Who We Are

We inspire and educate all stakeholders to foster learning innovations

The Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative (PL2C) promotes pedagogical shifts in digital learning environments in order to inspire, innovate and coach.

Nancy PD smWe engage educators at all levels to provide research based, job-embedded models and approaches for strategic planning  and professional development with the belief that students deserve access to equitable, personalized learning experiences.

Our coaches are educational leaders who have extensive experience in strategic planning, leadership support and development, data-driven decision-making and professional development planning and design – all as they relate to digital learning programs. Our professional development is customized and tailored to fit the current needs of your schools and districts with a focus on adaptive student-centered approaches that provide concrete, quality, purposeful, reflective practices supported through technology. Learn more about what we do.

The PL2C Team


Our dedicated team are educational leaders who have extensive experience in strategic planning, leadership support and development, data-driven decision-making and professional development planning and design – all as they relate to digital learning programs. All the professional development designed is customized and tailored to fit educators’ unique and current needs in schools and districts.

Photo of Lauren Acree Lauren Acree Research Associate
(919) 513-8577

Where is your hometown? Lexington, Kentuky Describe your work with the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative. I am a research associate with the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative. I research ways to best prepare teachers and leaders for the Digital Transition in North Carolina, strategies to help new teachers work with students and their many learning differences, and helping state leaders leverage technology in their own states. How did your come to work with the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative? While I was a Special Education teacher in Tulsa, Oklahoma I fell in love with policy and education. So, I went back to get my Master’s degree at Duke before making the move to NCSU and the DLC team! My favorite pastime is… Dancing, running, singing in the car on road trips, getting ice cream, and morning walks with my puppy. My greatest strength is… The support of my friends and family. Publications / Awards “School Climate and Student Achievement” for the Tennessee Department of Education Sue Lehman Award for Excellence in Teaching – regional winner

Photo of Emmy Coleman Emmy Coleman Senior Research Scholar
(919) 513-8552

Where is your hometown? Warrenton, North Carolina. Define your work with the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative. I provide support and guidance to innovative educators who are transitioning to digital learning initiatives in their schools and districts. How did you come to work with the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative? After working as a teacher and administrator for fourteen years, I was provided an opportunity to work at the Friday Institute. Taking my skills and expertise to a statewide level challenges me in ways that are exciting and engaging–it’s now a passion! What is your favorite part about working at the Friday Institute? Having the creative space and opportunity to seek new educational challenges. I learn something new every day from the talent that surrounds us not only on our team, but throughout our building! When you can’t find me in the office, I am… usually reading a book (preferably on any beach) or working on a house project. I am most proud of… the students from my teaching years. I love reconnecting with them, discovering the wonderful adults they have become, and continuing to share in their lives.

Photo of Alex Dreier Alex Dreier Instructional Design Lead
(919) 513-8550

Where is your hometown? Fairfield, CT Describe your work with the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative. As the Instructional Design Lead here at the Friday Institute, my work overlaps with that of the PLLC in many ways. From our MOOC-Eds to our blended learning initiatives, I work closely with the PLLC team to create exciting, engaging learning experiences. How did you come to work with the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative? I spent a decade in Boston at Education Development Center, a non-profit with a wide range of programs focused on education and health both domestically and internationally. The project on which I worked, EdTech Leaders Online, helps build the capacity of organizations to build online programs. This was a natural fit with the work of the Friday Institute when my family and I were looking to relocate. What is your favorite part about working at the Friday Institute? The people. Not a day goes by where my thinking isn't pushed in a way that I'm completely unable to anticipate. That makes me excited to get up in the morning (when I'm not already up due to a restless toddler). My secret talent it... Not wasting a centimeter of dishwasher space. My favorite vacation spot is... The back nine. Or front. Depends on how I'm doing.

Photo of Abbey Futrell Abbey Futrell Research Associate

Where is your hometown? Ahoskie, North Carolina. Define your work with the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative. To summarize the scope of work of this amazing team, I would say that we help teachers help students by providing support and professional development as it relates to “out of the box” approaches to true technology integration and usage. How did you come to work with the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative? My career in education has included, but is certainly not limited to, classroom teacher, district technology facilitator, instructional coach and professional development consultant with NCDPI. One day I wished upon a star and woke up at the Friday Institute. What is your favorite part about working at the Friday Institute? In addition to having the opportunity to share with and learn from brilliant educators from across the state, I absolutely LOVE the fact that at the end of each day, my brain is full of new innovations and information. I could never live without… my husband (James), my children (Mikee and J) and Simply Raspberry Lemonade. My secret talent is… I can still perform a perfect cartwheel…in heels…upon request…no warmup required.

