We are passionate about building technology to honor the human right to education.
Experience That Guides Us
Gooru is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to honor the human right to education. In addition to providing governance, the Board of Directors is dedicated to and fully support Gooru’s mission.
Board of Directors
Nancy Butler Songer, PhD
Dr. Nancy Butler Songer is a Distinguished University Professor and Dean of the College of Education at University of Utah. Dr. Songer is an expert in science education and learning technologies with particular emphasis on the assessment of science knowledge and the design of learning environments that emphasize critical thinking in science. Songer’s work in educational assessment draws from the realization that students’ complex science knowledge development was not well represented in off-the-shelf assessments. Songer is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and she is the recipient of both a National Science Foundation Presidential Faculty Fellowship by President William J. Clinton and a United States of America Department of Education Promising Educational Technology Award. Prior to Drexel, Songer was a professor at the University of Michigan for eighteen years where she conducted the majority of her research in conjunction with the Detroit Public Schools.
Kenji Hakuta, PhD
Dr. Kenji Hakuta is an Emeritus Professor in the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University. His areas of teaching and research are bilingualism, second language acquisition, education policy, and social and experimental research. He worked on standards-based reform and has provided recommendations to the Clinton Administration. He created the English Language Learner (ELL) Leader Network at Stanford which brings together leaders from rural districts in California. He has authored several books including The Science and Psychology of Second Language Acquisition and Mirror of Language: The Debate on Bilingualism. Prior to Stanford, he was the Founding Dean of the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts at the University of California, Merced. He has also taught at Yale University and the University of California at Santa Cruz. He received his BA Magna Cum Laude in Psychology and Social Relations, and his Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology, both from Harvard University.
Michelle Rodriguez has been dedicated to students in urban and rural, low socio-economic districts for over 25 years with a focus on fragile student populations. She is the Superintendent of Pajaro Valley Unified since January 2017, where she has implemented many new innovative programs, such as Footsteps2Brillance, Latino Youth Film Institute, and expanded Dual Immersion Program. She comes from Santa Ana Unified, the 6th largest district in California. As the Assistant Superintendent, K-12 Teaching and Learning, of Santa Ana Unified, she oversaw 11 divisions, including Curriculum and Instruction. She led the creation of digital content that is being used at SAUSD’s first competency-based school, Advanced Learning Academy, and Open Campus, the district’s first virtual high school. She plans to bring personalized learning to Pajaro Valley Unified and accelerate student achievement so that all students become 21st Century graduates prepared for college and career.
Prasad Ram, PhD
Dr. Prasad Ram (aka Pram) is the Founder, CEO, and Chairman of Gooru. While working at Google, Pram devised a prototype to address his problem of finding age and topic appropriate educational resources on the web. Gooru, as it is today, began as a “20% effort” evolved into a year-long pilot in India that included 1,000 students across 25 classrooms. Pram left Google to pursue Gooru as a non-profit education technology start-up. Pram has previously worked at Xerox Research, Dynamx Technology (co-founder), Yahoo! and Google. Pram has a Ph.D. and M.S. in Computer Science from UCLA, and he obtained his B.Tech. in Computer Science from IIT-Bombay.
Gerard Hanley, PhD
Dr. Gerard Hanley is VP of Learning and Instruction for Gooru. As a professor of cognitive psychology, Gerry has led research and application programs in teaching, learning, and technology for 35 years at the California State University, the largest 4-year higher education institution in the U.S. At MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching) and SkillsCommons, Gerry has led the development and sustainability of international, open online libraries of free teaching and learning resources for education and workforce development while serving as Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Technology at Cal State. He received his BA, MA, and a PhD in Psychology from SUNY Stony Brook.
