Leadership Committed to Helping Improve Academic and Career Outcomes

As a mission-driven non-profit organization formerly part of the RAND Corporation, we are proud to have supported more than 800,000 students at more than 1,300 institutions worldwide as they pursue their goals and achieve success.

Our Team

We benefit from the experience and expertise of CAE’s team, Board of Directors, and Advisory Board. These professionals continue to innovate and drive CAE forward as we fulfill our mission to improve student outcomes.


Bob Yayac

CEO & President


Bob Yayac has 30+ years’ experience in all aspects of designing, building, and growing technology-enabled businesses, most recently as co-founder of a simulation-based medical education company.

As CEO & President, Bob sets the strategic direction for CAE and works closely with clients, partners, and the CAE team to ensure CAE delivers on its mission to improve student outcomes.

Doris Zahner, PhD

Chief Academic Officer


Dr. Doris Zahner is the Chief Academic Officer at CAE, where she provides thought leadership and oversees all research and development studies pertaining to CAE’s performance-based assessments.

Dr. Zahner holds a PhD in cognitive psychology and an MS in applied statistics from Teachers College, Columbia University.

In addition to her responsibilities at CAE, Dr. Zahner is an adjunct associate professor at Barnard College and Teachers College, Columbia University, as well as New York University, where she teaches statistics courses to undergraduate and graduate students in the social sciences and public policy.

Cynthia Kim

VP, Assessment Services


Cynthia Kim has 25+ years’ experience in the assessment industry with expertise in test development and measurement. Her experience includes managing high stakes assessment programs in the certification market ensuring adherence to industry standards in test development, psychometrics, scoring, and reporting.

As VP, Assessment Services at CAE, Cynthia oversees all operations management and collaborates closely with clients and the CAE team to ensure operational success and high customer satisfaction.

Stacey Sparks

Sr. Dir. of Content & Design Development


Stacey Sparks has over 30 years of experience in the design and creation of educational assessments, including teacher certification tests; K-12 summative assessments; and innovative classroom-embedded performance tasks.

In her role as CAE’s Senior Director of Content Design and Development, Sparks collaborates closely with clients, content developers, program managers, and measurement scientists to ensure that all of CAE’s assessments meet the highest standards.

René Smith



René Smith is an experienced executive with 25+ years P&L responsibility in technology-driven companies, including Fortune 500 and non-profit companies in both the education and media industries, globally.

She received her BS degree from Drexel University, MBA from Saint Joseph’s University, and MS in Systems Engineering from the Université de Lausanne as a Rotary Scholar.

As CTO, René oversees various technological aspects supporting the assessment experience and delivery, as well as extensive analytics, with a focus on maximizing the value of insights for educators and students.

Tess Dawber, PhD

Senior Measurement Scientist


Tess Dawber has over 15 years of experience in the assessment industry leading large-scale educational assessments for K-12 populations and college students. Her experience includes participating in all aspects of the test cycle, such as developing test designs; conducting item and form analyses, scaling, equating, and special studies; preparing technical documentation; and advising on psychometric-related issues and best practices.

In her role as CAE’s Senior Measurement Scientist, Tess collaborates closely with clients, content developers, program managers, and the measurement team to ensure the accuracy and on-time delivery of CAE assessment results.

Anna Slaughter

Customer Support Team Lead


Anna Slaughter has over 15 years of customer service experience, and she is well-versed in project management, user experience, technical support, and insight generation. Anna’s passions are solving challenging problems, learning new technologies, and communicating clearly and beautifully.

In her role as CAE’s Customer Support Team Lead, Anna ensures our clients have a smooth and positive experience with our assessment tools and products, and she ensures that our solutions are meeting our clients’ needs.

Board of Directors

Dennis Brown (Chair)

Group Operating Officer (Retired), The NPD Group


Dennis Brown recently retired as group operating officer with market research company The NPD Group. In this role, he introduced new research methodologies, facilitated strategic alliances with other research innovators, and led a business transformation to keep NPD growing with leading brands around the world. A seasoned senior executive with more than 40 years of success in information services, market research, and consumer durables, Brown held leadership positions at companies including World Kitchen, Krups/Moulinex, and Corning Glass Works.

V. Darleen Opfer

Vice President and Director, RAND Education and Labor


V. Darleen is vice president and director, RAND Education and Labor and Distinguished Chair in Education Policy at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that helps improve policy and decision making through research and analysis.

Darleen began her career as a special education teacher. After earning her Ph.D. in education policy at the University of Virginia, she became a professor of education policy. Throughout her career, her focus has been on using evidence to improve schools for low-income and minority students. She is author of numerous books, reports, and journal articles and has presented to practitioners, researchers, and policymakers worldwide.

T. Nakia Towns, EdD

Chief Operating Officer of Accelerate — The National Collaborative for Accelerated Learning


Dr. Nakia Towns is currently the Chief Operating Officer at Accelerate — The National Collaborative for Accelerated Learning, a non-profit organization that builds knowledge of tools and evidence-based practices that significantly advance student learning. Prior to this role, she was Deputy Superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS), serving nearly 182,000 students in Georgia’s largest district, which is also the 11th largest in the country.

