President & Chief Executive Officer
Thom Jackson is President and Chief Executive Officer of EdisonLearning, a leading international educational services provider with nearly a generation of experience creating effective and sustainable solutions to raise student achievement. He is among the small segment of unique business leaders who are able to build relationships, trust, and rapport – that in turn result in solid partnerships and alliances. This quality was best exemplified when in 2014, he brokered the acquisition and directed the restructuring of the company.
Thom initially joined EdisonLearning as General Counsel, and later assumed the role of Chief Operating and Legal Officer. Throughout, he has served in critical leadership roles developing, articulating and executing the company’s growth and implementation strategies. Thom’s leadership has deepened the company’s focus on Growth; “Operational Excellence:” ensuring that the domestic field operations are implemented with fidelity to the company’s proprietary Five Strand Design®; successfully re-tooling the company’s enrollment function; building and implementing an effective and efficient account management model; developing a coherent communications and social media strategy; and managing the operational features of the company’s strategic alliance with Magic Johnson Enterprises.
Before joining EdisonLearning, Thom held various key leadership positions at international and Fortune 100 companies. As the Chief Legal Officer at the GAB Robins Group of Companies, a private equity portfolio company with operations in over 50 countries, Thom led international acquisition teams and negotiated complex financial instruments in excess of $400 million. At both Prudential and MetLife, Thom held positions of increasing responsibility and managed enterprise-wide projects, helping to design and implement corporate compliance and “early warning” systems that mitigated high-profile legal and regulatory risks.
Thom has served three New Jersey Governors, including leading a budget task force of New Jersey business leaders established by Governor Richard Codey to streamline New Jersey’s $30 billion budget and serving on the budget transition team for Governor Jon Corzine. In 2007, Thom was appointed to serve as the inaugural Chairman of the Board of Directors for New Jersey’s largest charity care hospital, the UMDNJ’s University Hospital, with more than $500 million in revenues. Under Thom’s leadership, University Hospital posted its first profitable years in more than two decades.
Thom received his undergraduate degree in Political Science at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana with an emphasis on economics and international relations. Thom received his Juris Doctor from the University of Cincinnati College of Law.
SVP, Achievement Solutions & Corporate Strategy
Natalie Williams is Senior Vice President, Achievement Solutions and Corporate Strategy for EdisonLearning, a leading international educational services provider with nearly a generation of experience creating effective and sustainable solutions to raise student achievement. In this role, she is responsible for developing and implementing the company’s growth strategy, and for securing and maintaining the organization’s strategic alliances. In particular, Natalie manages EdisonLearning’s alliance with Magic Johnson Enterprises, and oversees the activities of Friends of Magic as a part of the corporate and community engagement initiative for the national network of Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academies
Although an attorney by training, Natalie’s professional path has always been connected to education. She began her career as Assistant Attorney General in the Education Division of the Minnesota State Attorney General’s Office; served as a Vice President for the Fresh Start Women’s Foundation, which helps women transform their lives through personal development and education; and later on was hired as a mid-year turnaround principal at Teleos Preparatory Academy in Phoenix, Arizona. Within three months under her leadership, the school exceeded its enrollment target and met its Annual Yearly Progress goals.
Prior to assuming her current position with EdisonLearning, Natalie provided legal advice to the organization on charter school agreements, and was instrumental in establishing the partnership with the Clark County School District.
Ms. Williams holds a B.A. in Philosophy and a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University, and a Doctor of Jurisprudence from Vanderbilt University.
Managing Director UK
Jerry Baker serves as Managing Director of EdisonLearning Ltd, a subsidiary of EdisonLearning Inc providing transformation school improvement services in the UK and internationally.
During a twenty-plus year career in education, Jerry has applied his expertise and skill, in performance improvement and change management, to help drive positive and sustainable outcomes for students and schools.
Working with the UK Government and leading educators in the late 1990s, Jerry promoted the use of quality measures and operations in Local Education Authorities and Schools. In 2003, he led the transition of two software companies to support the development of school improvement services before moving on to lead the schools training and consultancy business.
Jerry moved to the private schools sector where he held operational and investment roles before establishing his own consultancy company working across the UK and International education markets. At this time, he also assisted EdisonLearning with its work in the Middle East.
In 2011, Jerry led the implementation and development of a “welfare to work” programme in the UK. His company was the highest performing provider of the 42 companies contracted nationwide. The company became the first to join the W2W sector, and furthered education sector funding streams to help jobseekers with basic skills and career-based accredited training. As a result of these initiatives, Jerry is a long-time promoter of work-based training in education.
Due to his earlier tenure with the EdisonLearning UK team as Operations Director, Jerry brings strong direction to the development activities and growth plans of the compnay in the UK and other countries.
Romney L. Grippo
Romney L. Grippo is General Counsel of EdisonLearning, a leading international educational services provider with nearly a generation of experience creating effective and sustainable solutions to raise student achievement. In this role, she is responsible for leading corporate strategic and tactical legal initiatives, manages the company’s legal function, and oversees the work relationships with outside counsels.
Prior to joining EdisonLearning in 2015, Romney was a Partner in the national law firm of Drinker, Biddle & Reath LLP, and was a member of the firm’s Corporate and Securities Group. She initially joined the firm as an Associate. Throughout her more than twenty-year legal career, Romney has represented and advised clients in numerous industries on a wide range of matters, including: acquisitions, dispositions, reorganizations, commercial transactions and corporate governance.
Romney received her Juris Doctor degree from the Rutgers University School of Law – Camden; earned a LL.M (Master of Laws) degree in Taxation from Villanova University School of Law in Philadelphia; and her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Marymount Manhattan College.