Shalini Urs, PhD
Dr. Shalini Urs has spent more than four decades in teaching, research, and building digital learning systems. Believing in the power of technologies to enhance learning, she began putting her research to work by taking up projects such as HyperCAL (Hypertext-based Computer Aided Learning in 1993. She pioneered the Electronic Thesis and Dissertations (ETD) movement in India with her Vidhyanidhi eScholarship portal in 2000. Dr. Urs has been a Fulbright scholar and a visiting professor at the Department of Computer Science, Virginia Tech, USA; an adjunct faculty at the International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore (IIITB) and a visiting professor at the Indian Statistical Institute, Bangalore. Taking a 360-degree view of information, she has researched on issues ranging from the theoretical foundations of information sciences to Informatics. She has published more than 200 papers in peer-reviewed journals and prestigious academic conferences and also edited five books published by Springer. Dr. Urs has won many awards—including the NDLTD – Adobe Leadership award in 2004; Emerald Research Fund Award 2007-08. She was awarded the Mortenson Distinguished Lecturer 2010 by the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, USA.
Board of Advisors
Dr. Mohammad Humayon Qayoumi
Dr. Qayoumi is President Emeritus of San Jose State University. He also served as Chief Adviser to the former President of Afghanistan for infrastructure, human capital, and technology. Prior to serving as president of San José State University and professor of electrical engineering, he served as President of California State University East Bay. Dr. Oayoumi has almost four decades of engineering and leadership experience at several universities in the US. He has served on several boards – such as Silicon Valley Leadership, Bay Area Council, Blue Shield of California, KQED, etc. and as chair of cybersecurity for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council. A senior fellow with California Council on Science and Technology (CCST), he was inducted to Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame in 2015. He is also the recipient of Chancellor Medallion for Fukaoka Institute of Technology. He has published eight books and more than 100 articles, as well as made numerous presentations at many key conferences in the US and Canada as well as a dozen other countries. Dr. Qayoumi has a BS in electrical engineering from the American University of Beirut, and four graduate degrees from University of Cincinnati – MS in nuclear engineering, MBA in finance, MS and PhD in electrical and computer engineering.
Jean Baronas founded Patturns to validate her research with energy educators using open-source technologies. Previously, Jean managed the hydrogen program at the California Energy Commission (CEC) where she oversaw staff who administered funding awards for refueling stations used to fill fuel cell electric vehicles. In this role she addressed cost reduction, standards compliance, permit streamlining, supply chain reliability, and consumer acceptance. Prior to the CEC, Jean also worked at Sony Electronics of America, Xerox Corporation, and the U.S. Department of Commerce (National Institute of Standards and Technology – NIST). In those roles she developed standards for energy and environment, battery safety, telecommunication, accessibility, and interoperability at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), American National Standards Institute (ANSI), International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), and International Standards Organization (ISO). At those standards development organizations Jean initiated interdisciplinary teams chartered with energy efficiency and environmental goals, strategic standards, policy commitments, regulations, and other approaches to protect markets and consumers, support product differentiation, and facilitate innovation and education. Jean holds an M.A. in telecommunication from George Washington University and an M.S. in information technology from Johns Hopkins University, where she served as a member of the adjunct faculty. Earlier, she received a B.S. in STEM from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Jean has received performance awards from the U.S. Department of Energy, CEC, IEC, ANSI, IEEE, and NIST.
Michael R. McCormick
Serving as an educational practitioner for the last 25 years, as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, assistant superintendent, superintendent, and adjunct professor, Michael R. McCormick has a unique perspective that spans every level of education. He has delivered keynotes and presentations in the following areas: implementation of instructional technology, formative assessment systems, 21st Century learning, designing 21st Century learning spaces, college/career readiness, educational leadership, educational change, improvement of graduation rates, improvement of chronic absenteeism, implementation of Social Emotional Learning, and improvement of A-G rates.