Photo of Greg Garner Greg Garner Research Associate

Where is your hometown? Humble, TX Describe your work with the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative. My work with the PLLC centers mostly around the development of a district resource toolkit to help school districts in their implementation of the NC Digital Learning Plan. I am excited to put practical strategies and resources directly into the hands of those that need it most! I am also involved with the NC Digital Leaders Coaching Network, the Leadership in Blended Learning program, and generally anything else I can get my hands on to help more educators. How did you come to work with the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative? Shortly after moving to North Carolina from Texas in 2014, I was able to connect with Nancy Mangum and she invited me to apply for the NC Digital Leaders Coaching Network. After several conversations and getting to meet the rest of the team at FI, I was asked to facilitate some of the sessions. Simultaneously, the PLLC was expanding and I was fortunate enough to be offered a position with the team, which I gratefully accepted. What is your favorite part about working at the Friday Institute? The sheer creativity and passion that everyone brings to their work is infectious. Everyone treats one another with respect and care, which makes it easy to bring your full self to your work day in and day out. My favorite pastime is… Golf – It’s probably unfortunate (or perhaps VERY fortunate?) that the FI is located across the street from NC State’s golf course I could never live without… Coffee – I’m quickly learning what a haven NC is when it comes to quality independent coffees and am on a personal mission to try as many as possible. …Maybe I should switch to decaf?

Photo of Theresa Gibson Theresa Gibson Project Coordinator

Where is your hometown? Oakfield, New York Describe your work with the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative. I coordinate projects that engage educators at all levels of education. Our projects work to innovate and to improve education by promoting and supporting quality, purposeful shifts in practice. How did you come to work with the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative? I began working at the Friday Institute exclusively on Mathematics Education Projects. My work has grown and shifted to include projects across content areas with the Professional Learning team. What is your favorite part about working at the Friday Institute? Everyday I am surrounded by amazing people that are working hard to improved education. I get up excited and honored to come to work each day. My favorite pastime is... Reading fantasy novels, especially science fiction fantasy. I could never live without... My husband, two beautiful children, and my brothers and sisters. I am the youngest of 11 kids and live within a mile of 3 of my siblings. My family gets together regularly to eat way to much and enjoy the chaos of 22 cousins (our children) playing together. My secret talent is... I enjoy re-wiring rooms to have more effective lighting. (I have recently begun to teach my husband the tricks of the trade.)

Photo of Lisa Hervey Ph.D., NBCT Lisa Hervey Ph.D., NBCT Senior Research Scholar

Where is your hometown? Memphis, Tennesse. Define your work with the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative. I help our team design, develop and facilitate learner-centered, technology-infused face-to-face and online professional development opportunities. How did you come to work with the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative? I started teaching online for DLC as a side job while completing my dissertation at NCSU. For some crazy reason, they decided to keep me after I graduated! Lucky me! What is your favorite part about working at the Friday Institute? We put educators and their students at the center of our value system. My favorite pastime is… reading while running! Ok…an audiobook, but still! My secret hobby is… cataloging wildflowers. Go National Audubon Society! Awards / Publications Shana Breen Memorial Award, (1997). National Council for Exceptional Children. Dr. Charles Riper Student of the Year Award, (1997). Michigan Council for Exceptional Children. Student CEC Chapter of the Year Award, (1997). Michigan Council for Exceptional Children. Hervey, L. (2010). Dissertation Support Award, College of Education, North Carolina State University. Hervey, L. (under review). Between the Notion and the Act: Veteran teachers’ TPACK and practice in 1:1 settings. Dissertation, North Carolina State University. Spires, H., Hervey, L., & Watson, T. (2013). Scaffolding the TPACK framework with literacy teachers: New literacies, new minds. In S. Kajder’s and C.A. Young (Eds.). Research on English language arts and technology. Greenwich, CN: Information Age Press. Spires, H., Hervey, L., Morris, G., & Stelpflug, C. (2012). Energizing project-based inquiry: Middle grade students read, write, and create videos. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. Spires, H. & Hervey, L. (2011). Does interaction with a web-based learning environment lead to higher levels of writing self-efficacy for sixth graders? Chronicle of Middle Level Research. Spires, H., & Hervey, L. (2011). New technologies, new pedagogies: Finding the “grail” in higher education. Journal of Leadership Studies, 4(4), 54-56. DOI:1.1002/jls.20194 Spires, H., Hervey, L., & Watson, T. (2013). Scaffolding the TPACK framework with literacy teachers: New literacies, new minds. In S. Kajder’s and C.A. Young (Eds.). Research on English language arts and technology. Greenwich, CN: Information Age Press. Hervey, L., Spires, H.A., & Zhang, J. (2009). The awakening of adolescent education in the People’s Republic of China. In S. Mertens, K. Roney, & V. Anfara (Eds.), An international look at educating young adolescents, (vol. 7). The Handbook of Research in Middle Level Education Series.

