Our Board

Board of Directors

Elizabeth O'Brien Liz O'Brien Rollover

Elizabeth O’Brien

Board Chairman

Elizabeth O’Brien is an accomplished, high-energy leader with expertise in national partnerships, non-profit relationship building, program development, and community engagement. Elizabeth O’Brien currently serves as the Board Chairman of Freedom Learning Group – an educational content and services provider powered by a global remote network of Military Spouses and Veterans.

Elizabeth, a Military Spouse, sits on The Blue Star Families Advisory Council, The Military Spouse Corporate Career Network Advisory Council, and The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Council. She chairs the state of Virginia Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Previously, Elizabeth served in significant leadership roles as a Senior Director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes and as Chairwoman for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Advisory Committee on Veterans Business Affairs, the first Military Spouse named to the role. Prior to joining the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, O’Brien spent over a decade coaching college women’s basketball at the United States Military Academy at West Point, Hofstra University, and The University of Hawaii.

Elizabeth resides in the Washington, D.C. area with her family. On any given day, she and her family can be found competing or cheering one another on at a sporting event.

Headshot of Michele Baird Michele Baird Family Photo

Michele Baird

Board Member

Michele Baird is the Chief Executive Officer of Freedom Learning Group and serves on its board of directors.

Before coming on board as CEO in April 2022, Michele had cultivated 35 years of experience in the education space, most recently as Chief Operating Officer of Six Red Marbles and was responsible for the company’s worldwide sales and operations. Prior to joining Six Red Marbles, she was Vice President of Enterprise Solutions at Cengage Learning, where she built a content services organization that developed over a thousand customized online courses for Higher Education customers. She also led the custom solutions line of business and brought the first outcomes-based online course product to market, which won a gold IMS Learning Impact award for impactful use of technology in support of learning and was named a CODIE finalist for best instructional solution. Michele earned a Bachelor of Economics at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and resides in South Carolina.

Ryan Craig Ryan Craig

Ryan Craig

Board Member

Ryan is a Managing Director at Achieve and University Ventures. Ryan’s commentary on where the puck is going in higher education regularly appears in the Gap Letter, Forbes, TechCrunch, Inside Higher Education, Fortune, HR Dive, and VentureBeat, among others. He is the author of A New U: Faster + Cheaper Alternatives to College (Ben Bella, 2018), which describes the critical importance of last-mile training and the emergence of bootcamps, income share programs, staffing and apprenticeship models as preferred pathways to good first digital jobs and was named in the Wall Street Journal as one the Books of the Year for 2018. He is also the author of College Disrupted: The Great Unbundling of Higher Education (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), which profiles the coming shift toward competency-based education and hiring.

Previously, Ryan led the Education & Training sector at Warburg Pincus where he was the founding Director of Zovio (NASDAQ: ZVO), originally Bridgepoint Education, the fastest growing online university in the U.S. His prior experience in online education was at Columbia University. From 2004 to 2010, Ryan founded and built Wellspring, a national network of boarding schools and summer camps for overweight and obese children, adolescents, and young adults. He began his career at McKinsey & Co.

Ryan received bachelor’s degrees summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Yale University, and his law degree from the Yale Law School.

Cassidy Leventhal Cassidy Leventhal

Cassidy Leventhal

Board Member

Cassidy Leventhal is a Vice President at Achieve and University Ventures where she was named a Forbes 30 Under 30 in Education. Previously, Cassidy was a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, where she served public and private sector clients across strategy, organization, and technology initiatives. Key experiences included developing a cost strategy for a leading education company, managing an agile development team of 10+ as a Digital Product Owner (DPO), and leading the Firm’s women’s recruiting at multiple college campuses. Cassidy received her bachelor’s degree summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Barnard College, Columbia University.

Future of Learning Advisory Board

Gen. Robert B. Brown BW Gen. Robert B. Brown

Gen (Ret.) Robert B. Brown, M. Ed., MS.

