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Who We Are

We are a team of individuals committed to creating a world where each child receives what they need to develop the competency, and agency that supports successful pursuit of a future without limitation. We share the belief that today’s public education system falls short of that promise, not just because of flaws in its technical design, but also because it originates from an outdated worldview that only some of us deserve success. We believe each and every person deserves to thrive, and we support the full-scale transformation of education systems in line with this belief.


We are also a collection of individuals whose perspectives are shaped through prior work at multiple levels within the system - from classrooms to schools, district and state education agencies, and from community organizing and development to thought leadership on the national stage - leading to our firm belief that each level has an essential role to play in changing habits and behaviors from those that unfairly concentrate power in the hands of a privileged few, to habits and behaviors that value and draw on the multiple forms of expertise and local wisdom spread throughout the system.

Our Origin Story

The Center for Innovation in Education (C!E) was founded in 2013 by Gene Wilhoit and Linda Pittenger, both seasoned state education leaders who formerly helmed the Kentucky Department of Education and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Not your typical bureaucrats, Wilhoit and Pittenger advanced a vision for education systems - and for their new organization - animated by the belief that every person matters. They viewed it the responsibility of organizations and institutions to ensure every person - youth and adults alike - feels valued and has what they need to thrive.


They created C!E to pursue this vision by supporting innovative, equity-seeking leaders and practitioners across the country. They helped define a New Paradigm for education systems - one that is “reciprocal and comprehensive,” one that is able to “nurture the intrinsic motivation needed to develop responsibility on the part of each actor at each level of the system.” And they convened communities of like-minded education leaders and practitioners carrying the work forward. See What We Do for more on how this foundational work has evolved today.

The Change We Seek

Why is it that a child’s zip code continues to determine their possible futures, even decades after a flurry of reforms promised to raise educational achievement and close racial and socioeconomic gaps in performance? Why is it that racial demographics continue to predict school quality on state report cards? 

We also believe education leaders must move beyond paternalistic “command and control” approaches to reform and instead change the system hand in hand with diverse stakeholders across system levels, especially those most negatively impacted by the status quo. Our systems must be able to  sense and respond to the unique needs of diverse students, families, and members the broader community. This, we believe, requires new habits of working together.

Our Team

Vickey Dai

Administrative Staff Officer

email Vickey

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Rita Harvey

Partner, Systems Transformation



email Rita

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Lauren Ho

Supporting Partner, Managing Learning Networks and Projects

email Lauren

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Paul Leather

Partner, Education Policy and State and National Relationships


email Paul

Gretchen Morgan

Managing Partner

email Gretchen

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Jennifer Davis Poon

Partner, Learning Design and Sense-Making



email Jenny

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Doannie Tran

Partner, Liberatory


email Doannie

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Linda Pittenger
Board Member


email Linda

Gene Wilhoit


email Gene

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