Dynamic leader that is part of team leading the largest education reform ever from a traditional time-based model to a digital personal-proficiency system that will impact over 72,000 schools in Russia. Over 20 years ago he led the first district to win the prestigious Malcom Baldrige Award in education by moving from a time-based system to a digital personal-mastery, thereby setting in motion a revolution in school change. He founded the Re-Inventing Schools Coalition (RISC) whose mission is to impact 1,000,000 children through scaling this system worldwide. Marzano Research purchased the foundation and is now called Reinventing Schools https://rs.marzanoresearch.com.
He is best known for his uniquely comprehensive grassroots approach to reinventing school systems that prepare children for the 21st century. Under Richard’s leadership, Alaska’s Chugach School District became the first K–12 district in the United States to a digital personalized-proficiency system in which students must meet performance targets rather than earn credits to graduate. He is the co-author of “Delivering on the Promise the Education Revolution”
In addition to guiding over 2,000 schools in the United States, Richard has consulted with organizations around the world wishing to change the paradigm to give every child a chance for a better future.
John Seely Brown, PhD
John Seely Brown is a visiting scholar at USC and the independent co-chairman of the Deloitte Center for the Edge. Previously, he was the Chief Scientist of Xerox Corporation and the director of its Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). He was deeply involved in the management of radical innovation and in the formation of corporate strategy and strategic positioning of Xerox as The Document Company. John has also received a few honorary degrees along the way, and in 2004 he was inducted into the Industry Hall of Fame. In 2009, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Louise Waters, PhD
Dr. Louise Waters, retired Superintendent of Leadership Public Schools (LPS), worked with Gooru’s team to lay the foundation with technology, products, funding, partnerships, and school engagements. LPS prototypes provided the conceptual and instructional underpinnings for many aspects of Goorus’ Learning Navigator. Prior to her 11 years leading LPS, she headed research at the Stupski foundation on districts that accelerated the performance of students of color and poverty. This in turn built off of her experience in the Oakland Unified School District. As Associate Superintendent of Student Achievement in Oakland, Dr. Waters led the instructional reforms from 2001 – 2004 that resulted in district achievement gains that out-paced the State. As a principal in the New Haven district (Union City), she designed award-winning assessment and extended day programs. Prior to her career in district administration, Dr. Waters led the state’s first new teacher program, a partnership between Oakland and the California State University, East Bay. As a professor of Teacher Education at the university, she was head of a number of urban teacher preparation programs. Dr. Waters holds a B.A. and Masters from Stanford University and a doctorate from Pennsylvania State University.
Sridhar Mitta, PhD
Dr. Sridhar Mitta’s 45 years of professional experience in IT industry can be summarized in three words: Technology. Business. Entrepreneurship. Dr. Mitta spearheaded R&D in the IT industry to design unique minicomputer systems that are suitable for the Indian market by using microprocessor technologies. He has blended his R&D skills with business acumen to come up with products and services that met industry needs and at the same time were commercially viable. Dr. Mitta is currently the founder of NextWealth Entrepreneurs. Bangalore. NextWealth is a unique IT company that helps its global clients to gain insights from their data by blending human touch with digital technologies. Dr. Mitta is also Founder of e4e in India that supported budding entrepreneurs from India to get access to famed Silicon Valley infrastructure in the US. Dr. Mitta was the first employee of Wipro’s IT business and spearheaded its growth into many businesses as CTO for 20 years from 1980. He founded EnThink Inc. in Santa Clara, US to monetize semiconductor IPs developed at Wipro.
Dr. Mitta received a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering, Master’s from IIT/Kharagpur and MS & PhD from Oklahoma State University, US. He was later inducted into CEAT Hall of Fame at the same University.
