Our Team



A diverse group of dynamic individuals make up the leadership team at Eduventures. Their challenge and purpose is to make a fundamental impact for our company, our clients, and the markets we serve.

Bob Blakeley, President and COO

Bob Blakeley is President and Chief Operating Officer of Eduventures where he is responsible for managing day-to-day business operations while driving company initiatives to achieve and surpass revenue targets, profitability, cash flow and business goals. Prior to joining Eduventures Bob was Group Vice President, Supply Chain Management for Gartner, Inc. He was the Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer from 2007 to 2009 and Chief Financial Officer from 1999 to 2007 at AMR Research where he was responsible for providing operational guidance and financial discipline to all business activities. Bob was Vice President and Corporate Controller at XTRA Corporation, a publicly held transportation equipment leasing company, from 1991 to 1999. Bob received his B.S. in Accounting from the University of Rhode Island and earned his MBA from Boston University.


Richard Garrett, Chief Research Officer

Richard Garrett is Chief Research Officer at Eduventures, spearheading the company’s new research direction. Richard has 20 years experience in higher education research, consulting and policy. He combines his work at Eduventures with leading the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education, a think tank focused on global developments in online learning, internationalization and commercial activity and partnerships. The Observatory is part of i-graduate, the UK higher education research and consulting firm. Prior to Eduventures, Richard was North America Director for i-graduate, working with clients of the International Student Barometer, the world’s largest survey of the international student experience. From 2005-2013, Richard led Eduventures online higher education practice. Richard has also worked as a researcher in the School of Education at the University of Surrey in the UK and as a policy analyst at the UK Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. He has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from King’s College London and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education from the University of Cambridge.


Nancy Gendron, Vice President of Higher Education Services

Nancy Gendron joins Eduventures with over 20 years of leadership and executive management experience in the end user research field. During the past four years, Nancy was responsible for building a global supply chain sales team of 70 sales associates while more than tripling the annual contract value for the supply chain end user business at Gartner, Inc. Prior to that, Nancy spent 12 years at AMR Research where she held many roles and ultimately was responsible for the go-to-market strategy for the entire end user business – including sales, client services, peer forums and contract negotiation.
Prior to joining AMR Research, Nancy served as the vice president of worldwide contracts and special bids at Marcam Solutions, Inc. While there, she was responsible for all worldwide software and service contract negotiations, development, rollout and maintenance of worldwide pricing, multinational sales and special bid programs in all direct and affiliate operations. Prior to her tenure at Marcam, Nancy served in various management roles at Dun & Bradstreet Software and McCormack & Dodge. Nancy holds a B.A. Degree in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts.


Chris Johnson, Vice President, Technology Strategies

Chris Johnson brings 28 years of sales and management experience, 20 of those years in the technology research industry, to his role at Eduventures. In his current role, Chris is responsible for Eduventures worldwide client base consisting of technology vendors and service providers.
Previously, Chris was the Executive Vice President for AMR Research’s Global Technology Business Unit. From leading global sales to serving as part of the senior management team for eight years, Chris held various positions during his 15 years with AMR Research. In addition, he led AMR Research’s initial sales launch into the EMEA region. Prior to AMR Research, as well as after the acquisition of AMR by Gartner, Chris spent all three years with Gartner in sales related roles. Chris holds a BS in Systems Planning and Management from the Stevens Institute of Technology.


Cara A. Quackenbush, Vice President, Research

As the vice president of research for Eduventures, Cara is responsible for guiding the depth and breadth of the company’s research coverage and rigorous research methodologies and standards. Prior to joining Eduventures, Cara was an advancement professional with more than a decade of fundraising, management, marketing, and accounting experience at institutions of higher education. Cara’s experience spans annual giving, major giving, volunteer management, alumni engagement, parent fundraising, and planned giving. She has also conducted research on management practices and strategies in higher education, including higher education accounting practices, presidential leadership techniques, and legal policies affecting planned giving. Cara is a frequent presenter at industry conferences and events, including CASE, and her work has been published in CASE Currents. Cara was the Associate Director of Gift Planning at Boston College, where she helped launch the university’s $1.5 billion capital campaign as well as its first-ever legacy gift campaign. Cara also worked in both the annual fund and the office of planned giving at her alma mater, Santa Clara University, where she earned her B.A. in journalism. Cara holds an MBA and an MS in accounting from the Carroll School of Management at Boston College.


Ellen Slaby, Vice President, Marketing

As vice president of marketing, Ellen is responsible for demand generation, brand strategy, public relations, corporate communications and strategy execution. Ellen is a seasoned marketing executive with 20 years of experience building brands, executing winning communication strategies and generating revenue through innovative demand generation programs.

