Forbes 30 Under 30 in Education

Jan 4, 2016 3:00:00 PM Jessica Beidelman Education Trends

Forbes released its 2016 30 Under 30 list, which highlights creative leaders and innovative entrepreneurs across a range of sectors. Our team of educators would like to congratulate this year's list of innovative leaders in education, who are opening minds and expanding access to high-quality education. Below we highlighted our selection of the top 30 Under 30 in Education leaders. 


Heejae Lim

Founder, TalkingPoints

Heejae Lim is the founder of TalkingPoints, an organization that boosts parent engagement in low-income communities using simple, digital technology. Heejae is deeply committed to the idea that education is the equalizer, and has leveraged technology to help with this. Before TalkingPoints, Heejae designed and implemented the data-driven decision making system for all public middle and high schools in Bahrain. She also advised the Gates Foundation and Teach First while working as a consultant at McKinsey & Company, where she was a founding team member for its social venture competition. Heejae has served as chief of staff to a special advisor to the Secretary of Education in the UK, and while in undergrad, established a summer school for underprivileged girls in Quito, Ecuador. Heejae is South Korean, but has also spent half her life living in the United Kingdom. She graduated with distinctive honors from Oxford University, where she was vice president of the student association. She holds a Master in International Development from the London School of Economics and an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business.

TalkingPoints is founded on the belief that parent engagement is key to closing the achievement gap in K-12 education. We want to connect every teacher, student and parent with one another in order to build healthy, enduring relationships that support students’ academics and character. This connection will help parents to learn about their students’ school experience and how to meaningfully support them despite being constrained by time and resources.

TalkingPoints achieves this via a two-way, multilingual texting platform with pre-loaded and crowd-sourced content. Teachers use TalkingPoints to send relevant, useful and actionable information to families. We believe this is an easy, low-cost and engaging way to tackle the growing achievement gap in low income communities.


Matthew Ramirez

Co-Founder, WriteLab

Ramirez uses artificial intelligence to teach students how to write. Born in McAllen, Tex., on the Mexican border, Ramirez grew up with mostly poor, non-native English speakers and attended the local community college for one year before graduating from the University of Texas at Austin. WriteLab now has $2.5 million in funding and has already been deployed in 53 schools, ranging from low-income high schools to Ivy League colleges. "Our biggest gamble is betting that everyone can use this, regardless of their demographic or competency level."

WriteLab analyzes writers' Drafts and offers observations, questions, and suggestions about sentence-level writing features. WriteLab does not tell writers what they should do. Instead, users learn by exercising authority over their prose, by making decisions about what they want to say and how they want to say it. Our goal is simple: to empower students to write with confidence.


Eric Duffy

Cofounder, Pathgather

Prior to Pathgather Eric studied Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis, taught in China as a Princeton in Asia fellow, and worked on a water cistern project in South Africa. When not Pathgather-ing, you're liable to find him Pathiscoping or delving into the wonderful world of web development. 

Pathgather is a social learning platform for companies that connects people around personal and professional development. Pathgater helps employees discover great learning content, get recognized for their achievements, learn from the experts around them, and grow to become experts themselves. Pathgater motivates individuals to learn and connect around professional development, so companies end up with a smarter, more effective workforce.


Peter Gault

Executive Director,

Peter Gault is currently leading the development of Previously, Peter built prototypes of an Interactive Atlas of World History and an Interactive Textbook. Peter hopes to continue the development of these projects in the future. 

Peter has spent the last eight years designing and developing video games. His software career began as a sixteen-year-old volunteer at the Game Developers Conference. Sitting in the front row during Will Wright’s first public demonstration of Spore (2005), a game in which one begins a single celled organism and evolves into an intergalactic species, he realized that interactive learning would be the future of education. He has spent the last eight years studying how games are constructed and how people learn. His goal is to build games where people learn by constructing their own knowledge.  Peter studied philosophy and history at Bates College. While at Bates he wrote a thesis on the role of emotion in moral decision making. 

Quill is an open source literacy tool that provides writing, grammar and vocabulary activities to students. Quill is being built by a community of educators and developers. This tool provides students with essays that have grammatical errors embedded within them. The student's goal is to read the essay and correct the errors. Students are then given personalized grammar homework assignments for the errors they do not catch. 


Marcus Noel

Founder, Heart of Man

Marcus is seeking to disrupt the fashion industry through innovative education. Marcus believes that creative education and student entrepreneurship will decrease the dropout rate in America -- and that the traditional education approaches are demotivating our students. Marcus co-founded Heart of Man to address the lack of motivation in students and to bring students' dreams to reality. Marcus is a StartingBloc Fellow, Education Pioneer Fellow, and ProInspire Fellow.

