Board Members

Chris Gabrieli, Chairman (Biography)
Jasson Alvarado-Gomez, Student Member (Biography)
Sheila M. Harrity, Ed.D. (Biography)
Nancy Hoffman, Ph.D. (Biography)
Tom Hopcroft (Biography)
Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D. (Biography)
J.D. LaRock, J.D., Ed.D., Community College Trustee Representative (Biography)
Paul Materra, J.D., State University Trustee Representative (Biography)
Dani Monroe (Biography)
James Peyser, Ex Officio (Biography)
Fernando M. Reimers, Ed.D. (Biography)
Henry Thomas III, J.D., University of Massachusetts Trustee Representative (Biography)
Paul F. Toner, J.D. (Biography)

Non-Voting Student Advisors
TBD, UMass Student Advisor
Matt Carlin, State University Student Advisor

Chris Gabrieli, Chairman

Headshot of Chairman Chris Gabrieli

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Chris Gabrieli was appointed to the Board of Higher Education by Governor Baker in March 2015. He is the co-founder of three non-profit education innovation and reform initiatives and a lecturer at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.

As the co-founder of Massachusetts 2020/the National Center on Time & Learning, Gabrieli has been at the forefront of the movement to expand learning time for disadvantaged students. He is the Chairman of the Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership, a groundbreaking partnership between the state and district aimed at accelerating success for middle school students.  He is a Partner Emeritus at Bessemer Venture Partners where he helped entrepreneurs build biotechnology companies.

Gabrieli has served in several higher education board roles at Harvard, Boston University’s School of Public Health and Clark University. 


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Jasson Alvarado-Gomez

Jasson Alvarado-Gomez entered Mt. Wachusett Community College during his junior year of high school as a Gateway to College student. In May 2015, he graduated from high school and enrolled in the Media Arts and Technology program at MWCC.

In addition to being a full-time student, Jasson is involved in many extracurricular activities. He has served as the Amana Club President for two years and was recently elected to be the student trustee for 2016-2017. This past year, Jasson also finished his first movie, Black Diamond. He is the first student in MWCC history to complete a full length movie and organize a red carpet event.

In the future, Jasson hopes to become a successful movie director and producer, and plans to volunteer his free time and money to help end world hunger.

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Sheila M. Harrity, Ed.D.

Dr. Sheila M. Harrity was appointed to the Board in March 2015 by Governor Baker. She is the Superintendent-Director of Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School District and a former Principal at Worcester Technical High School, where she was named the 2013 Massachusetts Principal of the Year, and 2014 National High School Principal of the Year. In 2013, the school received the National Blue Ribbon School distinction for outstanding student achievement by the U.S. Department of Education and was the only high school in the nation in 2014 to host President Obama as a commencement speaker.

Her leadership at Worcester Technical High School, where almost 65 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch, was transformative. With an emphasis on a personalized learning environment, Harrity implemented the Early Career and College STEM Innovation Plan. With over 350 industry and higher education partners, students at the school learn from project-based experiences with real-world applications. Graduates from Worcester Technical High School earn industry recognized certifications and credentials as well as college credits. Students are truly graduating both college and career ready.

Harrity received a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from Providence College. She earned a master's degree in moderate special needs from Assumption College, and a master's degree in early childhood education from Worcester State University. In 2013, she earned her doctorate in educational leadership from Northeastern University. In addition, she received two honorary doctoral degrees in 2014, one from Becker College and the other from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

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Nancy Hoffman, Ph.D.

Dr. Nancy Hoffman was appointed to the Board of Higher Education in December 2008 by Governor Patrick. She is a Vice President and Senior Advisor at Jobs for the Future, a national non-profit in Boston focused on improving educational and workforce outcomes for low-income young people and adults. She works with the Early College High School Initiative, a network of over 270 schools in 28 states blending high school and two years of college and with states on aligning and integrating high school and college and developing new pathways to degree completion and careers.

Hoffman has held teaching and administrative posts at Brown, Temple, Harvard, FIPSE, M.I.T. and elsewhere. She co-teaches a course on philanthropy, non-profits and school reform at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Hoffman serves as a consultant for the education policy unit of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Her most recent book, drawing on the OECD’s Learning for Jobs initiative is Schooling in the Workplace: How Six of the World’s Best Vocational Education Systems Prepare Young People for Jobs and Life (Harvard Education Press i2011).