Her experience as a senior marketing executive in both B to B and non-profit organizations has provided organizations with quantifiable results through targeted media and social outreach, public relations and brand strategy execution. Her experience includes managing and mentoring teams, recruiting employees and managing contractors. She has directed all facets of marketing at both early-stage and mature companies including strategy, planning, budgeting and execution. She has held vice president and senior marketing roles at Harvard Business School Publishing, Centra Software, Saba Software, VDC Research Group and SandPoint Corporation. She was named one of the top 20 public relations professionals by PR Week magazine.


Cara Palmerino, Director, Finance

Director of Finance Cara Palmerino directs and executes the company’s accounting; sales; and financial planning, reporting, and analysis functions. Cara brings experience from a variety of financial, sales, and marketing management roles in the high-tech market and has served clients in the infrastructure, security, vendor, and education sectors. Before joining Eduventures in 2013, she spent more than eight years at Forrester Research, where she managed the sales planning and analysis team and helped establish the financial planning and analysis team to support the company’s diverse business units. Cara earned a B.A. in business management from St. Anselm College and an MBA in finance from Bentley University.



Our research team represents some of the brightest and most experienced research analysts in the industry. As foremost experts in domains specific to higher education, their goal is to create competitive advantage for the institutions we serve.


Jeff Alderson, Principal Analyst

Jeff has over 15 years of education technology experience. Prior to joining the Eduventures team, Jeff was Lead Architect at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and spent 10 years in a variety of senior management roles including the Boston-based startup ConnectEDU. He advises several non-profits in the education technology sector, most notably the P20 Education Standards Council (PESC) and the Access 4 Learning (A4L) Community. Jeff is a U.S. Air Force veteran and is a graduate of Worcester Polytechnic Institute.


Catherine Birdwell, Manager, Higher Education Client Services

Catherine leads the Client Research Team in ensuring that our members see tangible results from their interactions with Eduventures. Prior to joining the firm, Catherine was a research fellow at the Harvard Law School Immigration Program where she worked with faculty to plan curriculum and collaborated with the director to publish a textbook. Catherine has experience addressing a range of School of Education oriented initiatives including: aggregating the range of responses to pressing issues such as edTPA implementation and state legislation that deemphasizes the value of advanced degrees in teacher preparation and helping schools identify alternative revenue streams in light of decreasing enrollments in traditional teacher preparation and continuing education programs. Catherine holds a B.A. in International Studies and French from Rhodes College and a J.D. cum laude from The Catholic University of America. Catherine is an active instructor in English as a Second Language programs, teaching English to refugees and leading weekly conversation groups for non-native English speakers.


Anna Cervisi, Client Research Analyst

As a Client Research Analyst, Anna serves our higher education technology clients. She worked in undergraduate enrollment management at Boston University, spending most of her time in the admissions office, assisting with on-campus recruitment and yield events. She spent time in Washington, D.C. at Gephardt Government Affairs working under the managing partner, who was the Chief of Staff to former House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt. Anna received her B.S. in Secondary Education and Ed.M. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Boston University’s School of Education.


Nicholas Dials, Client Research Analyst

As a Client Research Analyst, Nick serves our institutional partners in our Online and Continuing Education service area. Before joining Eduventures, Nick was a Project Coordinator for the Office for Scholarly Communication at Harvard University. Having worked in higher education and scholarly publishing, his interests focus on the changing economic landscape of higher education as technology continues to evolve learning and research output. He holds a B.A. in English from Lee University, an M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of Georgia, and a Master’s in Religion and Literature from Harvard.


Jennifer Gray, Operations Analyst, Research and Special Projects

Jennifer is a Senior Research Associate who conducts research and manages multiple projects within different domains in higher education. She employs a variety of qualitative and quantitative research methodologies to make actionable recommendations for our clients. Jennifer has worked for over a decade in education and has been involved in teaching children, training teachers, and designing curriculum. Prior to working at Eduventures, Jennifer worked at non-profit organization, Facing History and Ourselves, and researched content to include in educational publications, such as Eyes on the Prize, a guide to accompany the PBS television series. While obtaining her master’s degree in education from Lesley University, Jennifer was an education consultant that worked with teachers, school administrators, and parents to support children with special needs in public schools and early childhood centers. She regularly volunteers at The Children’s Room and co-leads a support group for 10-13 year olds that are grieving the loss of a parent. She received her B.A. in Social Sciences from the University at Buffalo.

