Board Members

Chris Gabrieli, Chairman (Biography)
Sheila M. Harrity, Ed.D., Vice Chair (Biography)
Alex Cortez (Biography)
Kush Patel, (UMass Boston), Student Member
Nancy Hoffman, Ph.D. (Biography)
Tom Hopcroft (Biography)
J.D. LaRock, J.D., Ed.D., Community College Trustee Representative (Biography)
Paul Mattera, J.D., State University Trustee Representative (Biography)
James Peyser, Ex Officio (Biography)
Fernando M. Reimers, Ed.D. (Biography)
Michael O’Brien, University of Massachusetts Trustee Representative
Paul F. Toner, J.D. (Biography)

Non-Voting Student Advisors
Nick Papa (Salem State University), Student Advisor
Stephanie Teixeira (Quinsigamond Community College), 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 / 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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Sheila M. Harrity, Ed.D., Vice Chair

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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Alex Cortez

Alex leads New Profit's Reimagine School Systems Fund (RSS). The purpose of the RSS fund is to significantly and rapidly increase the number of high performing schools serving low-income students by scaling high-quality operators and removing the political and policy barriers to systemic change in education. Alex also serves on the Boards of Match Education in Boston and Innovate Public Schools in the Bay Area.

Alex joined New Profit after multiple roles with the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP). He served as Chief of Staff, Strategy and Execution on the leadership team of KIPP Houston Public Schools. In this role, he led the region in creating a new long-term growth plan to double the number of schools in Houston. Alex also led the region in developing its systems and practices in annual priority-setting and data-driven management, oversaw the region’s “to and through college” programming, worked with the board to evolve their practices, and led various internal initiatives to build scalable systems to support continued growth. Prior to KIPP Houston, Alex served at the KIPP Foundation as a Regional Director of Network Growth and Sustainability, working with leadership teams across the country in both large and small regions to help them respond to their biggest challenges to and opportunities for growth, performance, and sustainability.

Prior to his work with KIPP, Alex was a Manager at The Bridgespan Group where he led a variety of client engagements in education, youth development, and philanthropy. While at Bridgespan, Alex also authored several nonprofit case studies and research into mergers and collaborations in the nonprofit space. Alex started his career in for-profit management consulting working for clients in financial services, telecommunications, private equity, and state government.

He graduated with a B.A. in political science from Columbia University. He received his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and M.P.A. from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Originally from New Orleans, Alex currently resides in Brookline, MA with his partner, Jenny, her daughter, Alexis, and Alexis’s four very extroverted guinea pigs.

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

Dr. J.D. LaRock is President and CEO of the Commonwealth Corporation, Massachusetts’ public-private corporation dedicated to workforce development, youth development, and economic development. A $55 million organization with employees across the state, Commonwealth Corporation advances Massachusetts’ economic leadership through signature partnerships with employers, government agencies, educational institutions, and community-based organizations. Dr. LaRock was appointed Chair of the Board of Trustees at North Shore Community College by Governor Charlie Baker in 2015 and represents Massachusetts' 15 community colleges and 130,000 community college students on the Board of Higher Education.

Previously, Dr. LaRock was a member of Northeastern University’s senior leadership team, where he was chief of staff to the university’s president, among other executive roles. A scholar of education policy, higher education, and the future of work, he is a faculty member in Northeastern’s Doctor of Law and Policy program. 

Prior to his academic and university management career, Dr. LaRock was senior education advisor to the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, education policy director for Governor Deval L. Patrick of Massachusetts, a senior manager at the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) in Paris, and a television reporter in New York City. He is the co-editor of Special Education for a New Century (Harvard Education Press, 2005) and editor of the OECD publication Education at a Glance (2012).  

Dr. LaRock holds three degrees from Harvard, including a doctorate in education administration, policy, and social planning, and a law degree from Georgetown. He, his wife Christina, and their daughter Callie live in Beverly Farms.

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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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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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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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