Meet the InnovateHERs

An InnovateHER is a woman who uses entrepreneurial traits and skills to create a positive impact in the world and achieve a greater personal purpose.

Based on research from the Entrepreneurial Mindset Profile®, our team identified that their entrepreneurial traits are passion, action orientation, calculated risk-taking, and need to achieve, and their learned entrepreneurial skill sets include persistence, empathy, idea generation, execution, and optimism.

Ana Hidalgo

Ana Hidalgo, founder of LAB XXI and ReinventED Schools, is passionate about using innovative education practices to drive social change throughout Latin America. Prior to founding her companies, she served as the Advisor in Foreign Affairs to the Mayor of Quito, Ecuador, and as a Graduate Fellow in the Executive Office of Education of Massachusetts. She has had the opportunity to represent Ecuador in the world’s most important youth conference, One Young World, and she has spoken at seminars at the national and international levels. 

Education Degrees and Institutions

BA, Foreign Affairs and Anthropology, University of Virginia 

EdM, Harvard University

Anjlee Prakash

Anjlee Prakash is the founder and chairperson of the Learning Links Foundation. With a PhD in education and 30 years of experience as a techno-pedagogue, Dr. Anjlee Prakash has built one of India’s most successful, tech-integrated education nonprofits. In addition to her work at Learning Links, she has held several other positions of responsibility in the academic, nongovernment, and corporate bodies. Her personal mission is to enhance the education ecosystem to make lifelong learning possible for every student. 

Education Degrees and Institutions

MA, Agra University 

EdM, Agra University 

PhD, Education, Agra University 

Certificate, Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management, Harvard University 

Certificate, Value Creation, INSEAD

Carol Ann Waugh

Carol Ann Waugh is an entrepreneur and artist. At 34 years old, Waugh quit her job as an executive for Progressive Grocer to start her own publishing company. After successfully growing the company, she sold it to R.R. Bowker. While serving as an industry consultant, she started another publishing firm that she sold to the Software & Information Industry Association. Today, she is a commissioned artist who lectures, teaches, and writes books. 

Education Degrees and Institutions

BS, New York University 

MBA, Pace University

Elissa Freiha

Elissa Freiha is an entrepreneur, investor, executive producer, public speaker, women’s rights advocate, and founder of Womena, a digital media company that creates compelling female-focused content in the MENA region. As a prominent speaker on women’s involvement in entrepreneurship and an active angel investor with over 30 investments between North America and MENA, Elissa has been frequently recognized in various media outlets, appearing on BBC’s 30 under 30 series; Forbes Middle East’s “50 Business Leaders Inspiring The UAE”; Arabian Business’s “100 World’s Most Influential Arabs,” “100 Most Powerful Arab Women,” and “100 Most Influential Arabs under 40”; One Young World’s “Entrepreneur of the Year 2019”; and Forbes Middle East’s “100 Power Business Women 2020”—as well as being named one of the 10 people who will shape the region over the next decade by Esquire Magazine. Prior to co-founding WOMENA, Elissa worked in marketing, sales, and events in entertainment and media. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Global Communications from the American University of Paris, the city in which she was born and raised. She is an Emirati of Lebanese and American descent. 

Education Degrees and Institutions

BA, Global Communications, American University of Paris 

Public Relations, Communication Arts, Theology, Saint Louis University 

Executive Education, Venture Capital, University of California, Berkeley

Jamie Candee

Jamie Candee serves as President, CEO, and Board Director of Edmentum, a global education leader that delivers research-based digital curriculum, assessments for learning, and quality educational consulting. In addition to her role as CEO, Jamie founded Edmentum’s We Can Learn Foundation, which founded a school in the Nakivale Refugee Settlement in Uganda that has provided support to more than 10,000 children. Jamie also serves on the Board of Trustees for Visitation School and is Board of Directors for Project Success and Learning Tree International. In 2021, Jamie was recognized as the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of The Year 2021 Heartland award winner. 