Wesley Hartwell, Operations Analyst – Sales & Research

In partnership with the Client Research and Core Research teams at Eduventures, Wesley directs a steady flow of relevant and actionable research to our membership. Previously, Wesley worked closely with Online & Continuing Education and Schools of Education clients as a member of our Client Services team, where he enjoyed connecting clients with Eduventures’ wealth of data and insights and fostering opportunities for collaboration among higher education leaders. Wesley’s history in research, advisory, and higher education spans over 4 years, including content development and operational support for a legal-economic peer group of European and American judges and CLOs, and teaching and administrative roles in Williamstown, France, and South Korea. Wesley graduated with Honors from Bowdoin College, where he earned a B.A. in Government and Environmental Studies.


Michael Hollis, Client Research Analyst

Mike joins Eduventures with experience working in higher education development for both centralized and decentralized, large and small offices. Prior to joining us, Mike was a Leadership Gift Officer at Harvard Law School, managing the southern territories of the United States and developing programming that would identify and engage the future leaders of the School. Mike also worked at Boston College and Boston College Law School, first in the Corporate & Foundations Relations office and later managing the annual fund for the Law School. Before entering the development world, Mike worked for State Street Bank and Trust where he handled multi-billion dollar mutual funds and worked with clients to ensure the proper accounting of said funds. He graduated from Boston College in 2006 with a B.S. in marketing and returned to Boston College in 2010 to earn an M.B.A., focusing specifically on organizational management and leadership.


Mughees Khan, Research Analyst

Mughees is responsible for providing quantitative and qualitative analyses that inform data-driven recommendations and tactics for higher education clients. As a member of the quantitative research team, Mughees has contributed to insights on hiring trends and the underserved specialization areas of K-12 schools to benefit our Schools of Education clients. Prior to Eduventures, Mughees worked as a Research Assistant at the Center for Education Policy Research, where he prepared teacher-level data for future analyses. He holds an Ed.M. in Education Policy and Management from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, and graduated summa cum laude from Stony Brook University with a B.A. in philosophy and psychology.


Bob Kraus, Principal Analyst

Bob Kraus is a Principal Analyst on our Quantitative Research team. In this role he is responsible for synthesizing survey, institutional, and secondary source data to provide data-driven, actionable insight for clients across the higher education landscape.

Prior to joining Eduventures, Bob held quantitative research management and analyst positions at IDC, Gartner, and AMR Research covering the Internet of Things, enterprise software, and consumer technology. He has focused on market requirements, forecasting, segmentation, feature trade-off and pricing research. Recently he has been researching the impact of the Internet of Things on the government, retail, transportation, manufacturing and other industries. Bob has conducted research consulting engagements for SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, Intel, Adobe and PTC among others. Early in his career, Bob worked at Bay Networks, Wellfleet Communications, IBM and Digital Equipment in engineering and research roles. Bob received a Master of Science degree in Experimental Statistics from the University of Rhode Island, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from the University of Vermont.


Amber Laxton, Senior Analyst

Amber joins Eduventures with eight years of experience in continuing and professional education. Prior to joining the research team, she was the Director of Academic Services at UCSC Silicon Valley Extension, overseeing the management of four academic programs areas. Before UCSC, Amber worked as the Enrollment Services Manager at DePaul University in Chicago, administering academic and student services for the department of Continuing and Professional Education. She has expertise in optimizing technology solutions in continuing education organizations to improve operational efficiency and student services.

Amber is from Chicago where she graduated with a B.S. in Political Science and earned a M.S. in Public Service Management. She also completed doctoral coursework in Public Administration and earned a fellowship with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a leading technology think tank in Washington, D.C.


Howard Lurie, Principal Analyst

Howard joins Eduventures with more than 20 years of experience in developing and implementing online education technology solutions for the higher education, corporate and K-12 markets.  As part of Consulting Services for Education (CS4Ed), Howard has worked with a variety of higher education and K-12 clients in online and continuing education. Howard also served as Managing Director for Academic Partnerships at Acrobatiq, where he led efforts to secure new partnerships and revenue from a range of higher education institutions, as well as a major grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Howard also served as a Vice President for External Affairs at edX, and was the Managing Director for PBS LearningMedia. Earlier, he directed online teacher professional development programs for WGBH and for Facing History and Ourselves. Howard is also active in a variety of Boston-area online education start-ups and advisory boards, including BaleFire Labs, Harvard Medical School’s MedScience, Northeastern University’s Lowell Institute Incubator, and the STEAM Studio Academy. Howard is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Teachers’ College, Columbia University.