Nakia was a long-tenured educational leader in Tennessee, serving as interim Superintendent at Hamilton County Schools (HCS), Assistant Commissioner, Division of Data and Research, at the Tennessee Department of Education, and Chief Accountability Officer at Knox County Schools. She began her career in the private sector working in finance and technology. Nakia earned a bachelors of engineering and masters of business administration at Duke University and completed her doctorate of education studies at Vanderbilt University.

Ingmar Berg

Chief Financial Officer, Vertex Education


Ingmar Berg brings more than two decades of experience in various financial and operational roles for public, private, and private equity-backed companies to CAE’s board. He currently leads Vertex’s financial operations and supports 28 charter schools with close to 30,000 students in multiple locations across Arizona, Texas and Nevada. Previously Mr. Berg has served as Group Chief Financial Officer for Educatius International and President of its North American business and was the CFO for ManpowerGroup’s Swedish operations.

Judith S. Eaton, PhD

President Emeritus of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)


Judith S. Eaton, PhD, recently retired after 23 years from her position as president of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), the largest institutional higher education membership organization in the U.S. Eaton was previously chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, the Community College of Philadelphia and the Community College of Southern Nevada, and also served as vice president of the American Council on Education. A published author, she’s written numerous books and articles on higher education and accreditation-related topics, and addresses accreditation and quality assurance at conferences worldwide.

Michael Feuer, PhD

Dean, Graduate School of Education and Human Development, George Washington Univ.


Michael J. Feuer, PhD, is dean of the Graduate School of Education and Human Development and professor of education policy at George Washington University (GWU). Prior to GWU, Feuer was immediate past president of the National Academy of Education and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Feuer, appointed by President Barack Obama in 2014 to the National Board for Education Sciences, also served as a senior analyst and project director at the U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment, where he specialized in educational technology and testing.

Advisory Board

Michele Balliet, EdD

Superintendent of Schools, Elizabethtown Area School District


Michele Balliet, EdD, is the superintendent of schools for the Elizabethtown Area School District, Pennsylvania, where her strategic vision and leadership promote an environment that inspires a passion for learning. Balliet joined the school district in 2008 as an assistant superintendent for elementary education. Balliet also served as the superintendent of Lancaster County Career and Technical Center, Willow Street, Pennsylvania and as the assistant to the superintendent for K-12 curriculum and instruction for neighboring Lower Dauphin School District in Hummelstown. She began her career in education with the East Penn School District in Emmaus as an elementary education teacher.

Enis Dogan, EdD

Chief Psychometrician, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education


Enis Dogan, EdD, is a senior research scientist at the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Dogan oversees the psychometric quality of national assessments and surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, including the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Prior to joining NCES, he served as the lead psychometrician and co-chair of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) Research and Psychometrics Committee, where he designed, managed and conducted research to inform the development of the PARCC assessments as valid and reliable tools for the Common Core State Standards.

Brenda Gardner

Director of Human Resources, Boston, AKA Hotels+Hotel Reservations


Brenda Gardner is the director of people and culture at the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts where she leads and directs all human resources responsibilities for an award-winning luxury city resort hotel. Gardner also worked in human resources roles with other reputable brands in hospitality such as the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Hilton-branded hotels, Morgans Hotel Group, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, and the Pyramid Hotel Group properties, including Marriott.

David Gastwirth

Director of Online Education, NYU Wagner


David Gastwirth is the director of online education at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, managing online program development, enrollment management, student affairs and academic operations. Additionally, he oversees the instructional technology strategy, training and support services for campus-based programs. Gastwirth previously served in a variety of roles at University of Southern California and Duke University. He is the former director of higher education programs, partnerships and strategic development at CAE.

Leighann Lenti

Chief of Partnership, University of Virginia Partnership for Leaders in Education


Leighann Lenti serves as Chief of Partnership for the University of Virginia Partnership for Leaders in Education – a transformative and tailored leadership program for school and district transformation. Leighann has over 18 years of education policy experience at the state and federal level. This includes as the Deputy Secretary of Education at the New Mexico Public Education Department, where she oversaw college and career readiness, school accountability and transformation, teacher evaluation and the standards and assessment system.

Matt Maguire

Vice President, Client Services and Product Development, Maguire Associates, Inc.


Matt Maguire is a marketing and technology expert specializing in the higher education market. He currently serves as vice president of client services and product development at Maguire Associates, a research-based consulting firm focusing exclusively on educational institutions. For over 30 years, the firm aided in advancing enrollment management, institutional marketing, competitive positioning and branding, and strategic planning in education – nationally and abroad – through a range of services. Maguire manages a portfolio of client projects in quantitative research and predictive modeling, while also participating in the company’s leadership and management.

Glenn Whitehouse, PhD

Associate Dean for Student Affairs, College of Arts & Sciences, Florida Gulf Coast Univ.


Glenn Whitehouse, PhD, is the associate dean for student affairs in the College of Arts & Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) and is an associate professor of philosophy and religion. He is also the director of FGCU PAGES program, where he works with humanities and social sciences students on professional success initiatives, providing career exploration programming, networking opportunities, and internship connections.