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Meet the OET Team

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Jim Blew

Assistant Secretary, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development; Delegated the authority to perform the functions and duties in the position of the Director of the Office of Educational Technology

Jim Blew is the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Planning Evaluation and Policy Development at the U.S. Department of Education. Prior to joining the Department, Jim advocated for education reform across the country. His roles included serving as the director of the 50CAN affiliate Student Success California, the national president of StudentsFirst, and national director for the Alliance for School Choice and its predecessor, the American Education Reform Council. Jim also helped guide the Walton Family Foundation’s K‑12 Reform investments for nearly a decade. Before committing himself full-time to education reform, Jim worked at political and communications firms in New York and California. He holds a BA from Occidental College and an MBA from the Yale School of Management.

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Jake Steel

Deputy Director, Office of Educational Technology

Jake Steel is the Deputy Director of the Office of Educational Technology and the Senior Advisor over K-12 Education in the Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development at the U.S. Department of Education. Prior to joining the Department, Jake was appointed by the President as a White House Fellow at the Domestic Policy Council. A former math teacher in Oklahoma City, Jake focused on closing the achievement gap through personalized learning and technology. Jake earned a B.S. in communications from Brigham Young University–Idaho and an M.S. in education from Johns Hopkins University.


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Bernadette Adams

Senior Policy Advisor

White House Leadership Fellow

As Senior Policy Advisor, Bernadette has led projects to provide practitioners and policymakers with guidance on: research-based policies and practices implemented by successful Future Ready Leaders; new strategies for evaluating the effectiveness of learning technologies; the role of online communities of practice in enhancing educator performance; exemplary strategies for district leaders to design, acquire, and maintain technology infrastructure; exemplary strategies for developers to leverage technology to solve persistent problems in education; and key considerations for implementing personalized student learning in schools. Prior to joining OET, Bernadette worked to advance the use of technology for workforce development at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Partnership for Reinventing Government, and served as a consultant to design an innovative technology-based science curriculum for the Atlanta Public School District.

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Sara Trettin

Policy Advisor

Broadband, Open Education, & Libraries Lead

Sara leads the broadband and K-12 open education work for the Department, directs digital engagement for the Office of Educational Technology and leads the office’s efforts surrounding libraries and librarians. Sara joined the Department as a Presidential Management Fellow in 2014. While on rotation to the State Department, Sara supported the ECA Collaboratory’s work on open education, open government, and education diplomacy. Prior to joining the Department, she worked as a Learning Services Librarian and served as Teacher in Residence at the Library of Congress. A former teacher, Sara holds a B.A. from Clemson University, a graduate certificate from Duke University, and a Master’s in Library Science from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Sara enjoys making salsa, digging in her backyard, and packing a tent when she travels.

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Sharon Leu

Senior Policy Advisor, Higher Education Innovation

Sharon leads the Office of Educational Technology’s higher education innovation initiatives, including next generation assessments, individualized learning pathways, use of open resources and platforms, and strategic partnerships with stakeholders. Sharon also works in offices across the Department to design programs that improve quality of education and increase success of students and adult learners. Prior to joining OET, Sharon oversaw the design and implementation of the Department of Labor’s $2 billion Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program, the largest federal investment in postsecondary innovation and systematic infrastructure change. Sharon can often be found leaping from boulder to boulder with a heavy backpack and dreams of becoming a park ranger when she grows up.


OET Fellows

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Nik Arur

As a Program Specialist and Education Pioneers Fellow, Nik has been working on defining and developing OET’s role in the Title IV Part A space to better position the Office as a resource for state and local leaders. He has also contributed to work regarding the Office’s upcoming Digital Equity Summits being hosted in the Spring of 2020. Prior to joining the Department, he spent four years managing and implementing expanded learning and academic intervention programs in California and Colorado. Nik holds dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in Economics and International Affairs from James Madison University, and devotes a great deal of his time outside work to writing and recording music, attending live shows, and watching and playing soccer.

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Kevin Johnstun

As a program specialist (Education Pioneer Fellow), Kevin works in The Office of Education Technology to support work on the ways in which technology can be leveraged to improve learning outcomes for teachers and students alike. Kevin is involved in work related to the National Education Technology Plan, improving teacher professional development, and supporting the development of open education resources. Prior to joining OET Kevin completed a master’s degree in Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University. There he worked on projects related to cultural interactions between students and teachers and efforts to create collaborative spaces where students and teachers learn together. He also was a middle school English language arts teacher in Oklahoma City.

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Jessica Tellez

Jessica serves as an Education Program Specialist and Education Pioneers Fellow within the Office of Educational Technology where she assists with the Department’s efforts in the development and support of effective blockchain technology in education. Jessica brings 7+ years of youth-development experience, most recently at YouthBuild USA, where she managed education and workforce initiatives which developed the academic, work-readiness, and leadership skills within Opportunity Youth. Jessica has served as an AmeriCorps VISTA and Latinos for Education Aspiring Latino Leader Fellow. She is a first-generation college graduate, holding a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Texas at El Paso. Jessica believes equitable access to quality education can disrupt the intergenerational cycle of poverty that marginalized communities face and empower young people to become leaders in their own communities.

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Jessenia Guerra

As an Education Program Specialist, Jessenia builds state broadband capacity and supports digital equity initiatives for the Department. Jessenia is involved in designing programming for practitioners and policymakers to improve high-speed broadband access for low-income and rural communities. Prior to joining OET, she worked to advance DC’s guidance on dual language learners and the Quality Rating and Improvement System at the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. Jessenia is a former elementary school teacher and holds an M.S. in Educational Studies from Johns Hopkins University. In her spare time, Jessenia enjoys magical realism books, planning adventures, and starting conversations about Miami.

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Maile Symonds

In Maile’s role as a Program Specialist for the Office of Educational Technology, she has contributed to our #GoOpen initiative, connectivity work, and professional learning and teacher preparedness exploration. Prior to joining OET, Maile served as a math teacher in Waianae, Hawaii where she utilized data, technology, and high expectations to work towards closing the achievement gap for her students. During her time as a teacher, Maile also advocated for the needs of indigenous students, educators, and schools through Teach for America’s Native Alliance Initiative. Maile holds a license in secondary education through Johns Hopkins University, a B.A. in Politics and Economics from Willamette University, and is a Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) fellow. Outside of work, Maile likes to spend her time traveling, dancing, and at various concerts.

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