks Northern California, and the University of California Berkeley. Most recently, she supported advocacy campaigns for Common Sense Media.
Jen has experience working on issues ranging from digital equity, data privacy, technology, and education. She has strategically managed the execution of research reports, public policy campaigns, thought leadership events, and public interest awareness initiatives. By identifying problem-solving opportunities, and creating scalable solutions to fit organizational needs, Jen’s contributions to campaigns have assisted in major public policy wins, including the passage of state privacy legislation, and the appropriation of $10 billion in digital divide funding.
Originally from California, Jen grew up in the Bay Area. She has a bachelor’s degree in human development from California State University, East Bay, where she developed a particular interest in understanding how effective public policy can positively shape the human experience, including how government can impact individuals over the span of different ages and stages in their lives.
Emma is a Senior Associate at Collaborative Communications. She works closely with teams to strategize effective communications strategies, build strong relationships, and deliver success to clients and campaigns alike, drawing on five years of experience working with nonprofits, political organizations, and foundations.
Before joining Collaborative, she worked in digital advocacy and fundraising during the 2020 campaign cycle and, before that, worked in healthcare communications. Emma holds a Master’s degree in Political Communication from American University and a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communication and Leadership from Butler University. Born and raised a proud Michigander, Emma has lived in D.C. for five years and has enjoyed making it her home.
Nicole 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.