We are thrilled to introduce Transcend’s new leadership team: the Navigators! Composed of experienced, passionate and innovation-focused education professionals, this group will help Transcend operate in a more integrated and focused way, ultimately allowing us to better serve school communities. Meet the Navigators!

Lavada Berger, Co-Head of Portfolios

Lavada is a founding teammate at Transcend and has her fingerprints on nearly every part of the organization. Today, as Co-Head of Portfolios, she stewards Transcend’s Portfolio teams. In deep partnership with school communities and other organizations, Portfolios design, build, and share powerful learning environments, supporting resources, and insights so that eventually every place of learning and every school system is focused on and resourced toward helping young people thrive.

Lavada brings a wealth of experience to her work, including experience as an educator, school designer, therapist, and management consultant. She is an attentive listener, skilled team and people developer, and energy-shifting facilitator. She carries with her an unshakable belief that learning environments can be designed to support young people to achieve their biggest dreams. She loves spontaneous weekend trips and learning new (life) skills, such as swimming and oil painting. She has a BA from Harvard and a MA in Counseling from UPENN and currently lives in New Jersey.

Katie Bowen, Co-Head of Portfolios

As a Chief Portfolio Officer at Transcend, Katie co-leads our portfolios to deepen our impact with school partners, increase access so that many more communities are able to go on design journeys, and influence system conditions (e.g. policy, funding) that make more of these journeys possible. This includes envisioning the next phase of our strategy and steering the team through change while continuing to strengthen our organizational culture and financial health.

Katie began her career as a middle school math teacher and coach, and spent nearly a decade leading design teams responsible for creating teacher professional development rooted in the science of adult learning. Prior to joining Transcend in 2017, she worked as a leadership coach supporting senior leaders with habits and systems to lead high-performing teams that focus on people, process and results. Katie lives with her family in Northern Virginia.

Josh Edelman, Chief Network Officer

Since December 2022, Josh has served as Transcend’s Chief Network Officer focused on building a vibrant national community of visionary stakeholders throughout the field to advance innovation and prepare all young people to thrive in and transform the world.

Prior to Transcend, Josh worked for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as a Senior Program Officer then Deputy Director in the K-12 program, Chicago and DC Public Schools creating and improving school options and learning environments, was the principal at The SEED School, a public charter boarding school in Washington DC, and taught high school social studies in Massachusetts and California.

Josh has a B.A in American History from Harvard University, a Master’s in Education from Stanford University, and a Master’s in Educational Administration, also from Stanford University. Josh lives in DC with his wife, Heather, and has two young adult daughters, Ellika and Zoe.

Jenee Henry Wood, Chief Learning Officer

Jenee is Transcend’s Chief Learning Officer and co-author of the forthcoming book (Jossey-Bass, 2024), Extraordinary Learning for All: How Communities Design Schools Where Everyone Thrives. She oversees learning and development. She plays a key role in shaping and communicating Transcend’s mission, insights, and impact. Jenee started her career as an educator in Atlanta and has been nationally recognized for outstanding teaching. Jenee studied Economics and Russian at Sarah Lawrence and at Oxford. While living in the United Kingdom, she also served as a cellist in the Oxford University Orchestra and is a life member of the Oxford Union debating society. She lives in New Haven, Connecticut.

Ross Lipstein, Head of Products

Ross joined Transcend as a design partner in early 2019, and has been leading Transcend’s Product team since its formation in 2020. Transcend’s Product team compiles tools, resources, and models that are used by schools and systems, and the design partners that support them, to redesign aspects of teaching and learning toward extraordinary learning for all. These products mostly synthesize insights and artifacts gained from hundreds of Transcend’s partnerships with schools and systems across the US over the past decade.

Before joining Transcend, Ross managed research & development at Summit Public Schools, and prior to that, Ross worked in international development focused on both education and agriculture, spending time especially in Ethiopia, India, and South Africa. Ross has an MBA from Stanford, an MPA/ID from Harvard, and an M.Ed. from the Broad Center. Ross lives in Denver, CO with his wife, two children, and mutt, and his favorite podcasts focus on mindfulness, basketball, innovation, and history (not all at once).

Vanessa Mendoza, Chief Operations Officer

Vanessa works to ensure the functions of talent recruitment, people/human resources, finance, operations, and strategy are well coordinated, aligned, and effective in supporting the organization’s current and future programmatic goals and ambitions.

Prior to joining Transcend, Vanessa spent a decade at Teach For America (TFA), where she served in multiple capacities to build and maintain strong, sustainable and equitable operations. During her tenure at TFA, she oversaw some of the organization’s most complex cross-functional projects involving the finance, people/human resources, technology, legal, risk/compliance, and real estate functions. Most recently, she was the Senior Vice President of Enterprise Strategy, where she married ongoing work in support of operational excellence with the strategic evolution of the organization’s overall operating model.

Vanessa has a B.A. in Architecture and Urban Studies from Yale College and an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management. She currently serves on the board of The Next Step Public Charter School in Washington D.C. and lives in Takoma Park, MD, with her husband, Brandon, and son, Miles.

Arielle Rittvo Kinder, Chief Partnerships Officer

Arielle’s 20+ year career in education has been marked by a strong focus on developing strategic partnerships to drive growth and impact of educational initiatives. At Transcend, Arielle leads our efforts to develop and secure partnerships with district and school communities, foundations, non-profits, and other stakeholders to support the redesign of learning experiences. She began her career in the non-profit sector in 1999 as a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs. She then worked at Open Society Foundations supporting out-of-school time initiatives. As KIPP SoCal’s founding COO, she grew the region from 2 to 7 schools. At Rocketship Public Schools, she led new regional growth and operations. She served as a consultant for the Gates Foundation’s innovation and personalized learning initiatives. In 2013, she joined NewSchools Venture Fund and led their Innovative Public Schools investment strategy. Arielle received her BA in Urban Studies from Columbia University and an MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and son.