Historical Thinking Cultivates Citizens.
Our vision is that all students will mature into thinking citizens, equipped with the essential skills to participate in a robust democracy. Therefore, with constitutional principles as our foundation, students will be empowered to analyze information effectively, think historically, and write persuasively in order to build a more democratic future.
GET TO KNOW US.
Our team is made up of passionate educators who believe that thinking historically is essential for good citizenship.
Chief Operating Officer
Chief Partnership Officer
School Success Manager
Director of Curriculum
VALENTINA CARVAJAL BUENO
Community Outreach Manager
Before Thinking Nation, Zachary taught history at both the middle and high school levels for five years at Bright Star Schools. As a teacher-mentor and department leader, his passion was to ensure that a rigorous history education that emphasized historical thinking was available to all students. He earned his BA in History from CSU Channel Islands, where his love for history and history education blossomed. He holds a MA in American History from Pace University. Spenser mix
For Spenser, working in education has always been a dream. Prior to Thinking Nation, he taught 6th and 8th grade English for 3 years at James Jordan Middle School. Spenser earned his bachelor's degree from CSU Northridge with a major in Liberal Studies and a minor in Business Management. Spenser earned his MBA from Pepperdine University. Johanna Mancia
Johanna always knew that she wanted to work with kids, and fell in love with the process of education and teaching when she was attending CSU Northridge, where she earned her BA in Liberal Studies and multiple subject teaching credential. She spent 8 rewarding years teaching 6th grade ELA and Social Studies in charter schools. Her passion for writing and project-based learning lent itself to a seamless blending of historical content and a creative outlet for her students.
Annie has more than a decade of teaching experience in both rural and urban schools. She earned a B.A. in Social Studies Education from Bethel University and her M.A. in Education: Curriculum and Instruction from St. Catherine University. She completed her M.A. in American History from Pace University. Her passion is teaching American History with an emphasis on social justice. Allowing students to connect with a wider net of historical narratives has been a large focus of her curriculum development.
Valentina Carvajal Bueno
Valentina recently completed her master’s degree in Business Analytics from Pepperdine University. Throughout her life, she has always been involved in leadership roles in education as she believes it is key to better citizens and a better world. She was born in Colombia and came to USA at 17. Her passion for numbers also brought her to Thinking Nation; she is very data-driven and focuses her work on developing new discoveries that Thinking Nation leaders can use to inform future business decisions and strategies.
Liz believes that education is our greatest equalizer and has dedicated her professional life to helping others achieve their dreams by successfully navigating educational pathways. Prior to Thinking Nation, she served on the faculty at Nova Southeastern University where she taught literature and comparative studies. In recent years, she has worked for multiple educational, non-profit and corporate organizations focused on improving student outcomes. Liz earned her B.A. in Theatre from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and an M.A. in Liberal Studies from Nova Southeastern University.
Tiana Day is a 20-year old community organizer, activist, speaker and the founder of the
501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Youth Advocates for Change. Tiana's nonprofit aims to bridge
the gap between arts and activism for youth and teens by merging student passions with
projects that inspire social change.
Our Board of Directors
Dinah Ruch, President
Ari Engleberg, Secretary
Head of Communications & Strategic Initiatives, Harvard-Westlake School
Robert Lee, PHD, Treasuer
Associate Professor of Accounting and Director of Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, Pepperdine University
Dr. William Pulgarin
Principal, The Columbus School
President & CEO, The National Association of State Boards of Education
Dr. Marco Clark
Founder & CEO, Richard Wright Schools
Catherine O'donnell, phd
Professor of History, Arizona State University
DON FRASER, JR.
Senior Vice President, Design + Innovation, Education Design Lab
Dr. Robert Lee
Dr. Robert Lee is an associate professor of accounting and the Director for the Center of Teaching and Learning Excellence at Pepperdine University's Graziadio Business School. He holds a Ph.D. in Accounting, Masters in Accountancy degree and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Mathematics. He is a certified public accountant and certified management accountant. He has a deep passion for teaching and inspiring students and has won multiple teaching awards. His research has been published in numerous business journals and presented at national business conferences. Dinah Ruch
Dinah is the Founder and CEO of Thinking Nation. Prior to that she worked in the nonprofit arena primarily in the field of law serving as the President of The Levitt Quinn Family Law Center for many years. She has also served on other nonprofit boards of directors in the Los Angeles area. After college, Dinah was a middle school teacher for five years. Dinah has a B.A. from Tulane University and a J.D. from Southwestern University School of Law. Dr. William Pulgarin
Dr. Pulgarin has over 20 years of teaching experience in public, private, and charter schools. He has taught AP United States History, World History, Ancient History, and student leadership courses. Prior to becoming a middle school principal in an international school, he was the assistant principal of curriculum and instruction at a nationally ranked high school in Los Angeles, California. Dr. Pulgarin's research interests include character education programs, school and community culture, and restorative practices.
Paolo DeMaria is president and CEO of the National Association of State
Boards of Education. (NASBE) He previously served as the State
Superintendent of Public Instruction in Ohio for five years. In that role his
proudest accomplishment was the collaborative development of Each Child, Our Future, Ohio’s strategic plan for education that continues to guide the policy and practice work of the Ohio Department of Education. Before becoming Ohio’s state chief Paolo directed the state’s Office of Budget and Management and was chief policy advisor to former Ohio Gov. Bob Taft and executive vice chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education. Born to immigrant parents, Paolo is a native of West Virginia and attended public schools in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and South Carolina. He received a B.A. from Furman University and an M.P.A. from the Ohio State University’s John
Glenn College of Public Affairs.
