Board of Directors

Diane Tavenner

Diane_Tavenner-04-348x432Diane Tavenner is the Board Chair for the Pahara Institute and the co-founder and CEO of Summit Public Schools, a nationally-recognized nonprofit that operates 15 public middle and high schools in California and Washington. She developed a school model centered on real-world experiences, self-direction, collaboration and reflection — preparing all students to succeed in college, thrive in today’s workplace, and lead a secure and fulfilled life. Summit has earned many accolades and distinctions, most notably America’s Best High Schools from US News and World Report, America’s Most Challenging High Schools by the Washington Post and one of the world’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Education from Fast Company.

A lifelong educator, prior to founding Summit, Diane spent a decade as a public school teacher, administrator, and leader in traditional urban and suburban public schools throughout California. She serves on the board of T.L.P. Education, Transcend and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning. She was previously the Board Chair of California Charter Schools Association representing the vast majority of California’s charter schools. Diane is a member, and moderator, of the Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship, a Fellow in the Broad Academy, and a Chapter Chairperson and member of the Young Presidents Organization.

She holds a degree in psychology and sociology from USC and an MA in administration and policy from Stanford University. She is also the author of the forthcoming book Prepared: What Kids Need for a Fulfilled Life, due out September 2019 from Currency, an imprint of Crown Publishing. All author net proceeds from the sale of Prepared will be donated to the Community High School Foundation to support a college and career scholarship fund.

Frances Messano


Frances Messano is a Senior Managing Partner at NewSchools Venture Fund where she leads the Innovative Schools Invent (new schools) and Diverse Leaders investment teams. She also designs the content for the annual Summit conference.

Previously, Frances served as Vice President of Strategy on Teach For America’s Strategy, Innovation and Organization Development Team. In this role, she led the development of TFA’s long-term, national strategy. Before that, Frances was an Associate Partner at Monitor Institute, the social impact practice within Monitor Deloitte’s strategy consulting arm, where she helped education organizations scale their impact through strategy development, organizational design, leadership development, and program design. She also expanded the Institute’s education practice and developed the strategy for Deloitte’s social impact service line. Additional experiences include working at Morgan Stanley for four years in equity sales and structuring.

Frances has an MBA from Harvard Business School and an AB from Harvard College. She serves on the board of Stand for Children, GO Public Schools, Latinos for Education, and Catalyst:ED and is also a Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow. Frances is a first-generation college graduate and an alum of Prep for Prep, Management Leadership for Tomorrow, and Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, non-profit organizations that she credits with helping her gain access to educational and professional opportunity.

GWadeGene Wade

Gene Wade is a leading US education entrepreneur. Gene is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Honors Pathway, a social venture committed to helping first-generation college students earn a degree and start their careers. Prior to Honors Pathway, he co-founded and led several education companies, including UniversityNow, an affordable, self-paced university and online learning platform, Platform Learning, a tutoring organization, and LearnNow, a charter school network.

Prior to founding UniversityNow, Gene was Co-founder and CEO of Platform Learning, a tutoring company that served tens of thousands of low-income students throughout the United States. He was also Co-founder and CEO of LearnNow, a school management company that managed urban charter schools and public schools. Prior to becoming an education entrepreneur, he was a corporate attorney. Gene earned an MBA from The Wharton School, a JD from Harvard Law School and a BA from Morehouse College.

As a serial education entrepreneur, Gene’s work has been profiled by several national media outlets, including, Forbes Magazine, The New York Times, Fast Company and the Chronicle of Higher Education. Gene also shared his personal story and vision for UniversityNow as a TEDx speaker.

Kim Smith


Kim Smith is the founder of the Pahara Institute. She is widely recognized as an innovative and entrepreneurial leader in education, and was featured in Newsweek’s report on the “Women of  the 21st Century” as “the kind of woman who will shape America’s new century.” Immediately prior to the Pahara Institute, Kim was co-founder of Bellwether Education Partners, a nonprofit organization working to improve educational outcomes for low-income students. Earlier in her career she served as a founding team member at Teach For America, created and led an AmeriCorps program for community-based leaders in education, managed a business start-up and completed a brief stint in early online learning at Silicon Graphics. After completing her MBA at Stanford University, she co-founded and led NewSchools Venture Fund, a philanthropy focused on transforming public education through social entrepreneurship, where she helped to catalyze a new, bipartisan, cross-sector community of entrepreneurial change agents for public education. Kim has helped to incubate numerous education and social change organizations and has served on a range of boards. She has also authored or co-authored a number of publications about innovation and social entrepreneurial change in education. She is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.


