Leadership at Education Northwest

Photograph of Patty Wood
Chief Executive Officer Patty Wood

Patty Wood
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.

Photograph of Jessica Johnson
Chief Program & Development Officer
Jessica Johnson

Jessica Johnson
Chief Program & Development Officer

Jessica oversees all program work and leads business development efforts at Education Northwest. She is an accomplished and passionate leader committed to improving outcomes and opportunities for underserved families, especially kids. She has a track record of excellence in strategy, content knowledge, ground-level execution, and talent cultivation demonstrated through more than 20 years of leading and managing global teams, projects, and organizations.

Prior to joining Education Northwest, Jessica served as Senior Vice President for Policy, Practice, and Systems Change at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). At AIR, Jessica oversaw a portfolio of large-scale federal, state, and local projects in the areas of education systems and human services in the United States and internationally and was responsible for the design and leadership of the Illinois Center for School Improvement, a seven-year $60M initiative to improve technical assistance to underserved districts statewide.

Prior to its merger with AIR in 2010, Jessica served as Chief Program Officer at Learning Point Associates, where she directed school and district improvement activities including the development of a school turnaround service line to transform teaching and student learning in the most underserved schools. This work led to multiple turnaround projects, where schools saw double digit gains in performance. Johnson later won a $10 million contract with the U.S. Department of Education to further this work and testified before the House of Representatives Education Committee on this topic. Jessica holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and management from Albion College and a master’s degree in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

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Chief Operating Officer
Stuart Ferguson

Stuart Ferguson
Chief Financial Officer

Stuart brings a strong background in financial leadership in the educational professional services industry. He most recently served as the Assistant Controller for the American Institutes for Research (AIR). Prior to that, Stuart was CFO for Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL), transitioning to AIR upon their acquisition of SEDL in 2015. SEDL managed the Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest as well as the Texas and Southeast Comprehensive Centers. Stuart’s experience provides him a command of educational research, regional education labs, comprehensive centers, and federal compliance. He also has a strong passion for education and improving educational outcomes. He holds a Master of Science in Accounting and is a certified public accountant.

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Senior Program Director Catherine Barbour

Catherine Barbour
Senior Program Director

Catherine leads the professional services group that includes Learning Development and Design. Her areas of expertise are leadership training, coaching, and designing and developing products and services to support states, districts, and schools in equity-centered school turnaround and improvement. She specializes in systems improvement and creating a research-to-practice bridge to help schools with effective practices grounded in implementation science. A former principal, she led three successful school turnarounds—in an urban, a rural, and a suburban school district. Catherine is a credentialed school turnaround leader and earned her turnaround specialist certificate from the Darden/Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education. She holds a master’s in education from The College of William and Mary.

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Senior Program Director Christopher Mazzeo

Christopher Mazzeo
Senior Program Director

Dr. Christopher Mazzeo oversees the organization’s Research and Evaluation team and also serves as Partnerships and Business Development Lead. He has more than 20 years of professional experience and a deep background in the areas of postsecondary access and success, developing and maintaining research-practice partnerships, and evaluation and strategy development. From 2013–2019 he served as Director of REL Northwest, directing its day-to-day financial and program operations and providing leadership for all activities, partnerships, and subcontractors. Under his leadership, Education Northwest became one of the founding members of the National Network of Education Research-Practice Partnerships (NNERPP), and Chris is currently a member of the NNERPP Steering Committee. Prior to joining Education Northwest, he served as the Associate Director for Policy and Outreach at the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research, where he managed the Consortium’s nationally focused policy, capacity-building, and communication and dissemination efforts, working closely with policymakers, district leaders, universities, and other local partners nationally. Chris has also served as a senior evaluation and strategy consultant to a number of nonprofit, education, and philanthropic organizations. He holds a Ph.D. in social sciences, policy, and educational practice from Stanford University.

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DEIA Strategist Johnette Burdette

Johnette Burdette
DEIA Strategist

Johnette is serving in a dual role as Senior Leader for School Systems Improvement and DEIA Strategist. An accomplished senior leader and subject matter expert, she brings more than 21 years of experience managing people, projects, and organizations in the design and development of education products and services supporting states, districts, and schools in their improvement efforts. In particular, she has developed, implemented, and monitored initiatives in the areas of leadership, school improvement, professional learning communities, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. As Associate Director of Education for Insight Policy Research, Johnette led large technical assistance projects, ensuring products and services were timely, within scope, and of highest quality while contributing to strategic planning and direction for Insight’s education group. She served for eight years as Principal Technical Assistance Consultant for the American Institutes for Research, leading school turnaround and improvement systems to support improvement efforts in states, districts, and schools—specifically in diversity, equity, and inclusion. She also has over a decade of school and district leadership experience in various urban, suburban, and rural settings. A doctoral candidate, Johnette holds a Master of Educational Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Bachelor of Arts in political science.

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Senior Expert Steve Klein

Steve Klein
Senior Expert

Steve is a nationally recognized expert with over 30 years of experience in career technical education and workforce development. He leads organization-wide efforts to develop business and relationships with potential funders and leaders of federal and state education agencies. He also directs or provides content support for 19 cross-center projects. Steve specializes in the creation of education accountability and finance systems; policy analysis, research, and evaluation; and the delivery of technical assistance to help states and local providers align their secondary and postsecondary career education and workforce development systems. He also has extensive experience managing large-scale federal research and evaluation studies designed to strengthen youth and adult education and training to improve transitions to college and careers. Steve holds a Ph.D. in educational policy from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s in educational leadership and baccalaureate degree in the biological basis of behavior from the University of Pennsylvania.

Photograph of Ilona Wall
Director Ilona Wall

Ilona Wall
Communications Director

Ilona oversees all communications activities including content development; video, animation, and infographic production; events; and social media outreach. Collaborative, strategic and passionate about education and communication, she brings almost two decades of experience to her role. Ilona has deep expertise in branding and design and specializes in translating complex research findings into accessible, visually dynamic formats that engage stakeholders and inform practice.

She centers the audience in her approach to communications, taking the time to understand client needs and working closely with them to deliver products of maximum impact for a wide range of audiences. She has developed integrated brand systems for several organizations and has designed everything from award- winning websites to infographics to annual reports. Prior to joining Education Northwest, Ilona taught design at Portland State University and worked with education, healthcare, and hospitality brands across the country. She was also a founding designer of Colaboratory, a multidisciplinary internship program for communications, design, and marketing students. Ilona attended the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and earned a Bachelor of Science from The Art Institutes International Minnesota.