Each member of New Meridian's executive team has more than 15 years' hands-on experience in assessment and education management, in public, nonprofit, and for-profit organizations.
Dr. VanderVeen works with the Board of Directors to set the strategic direction, overall strategy, and priorities to achieve New Meridian’s mission. This includes recruiting, retaining, and developing talented, mission-driven leaders and cultivating a high-performance culture with motivated and engaged employees. He also raises funding to support New Meridian’s research and development initiatives.
Dr. VanderVeen has 18 years’ experience in education assessment and technology organizations. Prior to founding New Meridian, Dr. VanderVeen was Vice President of Business Strategy and Development for Compass Learning, where he successfully secured a statewide contract with the State of Texas to deliver benchmark assessments and instructional services under the Texas Success Initiative.
Previously, Dr. VanderVeen served in several roles with the New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE), including Chief of Innovation, and Executive Director of Assessments. In this role, he directed the NYC DOE’s $60 million citywide summative and interim assessment program, with an assessed student population of nearly 900,000 students.
Previously, while at the College Board, Dr. VanderVeen directed a three-year, multimillion-dollar initiative to develop the College Board Standards for College Success in English Language Arts and Mathematics and Statistics, which became foundational reference documents for the Common Core State Standards. He also worked on the SAT Reading and Writing exams, including leading the development of the Writing scoring rubric and serving on content review committees.
Irene Hunting developed broad experience in statewide student assessment during her twelve years at the Arizona Department of Education. Under her leadership as the state assessment director, Arizona’s ELA and math assessments successfully moved from a 100% paper-based program to a primarily computer-based program. She worked to continuously improve Arizona’s assessments through ongoing innovation and research. Her leadership in industry-leading work includes the use of machine scoring for speaking tests and the development of new approaches to bias and sensitivity review of test content. Ms. Hunting also initiated and oversaw a rich research agenda designed to improve the fairness and validity of the state’s assessments. Findings from this research have been presented at AERA Annual Meetings and NCSA conferences.
Ms. Hunting is a skilled leader and team facilitator. During her time as state assessment director, the Assessment Section had one of the highest employee satisfaction scores in the Arizona Department of Education and one of the highest employee engagement scores in all of Arizona government. Ms. Hunting has managed several multi-million dollar assessment contracts with a variety of companies and is known for her ability to work effectively with vendors.
Walter Sherwood is an accomplished educational assessment expert, with many years of successful sales, business development, account management, and program delivery experience. He began his career at Pearson Education over 15 years ago, and has served in various sales and delivery roles during that time. His most recent role being President, State Assessment Services where he was responsible for the overall performance of the business unit including the sales, go-to-market planning, and business capture and fulfillment activities while overseeing 200+ employees, 10 Vice Presidents, and serving 20 state education agencies and large school districts encompassing 20M+ students.
Prior to his work at Pearson, Walter has served in various education roles including the University of Texas, Austin, Region XIII Education Service Center, and as a high school and middle school teacher. Walter also has served for many years as a naval officer both on active duty and in the reserves.
Gina Rivera, Chief Operating Officer, has over 10 years' experience in the educational software industry balancing the constant need for innovation with the resolute need for internal controls. She has directed the design and implementation of complex content licensing systems for educational assessment and curriculum publishers. She oversees New Meridian's contracts, finance, and accounting, data security, and compliance with federal, state and local regulations.
Will Bunting, Director of Program Management, leads all aspects of the program management and delivery teams. This includes: management of all project deliverables and schedules, risk management, quality management, stakeholder communication, and scope/contract management during all phases of the projects’ life cycle.
Mr. Bunting has his PMP certification with over 10 years of experience in the educational assessment industry. He began his career at Harcourt Assessment (later acquired by Pearson Education) and has served in various roles related to project and account management. Most recent experience at Pearson included proposal development and analysis, management of an online testing program, management of next generation type assessments, and development/deployment of innovative item types. This included management of a five-person project management team as well as a twenty-five person functional team in a strong matrix environment.
Mr. Lane serves as New Meridian's general counsel. He has served as general counsel for publicly-traded, privately-held, and not for profit companies. He has provided leadership and counsel in sectors such as education, financial services, media, and publishing & gaming, consumer packaged goods, energy, environmental services & engineering within complex organizations such as Citigroup, Vivendi, and the College Board.
As the first-ever General Counsel of the College Board, Mr. Lane helped lead the revitalization, growth and worldwide expansion of that organization's operations. He built and ran a legal and compliance function responsible for domestic and international enterprise risk management of a provider of a wide array of secure assessments and other products and services across numerous customer sectors around the world. His work spanned a broad array of disciplines, including intellectual property creation, protection and monetization, acquisitions, SaaS businesses, commercial transactions, B2B, B2C and B2G sales, finance, governance, regulatory oversight and compliance including export compliance, employment matters, litigation management and new product development, to name but a few.
Board of Directors
New Meridian's Board of Directors brings extensive experience with college readiness, large-scale assessment, and state consortium management.
Dr. Conley serves on the New Meridian Board of Directors, helping New Meridian executive leadership and staff design and implement effective consortium governance and engagement models.
Dr. Conley has designed and managed numerous international, national, and state-level projects for clients, such as the International Baccalaureate Organization, the Chilean Ministry of Education, the Queensland Studies Authority, the National Assessment Governing Board, the College Board, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the Hewlett Foundation, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the California Department of Education and the California State Board of Education, the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the Oregon Department of Education.
Dr. Conley was involved in the development of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium from its inception and has served continuously on its Technical Advisory Committee from its beginning. He co-chaired the Validation Panel for the Common Core State Standards and has produced reports analyzing how well various state, national, and international assessments align with the Common Core State Standards, how state assessments and standards align with college and career readiness, and how various state standard systems compare to national and international benchmarks.
He founded the Educational Policy Improvement Center (EPIC) and served as its CEO. In that role, he built it into a national leader in research and development in the area of college and career readiness standards and assessments. He has, for the past 27 years, also been a professor of educational policy and leadership at the University of Oregon, where he has written extensively on a range of topics related to national, state, and local educational governance and policy.
Mr. Markow serves on the New Meridian Board of Directors, helping New Meridian executive leadership and staff design and implement effective consortium governance and engagement models.
Mr. Markow was formerly the Chief Strategy Officer for the WIDA Consortium, which develops standards, curriculum resources, and assessments for a consortium of 37 states in support of English language learners. He directed the consortium’s business strategy and direction, product and service strategy, and managed new state outreach and relations among consortium states. He also led engagement with federal and non-governmental agencies, represented WIDA at conferences and national meetings, and testified regularly on issues of test design, accommodations, scoring, and other issues related to assessment of English language learners.
Ms. Mikuta is Senior Director of Education at the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. Ms. Mikuta oversees Schusterman’s efforts to invest in reform efforts within the US towards improving educational outcomes for all students.
Prior to joining Schusterman, Ms. Mikuta was a Managing Director at NewSchools Venture Fund, focused on teacher preparation. Previously, she led trainings for school board and superintendent teams of large urban districts at the Center for Reform of School Systems. Ms. Mikuta also served as an elected member of the D.C. Board of Education from 2001 until 2004. During her time on the School Board, Ms. Mikuta was Vice President of Alumni Affairs for Teach For America.
Ms. Mikuta began her career in education teaching high school science in New Orleans through Teach For America. She graduated from Georgetown University, where she was captain of the women’s basketball team and did a doctorate at Oxford University, as a Rhodes Scholar. Ms. Mikuta is on the boards of Stand for Children, New Teacher Center, and Alder Graduate School of Education.