Sriram Viswanathan is the Founding Managing Partner of IndusAge Partners — a technology venture fund established in 2013 that focuses on accelerating the monetization of innovation-led products & platforms globally. In his last role within Intel, he was the Vice President of the Intel Architecture Group (IAG) and General Manager of Intel’s Incubation and Innovation Group. Sriram is a two-time recipient of the prestigious Intel Achievement Award and has also been awarded Intel Divisional Awards on numerous occasions. He has served on the Koﬁ Annan Committee for UNICT and has played an advisory role to the State Department and White House. He is currently a Board Member of Clairvolex, QuadGen Wireless, and CloudLeaf. He is also Senior Advisor to ATIC (Mubadala) and Global Foundries and a Strategic Board Advisor to Bahwan CyberTek (BCT) — a global IT services ﬁrm. He is an Advisory Board Member of Aravind Eye Hospitals in India and the Keck Graduate Institute. Sriram has an MBA from UCLA Anderson School of Business (1997) and has degrees in physics, computer science and automation from the American College and the Indian Institute of Science respectively.
Zachary Pardos, PhD
Dr. Pardos is an Assistant Professor at UC Berkeley in the School of Information and Graduate School of Education. His focal areas of study are knowledge representation and personalized supports leveraging big data in education. He earned his PhD in Computer Science at WPI and comes to UC Berkeley after a post-doc at MIT RLE & Computer Science Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL). At UC Berkeley he directs the Computational Approaches to Human Learning (CAHL) research lab and teaches courses on data mining and analytics, digital learning environments, and machine learning in education.
Barry Fishman, PhD
Dr. Barry Fishman is an Associate Professor at the School of Education and School of Information at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Barry was the recipient of the University of Michigan Provost’s Teaching Innovation Prize (2010), the Jan Hawkins Award for Early Career Contributions to Humanistic Research and Scholarship in Learning Technologies (2001) and the Pattishall Junior Faculty Research Award from the University of Michigan (2003). He received his AB from Brown University in English and American Literature, his MS from Indiana University in Instructional Systems Technology, and his PhD in learning sciences from Northwestern University.
S Sadagopan, PhD
Dr. S Sadagopan is the Director (President) of IIIT-Bangalore, one of the premier technology institutes in India. He obtained his MS & PhD Degree from Purdue University, USA in 1979 and BE (Hon) Degree from Madras University, India in 1973. He taught at IIT Kanpur (1979 to 95) and IIM Bangalore (1995-99). His research interests include OR, Multi-criteria optimization, Simulation and Enterprise computing. Sadagopan is a Fellow of the UK’s IET (formerly IEE), Computer Society of India and Institution of Engineers (India). He is a Senior Member of the IEEE and ACM. Sadagopan’s research work has appeared in several international journals including IEEE Transactions, European J of Operational Research, J of Optimization Theory & Applications, Naval Research Logistics, Simulation and Decision Support Systems. He has won numerous awards that include the Fulbright Fellowship (1995), “Champion of humanity” Award of Hindustan Chamber of Commerce (2009), “Rotary Honor of Vocational Excellence” by Rotary Northwest Bangalore District 3190 (2013), Engineering Watch “Campus Preparedness” Award (2015), and Cisco NDTV “Digital Pioneer” Award (2016) to name a few.
M. S. Krishnan, PhD
Dr. M. S. Krishnan (“Krishnan”) is the Associate Dean Global Initiatives, Accenture Professor of Computer Information Systems and Professor of Technology and Operations at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan. He has co-authored the book “The New Age of Innovation: Driving Co-Created Value with Global Networks” with Professor C. K. Prahalad (late). The Economist and Business Week magazine named this book as one of the Best Books on Innovation in 2008. Dr. Krishnan received his degrees in Mathematics and Computer Applications from the University of Delhi, India, and a PhD in Information Systems from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, USA in 1996. He was awarded the ICIS Best Dissertation Prize for his Doctoral Thesis on “Cost and Quality Considerations in Software Product Management”.
