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Our story

Every child deserves to know what it feels like when an entire community of adults and peers has her back.

We have spent most of our careers working with and learning from tens of thousands of educators about how to monitor progress and develop a personalized path to success for every child. We founded Intellispark to improve how schools and communities support all students – to help make student success a team sport.

We believe that a more modern approach to student support services needs a more modern technology backbone.

Our motivation

At the PreK-12 level, schools and districts are moving beyond college and career counseling toward a team-based, “whole child” approach to student support services. Many schools and districts are going even further, reaching outside the school to embrace community-based organizations as key partners in student success. New ways of delivering student support services require new tools. That’s why we created Intellispark.

Why Intellispark?

Whether struggling or thriving, every student needs a plan and a team. We are working to make sure that Intellispark lives up to that potential as the hub for insight, intelligence, and interaction connecting every student with the team of caring adults and peers that will help her achieve her full potential.

Meet our leadership team

Stephen M. Smith


Stephen M. Smith is CEO of Intellispark, a portfolio company advisor at the Vistria Group, and member and past chair of the national board at College Possible. Steve is co-author of Who Do You Think You Are: Three Critical Conversations for Coaching Teens to College & Career Success, published by John Wiley & Sons.

Steve was previously president and chief product officer at Hobsons where he led global product strategy, corporate development, student data privacy, and R&D. Steve joined Hobsons through the acquisition of Naviance, a leading college and career readiness technology platform used in 12,000 schools in more than 100 countries, where he was co-founder and chief executive.

Earlier in his career, Steve served as vice president of digital product development at Peterson’s, as a founding member of the Internet consulting practice at Thomson Technology Services Group, and as a practitioner faculty member at The Johns Hopkins University and Montgomery College.

Steve earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, cum laude, and an MBA from Cornell University.

Shaun Fanning

Chief Product Officer

Shaun Fanning is chief product officer at Intellispark and a cofounder of Naviance. Shaun is also co-author of Who Do You Think You Are: Three Critical Conversations for Coaching Teens to College & Career Success, published by John Wiley & Sons.

Shaun previously served as vice president of research and development at Hobsons, where he led new product initiatives focused on improving student success through technology in K–12 and higher education. He joined Hobsons in 2007 through its acquisition of Naviance, where he served as head of product strategy and technology. Prior to co-founding Naviance, he held a variety of roles in business analysis, finance, technology, marketing, and product management at AT&T and The Thomson Corporation (now Thomson Reuters).

He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Cornell University.

Patricia A. Gagnon

Chief Experience Officer

Patricia Gagnon is chief experience officer at Intellispark. Patricia is a passionate educator and innovator. As an educator, she is ever-focused on what sparks a student’s drive to learn and be successful. As an innovator, she works to develop solutions that transform the experience of users — in this case, students, parents, and the vast array of education professionals who support them.

Patricia has executive experience in product strategy across both the education technology and consumer product industries. Prior to joining Intellispark, she served as senior vice president and general manager of Naviance by Hobsons, a leading college and career readiness platform, and as vice president of product management at K12, Inc., an online learning and content provider for K-12 online public and private school students. A common thread between these roles was identifying and supporting the behaviors — both of students and of educators — that lead to long-term student success.

Before returning to the field of education, Patricia spent seven years with Unilever in both corporate finance and global brand management, culminating with global innovations on Dove Bar, Dove Body Wash and the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty.

Early in her career, Patricia served as a public school administrator and teacher of English and Latin in several Rhode Island public schools. Her eight years in the classroom provided a foundation to develop solutions that would enhance the experience and outcomes for all participants in the learning process.

Patricia holds a Bachelor of Arts in the Classics and English from Dartmouth College and an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Ken Broermann headshot

Ken Broermann

SVP, Sales & Marketing

Ken Broermann is senior vice president of sales and marketing at Intellispark. Passionate about ensuring educators have the tools to support their students, Ken works with districts to advise them on solutions to their challenges, and partners with them on achieving their goals. Prior to Intellispark, Ken was the vice president of sales and marketing at Transeo, a college and career readiness platform. He was also recognized for his work at PeopleAdmin and PowerSchool.

An educator by training, Ken has led teams working with students at risk, building systems of support for them both inside and outside the classroom. As a consultant working to scale solutions, he found education technology to be the space he could impact more students around the country.

