2018 Network MVP
September 21, 2018

Some of Many Most Valuable Players Across the Network

The Eddies!—annual, advocate-nominated awards—celebrate excellent policymaking and advocacy campaigns across the country.


Below are the nominations for Most Valuable Player—a team member of a PIE Network state-based member organization who has gone above and beyond to support advocates across state lines, or a team member of a PIE Network national partner who has been exceptionally helpful to state-based advocates above and beyond that of their job description to move an issue forward. Each nomination below was written by a peer of the nominee, demonstrating the spirit of collaboration that talented Network leaders share with their colleagues across the Network.

Network MVP Nominations:

Caroline Novak

President & Co-Founder, A+ Education Partnership

Caroline Novak, president and co-Founder of A+ Education Partnership, has led efforts to improve education in Alabama since founding A+ in 1991. In her time at A+, she helped launch the Alabama Reading Initiative, which led to Alabama’s fourth graders reading on par with their peers nationally for the first time ever in 2011. Under her leadership, A+ launched two statewide coalitions, the Alabama School Readiness Alliance and Alabama G.R.I.T. – Graduate Ready. Impact Tomorrow. ASRA has successfully championed the expansion of high-quality state-funded pre-k, and since 2011 the percentage of four-year-olds in state-funded pre-k has grown to 35 percent from just 6 percent. GRIT successfully defended the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards (Alabama’s version of the Common Core) in one of the reddest states in the nation. Caroline also led A+ in its expansion beyond policy and advocacy through the development of the Alabama Best Practices Center that facilities professional learning for educators, and A+ College Ready, which works to raise expectations for all students in grades 6-11.

David Mansouri

President, Tennessee SCORE

David Mansouri, president of SCORE, is a visionary leader who has strategically positioned SCORE to be one of Tennessee’s most preeminent education organizations. With policy, political, and communications expertise, he embodies the key traits needed to successfully advocate for change. His impact is not felt in Tennessee alone.

David regularly dedicates time to share strategies so that other states can be well positioned to influence policy with similar determination. These notable statewide strategies include supporting gubernatorial transitions by equipping elected officials to drive continuous improvement, creating an awards program for the most successful schools, and building an effective statewide advocacy network.  

Members have also learned from David the power of leveraging stakeholders. When David is not the voice at the table, he strategically uses the voice of others, from his board to a network of chambers, to artfully drive change and ensure continuity.

Patricia Levesque

CEO, Foundation for Excellence in Education

Since PIE Network’s founding, Patricia has been a tireless advocate for kids, for education reform, and for PIE Network members. The Foundation for Excellence in Education has been a critical partner with other PIE Network organizations in multiple states, and has helped with many wins on topics from personalized learning to teacher effectiveness to career readiness. But Patricia deserves special thanks for her work on school-level accountability. Due in large part to Patricia and her team, state accountability systems under ESSA will be clearer and more rigorous than ever before. Twelve states will use A-F systems, and another five will use zero-to-five stars. That is a remarkable number, especially given the ongoing backlash to testing, and it’s largely because of Patricia’s vision and persistence.

Todd Ziebarth

Senior Vice President for State Advocacy and Support, NAPCS

In his role at NAPCS, Todd Ziebarth has helped groups across the country advocate for better school choices, which has resulted in better education for thousands of children. Todd is a dedicated convener and supporter of state-based advocacy groups and charter support organizations. He has helped states develop smart new charter laws, and take established charter state laws from good to great.

Todd has a relentless focus on student outcomes and his guidance helps keep the bipartisan reform movement focused on shared goals and objectives. He also has helped shape national narratives about charter schools in a time of political instability. Todd’s impact stretches far beyond charter schools, and reformers are lucky to have him.

Chad Aldis

Vice President for Ohio Policy and Advocacy, Thomas B. Fordham Institute-Ohio

In his work nationally and in Ohio, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s Chad Aldis exemplifies the values revered by all members of the PIE Network. Like many other leaders in the network, he is 100% committed to what’s best for students, and to making America’s schools into institutions we can be proud of. But he combines principle and passion with tactical and strategic smarts as well—which is why he and his team at Fordham-Ohio have had so many policy wins in recent years, even when fighting the fight all alone. From the Buckeye State’s historic—and long-overdue—overhaul of its charter school policies, to taking a lonely and eventually successful stand for the state’s rigorous graduation requirements, Chad has demonstrated good judgment and effective leadership in the service of children.

He has brought that same ethic of service to other members of the Network. As Luke Ragland from Ready Colorado says, “Chad is happy to spend time listening to problems other state advocates are facing in order to help them craft solutions.  He is genuinely interested in helping move the reform movement forward, even when it is outside Ohio.” Chad has become a national leader on issues including accountability for virtual charter schools, policies for charter school authorizers, and college and career ready graduation standards. Perhaps most impressively in this polarized, highly partisan age, Chad has earned respect from partners across the ideological spectrum for his pragmatic approach to solving problems and identifying solutions.

Evan Stone

Co-Founder & Co-CEO, Educators for Excellence

In a year of change and challenge for the teaching profession, Educators for Excellence’s Evan Stone has been a leading force ensuring that teachers’ perspectives are understood, heard, and acted on. In the run up to and wake of the Janus decision, Evan has offered Network members and the broader public a candid, forward-looking perspective on the future of teachers unions. E4E’s teacher survey is a groundbreaking, sometimes convention-defying look at teacher perspectives on issues impacting the profession, from economic security to school safety to accountability and choice.

E4E has also been a leading voice on fair, effective school discipline in local board meetings, statehouses, and Washington. And, under Evan’s leadership, E4E’s state and local chapters have been active, effective members of coalitions alongside Network members and other diverse advocates. In an ed reform community that has, quite frankly, struggled with whether and how to incorporate teacher perspective, Evan is teaching us all a necessary—and inspiring—lesson.

John B. King Jr.

President & CEO, The Education Trust

Throughout his career, but especially during the past few years, there is no advocate who has done more to continue the fight to keep the public’s attention on the need for equity and excellence in our public schools for all students than John King. Throughout his career in education, John King has been a strong and passionate voice for all students but especially for our most marginalized students. President Obama called King “an exceptionally talented educator,” committed to “preparing every child for success.” As a teacher, principal, charter school founder, state commissioner, U.S. Secretary of Education, and now, CEO of The Education Trust, he has consistently emphasized the urgency of closing achievement and opportunity gaps to educators, district leaders, policymakers, and political leaders.

John’s entire life story is an extraordinary testament to the transformative power of education. Both of King’s parents were career New York City public school educators, who passed away from illness by the time he was 12 years old. He credits New York City public school teachers for saving his life by providing him with rich and engaging educational experiences and by giving him hope for the future. His life and career are models for all of us as educators, reformers, and social justice advocates who aspire to the promise of “all means all.”

Winners will be announced at the PIE Network 2018 Summit on Thursday, Oct. 4.

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    Ashley Schmidt

    Ashley is PIE Network's Senior Director of Member Engagement & Communications

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