PReilingPeter Reiling

Peter A. Reiling is the Vice President of Leadership Programs at Netflix, responsible for leading the creation of a cutting-edge executive leadership development center within the company in California. Prior to Netflix, Peter served as Executive Vice President for Leadership, and Executive Director of the Henry Crown Fellowship Program at the Aspen Institute. In these roles, he oversaw the Institute’s growing portfolio of leadership initiatives (the Aspen Global Leadership Network) and seminars (including The Aspen Seminar, offered at the Institute since 1950) as well as its flagship leadership program. Peter was a trustee and officer of the Aspen Institute and remains both a senior moderator as well as a Henry Crown Fellow (Class of 1998). He is also the co-founder of the Africa Leadership Initiative (ALI) and of similar initiatives in Central America (CALI), India (KBF), the Middle East (MELI), and China, and spearheaded the launch of additional leadership initiatives in the fields of education, healthcare innovation, finance and the environment.

Prior to joining the Aspen Institute, from 1996 to 2004, Peter was President and CEO of TechnoServe, helping entrepreneurs across Africa, Latin America, India and Central Europe to build businesses in their communities. He is co-founder of the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs and currently serves on the boards of Georgetown University’s Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation as well as on the board of BodiData Inc. Peter is a former adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and guest lecturer at the Institute for Developing Economies in Tokyo.

He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and was named “Outstanding Social Entrepreneur” by the Schwab Foundation in Geneva. A graduate of Georgetown University (BSFS) and the University of California/Berkeley (MBA), with additional studies at the Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Peter is married to Denise Byrne of Fajardo, Puerto Rico and is the father of two children, Dylan and Eva Luna.

Reed HastingsRHastings

Reed Hastings co-founded Netflix as a DVD rental-by-mail company in 1997 and since led its transformation to become the world’s leading streaming subscription service for watching movies and television programs. With more than 30 million streaming members in the United States, Canada, Latin America, the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Nordics, Netflix has revolutionized the way people enjoy entertainment.

Previously, Reed founded Pure Software, which made tools for Unix software developers. He guided Pure into becoming one of the world’s 50 largest software companies before selling it to Rational Software in 1997.

In addition to being CEO of Netflix, Reed is a member of the board of directors of Facebook, as well as several educational nonprofits. Reed is an active educational philanthropist and served as President of the California State Board of Education from 2000 to 2004.

Reed received a BA from Bowdoin College in 1983 and an MSCS in Artificial Intelligence from Stanford University in 1988. Between Bowdoin and Stanford, Reed served in the Peace Corps as a high school math teacher in Swaziland. Reed is married with two children.


SSmithSidney Smith

Sidney Smith is the founder and President of SRS Counsel PLLC, a solo law practice that provides virtual general counsel services on a range of corporate and transactional matters.  He serves as general counsel to Syncom Venture Partners, a leading media and communications venture firm, and the National Association of Investment Companies, the leading trade association for investors in ethnically diverse companies.  He is also a co-founder of Discourse Analytics, Inc., a data analytics company launched in 2011 that enhances audience messaging and activation by building issue-weighted profiles on individuals and providing micro-segmenting of groups, audiences and communities based upon common activation points.

Prior to founding SRS Counsel, Sid practiced for nearly 14 years at the law firms of K&L Gates LLP and Cooley LLP.  Most recently, he was a partner in the corporate and securities group at K&L Gates.  Before becoming an attorney, Sid was Assistant for External Affairs for New Jersey Governor James J. Florio and prior to that he was Special Assistant for Intergovernmental Affairs for New Jersey Congressman Robert G. Torricelli.

Sid is active in many organizations dedicated to service in the areas of education and economic development. He is a member of the Board of the University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law Foundation and was involved with the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) for over a decade.  His past education focused activities also include serving as Chair of the Multicultural Affairs Committee on the Phillips Academy, Andover Alumni Council, and as pro bono counsel for The Seed School of Washington, D.C.

Sid graduated from Yale with a B.A. in English, where he was a member of the varsity basketball team, and received his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law.  He is also a graduate of Phillips Academy, Andover.