Ken holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Concordia University Nebraska in psychology and education.


Matt Coleman, D.Ed.

Senior Advisor

Dr. Matt Coleman is the CEO of Inflexion. His focus on school systems change has produced demonstrable results, is rooted in organizational theory and informed by Matt’s extensive experience working at every level of the secondary education system, as an educational assistant, middle and high school teacher, high school assistant principal, middle and high school principal, director of secondary education, and assistant superintendent.

In his administrative roles, Matt supported significant change resulting in improved outcomes for all students — with a positive, differential impact on students who have been historically underserved. In his role as assistant superintendent in Springfield Public Schools, he led high school reform efforts that increased cohort graduation rates, decreased dropout rates, increased enrollment in advanced programs, and significantly reduced the gap in achievement between different cultural groups. In recognition of his service to Springfield Public Schools, Matt received the 2014 Excellence in Achievement Award from the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators. Dr. Coleman received his D.Ed. at the University of Oregon in 2008 with an emphasis on learning assessment systems and performance.

Since joining the organization in 2014, Matt led an intentional shift to working directly with school and district leaders to make Inflexion’s work more accessible to educators. To reflect this shift Inflexion changed its name from the Educational Policy Improvement Center (EPIC) in 2017. Matt’s current work builds on his experiences on the ground as an educator. As a school administrator, he used the Four Keys to College and Career Readiness developed by Inflexion’s founder, Dr. David Conley, as a foundation for his work. The Four Keys (Think, Know, Act, and Go) represent a holistic vision of student readiness for schools as well as a shared mental model for staff to anchor their understanding of readiness. Matt has also formalized his learnings from the education system into The Inflexion Approach, an organizational framework designed to support school-wide implementation efforts. The Inflexion Approach is rooted in organizational theory and recognizes the critical role identity plays in developing schools and systems that serve all students well.

David Conley, Ph.D.

Senior Advisor

Dr. Conley is a national thought leader in several areas including college and career readiness, student ownership of learning, systems of assessment, and new models of educational accountability. He has conducted numerous research studies on what it takes for students to be ready to succeed in college and careers, and he writes extensively on this topic. Most recently, he studied assessment and accountability systems, specifically those using new techniques and multiple measures. His most recent book, The Promise and Practice of Next Generation Assessment, was published in July, 2018 by Harvard Education Press.

As Professor of Educational Policy and Leadership in the Department of Educational Methodology, Policy, and Leadership, College of Education, University of Oregon, he founded the Center for Educational Policy Research at the University of Oregon in 2000, which he continues to direct. Dr. Conley also founded and served for 12 years as CEO of the Educational Policy Improvement Center (EPIC, now Inflexion). He recently completed an appointment as Senior Fellow for Deeper Learning under the sponsorship of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Currently, he is the founder and president of EdImagine, a consulting group dedicated to helping educational organizations improve their effectiveness and hone their strategic direction.

Before entering higher education in 1989, Dr. Conley spent 20 years in the public school system in a variety of roles including teacher and co-director of two public alternative schools, a site and central-office administrator, and an executive in a state education agency.

Dr. Conley earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Berkeley and a MA and PhD from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Deborah Hardy, Ed.D.

Senior Advisor

“It is a rare person who can take care of hearts while also taking care of business.” – Anonymous

This quote, imprinted on a tile, is Deborah Hardy’s inspiration to support every child. Deborah Hardy, EdD is the founder and Educational Consultant of GuidED Consulting, LLC in Mahopac, NY. Previously, Dr. Hardy was a multilingual school counselor in a diverse school district in suburban New York State where she assisted with English as a Second Language program development as an advocate for students new to the country. In her many years of experience, she served as a coordinator and as a director of K12 school counseling services where she oversaw school counselors, school social workers, and school nurses.

Dr. Hardy implemented a comprehensive K12 school counseling program aligned to the New York and American School Counselor Association (ASCA) model framework and geared towards supporting student academic, social emotional, career and college skill development. Dr. Hardy is student centered and while in the school district, she assisted with the response to intervention process and the whole child task force among many other responsibilities.

