Leadership at Education Northwest

Photograph of Patty Wood
Chief Executive Officer Patty Wood, 503.275.9604

Patty Wood
Chief Executive Officer

Patty has dedicated her life to changing discriminatory and outdated educational systems with a laser focus on what really matters: the children.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

A Pacific Northwest native, Wood has deep knowledge of the region’s education landscape. Prior to becoming Education Northwest’s CEO, she served as board chairperson for the organization and has been a board member for the last six years.

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.

Fiona Helsel
Director, REL Northwest

Fiona manages multiple research and evaluation projects, leads the evaluation of the Northwest Comprehensive Center and serves as Director of REL Northwest. In that role, she leads the programmatic and operations of the REL, provides overall project management and reporting and interacts with the REL Northwest Governing Board to ensure alignment of the work with state priorities. With a Ph.D. from Purdue University, Fiona is also developing institutional capacity to support early childhood education projects. When not at work, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading, riding her bike, listening to music and watching movies.

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.

Kimberly Kelly
Director, Finance and Accounting

Kim leads Education Northwest’s Finance and Accounting Department, which connects and supports all parts of the organization in the areas of budgeting, contracting, forecasting, financial reporting, government contract and grant compliance, banking, payroll, and accounting. Kim strongly believes every person should have a solid foundation from which to grow and contribute to the world through high-quality education and other necessary supports. Kim has acted on this belief through years of volunteer service, including over eight years of providing a host home for homeless youth. Before joining Education Northwest, Kim spent 10 years with the FedEx family of companies, performing a variety of roles in operations, internal auditing, and finance. Kim has a bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Southern Maine and an MBA from Kent State University. Kim shares her home in Hillsboro with her best friend of over 35 years, her daughter, and three snuggly cats.

Steve Klein
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.

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.

Ilona Wall
Director, Communications

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.