Hoffman holds a B.A. and Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of California, Berkeley. Other recent publications include, Women’s True Profession: Voices from the History of Teaching (2003), and, edited with Richard Kazis and Joel Vargas, Double the Numbers: Increasing Postsecondary Credentials for Underrepresented Youth (2004), and Minding the Gap: Why Integrating High School with College Makes Sense and How to Do It (2007), edited by Hoffman and Vargas with Andrea Venezia and Marc Miller.

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Tom Hopcroft

Tom Hopcroft was appointed to the Board by Governor Patrick in October 2014. He is President & CEO of the Mass Technology Leadership Council, Inc. (MassTLC), a business association that addresses the critical leadership issues of innovative technology and technology-enabled companies.  Drawing on the rich legacies of Massachusetts Network Communications Council, the Massachusetts Software Council, and the New England Business and Technology Association, Inc., MassTLC accelerates innovation by connecting people from across the technology landscape, providing access to industry-leading content, and offering a collaborative platform for driving ideas and people forward.  

A Massachusetts attorney and former adjunct professor at Northeastern University’s College of Business Administration, Hopcroft formerly led and founded the New England Business and Technology Association (NEBATA) which merged with the Mass Software Council in 2005. After the merger he led the Council’s cluster development activities, growing the cluster portfolio from three to ten active groups. Prior to founding NEBATA, Hopcroft served on the American Bar Association's Information Security Committee, where he contributed to the drafting and editing of the ABA's Digital Signature Guidelines: Legal Infrastructure for Certification Authorities and Secure Electronic Commerce, published in 1996. He also participated in the International Chamber of Commerce's ETERMS Repository project, an international repository for incorporating terms by reference into EDI messages.

Hopcroft is the vice chairman of the Technology Councils of North America (TECNA), an organization of about 50 technology councils across North America. He serves on a variety of boards and commissions, including the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education and MassTLC’s Education Foundation board. He has testified before the Massachusetts Senate Technology Caucus and speaks frequently at academic and industry functions. He is often quoted in business and technology publications including the Boston Business Journal, the Boston Globe, InfoWorld, Inter@ctiveWeek and The Wall Street Journal. In 1998 and 1999 he was named to the Improper Bostonian's "Internet Top 40" list of Boston's Web elite and in 2000 was named to the Boston Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” list of prominent local businesspeople.

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Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D.

Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D., took office as the 10th president of Becker College in 2010 and has evolved Becker into an adaptive, nimble, and entrepreneurial institution that is a model for small private colleges in the United States. He believes higher education is a public good, and has dedicated his more-than-25-year career to transforming the lives of young people. He challenges students to build upon the three pillars of global citizenship—academic excellence, social responsibility, and creative expression—to embrace the opportunities inherent in a complex and hyper-connected world.

Dr. Johnson was appointed to the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education in 2015. He is a member of the Council on Competitiveness, a nonpartisan policy organization of chief executives, university presidents, and labor leaders, and serves on the boards of a number of state and local organizations. As a speaker, he has addressed organizations across the country on topics including leadership, innovation, and entrepreneurship, among others.

A native of Detroit, Mich., Dr. Johnson holds a doctorate in higher education administration from Touro University International, formerly a division of Touro College, New York; a master’s degree in education administration from the University of Cincinnati; and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Morehouse College. Prior to becoming Becker College’s president, Dr. Johnson served as senior vice president of Sinclair Community College, in Dayton, Ohio; vice president of enrollment management at the University of Dayton; vice provost at Oakland University, Rochester, Mich.; and executive director of enrollment management at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio. He is married to Michelle Jones-Johnson. They have two children, Jasmine and Alex.

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J.D. LaRock, J.D., Ed.D.

Dr. J.D. LaRock is a nationally known education policymaker who has held high-level positions at the federal, state, and international levels. As a senior education advisor to the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, LaRock worked on a 2007 law that provided $20 billion in financial aid to the nation’s college students. He also helped lead the successful effort to reauthorize the federal Higher Education Act in 2008.

As education policy director for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from 2008 to 2010, LaRock authored significant portions of the “Achievement Gap Act,” an elementary and secondary education reform law that resulted in the creation of 40 “Innovation Schools” across the state. The law also significantly strengthened the state’s power to intervene in low-performing school districts, leading to a nationally praised school turnaround effort in Lawrence.