Advisory Board Member

Gen (Ret) Robert B Brown, M. Ed., MS. is a proven and innovative leader with distinguished experience at the highest levels of the military. Gen (Ret) Brown has been announced as the next President and CEO of the Association of the U.S. Army. Well known for building trust in organizations, he is an authentic leader and team builder with impeccable integrity and broad experience in the operational, strategic, and educational areas of the military, including a role as the Commanding General of US Army Combined Arms Center Home of Command and General Staff and School of Advanced Military Studies. His Army career took him to over 28 countries where he held diverse assignments, including deployments in support of: Operation Uphold Democracy, Haiti; Operation Joint Forge, Bosnia-Herzegovina and two combat deployments to Operation Iraqi Freedom. In his last assignment, Gen (Ret) Brown was responsible for the largest service component command, the U.S. Army, Pacific. Gen (Ret) Brown retired in October 2019 after over 38 years of dedicated service to the Nation.

Lakesha Cole Lakesha Cole

Lakesha Cole

Advisory Board Member

Lakesha Cole is the Owner of she PR, Milspo Media. With over 12 years of experience in communications and public relations, Ms. Cole is a highly regarded communications and media expert having been featured by the Today Show, PBS, NBC News, PBS, CBS This Morning, Fox & Friends, Bustle, Black Enterprise, Military Families Magazine, Military Spouse, and Military.com. Ms. Cole founded she PR at the intersection of her advocacy efforts, media expertise, and new life as a retired Marine spouse. In addition, her business portfolio includes advocating for the military community and shedding light on the many challenges that Military families face, most notably Military Spouse employment.

Angela Jackson Angela Jackson

Angela Jackson, Ph.D.

Advisory Board Member

Angela Jackson, Ph.D. leads New Profit’s Future of Work Initiative, which seeks to close the career-readiness gap for Americans from low-income backgrounds. Her passion and background lie in answering the question: if multinational companies can deliver their products consistently and with quality at scale, what would it take to deliver social interventions like education and health in a similar manner? She began to tackle this question by founding Global Language Project, a social venture aimed at how we prepare students with skills to succeed in a global economy and workforce. Dr. Jackson’s work and writing has been featured in CNN, Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune, Stanford Social Innovation Review and Harvard Business Review.

John Lowry John Lowry

John Lowry, MBA

Advisory Board Member

John Lowry, MBA is a member of Egon Zehnder’s Industrial Practice, with more than 15 years of experience in the industrial sector. He led the firm’s U.S. Supply Chain and Operations Practice in Chicago until taking a leave of absence to serve as the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans’ Employment. The U.S. Senate confirmed his appointment with unanimous consent. Under Mr. Lowry’s leadership, veteran employment improved significantly relative to the non-veteran cohort.

Joe May Joe May

Joe D. May, Ed.D.

Advisory Board Member

Joe D. May, Ed.D. serves as Chancellor of Dallas College. He brings a strong commitment to improving the Dallas economy and growing regional jobs. Under his leadership, the College is taking responsibility for many of the community’s most challenging issues, including regional workforce needs, growth of minority-owned businesses, the negative impacts of income disparity, and providing opportunity equality. As a community leader and educator, Dr. May strongly believes in collaborative efforts and has worked closely with public school districts, sponsored charter schools, career academies, early college high schools, and P-TECH high schools.

Marcia Nuffer Marcia Nuffer

Marcia Nuffer, MBA

Advisory Board Member

Marcia Nuffer, MBA is a global leadership and talent executive, who brings a deep knowledge of learning and development, a strategic business and people perspective, and direct operating experience. Ms. Nuffer started her career as a strategy consultant at McKinsey & Company. In 2003, she became McKinsey’s Global Chief Learning Officer. Today, Ms. Nuffer is the founder of BlueShor; a company focused on accelerating capability building of managers in fast-growth organizations providing individualized, relevant, on-the-job skill-building.