Chief Executive Officer
As CEO, Steve Fleischman is responsible for the overall planning, coordination, and management of Education Northwest. Prior to assuming this position in September 2012, he served as the company’s deputy executive officer. Before joining Education Northwest, Fleischman was a vice president at the American Institutes for Research (AIR), where he created and led a number of U.S. Department of Education-funded school improvement projects such as the Comprehensive School Reform Quality Center, the Supplemental Educational Services Quality Center, and the Scientific Evidence in Education Forums. He also provided senior leadership for AIR's National High School Center, What Works Clearinghouse, Doing What Works, and several Regional Educational Laboratory and National Science Foundation projects. Fleischman began his nearly 30-year education career as a middle and high school social studies teacher. After leaving the classroom he served as deputy director of educational issues at the American Federation of Teachers and as the founding executive director of the Education Quality Institute. Fleischman holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from the University of Florida.
Chief Operating Officer/Chief Financial Officer
Chief Operating Officer/Chief Financial Officer at Education Northwest, Joy Bell ensures that operations connect closely with the programmatic work in support of Education Northwest’s mission. Joy believes that the quality of work that an organization’s infrastructure provides to stakeholders and internal clients is as important as the services provided to external customers. With over 30 years of experience in finance and contracting for professional services firms, Joy works diligently with the executive and leadership teams providing thoughtful and inclusive leadership for the organization resulting in significant operational improvements. Her expertise covers a broad range of skills in the field of government contracting, including compliance, audit, budget and forecasting, process improvement and internal controls, system implementation, accounting, contracts, and procurement. Prior to joining Education Northwest in 2007, Joy was the controller for Space Imaging, the nation’s first commercial satellite provider of one-meter resolution imagery and worked closely on contracts for the Department of Defense. Joy holds a B.A. in business from Principia College in Elsah, Illinois. She lives in Oregon with her partner and their Australian shepherds, Olaf and Milo.
Chief Program Officer
Danette povides direction for the programmatic work of Education Northwest—consisting of roughly 200 applied research and evaluation and technical assistance projects per year—while working closely with the executive team to help provide overall leadership for the organization. She leads the Northwest Rural Innovation and Student Engagement Network (NW RISE) and oversees Success Now!, Education Northwest’s approach to school improvement. Danette writes on a variety of system change topics, including guest editing and contributing an article to a recent edition of Peabody Journal of Education focused on rural school improvement. She has served as co-principal investigator for research projects funded by the Institute of Education Sciences and the National Science Foundation that include the iterative design and evaluation of out-of-school time programs for high school students. She built her career providing applied research and evaluation, training, and technical assistance services to support schools, districts, state education agencies, and community-based organizations pursuing evidence-based change efforts. Danette holds an Ed.D. in organization development and change from Pepperdine University and a master’s degree in educational psychology, research, and evaluation methodology from the University of Colorado at Denver.
Director, 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, Center for Research, Evaluation and Analysis
Chris 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. Chris 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.
Director, Center for Strengthening Education Systems
As the director of the Center for Strengthening Education Systems, Mike manages a portfolio of large-scale projects that build multiple stakeholders’ capacity to plan, lead, and implement data- and evidence-driven change initiatives. In this role, he serves as core team member in the development of tools, processes, and resources for Education Northwest’s approach to school and district improvement. Mike also serves as head of the Northwest Comprehensive Center, which provides technical assistance to state education agencies in priority areas such as educator effectiveness, school improvement, and Common Core State Standards implementation. With a master's degree in school leadership, Mike's previous roles include being a middle school principal and teacher.
Olga Vargas serves as the director of communications and information technology at Education Northwest. Strategic, dedicated, and passionate about education, Vargas brings more than two decades’ experience to her role. Her expertise spans all areas of marketing, communications, and business development including: positioning and pricing of product and services, design, public relations, media relations, customer understanding, and development and management of integrated marketing and communications plans. Prior to joining Education Northwest, Vargas was the Business and Marketing Director for the Latin American Region at Texas Instruments (TI) Education Technology Division. During her tenure, she was in charge of all business and marketing decisions, from product definition and stewardship to government and stakeholder relations, and from demand creation and sales to customer understanding and professional development services for teachers. Vargas also served as manager of Market Development, Business Opportunities, and Government Relations & State Policy for TI's Education Division.