Rodel Staff

Paul Herdman
President and CEO

Paul is president and CEO of the Rodel Foundation of Delaware, which he joined in 2004.  He is a founding member of the Vision Coalition, Delaware’s public-private partnership whose aim is to transform public schools to world-class status. Paul is an Aspen Institute-NewSchools Fellow in entrepreneurial leadership, and a 2010 recipient of the NewSchools Venture Fund “Change Agent of the Year” award. He has served as a senior manager at New American Schools, consulted with Brookings Institution, RAND, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, and The World Bank. Paul has taught K-12 in the U.S., South Africa, and Australia, and co-founded an Outward Bound-based school-within-a-school in New York City. He assisted the secretary of education for two governors in Massachusetts during the wholesale redesign of the state’s policies on standards, choice, and finance during the 1990s. Paul holds a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the University of Delaware, and Master of Arts and Doctor of Education degrees in education administration and planning from Harvard University. He and his wife, Dana, live in Wilmington and have three children in Delaware public schools.

Matt Amis
Senior Communications Officer
302.504.5245

Matt is senior communications officer at the Rodel Foundation. His responsibilities involve building public awareness and strategic partnerships through various media platforms and initiatives. Prior to joining the team, Matt served as a communications manager at the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce. With a background in journalism, Matt has appeared in the pages of many local publications over the years, including “Delaware Today,” “Out & About,” and “The News Journal,” among others. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Delaware.

Madeleine Bayard
Vice President, Policy and Practice
302.504.5260

Madeleine leads the Rodel Foundation’s policy, programmatic, government affairs, and communications initiatives. She is co-chair of the state Early Childhood Council, chair of the School Readiness Teams Advisory Committee, and a Delaware Commissioner for the Education Commission of the States. She serves on board of St. Michael’s School and Nursery, Delaware Historical Society, Delaware State Arts Council, and Wilmington Mayor’s Scholarship Committee. Previously, Madeleine worked at the National Governors Association and The Alford Group. Madeleine earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Wake Forest University and a Master of Public Policy from Georgetown University.

Jenna Bucsak
Senior Program Officer
302.504.5232

Jenna is a senior program officer working at the Rodel Foundation. In her role, she supports the organization’s policy research, specifically projects related to college and career access and organizational outreach. She has worked at the University of Delaware on projects focused on education and public libraries. Jenna has also served as a legislative fellow in the Delaware General Assembly. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in international relations and public policy from the University of Delaware and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Delaware.

Rachel Wiggans Chan
Senior Program Officer
302.504.5263

Rachel is a senior program officer at the Rodel Foundation. She works on the Foundation’s policy team supporting initiatives related to personalized learning and innovation. She is the facilitator of the Rodel Teacher Council. Prior to joining Rodel, she worked at Freire Charter School in Philadelphia, PA, where she was the director of research and quality assessment. Rachel received a Bachelor of Science in education and social policy from Northwestern University and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government.

Melissa Hopkins
Director, External Affairs
302.230.7012

Melissa is the director of external affairs at the Rodel Foundation. In that role, she is responsible for providing accurate, in-depth research into issues, bills, or other education-related legislative actions to assist in the design and development of organizational strategies. Prior to Rodel, Melissa was legislative aide to the Delaware House of Representatives Democratic Caucus, where she served as the primary assistant to the majority leader and majority whip. She also has experience working in constituent relations, policy research, and staffing policy work groups. Melissa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of Delaware.

Laurie Jacobs
Communications Associate
302.504.5242

Laurie is a communications associate at the Rodel Foundation. She is responsible for providing support for Rodel and outside partners’ projects, events, and communications. Prior to joining the Rodel Foundation, Laurie was a sales and marketing support specialist at Arkieva Supply Chain Software, where she led a re-branding initiative and managed various analyst relationships. Laurie graduated from George Mason University in 2014 with Bachelor of Arts degree in communication with a concentration in public relations. She currently a member of the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League Young Professionals, Kennett Square Rotaract Club and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc.

Neil Kirschling
Program Officer
302.230.7009

Neil is a program officer at the Rodel Foundation. In this role, he supports the organization’s policy initiatives through research, data analysis, and support for various engagement projects. Previously, he served as a legislative fellow in the Delaware General Assembly, conducted research for the University of Delaware’s Institute for Public Administration, and participated in the Delaware Department of Education’s “Future Education Policy Leaders” internship program. Neil graduated in December 2014 from the University of Delaware with a Bachelor of Arts degree in public policy and a Master of Public Administration.

Nancy Millard
Director, Operations
302.504.5241

Nancy is the director of operations at the Rodel Foundation. In her role, Nancy manages the Foundation operations and human resources, and is responsible for supporting the strategy of the organization including financial and grant management.  Prior to joining the Rodel team, Nancy’ worked in higher education administration at the University of Delaware and undergraduate admissions at Villanova University and Saint Joseph’s University. Nancy has a Bachelor of Arts in communication from the University of Delaware.

Shyanne Miller
Policy Associate

Shyanne is a policy associate at the Rodel Foundation. She is responsible for supporting the policy team in their projects, events, research, and communications in specific areas including the Rodel Teacher Council, Delaware Education At A Glance, and personalized learning. Shyanne has a background in racial equity, social justice, and environmental research. She is a McNair Scholar alumna and obtained her bachelor’s degree in wildlife conservation from University of Delaware. Shyanne is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in sustainable development with a specialization in policy advocacy and analysis from SIT Graduate Institute.

Malia Gilbert Neal
Development Manager
302.504.5248

Malia is the development manager at the Rodel Foundation.Malia has worked in nonprofit development for nearly a decade, leading and supporting a variety of fundraising events and stakeholder engagements, including the 2010 Legacy Reception for the National Forum for Black Public Administrators Philadelphia Chapter. Malia has a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from DePaul University, and a Master of Public Administration from University of Delaware.

Rachel Pleet
Policy Fellow
302.571.1536

Rachel is a policy fellow at the Rodel Foundation. In her role, she supports a variety of policy projects–including those of personalized and student-centered learning, educator support and development, and college and career readiness–through research, analysis, and communications. She previously worked at the University of Delaware’s Institute for Public Administration, Disaster Research Center, and Government Relations Office. Rachel has also interned in Israel in both the public and private sectors. At the University of Delaware, she graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree in public policy in 2016 and is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration.

Rex Varner
Chief Operating Officer
302.504.5249

Rex is the chief operating officer at the Rodel Foundation. In this role, Rex is responsible for supporting the strategy and operations of the organization; he also provides strategic support to partner organizations. Rex has private and public sector experience in both technology and operations. Before coming to Rodel, Rex worked in executive positions at Bellwether Education Partners, Teach For America, and the Corporate Executive Board. He also was a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, working throughout Africa, and Andersen Consulting (Accenture). In addition, he was a Peace Corps volunteer in Mali. Rex has a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from the College of William and Mary and a Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

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