EdTech Heroes: 25 State Leaders Making a Difference

EdScoop Staff
EdScoop Staff

(EdScoop Illustration)

The extensive influence of technology in education hasn't happened overnight, or on its own. It's occurred, in large part, because of thousands of dedicated individuals who've sacrificed their time, volunteered their talents and committed their careers to putting technology to work in the classroom and on campus.

EdScoop has taken a step back from the technology to recognize some of the faces behind the edtech innovations — the people who have made it possible.

“EdTech Heroes: 25 State Leaders Making a Difference” is a project that highlights individuals who have demonstrated innovative practices and leadership in harnessing technology to support education across their states.

In selecting the 25 heroes, we looked for people whose work reached primarily across the state level. We also sought individuals who spearheaded projects or championed major initiatives — those who were willing to take a bold idea and turn it into something tangible, with real, measurable results.

These "edtech heroes" collectively represent state departments of education, renowned edtech organizations, large universities and university systems, education research centers and more. What they have in common: Each has made significant contributions to their states in the field of education technology — based on comments and recommendations gathered by EdScoop from educators, colleagues, peers and leaders in industry associations.

Each weekday, from Sept. 25 to Oct. 27, we revealed a new "edtech hero." We know this list represents just the tip of the iceberg and that every state has many exceptional educators and tech specialists. But we hope this compilation, "EdTech Heroes: 25 State Leaders Making a Difference," will help bring attention to much of the great work being done to use technology more effectively in education.

Read about some of the major initiatives and projects each hero has championed in his or her state by clicking the links below.

Bob SwiggumChief Information OfficerGeorgia Department of Education

Swiggum built a Statewide Longitudinal Data System that “changed the conversation” and has become a model for other states.

Candice DodsonDirector of eLearningIndiana Department of Education

Dodson introduced and implemented a program to make virtual school days part of the state's academic calendar.

Jon CorippoInterim Executive DirectorCUE

Corippo established a professional development program at CUE to guide educators as they learn how to better utilize technology and engage their students.

Kimberley HarringtonCommissionerNew Jersey Department of Education

Harrington pioneered a certification process for schools in her state to incorporate digital learning strategies.

Phil EmerDirector of Technology Planning and PolicyThe Friday Institute, North Carolina State University

Emer is leading North Carolina to a historic first: offering unlimited broadband to every classroom in the state.

Ann-Marie MapesEducation Technology ConsultantMichigan Department of Education

Mapes’ work on the MI Roadmap is transforming education through technology and driving the state’s goal to become an education destination.

Reg LeichtyFounding PartnerForesight Law + Policy

Leichty provides "analysis and well-reasoned recommendations" about broadband, student data privacy and OER to education agencies and associations.

Rick SluderVice Provost for Student SuccessMiddle Tennessee State University

Sluder has used a data analytics system to push Middle Tennessee State University to its highest retention rate in the history of the institution.

Jennifer BerglandDirector of Government RelationsTexas Computer Education Association (TCEA)

Bergland organized grassroots support and drafted seven bills to back digital learning in her state.

Laurel BallardStudent/Teacher Resources Team SupervisorWyoming Department of Education

Ballard has connected rural schools to high-speed internet and "worked tirelessly" to implement a statewide learning management system.

Doug CaseyExecutive DirectorConnecticut Commission for Educational Technology

Casey brings innovation to edtech, having helped save $5 million for Connecticut’s school districts this year alone.

Kim NesmithData Governance and Privacy DirectorLouisiana Department of Education

Nesmith has shepherded school systems in the state as they navigate "one of the most restrictive student privacy laws in the nation."

Sarah YoungCoordinator for Digital Teaching and LearningUtah State Board of Education

Young has helped local education agencies become eligible for digital learning grants and promoted competency-based learning.

Jeff MaoSenior Director for EducationCommon Sense Education

From Future Ready Schools to statewide one-to-one initiatives, Mao brings "a wealth of experience and knowledge ... that few, if any, could match."

Rep. Craig HornRepublican MemberNorth Carolina General Assembly

From "full-time grandparent" to state lawmaker, Horn advocates for technology-enabled learning and wireless broadband access for all.

Jill StaceyData Privacy AnalystColorado Department of Education

Stacey invokes her expertise in data privacy to help districts responsibly adopt new educational technology.

Timothy RenickVice President for Enrollment and Student SuccessGeorgia State University

Renick's GPS Advising system analyzes student data to produce measurable results. Fourteen other colleges in the state have already implement it.

Janice MertesAssistant Director for Instructional Media and TechnologyWisconsin Department of Public Instruction

Mertes has been essential in writing the state’s new digital learning plan and explaining it to the public.

Todd LawrenceE-rate CoordinatorIdaho State Department of Education

Lawrence doesn't just connect schools in Idaho to broadband. He ensures that connectivity is high-quality and low-cost.

Barbara SootsOpen Educational Resources Program ManagerWashington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction

Soots “listens, advises and gently nudges” districts to understand and embrace open educational resources.

Bobby KeenerChief Technology Innovations OfficerVirginia Department of Education

Through dynamic learning programs and increased edtech resources, Keener encourages students to approach learning with an innovative spirit.

Val EmrichDirector of Instructional TechnologyMaryland State Department of Education

Under Emrich's leadership, "accessibility for all students" has become a major theme in statewide meetings, conferences and events.

David CouchChief Information Officer and Associate CommissionerKentucky Department of Education

Couch’s department has been a leading force in internet access for Kentucky students for over 25 years.

Rick GaisfordEducation Technology SpecialistUtah State Board of Education

Gaisford drove the development of a program that is expanding the use of digital tools in classrooms across the state.

Darshell SilvaLibrarian and Technology Integration SpecialistRocky Hill School

Silva has trained hundreds of teachers, librarians and school administrators in technology integration and blending learning.