Education Degrees and Institutions

BS, University of Wisconsin 

MBA, Bethel University

Jane Kubasik

Jane Kubasik has led multiple national and regional educator-employer collaborations, with a focus on broadening and diversifying engagement in STEM coursework and careers. These collaborations produced groundbreaking approaches as well as the award-winning Spark 101 STEM Skills Videos, which are offered as a free resource to educators and students. Jane’s accomplishments and contributions to this field are featured in numerous education and business publications including a 2009 Harvard Business School case study; the 2009 Harvard Education Press book, “Leading for Equity;” and a 2014 University of Phoenix report, “Investment Criteria for STEM Education: What Counts for Excellence in STEM Programs?” In 2020 the Spark 101 merged with Learning Undefeated. Jane now mentors young people and supports a career motivation program for student athletes who attend the University of Maryland’s College Park campus.

Education Degrees and Institutions

BS, Accounting, University of Maryland

Jennifer Ferrari

Jennifer Ferrari is the president and CEO of the Education Research and Development Institute (ERDI), an organization that convenes educational thought leaders to collaboratively shape, influence, and inform the development of PK–12 education products and services. Prior to joining ERDI, Jennifer spent 25 years in the field of public education as a middle school teacher, assistant principal, principal, assistant superintendent, and chief schools officer in Chicagoland. Her areas of expertise include leadership development, change management, strategic planning, curriculum and instruction, personalized learning, and dual language education. 

Education Degrees and Institutions 

BA, Political Science, Education, Lake Forest College 

MA, Education, Curriculum and Instruction, National-Louis University 

EdD, Administration and Supervision, Loyola University

Joysy John
Joysy John is the Strategy and Transformation Director at Trinity College London. She is passionate about education, technology and inclusion. Previously, she was the CEO of 01 Founders, the Director of Education at Nesta and CIO of Ada, the National College for Digital Skills. She was appointed by the Department of Education to the Edtech Leadership Group and by the Welsh Government to the expert panel on Schooling Reimagined. She left her banking career in 2012 to change education after spending a decade working across Singapore, US and UK. Joysy is in the Financial Times Top 100 Most Influential BAME leaders in UK Tech. She sits on the education committee at The Royal Society.

Education Degrees and Institutions 

BS, Computer Engineering, Nanyang Technological University 

MBA, London Business School

Katie Fang

Katie Fang is the Founder and CEO of SchooLinks, an education technology company that offers advanced college and career planning solutions. As of 2021, SchooLinks is a venture-backed series and a startup headquartered in Austin, TX. Fang was named Forbes “Top 30 under 30,” Top Texan under 30, the Young Woman to Watch, and has been featured on the cover of Austin Woman Magazine. 

Education Degrees and Institutions 

BA, Commerce, Finance, The University of British Columbia

Krish O’Mara Vignarajah

Krishanti (Krish) is the President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS). She previously served in the Obama White House as Policy Director for First Lady Michelle Obama and at the State Department as Senior Advisor under Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. Before joining the White House, Krish practiced law at Jenner & Block in Washington, DC, clerked for Chief Judge Michael Boudin on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and taught at Georgetown University as an adjunct. She holds a BS in Molecular Biology and an MA in Political Science from Yale College, a JD from Yale Law School, and an MPhil in International Relations from Oxford University (Marshall Scholarship). Krish has been recognized as one of The Daily Record’s Top 50 Influential Marylanders, Top 100 Women, and Most Admired CEOs, as well as a 2021 Women to Watch by the Baltimore Sun. 

Education Degrees and Institutions 

BS, Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology, Yale University 

MA, Political Science, Yale University 

MPhil, International Relations, Oxford University 

JD, Yale University

Lezli Baskerville

Lezli Baskerville, a justice attorney, currently serves as CEO of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO). Prior to joining NAFEO, she served as National Legislative Counsel for the NAACP and as Appellate Counsel at the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. She led The Baskerville Group, a legal collective of 12 female attorneys who provided legal and government relations representation, advocacy, and diversity services to purpose-driven organizations, corporations, and government entities. After her tenure as CEO of The College Board’s Washington Office & Government Relations Chief, she transitioned into the CEO role at NAFEO. She is the organization’s first female CEO. Attorney Baskerville is recognized by STEMConnector as one of “100 Women Leaders in STEM”; by Diverse Issues in Higher Education as one of “25 Women Making a Difference”; by AOL Black Voices as one of the nation’s “Top 10 Black Women in Higher Education”; and by Ebony Magazine for six consecutive years as one of America’s Top 100 Most Influential Association Leaders. Baskerville is acknowledged in The History Makers as a distinguished lawmaker. 

