Quest Forward Academy - Site Directors

Karen Kenkel

Karen Kenkel, PhD – Director, Quest Forward 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, Quest Forward 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

Quest Forward Academy is supported by the team and Opportunity Education and by the generosity of Joe Ricketts.

Founder - Joe Ricketts

We teach students how to continue to learn for the rest of their lives.

Our Founder and CEO, 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



Manuel Mattke

Chief Innovation Officer

Manuel drives the implementation of Mr. Ricketts’ vision for Quest Forward Learning, leads the development of the Quest Forward Learning Platform, and manages program implementations and support operations.

Previously, Manuel founded and led a custom enterprise software company, and later an innovation consulting firm, working for large clients in pharmaceutical, biotech, finance, research and government sectors. Manuel brings to his work at OE over 25 years of experience in technology-driven innovation, software development and change management in complex environments, and a passion for building and leading high-performing teams.


Ray Ravaglia

Chief Learning Officer

Ray’s responsibilities include articulating Mr Ricketts’ vision for Quest Forward Learning, leading the Learning Design team and the development of the Quest Forward Academies, which are independent schools built entirely on the principles of Quest Forward Learning.

Prior to OE, Ray was the Associate Dean and Director of Pre-Collegiate Studies at Stanford University, where he founded and directed the Stanford Online High School and the Education Program for Gifted Youth (EPGY). With thirty years of experience developing new models of learning, Ray has served in various advisory and board capacities and was the founder of the pre-college program at The School of The New York Times. A regular presenter at national and international conferences, Ravaglia is the author of two books, numerous articles, and has produced over 100 online courses.

The Quest Forward Learning Team

Joe Ricketts has assembled an expert team of researchers, educators, and engineers to develop the tools and curriculum needed to engage and inspire a new generation of learners. Our team combines the expertise in learning and application development needed to change education globally.

See Our Team