Learning Matters Staff
John Merrow, President and Executive Producer/Host
I’ve been at this business of reporting about youth and education since 1974, when National Public Radio broadcast my first effort (one hour about school finance). We stayed at it for eight years with a series called “Options in Education.” In 1982, I ventured into television with a seven-part series about America’s youth, “Your Children, Our Children.”
I spent five wonderful years as Education Correspondent for The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour on PBS and two years at The Learning Channel. Then, in 1995 we established Learning Matters, the not-for-profit corporation that produces our television and radio/web programs focused on telling quality, long-form stories about the state of education in America. More About John
David Wald, Supervising Producer
David Wald has produced and edited news magazine stories, documentaries and series television for the major networks and cable channels. He was senior producer on Michael Moore’s groundbreaking and Emmy Award-winning magazine show “TV Nation”; co-created and produced the Emmy and Peabody award-winning CBS News series “Everybody Has a Story”; produced a documentary series about women doctors across the U.S. and another about the intrepid women and men of “Doctors Without Borders,” filmed in often-dangerous 3rd world countries.
At Learning Matters David has overseen news segments on a range of topics from Common Core and the opt-out movement, to a school’s critical assistance in the aftermath of a disastrous hurricane. He has supervised documentaries, including “Declining by Degrees,” (a critical look at American higher education, for PBS), “Rebirth: New Orleans,” (charter schools in New Orleans after Katrina, for Netflix), “The Education of Michelle Rhee,” (the tumultuous career of the former Washington, DC, School Chancellor, for Frontline), and most recently, “School Sleuth: The Case of the Wired Classroom,” (a film noir parody with a serious purpose: to share what’s working and what’s not as the country’s k-12 classrooms go high-tech, for PBS).
John D. Tulenko, Senior Producer/Correspondent
John D. Tulenko is a Correspondent for the PBS NewsHour and senior producer at Learning Matters, a non-profit television production company founded in 1995. In addition to multiple awards from the Education Writers’ Association, John has received two Emmy nominations for NewsHour reports: Disappearing Dropouts (2005) and Turnaround Specialist (2007). Additionally, he has received the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award in 2000 for the documentary School Sleuth. His recent work has examined literacy in the early grades, bilingual education, workforce readiness, and other subjects in education. Learn more about JT’s work
Cat McGrath, Producer
I began producing for Learning Matters in the fall of 2007 after six years in non-fiction programming, working as a Segment and Field Producer in New York City and San Francisco. Here in NY, I worked on shows for The History Channel and A&E and back in San Francisco, I was an Associate Producer for Bay Area Backroads, a local travel show that explored the road less traveled. One of my favorite projects was a documentary for The American Experience about an amazing group of women aviators from WWII called the W.A.S.P.S.
Prior to my life in television, I honed my production skills in San Francisco on independent films and music videos and before that, worked in the theater, after completing my degree in theater from Skidmore College. I am also a welder — and for a few years in SF, I worked in metal fabrication. When not at work, my husband and I are lovin’ life with our young daughter.
Amanda Morales, Communications and Administrative Director
In 2006 I made a short film about a pair of women who worked for over thirty years to provide free legal assistance to New Yorkers in greatest need. It sparked my interest in the power of documentary work and since I’ve joined Learning Matters, I’ve been constantly inspired by the artistry of my colleagues as well their genuine commitment to youth, families, and education.
I’m fascinated by people, the exchange of ideas, and exploring the ways that new technologies will transform the way we communicate with one another. I’m responsible for connecting the public to our work and to that end I’ve facilitated hundreds of screenings of our documentaries across the country, spearheaded our social media effort, and run our online shop.
Prior to joining Learning Matters, I worked at some of the top art institutions in the world and I continue to be actively involved in the arts community. I write about art, craft, and sustainable design and I’m also a watercolor painter.
Carmen Rojas, Communications Assistant
Originally from California, I studied English in sunny Santa Barbara. Since graduating in 2008, I’ve traveled worldwide, moved cross-country, and developed an unhealthy love for the subway.
Before joining Learning Matters, I tutored university students, worked in book publicity, and made countless cups of coffee as a barista. I’m excited about being part of such a passionate team, and love having the opportunity to spread the word about our work!
Jessica Windt, Associate Producer
Jessica Windt got her start in documentaries with long-time filmmaker Roger Weisberg on his films “Aging Out” and “Waging a Living”. Since then, she has researched and produced local programming for PBS flagship station WNET and assisted producers on a number of documentary programs including “Wide Angle”, “Religion & Ethics Newsweekly” and “In the Life”. She is the co-producer of the award-winning feature documentary “Resilience” that follows a Korean birth mother and her American son. Most recently, Jessica associate produced and edited the documentary feature “The Prep School Negro” which is currently circulating film festivals.
Rachael Wettenstein, Associate Producer
While getting my undergraduate degree I worked part-time for an K-5 after-school program in Amherst, MA. My original motivation for working there largely involved watching Disney movies, but I came away from that experience with more than just snack preparation expertise, I developed a passion for quality education and childcare advocacy.
Before moving to New York I worked as a Program Assistant at the Embassy of Australia in D.C, where I immersed myself in the field of international education and ate lots of Tim Tams. These days I’m especially interested in initiatives aimed at getting books in the hands of kids and the role of technology in today’s classroom. I currently attend Pratt Institute part-time, where I’m studying for my MLIS. I enjoy traveling, tea drinking, Internet memes, and cooking vegetarian feasts.
*Learning Matters Board of Directors
Esther Wojcicki, Board Chair
Esther Wojcicki has taught Journalism and English at Palo Alto High School for the past 25 years, where she has been the driving force behind the development of its award-winning journalism program — now the largest in the nation.