J.J. Walcutt, PhD
Dr. J.J. Walcutt is a scientist, innovator, and learning engineer that specializes in strategic development and reform across education, military, and government. Dr. Walcutt previously served in the US Government as the Director of Innovation at the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative under the Office of the Secretary of Defense and as a Human Innovation Fellow under the Office of Personnel Management. During her tenure in the government, she published two books. The first defined a national education reform plan and the second designed an open innovation model for re-imagining the executive branch. In her role at the Pentagon, Dr. Walcutt focused on promoting the science of learning through her service as a U.S. Delegate to NATO, Partnership for Peace, and as a national and international keynote speaker. In her role as a Human Innovation Fellow, she used the science of human centered design to recommend improved governmental communication structures with the American people to promote innovative problem solving. In this role, she provided keynote speeches nationally regarding innovation across, and transformation of, the federal government. Dr. Walcutt has over 20 years of experience in research and development for training and education with specific interests in improving educational systems nationwide as well as internationally.
Zohre Elahian has been actively involved in international development for over 10 years. With her husband, she started Schools Online, a not-for-profit organization that has brought computers to schools and introduced ICT in education in many countries around the world and within the US. As the Managing Director of Global Catalyst Foundation, she has also evaluated many projects, addressing critical needs in education, ICT, and microfinance; her Foundation has provided funding to such projects in many countries. She has also served on the board of directors of Relief International for over 8 years, working on different developmental and humanitarian projects in countries such as Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and more. Prior to her humanitarian activities, she co-managed a successful private business for 15 years. In 2009, Zohre received the Unsung Heroes of Compassion award and a special blessing from His Holiness, The Dalai Lama.
Xiangen Hu, PhD
Dr. Xiangen Hu is a professor in the Department of Psychology, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science Department at The University of Memphis (UofM) and senior researcher at the Institute for Intelligent Systems (IIS) at the UofM and is professor and Dean of the School of Psychology at Central China Normal University (CCNU). Dr. Hu received his MS in applied mathematics from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, MA in social sciences and Ph.D. in Cognitive Sciences from the University of California, Irvine. Dr. Hu is the Director of Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Partnership Laboratory at the UofM, and is a senior researcher in the Chinese Ministry of Education’s Key Laboratory of Adolescent Cyberpsychology and Behavior.
Sreeja is the founder and Chief Functionary of India Education Collective (IEC), a national level organisation engaging with State governments in India on impacting Quality of Education in Government schools. IEC works across nine states focusing on a systemic approach to reimagining schools into high quality, community owned institutions of learning.
Prior to starting IEC in 2015, she was the CEO & Secretary of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation and was involved in the expansion of the Foundation’s work in the domain of Education.
She was the Founder-Secretary of Prajayatna, a national level organization focusing on systemic issues of education reform and was its Chief Functionary for almost a decade. While in Prajayatna, she has been integral in developing the core approach to structural change in Education Governance and in pioneering a Capability based learning approach in classrooms. Prior to that she was one of the key coordinators of a national movement against child labour- the ‘Campaign Against Child Labour’(CACL).
During her engagement with child rights and education in the past 26 years, she has been focusing on developing structures and processes towards a redefined paradigm in learning, teacher professional learning and aspects of decentralization of education governance.
Sreeja is an Ashoka Fellow.
A core team member of Gooru for many years now transitioned to an advisory board member. Priti is an experienced finance manager with a demonstrated history of working in the e-learning industry. Skilled in internal audit, corporate finance, accounting, tax, and management. Strong operations professional with a CPA focused in accounting from California Board of Accountancy.
Alex Belous is the Education Portfolio Manager for the Cisco Foundation. Alex began his career as a first-grade teacher, and then as the Internet Technology Manager for the Arizona Department of Education where he improved the opportunity of rural and underserved students on Native American reservations and in other high-need school districts. Joining Cisco in 1998, Alex served as one of the founders of the Cisco Network Academy-a dynamic learning platform that now serves more than 1 million students per year. After 6 years Alex transferred to the Cisco Corporate Affairs group as the Education Specialist, working with teams across the company to address the innovative and effective use of network technologies in schools. Alex holds a BA in Early Childhood Education and two Masters in Elementary Education/Reading Instruction and Counseling Psychology.