Photo of Alex Kaulfuss Ph.D. Alex Kaulfuss Ph.D. Research Associate

Where is your hometown? Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Define your work with the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative. I work with an amazing team to provide innovative approaches to instruction and professional development, focusing on the creative and capacity-building use of technology and the dynamic interaction of various media and learners. How did you come to work with the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative? After more than twelve years in the classroom and at the NCDPI, I discovered a rare and exciting opportunity to become a part of the DLC team at the Friday Institute, so I had to jump all over it. I am thrilled to become a part of this team. What is your favorite part about working at the Friday Institute? Being surrounded by creativity and innovation and getting to share that with others. I could never live without… Water and Oxygen, mostly. I tried once to go without sleep; that didn’t go well after a couple of days, so probably sleep, too. I am most proud of… My five incredible children.

Photo of Nancy Mangum Nancy Mangum Research Scholar

Where is your hometown? Richmond, VA. Define your work with the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative. In my work, I help educators plan and implement digital initiatives. I collaborate with school leadership to design and deliver staff development that will ignite their passion for teaching and learning and help them to create engaging classrooms. How did you come to work with the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative? I began my career as a classroom teacher and later a technology facilitator. After working for Wake County Public Schools central office, I was offered the opportunity to come and work at the Friday Institute. What is your favorite part about working at the Friday Institute? I am passionate about helping teachers and students and in my role at the Friday Institute I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with amazing educators every day, helping them move towards their goals and seeing the impact of their hard work! My favorite pastime is… dancing & gardening. If my life were a song it would be… a mash up….Life is a Highway, Footloose & Boogie Shoes.

Photo of Brittany Miller Brittany Miller Program Coordinator

Where is your hometown? Atlanta, Georgia. Define your work with the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative. I am a Program Coordinator for the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative working to build a common language and understanding of technology use in the classroom through online and face to face professional development. How did you come to work with the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative? My passion for technology was sparked as a student at my progressive schools where I published novels, built websites, and created digital projects. When I entered the classroom as a teacher, I wanted to provide even deeper learning experiences through technology and project-based learning. In time, this road bought me to return to NC State University for my Masters in Instructional Technology, where I gained a connection to this amazing team at FI. What is your favorite part about working at the Friday Institute? The opportunity to challenge myself and engage in new skills and ways of thinking alongside talented North Carolina educational leaders. And the free tea! My secret hobby is… acrylic painting. My grandmother taught me how to paint ceramic Christmas houses during my childhood summers. After painting a full collection, I have since migrated to canvas! When you can’t find me in the office, I am… on the ice at the hockey rink with my husband, Kyle, or outside playing in the grass with our two black Labradors, Emmy and Josie.

Photo of Jaclyn Stevens Jaclyn Stevens Research Associate

Where is your hometown? Rochester, New York. Define your work with the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative. I assist your learning and teaching while keeping innovative, supporting and creating personalized face-to-face and online capacity building opportunities for all stakeholders in the digital learning transition. How did you come to work with the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative? My tech savvy skills comes from ten+ years as a media designer in advertising and media, and I began my career in education with the Americorps’ Teach for America program. My work with technology in the classroom lead to national conferences, a documentary created by NC State’s College of Education, and an invitation to work as a consultant with the DLC. Today I am proud to be full time with this great team. What is your favorite part about working at the Friday Institute? Helping educators at all levels gain what they need to make their digital transition work! My favorite pastime is… performing and directing with a local acting company. My greatest strength is… my family.