LaRock is currently chairman of the North Shore Community College Board of Trustees and works at Northeastern University, where he has served as chief of staff to the president and a lecturer in the College of Professional Studies. Immediately prior to this position, he was a senior analyst and manager of the international education statistics program at the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) in Paris. He began his career as a spokesman for the New York City public school system and as an on-air television reporter at NY1, New York City’s all-news TV station.

Dr. LaRock holds three degrees from Harvard, including a doctorate in education administration, planning and policy, as well as a law degree from Georgetown University. He is a former editor of the Harvard Educational Review, co-editor of the book Special Education for a New Century, and author of the forthcoming book The Big Race: President Obama’s Race to the Top Competition and its Impact on State-Level Education Reform. He serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations that work on behalf of students and families, including Families First Parenting Programs and the United Nations Association of Greater Boston.

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Paul Mattera, J.D.

Paul Mattera is recently retired from Liberty Mutual Insurance in Boston where he served as Senior Vice President & Chief Public Affairs Officer. In that capacity, he was responsible for managing the Company’s global public affairs including regulatory and legislative policy, and political action programs. 

Mattera’s work often brought him to Washington, DC and other state capitols to advocate for policies to expand access and reduce the cost of property and casualty insurance.  Following 9/11, Mattera played a leading role in the design of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, a public-private partnership which made it possible for insurance companies to cover terrorism risk at commercially reasonable rates. After the financial crises, he worked with international insurance supervisors to help build a global regulatory framework for insurance.

Prior to his thirty-five years at Liberty Mutual, Mattera practiced municipal law and spent seven years teaching public high school in Revere, Mass.

Throughout his career, Mattera was active on many industry and civic boards and remains active on the New England Council and JFK Library Foundation Boards, as well as the Salem State University Board of Trustees, which he chairs, and serves as the segmental representative to the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education.

Mattera holds a BA in History from the University of Rochester (Rochester, NY) and a JD cum laude from Suffolk Law School (Boston, MA).

He and his wife Judy live in Swampscott, Massachusetts. They have three adult sons.

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Dani Monroe

Dani Monroe has connected the dots for organizations over her 30+ year career. She has focused on the disciplines of leadership, diversity and inclusion – thus successfully helping C-suite executives in Fortune 100 companies leverage untapped talent as a competitive advantage and incorporate business practices that lead to innovation and effectiveness.  Monroe now holds the position of Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for Partners HealthCare, the largest healthcare organization in Massachusetts. She also maintains leadership of her private consulting firm Center Focus International, one of the top global diversity and talent development practices in the U.S.

At Partners, Monroe will be responsible for the development and implementation of an innovative diversity and inclusion strategy. Partners HealthCare is an integrated health system founded by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital that employs over 64,000 people, across 27 medical systems.  

Monroe also offers leadership on several industry and state boards. In 2012, Governor Deval Patrick appointed Monroe to the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education and the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women. She has also co-chaired East Carolina University's National Leadership Advisory Council as well as participated as a keynote speaker for several national and international diversity and inclusion-focused conferences.

Her published book, Untapped Talent: Unleashing the Power of the Hidden Workforce (Palgrave Macmillan, April 2013) has received excellent reviews in national and international media.  She has received other business and community related recognitions, including the prestigious YWCA Academy of Women Achievers Award and the Boston Business Journal, Lifetime Achievement Award in Diversity.

Monroe holds her master's degree in organizational development from Pepperdine University's Graduate School of Business. Today, she creates the learning models for companies and leaders to find new success.

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James Peyser

As Secretary of Education, Jim Peyser directs the Executive Office of Education which is responsible for early education, K-12, and higher education in Massachusetts. Secretary Peyser sits on each of the boards governing the Commonwealth’s education agencies – Department of Early Education and Care, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and Department of Higher Education as well as the University of Massachusetts system. He is Governor Baker’s top advisor on education and helps shape the Commonwealth’s education reform agenda.

Prior to his appointment as Secretary, he served as the Managing Director at NewSchools Venture Fund, a non-profit grant-making firm that seeks to transform public education in high-need urban communities by supporting innovative education entrepreneurs. From 1999 through 2006, Secretary Peyser served as Chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Education. Prior to joining NewSchools, he was Education Advisor to Governors Bill Weld, Jane Swift and Mitt Romney, where he helped shape state policy regarding standards and assessments, school accountability, and charter schools. In 1995, he served as Under Secretary of Education and Special Assistant to the Governor Weld for Charter Schools.

