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.
Ms Dare provides overall program management for all operations. This includes coordinating the development and maintenance of all project schedules to ensure tasks and deliverables are completed as scoped and on time. Ms. Dare also runs our risk management function, proactively anticipating, evaluating, planning for, and recommending actions to address and mitigate risks that threaten to disrupt the operational or financial success of the program. Finally, she manages our continuous improvement efforts, proactively identifying, evaluating, planning for, and recommending actions to improve program operations.
Ms. Dare has extensive experience in strategic planning and operational management with large educational organizations. Most recently, she has consulted with Blythe Daggett Consulting, providing strategic planning and project management for clients, including the New York City Department of Education and Jersey City Public Schools. Previously, she was Executive Director of Special Projects in the Office of the President at the College Board. Prior to the College Board, she served as Chief Operating Officer, Division of Teaching and Learning, at the New York City Department of Education.
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.
James Liebman is Simon H. Rifkind Professor of Law, Columbia Law School, and Executive Director of the Center for Public Research and Leadership. Mr. Liebman serves on the New Meridian Board of Directors; he provides valuable expertise in helping New Meridian executive leadership and staff consider the impacts of assessment policy and design and communicate them to affected stakeholders.
Mr. Liebman was formerly the Chief Accountability Officer for the New York City Department of Education, where he devised the City’s innovative school accountability model that accounted for both student performance and growth. He also was responsible for all of the City’s summative and interim assessment programs, setting strategy and representing their purposes, goals, results, and consequences to all stakeholders, including the New York State Education Department, the New York City Council, the United Federation of Teachers, educators, families, and advocacy groups representing affected interests.