The Team

The strength of the Children’s Media Workshop effort can be summarized as a team of dedicated experts in the field that understands the need for critical thinking, media literacy, and digital empowerment.

John Schaefer is founder and has been working on large scale educational change for 30 years. His work has always been characterized by real classroom experience that he then translates into systemic programming. In the 1990s he used the latest visual technology, instant photography, a science-based tool, to create the largest teacher training network in US history with over 800,000 members.

Stefanie Musy-Verdel is combining her 18 years of Intensive Care Nursing (BSN) with an education and completion of the UC Berkeley Extension Certificate Program in Landscape Architecture (2013) to transform the landscape of education with an emphasis on preventative and environmental health.  Once her oldest child started elementary school, she has been active in assessing and seeking improvements to the one-mile radius that surrounds local elementary schools.  She is an advocate for active transportation and well-designed communities where safe walking and biking routes connect the school to the home to the park to the church to the store and back home again.

Mitchell Wade is a community builder who brings exceptional organizational acumen in connecting key people and resources. In a decade at RAND, the nation’s premier think tank, his innovative approach was used in policy research, high-stakes communications, and the organization’s own successful strategic change.  He has consulted with key leaders in such disparate settings as Charles Schwab, the US military, Accenture, and The Soros Foundation.

Dr. Deborah Burney-Sigman has a PhD. In biology from MIT and has created large-scale educational outreach projects as director of Breathe Utah. She worked with John Schaefer to create the first mandatory Drivers ED curriculum on the environmental impacts of driving.

Tanner Holladay is at the forefront of application development and code creation. The latest and first scalable MappsLab app is his primary work and it continues to evolve through classroom testing and User-Experience documentation.

Alex Johnstone has an impressive new media career in app building that has led to a position as an adjunct professor at the University of Utah. His interactive media talents include developing and building of the scientific exhibits at the new Utah Science Center, The Leonardo. His honors include having a high tech movie accepted into the prestigious Sundance Film Festival. He will be a key player in developing the CMW as a transformative science learning experience that is accessible to non-science educators.

Dr. Elizabeth O’Brien is the CMW STEM Education specialist. She is a full-time scientist with a long standing relationship with educational programming and has worked closely on projects with John Schaefer and the CMW team for 15 years. She brings the scientific rigor and learning methodology that has characterized her career to the development of CMW programming.

Dr. Cherie Byars is a biology professor at Salt Lake Community College with an expertise in testing educational outcomes—an important aspect of CMW growth—rigorous assessment.

Tim Gangwer is the CMW Professional Development director and an expert in the field of visual learning. He has worked closely with John Schaefer since 1986 and was instrumental in creating the Visual Learning Network. He conducts Professional Development workshop and trainings throughout the US, Africa, and Europe.