Additionally, Dr. Hardy implemented new components within the school counseling program such as a student personal learning plan connecting interests and abilities into personal goals – finding what the student is involved in as an activity, connecting it to courses that are related to the interest, and developing ideas to overcome challenges. The plan lets students engage and develop their learning pathway.

Dr. Hardy provides professional development to school districts and state school counseling associations (ASCA, NY, AZ, SC, CT, NC, MS, MT, NJ) on using student support services data to tell student stories, collaborating as a team towards student achievement, writing curriculum and lessons that make sense, emotional intelligence, mindfulness in student support services, understanding the role of student support systems in a learning organization, and developing a comprehensive school counseling program.

Dr. Hardy is a member of the New York State Education Department School Counseling Advisory Team as well as the Social Emotional Development and Learning Task Force and has held several state and local leadership positions in the school counseling profession. Dr. Hardy is the co-author of the NYS Comprehensive School Counseling Model as well as the NYS Model Activities Books. She also authored the Internet Guide for School Counselors and El Camino a La Universidad, a guidebook for the college process in Spanish. She has collaborated with several authors, including on Kids Who Think Outside the Box: Helping Your Child Thrive in a Cookie Cutter World by Stephanie Lerner.

Currently, Dr. Hardy is an adjunct professor at New York University and Long Island University inspiring future school counselors to embrace the whole child approach. Her belief: I provide counseling with a heart!

Matt Liberatore, Ed.D., LCPC

Senior Advisor

Dr. Matt Liberatore is a therapist in private practice, the former director of professional learning and student services for Township High School District 214, past president of the Illinois School Counselor Association, a board member at the Directors of Counseling and Student Services of Suburban Chicago, and senior advisor to Intellispark. Over the last decade, Matt has served as a school counselor, counseling department chair and assistant principal for student services. In this time, he has developed a passion for utilizing student achievement data to drive and leverage student service success. Matt has shared this expertise at regional and national conferences, where he presents on creating “dynamic student data” that focuses on a transformed approach to Multi-tiered Systems of Support. Matt is most excited to be working with Intellispark to revolutionize the student advising experience.

Matt has worked in several school settings, from private to public to rural and suburban. He began his educational career at Marian Catholic High School before moving to Lake Zurich District 95 and Huntley District 158. From 2015 to 2021, he worked in District 214. Matt holds a master’s degree in School Counseling and a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor credential from Saint Xavier University. Matt has also earned a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Northeastern Illinois University and a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership from Concordia University.

Outside of work, Matt has a deep affinity to assist in fighting global poverty. For the past 12 years, he has traveled the globe with Habitat for Humanity Global Village as a Global Village Leader. In this role, Matt has recruited and trained various diverse groups to successfully complete Habitat for Humanity projects in Guatemala, Chile, India, Hungary, Kenya, and the United States.

V. Scott Solberg, Ph.D.

Senior Advisor

V. Scott H. Solberg, Ph.D, is Professor at the Boston University Wheelock College of Education and Human Development. Dr. Solberg is working internationally and nationally on the design, implementation, and evaluation of effective career development programs and services, especially for high-need youth populations, including youth with disabilities. Currently he is co-leading a 17-country effort to build educator capacity to engage in social emotional learning. This SEL effort has been recognized by World Educational Research Association as an International Research Network. His publications, reports, and curriculum translate career development research into practice and policy strategies that are being used by states and districts throughout the United States. His most recent book is Making School Relevant with Individualized Learning Plans: Helping Students Create Their Own Career and Life Goals from Harvard Education Press. He is author of the Intellispark SEL & Resiliency Program (formerly Success Highways by ScholarCentric), co-editor of the “Handbook of Career and Workforce Development: Research, Practice and Policy” from Routledge, and co-editor of “Careers for Students with Special Educational Needs: Perspectives on Development and Transitions from the Asia-Pacific Region” from Springer.

A book by our founders …

Who Do You Think You Are?

Intellispark founders Shaun Fanning and Stephen Smith are passionate about helping kids make the most of their education decisions. Who Do You Think You Are: Three Critical Conversations for Coaching Teens to College & Career Success is about helping parents have meaningful conversations about the future of school and work with their middle and high school age kids. In it, Shaun and Steve share lessons from working with thousands of educators, families, and kids during the past 20 years.

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