NGL Academy - Site Directors

Karen Kenkel

Karen Kenkel, PhD – Director, NGL Academy Santa Rosa

Karen Kenkel is an experienced educator and high school administrator with over 25 years teaching experience in elementary, high school, and university settings. She has taught at Cornell University and Stanford University, where she was on the faculty, at Stanford Online High School, where she was the Director of Instruction, as well as in Sonoma County public and charter schools. Karen has lived in Sonoma County for the past 15 years with her husband and two children.

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Mark Smith – Director, NGL Academy Omaha

Mark Smith's personal educational background includes a wide range of settings, including a very self-directed high school educational experience. He brings 18 years experience as a career educator both as a classroom teacher and school administrator, and has been the Assistant Principal of Fremont High School as well as the Dean of Students at Omaha Central High School. He holds a B.S. in science education and an M.Ed. in educational leadership.

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Mark Smith

Opportunity Education

The expert mentor instructors of NGL Academy are supported by the Opportunity Education Next Generation Learning (NGL) Learning Design and Platform Teams.

    Opportunity Education NGL Learning Team Leadership

  1. Ray Ravaglia

    Chief Learning Officer and NGL Academy Board Member

  2. Jeff Scarborough, PhD

    Learning Design

  3. Diane Barnes, PhD

    Social Science

  4. Genny Healey, PhD

    Consulting Director
    Science Curriculum and Quest Design

  5. Katherine Balsley Aftosmis, PhD

    Reading Writing and Thinking

  6. Christine Jasper, MA

    Project Management

    Opportunity Education NGL Platform Team Leadership

  1. The Real Manuel Manuel

    Manuel Mattke

    Chief Innovation Officer

  2. The Real Justin Justin

    Justin Rhinesmith


  3. The Real Stephanie Stephanie

    Stephanie Liu-Barnes

    Product Manager

  4. Jess Jess

    Jessica Vergano


  5. The Real Ilana Ilana

    Ilana Oliff, MA

    Training and Support

  6. Jolene Jolene

    Jolene Zywica, PhD

    Research and Evaluation

Our Mission

Established in 2005, Opportunity Education works to improve education for children, and to give them access to relevant and engaging learning opportunities. Today, our mission is to enable young people around the world to equip themselves with the skills and knowledge they will need to succeed in life and work.

Our Founder, Joe Ricketts

Founder - Joe Ricketts

After more than 35 years as the founder and CEO of Ameritrade, one of the largest online brokerage firms globally, Joe Ricketts is dedicated to improving education globally through the programs offered by Opportunity Education Foundation, a private foundation established and funded by him.

Driven by his passion for education and his belief that technology can empower individuals and communities to determine their own futures, Joe Ricketts applies his entrepreneurial expertise and personal resources to bring engaging, effective, and relevant learning to young persons around the world.

Learn about Joe Ricketts