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Getting Smart Podcast

May 16, 2018

This episode, Tom speaks with Maura Marino — CEO of Education Forward DC. Before helping launch Education Forward DC, Maura held a number of positions at NewSchools Venture Fund where she worked for 8 years. There, she learned a lot about the national picture and how the trends around entrepreneurship and scaling success looked in public education. She was able to see, up close, organizations that were making huge changes in education.


For the last 20 years, NewSchools Venture Fund has really been the epicenter of education entrepreneurship. Originally founded by Kim Smith, NewSchools really took the idea of designing and incubating new school models to the next level. Since leaving NewSchools, Maura started up Education Forward DC to help support visionary leaders in the city who are working to ensure that all students have equitable access to excellent public education.


In their conversation, Tom and Maura talk about her education; studying at Stanford University, Harvard Business School, and Teachers College of Columbia University; as well as her prior careers, teaching at East Palo Alto and working with NewSchools Venture Fund. She discusses the work and progress made at NewSchools, her work and mission with Education Forward DC, and their work with Education Cities and harbormaster organizations.


Key Takeaways:

[:33] Tom welcomes Maura Marino to the podcast.

[:36] About Maura’s upbringing and education in New Jersey.

[1:39] How and why she ended up going to Stanford University in California.

[2:31] About Maura’s teaching career after college in East Palo Alto, CA.

[4:40] Why Maura decided to go to Harvard Business School, after getting her Masters from Columbia.

[5:50] Was going to Harvard Business School a good experience for Maura?

[7:04] The different positions Maura held at NewSchools Venture Fund (where she stayed for 8 years).

[8:19] More about NewSchools and the visionary work of the early leaders.

[10:52] About the two-year-old organization Maura helped launch called Education Forward DC, and about its mission.

[11:52] Does Maura’s work with Education Forward DC build on any cities in particular?

[13:25] Does Maura see NewSchool development remaining an important part of creating a healthy ecosystem in DC?

[16:29] How the DC Public Charter School Board are an important part of the success story.

[17:44] Is school improvement an important part of Education Forward DC’s agenda?

[18:33] NewSchools relationship with the district now.

[19:34] Does Maura have the sense that these ecosystem leaders (or “quarterback organizations”) can help bring sustainability to an urban innovation and improvement agenda? Can they be part of the bridge that keeps things together in a city when the district may be undergoing change?

[21:46] Does working with like-minded schools in a network resonate with Maura and her work with Education Forward DC?


Mentioned in This Episode:

Stanford University

East Palo Alto Academy

Harvard Business School

NewSchools Venture Fund

NewSchools Summit

U.S. Department of Education

Education Forward DC

Education Cities

New Schools for New Orleans

DC Public Charter School Board


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