Leadership at Education Northwest

Patty Wood
Chief Executive Officer

Patty serves as acting CEO for Education Northwest. She also serves on the Washington State Board of Education.

Patty has dedicated her life to changing discriminatory and outdated educational systems with a laser focus on what really matters: the children.

An engineer and physicist by trade, Patty is particularly interested in evidence-based evaluation systems and leadership team development. She brings to our organization a strong background in social justice and operational excellence.


Photograph of Jeff Strickler
Chief Operating Officer
Jeff Strickler, 503.275.9525

Jeff Strickler
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).

Pam Grater
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.

Celeste Janssen
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.

Steve Klein
Director, Center for School, Family, and Community

Steve directs the Center for School, Family, and Community 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.

Christopher Mazzeo
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.

Olga Vargas
Director, Communications

Olga 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.