She has been recognized with multiple awards, including the 1990 Northern California Journalism teacher of the year, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing 2002 California Teacher of the Year, and the 2009 Columbia University Scholastic Press Association Gold Key Award.
Esther has also served on the University of California Office of the President Curriculum Committee, where she helped revise the beginning and advanced journalism curriculum for the state of California. In 2005–2006, she worked as the Google educational consultant and helped design the Google Teacher Outreach program, which includes the Google Educators website, as well as the Google Teacher Academy.
She is a consultant for Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and for the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Esther also serves as Vice Chair of the Board of Creative Commons, and is a strong advocate of Open Education Resources and Creative Commons licensing.
Neal Baer, Executive Producer, CBS
Dr. Neal Baer is a pediatrician and television writer who combines his passion for medicine and storytelling to challenge audiences’ views on a spectrum of social and political topics. He is currently serving as Executive Producer for the upcoming CBS miniseries Under the Dome. Prior to this, Neal was Executive Producer of the CBS drama A Gifted Man, NBC’s Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, which received six Emmys and a Golden Globe for acting, and Executive Producer of the NBC hit series ER, where he received five Emmy nominations as a producer and two for writing.
Neal graduated from Harvard Medical School and completed his internship in Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles. His primary medical interests are in adolescent health. He has written extensively about health issues for Scholastic Magazine, covering such topics as teen pregnancy, AIDS, drug and alcohol abuse and nutrition. He has also taught elementary school in Colorado and worked as a research associate at USC Medical School, where he focused on drug and alcohol abuse prevention.
Bob Hughes, New Visions for New Schools
Robert L. Hughes was appointed president of New Visions in September 2000. Under his leadership, New Visions has created 99 district and 4 charter public schools in New York City, provided mentoring services to hundreds of new principals, developed school-based certification programs for teachers and principals, and created an inquiry process now in use in 1,500 New York City public schools. New Visions currently is a partnership support organization providing direct support to 73 schools serving almost 40,000 students.
Hughes, an attorney, has worked on public education issues for his entire career. He served as co-counsel in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity v. The State of New York, challenging the constitutionality of the New York State’s educational finance system. Plaintiffs prevailed and secured a $5 billion remedial decree for operating aid and a $13.5 billion decree for capital construction for the New York City public school system.
Hughes received his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and his law degree from Stanford Law School where he was a Skadden Fellow. He clerked for the Hon. Shirley Abrahamson, (now chief) justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. He has authored articles on public education for The New York Times, the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, the Yale Law & Policy Review, and the Connecticut Law Review. He served as chair of the Committee on Education and the Law at the Association of the Bar of City of New York and chair of the board for Advocates for Children of New York, where he was previously deputy director. He currently serves on the Fund For Teachers Board of Directors.
Joshua Kaufman • Venable Attorneys at Law
Joshua Kaufman is a partner at Venable LLP and chair of their Copyright and Licensing Group. He has a national litigation and transactional practice concentrating on media, entertainment, copyright, trademark, trade secrets, art, internet and e-commerce law. He has successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, has several appellate court cases and dozens of U.S. District court cases. He is a frequent public speaker and published author. He has co-authored four books and has over 200 articles on related IP topics. He is also an Adjunct Professor at American University Law School.
William Kelly • Independent Consultant
William Kelly is the founder of Learning.com and is currently acting as an independent consultant to early-stage companies in the education and health care industries. Bill has been recognized as a leading innovator in the educational technology industry as well as a leading advocate for education in his hometown of Portland, Oregon. Bill served on the Software & Information Industry Association Education Division board, and has spoken at several events.
He has also been recognized by his local business community, including being named to “40 under 40” by the Portland Business Journal. Bill is on the board of the Portland Schools Foundation, and has served on several ad hoc committees and task forces for Portland Public Schools.
Andrew Klaber • Paulson & Company / Orphans Against AIDS
Andrew Klaber is the president and founder of Orphans Against AIDS, an international non-profit organization that annually provides more than 600 children who have been orphaned or made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS with academic support, basic health care, and nutrition. He is also an investment professional at Paulson & Company, a multi-strategy hedge fund in New York.
Andrew was invited to the White House to receive the President’s Environmental Youth Award, served with the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Orphaned and Vulnerable Children, and — at 26 years old — presented Orphans Against AIDS at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Andrew is a graduate of Yale College, Oxford University (Marshall Scholar), and Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School. He lives in New York City.
Douglas Wood • Ford Foundation
Douglas Wood is a Program Officer at the Ford Foundation. He works on higher education issues, with an emphasis on the needs of students from poor and marginalized communities in the United States. His grant making focuses on helping students transition from high school to college and improving the college completion rates of underserved students.
Prior to joining the foundation in 2011, Douglas was associate dean of administration and planning at the Eugene Lang College of the New School for Liberal Arts. During the 10 years before coming to the foundation, he also worked as executive director and chief executive officer of the Tennessee State Board of Education; served as a member of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission; and was executive director and principal investigator of the National Academy for Excellent Teaching, an institute of the Teachers College, Columbia University.
Douglas began his career as a public school teacher. After five years of teaching, he worked as a research assistant at Harvard University, the Center for Collaborative Education-Metro Boston and the Annenberg Rural Challenge, among others. He then served as a course assistant at Harvard’s JFK School of Government and a teaching fellow at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.
Douglas holds an Ed.D and an Ed.M in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from Harvard University, a master’s degree in English from Middlebury College and a bachelor’s degree in history from Wofford College, where he is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.