Education Degrees and Institutions 

BA, American Studies, Journalism, and Communications, Douglass College – Rutgers University 

JD, Howard University 

Advanced Leadership Institute Fellow, Harvard University 

Honorary Doctorate of Laws, Benedict College Doctorate of Humane Letters, Shaw University

Presidential Medal of Honor, University of Maryland Eastern Shore

Lisa Hall

Ms. Hall currently serves as Impact Chair at Apollo Global Management where she is part of the leadership team for the firm’s private equity impact platform and has responsibility for the impact management elements of the strategy. Prior to joining Apollo, Ms. Hall was a Professor of Practice and a Fellow at Georgetown University’s Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation, where she led research focused on creating a more inclusive economy. She previously served as a Managing Director at Anthos Fund & Asset Management (“AFAM”), where she launched and oversaw the firm’s impact investing portfolio. Prior to AFAM, Ms. Hall was President and CEO of Calvert Impact Capital. Ms. Hall covered community development policy issues as a Senior Policy Advisor for the National Economic Council and has diverse civic leadership and non-profit board experience. She is a graduate of The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania and earned her MBA from Harvard Business School. Ms. Hall currently serves on the boards of Community Development Trust and Habitat for Humanity International. 

Education Degrees and Institutions 

BS, Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania 

MBA, Harvard Business School

Lisa Schmucki

Lisa Schmucki is the founder and CEO of edWeb.net, an award-winning professional learning network that serves a global community of 1 million educators. edWeb helps educators and industry leaders connect and collaborate to improve teaching and learning. edWeb has won 9 SIIA CODiE Awards for professional learning and collaboration. Lisa serves on the Board of NCTET (National Coalition for Technology in Education & Training), the Expert Network for ERDI (Education Research and Development Institute), and the Project Tomorrow SpeakUp Council. Lisa has more than 40 years of experience with publishing and media companies in marketing and product development. She is a graduate of Princeton University and holds a master’s degree from the Stern School of Business at NYU. 

Education Degrees and Institutions 

BA, History, Princeton University 

MS, Accounting, New York University

Maia Sharpley

Maia Sharpley is the Founder and Managing Partner of Odonata Ventures. Previously she co-founded Juvo Ventures as a Managing Partner, and prior to that she was a Partner at Learn Capital. Maia comes to venture capital as an operator, after many years building and running businesses around the world. Maia also is a Founder of Innovation for Equity, a non-profit focused on disrupting the status quo and improving outcomes for Black learners of all ages. She serves/has served as a board member to many companies spanning the globe across all education subsections including EDC, Eduvanz, Onramp, RideAlong Now, SchooLinks, New Campus, Trinity College, Bloomboard. SoloLearn, and Smashcut, Concord Academy among others. She is a US Patent Holder, developing a system and method for managing intellectual property lifecycles.

Education Degrees and Institutions 

BA, Political Science and International Relations, Trinity College 

MBA, Corporate Strategy, International Business, University of Michigan 

Fellow, Class 24, Kauffman Fellows

Margaret Huber

Margaret Huber is the former Canadian Chief of Protocol for the Department of Foreign Affairs. Her service in the Department of Foreign Affairs included serving as an Ambassador in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East as well as with multiple international organizations. She is a community leader and currently sits on the board of directors for several nonprofits and companies in Canada and the United States, and she is a 2014 Harvard Advanced Leadership Institute Fellow. 