Heart of Man is a social venture that empowers student innovators through its educational program that teaches youth to design, create, market and sell products. Heart of Man is an impactful educational program that teaches middle school and high school students science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) through human-centered design, entrepreneurship, and digitally based skills necessary to compete in the 21st Century. Students create, market and retail their products in the "real world." Hands-on classes provide students with vocational training through real-world business experience. HoM has taught over 300 youth across seven cities in the United States. 


Eric Lavin

Founding Manager, Aspen Ventures

Eric Lavin is the founding manager of Aspen Ventures. Programs under Eric's management include: the Braddock Scholars Program and the DC Urban Innovation Lab. Eric joins the Institute after serving as the CEO of Whetstone Education, an education technology company he co-founded in New Orleans in 2013. Prior to that he worked as Strategy Analyst at Next Street, a merchant bank providing capital and advisory services to small businesses and nonprofits in low-moderate income neighborhoods in New York City. Previous to that he was a high school teacher in Helena, AR as a Teach for America corps member. Eric graduated from Tulane University with a degree in International Political Economy with coursework at the London School of Economics and Oxford.

Aspen Ventures at the Aspen Institute connects social entrepreneurs to Aspen Institute resources.


Rebecca Liebman

Cofounder, LearnLux

Rebecca has a passion for startups, education, and the amazing things that happen when they are combined. She loves to work with dedicated, excited, and passionate people and brings them together to make great things. She is often called Director of MIH, which stands for Making it Happen. Rebecca has had many incredible experiences, especially for someone of her age. She founded two startups by the age of 20, had the opportunity to live in Kenya, completed environmental research in Western Europe, and worked for some amazing Boston-based startups that went through the MassChallenge and TechStars programs. 

Financial literacy is not a priority at any level of the education system, and as a result, people miss out on their prime investment period, fail to develop the credit they’ll need later in life, and make big financial decisions out of fear—rather than education. LearnLux creates online learning tools to empower millenials to take control of their personal finances. Like many people, LearnLux's founders were faced with financial decisions and didn’t feel prepared, realizing that most people in their twenties and thirties feel like they need to know more about their financial futures, as well. From basic banking, to retirement planning, to insurance and building credit, LearnLux provides access to as much, or as little, information as an individual might need to make financial decisions with confidence. 


Christopher Pedregal

Cofounder, Socratic

Christopher Pedregal is a tech entrepreneur based in NYC. Chris started his first company, ScramblerMail, when he was 19 years old. The second company he co-founded, Apture, was acquired by Google in 2011. Chris then worked as a Product Manager at Google, where he worked on Gmail, Google Maps and Search. Chris graduated from Stanford University with a BS in Computer Science and an MA in Journalism. While in graduate school during the 2008 Presidential Campaign, Christopher launched, one of the first widely recognized Politics 2.0 websites.

Socratic is a question-and-answer website focused on academic subjects. Socratic is building the definitive, free learning resource for the world, one answer at a time. He is a thought leader on Mobile Learning and hopes to build a community of tech leaders to make mobile content better and more accessible.


Jerelyn Rodriguez

Cofounder, The Knowledge House

Jerelyn Rodriguez is the Co-Founder and CEO of The Knowledge House. As an alumna of the first KIPP schools, Jerelyn was raised with the belief that knowledge is power. This hunger for knowledge and the opportunity to leverage technology for social good inspired her to start The Knowledge House. Previously, she coordinated STEM after-school programming at Beyond Z and was the Bronx Field Director for Reshma Saujani’s 2013 campaign for New York City Public Advocate. In 2011, Jerelyn joined Students for Education Reform (SFER) as the National Program Director, organizing and coaching college students in 25 state to advocate for education reform. Prior to SFER, Jerelyn worked in the public school system, teaching and designing student programs. Jerelyn has a degree in film studies from Columbia University. Jerelyn has recently spoken on panels as SXSWedu, the New York City Social Innovation Festival and NASA’s SpaceApps Challenge. She is on the leadership council for South Bronx Rising Together, a founding Datanaut at NASA, a fellow at Camelback Ventures, and the Entrepreneur in Residence at the BXL: Bronx Business Incubator.

The Knowledge House is a non-profit social enterprise with the mission to build a pipeline of 1,000 technologists and entrepreneurs coming from low income communities. We offer schools and nonprofit organizations with web literacy and tech-entrepreneurship programs that provide the youth they serve with 21st century hard and soft skills, access to postsecondary training and career readiness for the technology and social innovation sector.


Cover Photo: Forbes Magazine

Bios and company descriptors adapted from respective websites.