Dr. Marco Clark
Dr. Marco Clark has impacted and transformed the lives of generations of students and families. For over 30 years, as the Founder & CEO of
Richard Wright Schools in Washington, DC, he has been a galvanizing leader in the global educational space. Dr. Clark is an honored recipient of numerous prestigious awards, most recently the 2023 Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award for Service bestowed by the Office of President Joseph R. Biden. He is also a guest contributor on hundreds of talk shows, and a keynote speaker in major events throughout the country. Dr. Clark earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with a minor in Secondary Education from Clark Atlanta University. He went on to earn a Master’s degree in Special Education from Coppin State University, a Master’s degree in Education Administration from Goucher College, and a Doctorate in Higher Education from Morgan State University. Dr. Clark’s motto is “You can’t beat a person who is determined to win.”
Ari Engleberg serves as Head of Communications and Strategic Initiatives at Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles, a position he has held since 2015. In 1996, while a graduate student at UCLA, he co-founded Stamps.com. Ari is the former Executive Director of Bright Star Schools, one of the leading
Charter Management Organizations in Los Angeles. In addition to Thinking
Nation, Ari’s non-profit and community commitments include sitting on the Boards of Directors of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the Girls Athletic Charter School (GALS), Gabriella Charter School, ICEF Family, and Coro Southern California. He also regularly invests in and advises start-ups, including Parker Isaac Instruments, Gipper Media, FanFix (sold to SuperOrdinary), Juno
Insurance, Extrico Healthcare Analytics, Bravago, and Everchron. Ari earned both his JD and MBA from the University of California Los Angeles.
Dr. Catherine O'Donnell
Catherine O'Donnell is Professor of History at Arizona State University, where she has also served in administrative roles focused on curriculum and student success. She is the author of Elizabeth Seton: American Saint (Cornell University Press, 2018), which was awarded the Distinguished Book Award by the Conference on the History of Women Religious, for books published from 2016-2018, as well as the Biography Prize from the Catholic Press Association. She is also the author of the books Jesuits in the British and North American Colonies: Faith, Conflict, Adaptation (Brill, 2018) and Men of Letters in the Early Republic (Chapel Hill, 2008) as well as many scholarly articles. She is a long-time board member of the Arizona Council of History Educators. Don Fraser, Jr.
Don Fraser, Jr. is Senior VP of Design and Innovation, for the non-profit
Education Design Lab. He is responsible for measuring and driving
innovation and emerging programs at the Lab, as well as building the Lab’s
reputation as a leader in equity-based, human-centered field testing and the
design of scalable postsecondary and workforce solutions. He previously led
the design of the Lab’s 21st century skills micro-credentials. Don is a
nationally recognized expert in postsecondary planning and college success, with an acute understanding of the learner experience, and has worked with schools across the K-16 spectrum to develop innovative programs to foster learner success and increase economic mobility. Prior to his work at the Lab, Don founded CollegeSnapps, a Washington, D.C.-based education technology startup company. He also served as the Director of Education for the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). Don began his work as a school counselor and brings his roots in psychology and history of transforming student perspectives to the Lab’s innovation and design practices.
Our Curriculum is Historian Approved
Thinking Nation asks expert historians to review our curriculum before it is used in the classroom. We believe that students should engage with history in a way that mirrors the conversations happening at the scholarly level. Also, by including expert historians in the curriculum-writing process, we can build a better bridge between secondary classrooms and the university.
As a nonprofit, Thinking Nation cannot serve students without the generosity of others.
We're especially grateful for the scholars who have donated their time and expertise to making our resources stronger.
Dr. Carol Berkin Baruch College (Emeritus) Dr. Denver Brunsman The George Washington University Dr. Paul Cheney The University of Chicago Dr. Pearl Young University of Houston-Clear Lake Dr. H. Paul Thompson, Jr. North Greenville University
Dr. Manisha Sinha University of Connecticut Dr. Marc Van De Mieroop Columbia University Dr. Vincent J. Cannato University of Massachusetts Boston Dr. Robert Elder Baylor University Dr. Sheen Rajmaira California State University, Channel Islands
Dr. James Walvin University of York (Emeritus) Dr. Nadya Williams University of West Georgia Dr. Benjamin Foreman The Master's University - IBEX Dr. Andrew Robertson Lehman College Dr. John Fea Messiah University
Why Partner with Thinking Nation?
chat_bubble Skills-Based Curriculum Our DBQ-Based Curriculum allows students to practice interdisciplinary reading, writing, and analysis skills necessary for success in all subjects.
Our rubrics are common-core aligned and focus on key writing skills measured across disciplines and on high stakes exams.
computer An Online Platform
Our curriculum can be administered exclusively online or in PDF form, allowing teachers to assign and teach DBQs both virtually and inside the classroom.
Measurable Data for Student Growth
Teachers are given easy-to-read data reports on student performance so that they can better tailor instruction to maximize student growth.
Our graders are teachers too! They have classroom experience and are thoroughly trained using Thinking Nation rubrics in order to ensure personal, yet cohesive, feedback on student essays.
Performance Tasks without Time-Consuming Grading
One of the biggest deterrents for administering rigorous performance tasks is the hours of grading that comes after. Our grading service gives teachers this critical time back.