Education Degrees and Institutions 

BA, McGill University 

Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program, Institute of Corporate Directors 

Advanced Leadership Institute Fellow, Harvard University

Mary Louise Cohen

Mary Louise Cohen, a founding partner of Phillips & Cohen LLP, has represented whistleblowers for more than 25 years in lawsuits brought to remedy fraud against the United States. In 2014, she co-founded Talent Beyond Boundaries (TBB), which opens skilled migration pathways for skilled refugees to move to job opportunities in a new country. Working with governments, refugee-serving organizations, the business community, and local communities, TBB is building a safe and legal pathway for displaced people to move for work and resume their careers so they can rebuild their lives with dignity. 

Education Degrees and Institutions 

BA, University of North Carolina 

JD, Harvard Law School

 

Megan Harney

Megan Harney is the founder and CEO of MIDAS Education. A former classroom teacher, Megan’s classroom experience led her to create her own software application, providing tools to build online activities and to view and track student performance analytics. She leveraged her understanding of the power and promise of software to develop the comprehensive Massively Integrated Data Analytics System (MIDAS) platform, which facilitates the implementation of competency-based and individualized learning programs at scale. 

Education Degrees and Institutions

BA, English and American Literature & Language; Computer Science, Harvard University 

EdM, Technology, Innovation, and Education, Harvard University

Monica Valrani

Monica Valrani is CEO of Ladybird Nurseries, based in Dubai. Dedicated to the pursuit of quality education for young children, Monica earned a diploma and graduated with distinction in Montessori Teaching before serving as a directress in Gulf Montessori Nursery. Her success as a teacher, combined with her entrepreneurial mindset, led her to acquire Dubai’s Tiny Home Montessori Nursery, where she led its day-to-day operations and expanded the operation, which led to a merger with Ladybird Nurseries. Ladybird currently serves over 300 children and has three locations, including the first LEED Gold certified preschool in the Middle East. 

Education Degrees and Institutions 

Diploma, Hotel Management, Belair Education Centre Diploma

Montessori Teaching, London Montessori Centre

Nisha Ligon

Nisha Ligon was the co-founder and CEO of Ubongo, Africa’s leading edutainment company for children. More than 24 million kids across Africa learn with Ubongo’s popular animated TV and radio programs, Akili and Me and Ubongo Kids. Nisha is a social entrepreneur with a background in media and science and has a passion for education. She is a 2017 WISE Award Laureate and 2021 Elevate Prize winner. Nisha has produced content for the BBC, the Guardian, online learning platforms, and an award-winning documentary, Twiga Stars. She recently passed the baton to the new CEO of Ubongo and is exploring her next venture.  She will contine to be on the board of Ubongo and might come back as an evangelist for Ubongo.

Education Degrees and Institutions 

BS, Yale University 

MSc, Imperial College London

Pam Mayer

Pam Mayer is the founder of eMindset Academy, a training organization designed to teach practicing leaders how to add science to the art of innovation. She is also an adjunct coach and trainer for the Leadership Development Institute at Eckerd College. In the 1990s, Pam had a VP role at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), where she was responsible for open-enrollment and custom programs at the Greensboro, North Carolina site, as well as for providing oversight of CCL’s worldwide licensee network. 

Education Degrees and Institutions 

BA, Psychology, Old Dominion University 

MA, Counseling, Pennsylvania State University 

PhD, Educational Psychology, University of South Florida

Patricia Scanlon

Dr. Patricia Scanlon is the Founder and Executive Chair of SoapBox Labs, the world’s leading provider of proprietary voice technology for children. Dr. Scanlon holds a PhD and 25 years’ experience working in software engineering, Speech Recognition and Artificial Intelligence, including at Bell Labs and IBM. An acclaimed TEDx speaker, in 2018, Dr. Scanlon was named one of Forbes “Top 50 Women in Tech” globally. In 2020, she was ranked sixth of 17 global “Visionaries in Voice” by the industry-leading publication Voicebot.ai. She is the author of peer reviewed academic publications, holds five granted patents and is a contributing author for TechCrunch and TheNextWeb. Inspired by her oldest child and her background as a speech engineer, Dr. Scanlon founded SoapBox Labs in 2013 to redefine how children interact with technology using their voices. 

