Philip Gattone '00 | CEO, Epilepsy Foundation of America
Age: 49 | Degree: M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction
In 1991, Philip Gattone’s life hit a crossroads when his 4-year-old son was diagnosed with epilepsy. Gattone and his wife, Jill, enjoying successful business careers, made the decision to exit the corporate world and devote their working lives to securing resources and opportunities for Americans with epilepsy. Today, Philip, 49, is the CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation of America, a national volunteer agency dedicated to promoting the welfare of the nearly 3 million Americans with epilepsy and their families.
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Ziomara Perez '97 | Founder, SwaziKids International
Age: 37 | Degree: B.A. Early Childhood Education and Human Development
Can preschoolers be taught the concept of philanthropy? Ziomara Perez's classroom is living proof that kids as young as four understand the joy of giving. Ziomara, 37, is also a co-founder of SwaziKids International, which stemmed from a 2007 trip she and a colleague took to southern Africa, where they witnessed the ragged state of schools, lack of school supplies and absence of technology. She returned with the idea of engaging her young students to help make a difference.
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Andrew Clements ’72 | Children’s Author
Age: 63 | Degree: M.A. Teaching
Andrew Clements is the author of more than 50 children’s books, including the children’s classic “Frindle,” which has sold more than 2.5 million copies. In early 2013, Andrew’s newest book, “In Harm’s Way,” will be published as part of the “Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School” series. The New York Times has described his books as “a genius of gentle, high-concept tales set in suburban middle schools.” “My years as a teacher are instrumental to the intent of my writing,” Andrew said. “I want to provide a good learning and thinking experience for kids in my books.”
Blakely Bundy '85 | Executive Director, Alliance for Early Childhood
Age: 68 | Degree: M.Ed. Early Childhood Education
Blakely Bundy has been the executive director of the Winnetka, Ill.-based Alliance for Early Childhood since 1989, leading an organization dedicated to providing services to parents and teachers of children from infancy through age 8 to promote healthy growth and development. In 2013, the Alliance is focused on promoting physical activity, expanding its “Let’s Play Initiative,” which encourages reduced screen time and recess time during the school day and advocating for the creation of “play streets” cut off from traffic. “It’s a joy to be working in these communities and really allow children to still have a childhood,” Blakely said.
Joan Blount ’57 | Parenting Specialist
Age: 76 | Degree: B.A. Elementary Education
Joan Blount’s mission is caring for children. Since 1965, Joan has been providing young mothers with the tools to raise their children. Now, she is actively working to involve incarcerated fathers with their families as research has shown that even when not physically present, a father can still have a positive impact on the growth and development of his children. Her work has given the men she supports the motto “you can parent from a distance.” “I believe that educating, informing and supporting parents is some of the most important work to be done,” Joan said.
Jose Rico ’04 | White House Initiative-Education Excellence for Hispanics
Age: 42 | Degree: M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision
When José Rico talks about carrying out the strategic plans of his boss, that talk is pretty serious: his boss is President Barack Obama. As executive director, José has been charged with helping to push forward the president's education reform agenda and improve academic achievement of Hispanic students in the U.S. José's focus for 2013 mirrors the President's agenda: access to and affordability of higher education for all students. "The most rewarding piece is that I know that today with my office and with the President the opportunity is going to be given to tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of more students," José said.
Margena Christian ’93 | Senior Writer, EBONY Magazine
Age: 45 | Degree: M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction
Margena Christian is a senior writer at EBONY Magazine in Chicago. She writes entertainment and human interest features for EBONY and covers health/fitness and spirituality for its ELEVATE section. Look for her cover story on Bishop T.D. Jakes in the February issue, along with interviews with Star Jones and R&B group New Edition. She's also excited to obtain her Ed.D. in Adult and Continuing Education from NLU in June 2013. "As a writer and as an educator, I enjoy the freedom of riding the rhythm," Margena said of her work. "By this I mean that no two days are alike. I enjoy each teachable moment as it freely unfolds."
Robb Janov ’96 | Founder, Jefferson Middle School Rock & Rhythm Band
Age: 44 | Degree: M.A. Teaching Elementary Education
Robb Janov is a musician at heart. That may be part of the reason why the Rock and Rhythm Band class he founded is so successful the class has its own waiting list. The class introduces students to music theory and performance through class-wide performance of classic rock favorites. “A lot of kids tell me, ‘This is the thing that helps me survive the school day,’” Janov said. “They are yearning for a sense of belonging and a sense of empowerment.” In September 2012, Janov was invited to participate in the TEDx Talks series and in March will be receiving a Creative Bravos Award in March 2013.
Tamara Anderson ’04 | Founder of The Voices Project
Age: 39 | Degree: M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction
Tamara Anderson is the creator of the Voices Project, a workshop series aimed at helping teens and young adults in Philadelphia who have dropped out of school or have been adjudicated to tackle issues they face through creative writing. Tamara fused the first batch of work produced by the project into a play and is scheduling readings of the script for 2013 with local middle and high schools. She combines her years as a teacher and her experience as a professional actress with her NLU training. "The strategies I learned at NLU allowed me to make connections between research and what is occurring in the field," she said.