Noah Lynn, Research Analyst

Noah joins Eduventures with extensive work experience in education and technology. Prior to joining Eduventures, Noah was a lead researcher and developer of a Spanish language electronic health system for Medical Information Technology, Inc. Noah also worked as a K-12 educator in Quito, Ecuador, designed bilingual curricula, and helped the school earn International Baccalaureate World School status. Noah also keeps active with local non-profit organizations. Most recently he has served on the Board of Directors for the New England Translators Association, managing annual conferences and analytics. He holds an M.S. in Business Analytics from Bentley University and earned a B.A. in History and Spanish from the University of Vermont.


Kim Reid, Principal Analyst

Kim brings a wealth of advanced analytical capability in market research, assessment, and program evaluation to her work, and combines evidence and expertise to help clients make strategic decisions that shape the future of their institution. She has over 20 years of experience in research and consulting in education. Most recently, Kim served as Vice President of Research Operations at Maguire Associates, a research based consulting firm focused on enrollment management, where she created new lines of business in brand analytics specific to higher education, pricing and value, and strategic academic program management.

She graduated with a B.A. in philosophy from Duke University, holds an M.S. from the New House School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, and completed Ph. D. coursework in communications at Indiana University, Bloomington.


Benjamin J. Schools, Senior Analyst

Ben joins the Eduventures team with over 16 years of experience in development and alumni relations. Prior to joining the team, Ben was Director of Data Services at Emmanuel College in Boston for seven years. During his time at Emmanuel, Ben’s interdisciplinary approach to problem solving helped him excel in developing a strategic approach to fundraising based on data-driven decisions. Before Emmanuel College, Ben served as Director of Development Services for three years at Williamson College of the Trades, Media, PA, and instituted the position of Data Center Manager at Intercollegiate Studies Institute in Delaware. In each of those roles his fundraising insights and analysis led to successful capital campaigns. Ben holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Emmanuel College.


Karen Svarczkopf, Senior Analyst

Karen is responsible for advising schools of education, and providing data-driven research on innovative, best practices. She has over ten years of experience in the education sector: teaching high school English and history for seven years, conducting research projects on improving educator preparation programs, and helping higher ed institutions maximize use of their student information and online learning management systems. Karen graduated magma cum laude with B.A.’s in English and History from Northeastern University, in addition to earning her Massachusetts’ teaching certification through NU’s School of Education. She also holds an Ed.M. in Education Policy and Management from Harvard Graduate School of Education.


Johanna Trovato, Client Research Analyst

As a Client Research Analyst, Johanna serves as a strategic thought partner for higher education leaders across the student lifecycle. Previously, Johanna was a Consultant at Maguire Associates where she started her career in higher education market research nearly a decade ago. Growing through various roles at the organization, Johanna not only honed her quantitative and qualitative skill set but also became well-versed in the issues her higher education clients were facing across the enrollment lifecycle. During this time, she discovered her passion for client-facing work and connecting research with her clients’ needs. Originally from Germany, she graduated from Justus Liebig University in Giessen with a Diplom degree (equivalent of a M.S.) in Social Sciences before she relocated to the United States.


James Wiley, Principal Analyst

James joins Eduventures with over 13 years of education technology experience. Prior to joining the research team, James was Executive Vice President of Enterprise Services at the Center for Educational Leadership and Technology (CELT). James lead efforts to develop a network infrastructure redesign project for a Texas school district rollout of instructional tablets and to develop a statewide information security management system for over 400 school districts for the Massachusetts Department of Education. Before CELT, James successfully designed and managed over 15 large-scale education technology engagements, including the New York State Education Portal, the Rhode Island Department of Education Statewide Longitudinal Data System, and the Hawaii Enterprise Application Integration Solution projects. James has a wealth of experience in education technology and helping all stakeholders understand the steps required to successfully implement and manage enterprise systems.

James lives in Providence, Rhode Island and holds an MA and a BA in Classics from Cambridge University, a Certificat d’Enseignant in Sociology from L’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, and a BA in Philosophy, Greek and Latin from Lehman College, The City University of New York.


Youme Yai, Quantitative Research Manager

Youme leads the quantitative research team in its responsibilities to manage, execute, and analyze the core survey projects that make up the foundation of Eduventures’ industry-leading research. Prior to her current role, she was a research analyst specializing in higher education fundraising and oversaw research projects for Eduventures’ development content area. She has contributed to research on gift officer performance, advancement operations ROI, and alumni philanthropy. Before Eduventures, Youme was a development officer at a Boston history museum, as well as an associate consultant at a boutique consulting firm specializing in improving work/life balance in universities and corporations. She received a B.A. in history from Wellesley College, with a focus on early American history and material culture.