Founder and CEO
Rebecca has spent the past decade focusing on education-for-employment across the private, public and social sectors. She began her professional career as a management consultant with McKinsey, where she advised a range of government agencies and education institutions. Following an engagement with the State of Delaware, she became Chief Performance Officer at the Delaware Department of Education, and was later appointed Education Advisor to Governor Jack Markell.
During her four years in Delaware, Rebecca saw firsthand how the current higher education system largely fails students from low-income families. 83% of the State’s low-income high school students did not make it through to their second year of post-secondary education. Nationally, 85% of low-income students do not earn college degrees within eight years of high school graduation. And yet, the national average salary for those with only a high school degree is just $35K.
After completing her joint MBA and MA in Education at Stanford, Rebecca joined Coursera, the world’s largest online education platform - with the goal of understanding how technology could help expand access to educational opportunity. Over her four years in Silicon Valley, Rebecca saw how new education technologies could help people transform their lives, but also that technology was primarily reaching those who had already succeeded in the traditional education system.
Working as Coursera’s Director of Government & Nonprofit Partnerships, Rebecca built and led a team that formed over 50 partnerships reaching tens of thousands of learners - including low-income youth, underemployed adults, and refugees. The most innovative of these partnerships were based outside of the U.S., though, and it became clear that few established U.S.-based organizations were using new technologies to scale their education-to-employment programs.
From those experiences came the idea for Merit America. Our goal is to provide a path to skilled careers for Americans who can’t yet compete for these roles, with the flexibility that working adults need. Our belief is that by combining digital technology with significant in-person support, we can offer the most effective and scalable model in the field.
As CEO, Rebecca now spends her time developing Merit America’s strategy, building the organization’s team, overseeing operations and sharing our vision. She is thrilled to be on this journey with a talented team of peers, and is eager to connect with potential learners, employers, teammates and other partners.
My Best Learning Experience
One of my best learning experiences was when I worked at the Delaware Department of Education, and spent several years learning about successful school district improvement efforts. I read countless research studies and articles, but more importantly, I participated in monthly workshops with all of our state’s superintendents, visited every school district in the state, met regularly with groups of teachers, administrators, students and parents, and visited out-of-state examples of best-in-class schools. I realized that I learn best with a combination of theory and practice, and am excited to offer learning programs that meet the different learning styles of our participants.