Education Degrees and Institutions

BS, Engineering, Technological University Dublin 

PhD, Speech Recognition and Artificial Intelligence, University College Dublin

Rebecca Winthrop

Rebecca Winthrop is a senior fellow and director of the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution. Her research focuses on education globally, with special attention to the skills young people need to thrive in work, life, and as constructive citizens. Dr. Winthrop works to promote quality and relevant education, including exploring how education innovations can leapfrog progress, particularly for the most marginalized youth. She advises governments, international institutions, foundations, civil society organizations, and corporations on education issues. She currently serves as a board member and advisor for a number of global education organizations and lectures at Georgetown University. 

Education Degrees and Institutions 

BA, Political Science and Dance Politics, Swarthmore College 

MA, International Affairs, Columbia University 

PhD, Education, Columbia University

Sabari Raja

Sabari Raja is the co-founder and CEO of Nepris, one of the fastest growing EdTech companies in the United States. Nepris is a cloud-based platform connecting industry and education to inspire students through real world connection and career exposure. Raja has worked in education technology for 18 years as the lead for product and content strategy, business development, publisher relations, and emerging market growth strategies. She serves on the board of directors for Friends of Texas Public Schools (FOTPS), Workforce Solutions Capital Area, and Texas Girls Collaborative. 

Education Degrees and Institutions 

BS, Engineering, Electronics and Communications, Bharathiar University 

MS, Computer Science, Louisiana State University 

MS, System Science, Louisiana State University 

MBA, Business Administration, Southern Methodist University

Sherrie Westin

Sherrie Westin is the President of Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street. Prior to joining the Workshop, Westin held positions in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, as well as media. She served as Assistant to the President in the first Bush White House and a senior executive at ABC News, U.S. News & World Report, and the ABC Television Network. She has been recognized as a “Leading Global Thinker” by Foreign Policy Magazine, one of Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People in Business,” and has received the Smithsonian’s American Ingenuity Award. 

Education Degrees and Institutions 

BA, University of Virginia 

Honorary Doctorate, Concordia College

Silver McDonald

Silver McDonald is Vice President of Growth at Hazel Health. At Hazel Health, she leads a team that works with schools to extend equitable physical and mental health services to all children and especially to those that have historically been underserved. Throughout her career, she has helped small startups grow to become publicly traded companies and more recently served as the General Manger of LEGO Education in North America, serving on the global LEGO Education leadership team. Silver McDonald has been an executive in the education and technology industries for more than 20 years. 

Education Degrees and Institutions 

BA, Technical and Professional Writing, San Francisco State University 

MBA, Northwestern University 

Certificate, Sustainability Strategies and Renewable Energies, Presidio Graduate School

Vicky Colbert

Laureate of the 2017 edition of the Yidan Prize for Education Development and 2013 WISE Prize for Education Laureate, Vicky Colbert is the founder and director of Fundación Escuela Nueva. She is co-creator of the worldwide renowned Escuela Nueva model and was its first National Coordinator. Colbert has pioneered, expanded, and sustained this educational innovation from many organizational spheres: as Vice Minister of Education of Colombia, UNICEF’s Education Advisor for LAC, and now from Fundación Escuela Nueva (FEN), which she founded to ensure its quality, sustainability, and innovation in education.

Education Degrees and Institutions 

BA, Sociology, Javeriana University 

MA, Social Foundation of Education and Sociology of Education, Stanford University

Zoë Timms

Zoë Timms is the Founder and Executive Director of Women’s Education Project (WEP), which she formed in 2002 while living in India.  Working with the students and WEP Directors, Zoë developed the Leadership Academy curricula, an adaptable, holistic and locally sourced program.  At the Leadership Academy (provided in partnership with grassroots NGOs), young women ages 15-24 become knowledgeable and confident leaders prepared to pursue their ambitions and earn in careers with an expanded awareness of life’s opportunities.  Zoë lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children. 

Education Degrees and Institutions 

BA, History, University of Wisconsin

Share YOUR InnovateHERs Story!

Share YOUR InnovateHERs Story!