Photo of Mary Ann Wolf Ph.D. Mary Ann Wolf Ph.D. Director of Digital Learning Programs
(919) 513-8058

Where is your hometown? Lantana, Florida. Describe your work with the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative. I am the Director of Digital Learning Programs at the Friday Institute. I work to help states, districts, and schools personalize learning for more students every day through digital learning. I have developed and facilitated Massive Open Online Courses for Educators (MOOC-Eds), help lead the Technology-Enabled Personalized Learning Summit, and co-developed and co-facilitated the Distinguished Leadership in Practice – Digital Learning for principals across the state. I am excited to be part of the leadership team for the NC Digital Learning Plan, and I spend a lot of time thinking about and working toward more effective professional learning opportunities for educators. How did you come to work with the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative? Prior to working at the Friday Institute, I worked in business, taught 5th grade in Virginia, and spent many years in education with national organizations. In this position, I worked with educators in all 50 states and with policy-makers to share data and models of how to improve education to ensure America’s and our students’ competitiveness in the global economy. I testified before the US House of Representatives Education and Labor Committee; and SETDA hosted, with the National Science Foundation, Future of Learning educational technology showcases for members of Congress and staffers in the House and the Senate. I helped develop and implement the first ever National Digital Learning Day with the Alliance for Excellent Education and wrote many publications while consulting for the last four years, including Innovate to Educate: Education System [Re]Design for Personalized Learning based upon a Symposium held by SIIA, ASCD, and CCSSO and the Culture Shift: Teaching in a Learner-Centered Environment Powered by Digital Learning for the Alliance for Excellent Education, and co-authored two papers, including extensive literature reviews, on mobile learning and instruction and professional development for UNESCO and CoSN, Turning on Mobile Learning in North America and Mobile Learning for Teachers in North America. I am also the lead researcher on the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Project Tomorrow Teachers’ Readiness to Adopt and Adapt Content (TRAAC) project, which includes in-person and virtual focus groups with education leaders and teachers. The work prior to coming to the Friday Institute is continuously focused on improving education for all students with an emphasis on how digital learning can allow us to meet the needs of more students. What is your favorite part about working at the Friday Institute? I love working with people who are passionate about and driven to improve education. The environment is creative and collaborative and pushes my thinking every day! My favorite pastime is… exploring and learning with my family, including my three kids. I currently have a daughter in high school and sons in middle and elementary school. I love to travel to new places and taking pictures while traveling and at home! I am most proud of… my husband and kids! Publications / Awards Kleiman, G., Wolf, M., & Frye, D. (2013). The Digital Learning Transition MOOC for Educators: Exploring a Scalable Approach to Professional Learning. Washington, DC: The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, College of Education, NC State University and the Alliance for Excellent Education. http://all4ed.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/MOOC-Ed.pdf CTQ Teacher Solutions Teacher Prep Team (2013). Teaching 2030: Leveraging Teacher Preparation 2.0. Carrboro, NC: Center for Teaching Quality. http://www.teachingquality.org/sites/default/files/TEACHING_2030_Leveraging_Teacher_Preparation.pdf Wolf, M. (2012). Mobile learning: Paving the way for BYOT and responsible use policies. TechEdge 2012(3), 17-18. Wolf, M. (2012) Culture Shift: Teaching in a Learner-Centered Environment Powered by Technology. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education. http://www.all4ed.org/files/CultureShift.pdf Fritschi, J. & Wolf, M. (2012). Turning on Mobile Learning in North America: Illustrative Initiatives and Policy Implications. Paris, France: UNESCO. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002160/216083e.pdf Fritschi, J. & Wolf, M. (2012). Mobile Learning for Teachers in North America. Paris, France: UNESCO. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002160/216084e.pdf Wolf, M. (2012). Teaching & learning: Changing what is possible for each child. TechEdge. 2012(1), 27-29. Schwartzbeck, T. & Wolf, M. (2012). The Digital Learning Imperative: How Technology and Teaching Meet Today’s Educational Challenges. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education. http://www.all4ed.org/files/DigitalLearningImperative.pdf Wolf, M. (2010). Innovate to Educate: Education System [Re]Design for Personalized Learning. Washington, DC: ASCD, CCSSO, & SIIA. http://siia.net/pli/presentations/PerLearnPaper.pdf