Executive Director, Student Achievement
Laura Hayes is Executive Director, Student Achievement of EdisonLearning, a leading international educational services provider with nearly a generation of experience creating effective and sustainable solutions to raise student achievement. In this role, she is responsible for driving student outcomes throughout the company’s extensive portfolio of proven K-12 solutions.
Having honed her skills during a thirty-year career as a highly successful teacher, principal, and administrator, Laura has a thorough understanding of the ingredients of outstanding schools. With EdisonLearning, she has served as Vice President of Education Services, and as Senior Director of Achievement to a large number of the company’s partners.
Prior to her role with EdisonLearning, Laura was Chief of Schools for Uplift Education, National Director of Foundations for New Leaders for New Schools, and Director of Education, Foundation for Community Empowerment. Throughout, she has been at the forefront of innovation in relation to student motivation, curriculum, effective learning and staff development.
Laura holds numerous educational certifications, including those as: Teacher, Mid-Management, Supervisor, and Superintendent. She earned her undergraduate degree from Bishop College in Dallas, and her Master of Science from the University of North Texas.
Student Success Director
Gamal Brown is a Student Success Director for EdisonLearning, a leading international educational services provider with nearly a generation of experience creating effective and sustainable solutions to raise student achievement. He works with EdisonLearning’s partners in Ohio.
Gamal’s broad-based education career has included school leadership, administrative, training, and teaching roles; and for the past five years, has served as both Director of Achievement and Program Director for the Ohio-based Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academies. Prior to joining our organization, Gamal trained district-wide teachers and support staff in the Philadelphia School District for McGraw-Hill; served as Principal of the Focus on Collective Integrity Academy in Columbus; was a Curriculum Specialist, Professional Development Coordinator, and Teacher at the Millennium Community School in Columbus; and he taught in the Columbus Public Schools.
Gamal earned his undergraduate degree from Wright State University in Dayton, and his Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Administration from the McGregor School of Antioch University in Ohio. He holds educational licenses as a Teacher and Principal.
Student Success Director
Ernest Williams is a Student Success Director for EdisonLearning, a leading international educational services provider with nearly a generation of experience creating effective and sustainable solutions to raise student achievement. He works with EdisonLearning’s partners in Minnesota and Colorado.
Ernest brings to EdisonLearning more than a dozen years of educational experience as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal in the Chicago Public Schools. His leadership of the Dodge Renaissance Academy brought about double-digit growth in both math and reading. As Principal of the Bethune School of Excellence, student achievement in math and reading increased by double-digits; but also, “students with diverse learning needs”, according to the Northwestern Evaluation Association, showed achievement growth in reading from the 51.5 percentile to the 100th national growth percentile, and in math from the 72.7 percentile to the 100th national growth percentile. As Assistant Principal of George Rogers Clark Elementary School in Chicago, Ernest helped to increase the school’s performance rating from “Good” to “Excellent”. Earlier in his career, he was a teacher at Lane Technical High School in Chicago.
Ernest, earned a Bachelor of Science degree from DePaul University in Chicago, a Masters in Educational Leadership from DePaul University, and is currently a Doctoral Student in Educational Leadership at Loyola University in Chicago. He holds an Illinois Professional Educator’s License with endorsements in: K-12 General Administration, Secondary Education, Computer Science, and Teacher Evaluator.
Student Success Director
Tara Lawrence is a Student Success Director for EdisonLearning, a leading international educational services provider with nearly a generation of experience creating effective and sustainable solutions to raise student achievement. In this role, she is responsible for the organization’s partnership schools in Illinois.
Throughout an education career that has included roles as a teacher, administrator, and principal; Tara has implemented a culture of high expectations, driven by rigorous teaching and learning, and with a single focus on raising student achievement. She has served as both Director of Achievement and Program Director of the Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academies in Chicago. Prior to joining EdisonLearning, Tara was Principal of Banner Academy South Alternative H.S. in Chicago, and Program Manager for Alternative Schools with the Chicago Public Schools. Earlier in her career, she was a lead teacher in both the Chicago and Tulsa Public Schools.
Tara received her undergraduate degree from Langston University; her Master’s degree from Oklahoma State University; and holds educational certifications as a Teacher, Principal, and in Administration.
Student Success Director – Special Education
Danielle Beecham is Student Success Director – Special Education for EdisonLearning, a leading international educational services provider with nearly a generation of experience creating effective and sustainable solutions to raise student achievement. In this role, she oversees all aspects of special education programming at all of the organization’s partnership schools located throughout the United States.
Danielle is an experienced professional in coordinating, implementing, monitoring special education programs in both district and charter schools. She has served as Special Education Supervisor for the San Francisco Unified School District, and as Special Education Program Specialist for the Mt. Diablo Unified School District. Danielle began her education career as a classroom teacher.
Danielle earned her undergraduate degree from UCLA (University of California-Los Angeles), and her Master’s degree in Special Education from California State University-Dominguez Hills (CSUDH). She also holds an Education Specialist Credential and Administrative Credential.
Emeka Nti serves as Vice President, Sales for EdisonLearning, a leading international educational services provider with nearly a generation of experience creating effective and sustainable solutions to raise student achievement. In this role, he implements the organization’s strategic sales and business development operations.
Prior to joining EdisonLearning, Emeka served as Director of Business Development for SpecialNeedsWare, Inc. where he assisted with the creation of the Sales Division for this technology startup company. Earlier, Emeka was Executive Director of the Business Relations Center for ResCare Workforce Services, the nation’s largest private provider of services to people with disabilities. His experience also includes roles with Kaplan, Inc.; with the Education Testing Service; Capitol Educational Services in London, England; and with the West African Examination Council in Lagos, Nigeria.
Emeka holds a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Oba Femi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Nigeria; and a Diploma in Computer Science & Management Information Science from the London Institute of Technical Education, Ilford, England.