Chief Executive Officer
Patty Wood has served as Education Northwest’s chief executive officer since 2019. A longtime advocate for students, Patty is passionate about using evidence and policy to improve equity in education.
Patty brings extensive experience building collaborative leadership teams focused on supporting student success. After serving for 13 years on her local school board, Patty was elected to the Washington State Board of Education in 2016. As co-chair of the equity committee, Patty has been instrumental in increasing board diversity, amplifying student voice, and advocating for inclusive curricula, including ethnic studies. Previously, Patty held multiple leadership positions in the Washington State School Directors' Association, where she supported elected board members in developing their skills and voice to better serve students.
Patty earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Central Washington University and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, with a focus on interactive and inclusive curriculum design, from the University of Washington. She is the proud parent of three public high school graduates and continues to serve local students as a high school cross country coach.
Chief Operating Officer
Jeff oversees business operations and strategic planning at Education Northwest to achieve our mission of improving educational outcomes for all learners. Prior to joining Education Northwest, Jeff served as President and Chief Operating Officer at NWEA, a Portland-based not-for-profit organization that provides educational assessment and academic professional development services. During his 11-year tenure, Strickler managed NWEA through significant growth—helping to expand its service to more than 11 million students and building a sustainable financial outlook for the organization. Previously, Strickler served in executive capacities at several growth-oriented companies in the Portland area. Jeff holds a degree in business administration from Oregon State University and a law degree from the University of California at Berkeley (Boalt Hall).
Director, School Improvement Systems
Catherine is Education Northwest’s Director of School Improvement Systems. For more than thirty years, as a school leader and turnaround expert, she has helped low-performing schools better support their students. Catherine believes every student deserves a quality education that goes from preschool all the way to grade 12. She specializes in helping school leaders use qualitative and quantitative data to continually assess and improve school performance. Before joining Education Northwest, Catherine was Managing Technical Assistance Consultant at the American Institutes for Research (AIR), where she led district and school improvement efforts and the State Support Network, funded by the Office of State Support at the Department of Education. Earlier in her career, she was an assistant principal and then a principal in Virginia, leading successful school improvement efforts at a rural, a suburban, and an urban school in the state. She is a credentialed School Turnaround Leader, earned her Turnaround Specialist certificate from the Darden/Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education at the University of Virginia, and holds a master’s in education from The College of William and Mary.
Director, Human Resources
Pam is helping advance the mission of Education Northwest by leading efforts to attract, develop and retain top talent as well as fostering a culture of engagement and innovation. As human resources director, she prioritizes staff development, culture, communication and aligning the goals that staff members bring to their roles. Pam is passionate about education and believes everyone should contribute to ensure that every child has the opportunity to succeed. Before coming to Education Northwest, Pam spent nearly two decades with CompView, a technology company on the West Coast, where she built a culture of respect, fostered excitement for the work and celebrated the success of teams and individuals. Pam has a bachelor’s degree in history from Willamette University and a master’s degree in organizational communication from Purdue University. She lives in Portland with her family and Luna the cat.
Director, Center for Strengthening Education Systems and Institute for Youth Success
Celeste joined the Institute for Youth Success in 2007 and now serves as director. She works to partner with youth-serving agencies and provide support through a lens of continuous improvement and innovation. Earlier in her career, she ran oncology camps in Montana and worked in fundraising at a national breast cancer organization. Celeste studied education and city planning at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a fellow of the Robert Wood Johnson Ladder to Leadership Program, a certified Positive Discipline parent educator, and the proud mama of a little guy that keeps her on her toes.
Director, Learning Design and Development
Steve is director of Learning Design and Development at Education Northwest. He has more than 25 years of experience dedicated to improving the career preparation of youth and adults working with audiences that include federal and state education agencies and high school and college administrators and instructors. Prior to joining Education Northwest in 2018, Steve directed career and technical education research and evaluation studies at RTI International (2013-18) and MPR Associates (1993-2013). He has extensive experience managing large-scale national studies and multi-year federal contracts. Steve began his career as a high school math and science instructor and served 10 years as a school board member at with the Riverdale School District in Portland, Oregon. Steve holds a Ph.D. in educational administration and policy from the University of California, Berkeley.
Director, Center for Research, Evaluation and Analysis
Christopher has more than 15 years of experience working in the areas of secondary and postsecondary readiness and success and research practice partnerships. Prior to joining Education Northwest in 2011, he spent three years with the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research, where he managed their nationally focused policy and capacity-building initiatives and worked closely with policymakers, district leaders and researchers developing and using early warning and college readiness indicators. He has also served as a senior policy analyst at the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and as an assistant professor in the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College/City University of New York. He holds a Ph.D. in social sciences, policy, and educational practice from Stanford University.
Ilona serves as the director of communications at Education Northwest. She provides project oversight for all communications activities including content development, video, animation, and infographic production, events, and social media outreach. Collaborative, strategic and passionate about education and communication, Ilona brings almost two decades of experience to her role. She brings a deep expertise in branding and design and specializes in translating complex research findings into accessible, visually dynamic formats that engage stakeholders and inform practice.