He previously spent seven years as Executive Director of the Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research, where he helped to launch the Massachusetts Charter School Resource Center, which supported the development of the state’s first charter schools. Before joining Pioneer Secretary Peyser held various positions at Teradyne, Inc. in Boston, an electronic test equipment manufacturer.

Secretary Peyser holds a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School (Tufts University) and a Bachelor of Arts from Colgate University.

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Fernando M. Reimers, Ed.D.

Professor Fernando M. Reimers was appointed to the Board of Higher Education by Governor Patrick in March 2012.  He is the Ford Foundation Professor of International Education and Director of the International Education Policy Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

His research focuses on educational innovation and on the impact of education policy, education leadership, and professional development of the quality and relevancy of education to develop twenty first century skills and expand opportunity for socially disadvantaged children and youth.  Reimers has designed and led a number of innovative graduate and executive education programs and curricula, and participated in the evaluation of higher education programs and strategies, including the National Research Council evaluation of Title VI, Fulbright-Hays, and other federally funded programs to promote the internationalization of American universities.

He completed an Ed.M. and Ed.D. in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and an undergraduate degree in Psychology at the Universidad Central de Venezuela.

Reimers is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations, a Fellow of the International Academy of Education, as well as a member of the United States National Commission for UNESCO.  He is currently serving on the Global Learning Leadership Council of the American Association of Colleges and Universities project “General Education for a Global Century” focusing on some of the pressing issues related to global learning and undergraduate education.

He has provided advice on policy and strategy to education leaders in institutions of higher education, governments, foundations and international development agencies.

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Henry Thomas III, J.D., University of Massachusetts Trustee Representative

Henry Thomas is a member of the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees, and was elected in 2007 to represent the University on the Board of Higher Education.

Thomas is a native of Springfield, MA, and has worked in the Urban League movement for 35 years, including 31 years as President and CEO. At the age of 25, he became the youngest appointed Urban League affiliate President and CEO in the nation. Henry also serves as CEO for the historic Camp Atwater -- the oldest African American overnight youth camp in the United States – which he reopened in 1980 following a six-year hiatus.

Thomas earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and master's degree in human resource development from American International College; and a J.D. from Western New England College School of Law. He has also received honorary doctoral degrees from Bay Path College and Westfield State College, and a certificate of completion for the Senior Executive Leadership Program from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Thomas was appointed by Governor Deval Patrick to serve on his 2007 Transition Team on Pre-K through Higher Education, as well as the Leadership Circle of the Governor’s Readiness Project.

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Paul F. Toner, J.D.

Paul F. Toner is the Executive Director of Teach Plus Massachusetts, a non-profit engaging, elevating and empowering teachers in the areas of education policy and practice in Massachusetts and across the nation.  He is also president of Cambridge Strategic Partnerships, LLC providing education consulting services in Massachusetts and nationally.  Toner is an experienced senior executive in education policy, association governance, labor and government relations.  

Toner is the former president of the 113,000-member Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA), a position he held from 2010 to 2014. Toner, a middle school social studies teacher and lawyer was elected MTA president after serving four years as vice president. From 1991 to 2001, taught at the Harrington School in Cambridge, MA.  In 2001, Toner was elected president of the Cambridge Teachers Association. As leader of the CTA and MTA, he was a strong advocate for students and members while working with the administration to improve labor-management relations and focus on improving student achievement.

Toner served on many NEA committees at the national level.  He is a member of the Teachers 21 Board of Directors, an appointed member of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education and the Education Commission of the States. He was a member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Board of Directors and Group Insurance Commission.  He served on numerous education committees and task forces.  He was a participant in Governor Deval Patrick’s Readiness Project and served on Governor Charles Baker’s Education Transition Committee. He is also a Pahara-Aspen Teacher Leader Fellow.

Toner graduated from Boston University's College of Liberal Arts with a bachelor's degree in political science and international relations. He also holds a master's degree in secondary education from the University of Massachusetts in Boston and a Juris Doctorate from Suffolk University Law School. He lives in Cambridge with his wife, Susan, and their two children, Grace and Jack.

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