Board Member Biographies
Matthew Malone, Ph.D, Secretary of Education
As Secretary of Education, Matthew Malone directs the Executive Office of Education and works closely with the Commonwealth’s education agencies – Department of Early Education and Care, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Department of Higher Education and the University of Massachusetts system - while serving as a voting member of the governing board of all four education agencies. He is the Governor’s top advisor on education and helps shape the Commonwealth’s continuous education reform agenda.
Prior to his appointment as Secretary, Dr. Malone served as the Superintendent of the Brockton Public Schools, and brings real-world experience managing the fourth largest school district in the state to his new role as Secretary. While Superintendent in Brockton, Dr. Malone led the development of an innovative strategy to increase student achievement known as R3: “Realigning Resources for Results,” focused on supporting learning and teaching in the classroom. This initiative, and others he helped implement, resulted in both increased student achievement and the narrowing of achievement gaps among students in Brockton.
Prior to his time in Brockton, Dr. Malone served as the Superintendent of the Swampscott Public Schools from 2005-2009, where he led a small suburban system serving 2,400 students from pre-K through grade 12. During his tenure in Swampscott, student achievement results increased in nearly all measurable areas.
He previously served as a Special Assistant to the Superintendent/Instruction Leader in the San Diego City School District where he was responsible for the supervision and evaluation of twenty-six school principals serving 14,000 students. In this role, he was responsible for leading the small high school renewal initiative, successfully converting three large underperforming high schools into 14 autonomous, career-themed high schools. In this role, Dr. Malone also served as the Executive Director of the Office of Secondary School Innovation and was responsible for the redesign of a middle school converted into three autonomous small thematic middle schools, alternative education, and the design and opening of the first MET high school in San Diego.
Prior to his work in San Diego, Dr. Malone was the Headmaster of Monument High School in South Boston, where he co-led the transformation of this large underperforming high school into three small, effective high schools. At Monument, he partnered with the Boston Police Department, Boston Fire Department and Boston’s Emergency Medical Services Department to create the first public safety/criminal justice high school in New England. His work at Monument High School became a model for high school conversions in the Boston Public Schools.
Dr. Malone has also served as a middle school assistant principal in Duxbury, Massachusetts, and taught social studies at the Jeremiah E. Burke High School in Boston as that school successfully worked to regain its state accreditation. Dr. Malone began his career as both a Paraprofessional and long-term substitute teacher in Boston Public Schools at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School.
Before beginning his career in education, Malone served as a Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps Reserve. He is a Combat Veteran of the Persian Gulf War having served in the Saudi Arabian and Kuwaiti Theatres of Operations with the First Marine Division.
Dr. Malone received a Bachelor of Science degree in History from Suffolk University, and earned his Masters of Education and Doctor of Philosophy in School Education degrees from Boston College. Dr. Malone is the parent of two Boston Public School children and lives with his family in Roslindale.
Jay Gonzalez, President and Chief Executive Officer, CeltiCare Health Plan, Chair
Jay Gonzalez is President & CEO of CeltiCare Health Plan of Massachusetts, Inc. From January 2007 through January 2013, he served under Governor Patrick in the Executive Office of Administration and Finance, including as Secretary of Administration and Finance beginning in October 2009. Prior to joining the Patrick Administration, he was a Partner at the law firm Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge LLP, where he focused on public finance. During his time with the Patrick Administration, Gonzalez oversaw state finances and helped the Commonwealth achieve its highest bond ratings ever. He also worked closely with the Legislature to enact and implement a number of significant government reform initiatives, including transportation reform, pension reform and municipal health care reform. Gonzalez lives in Brookline with his wife, Cyndi, and two daughters.
Joni Block is a Grants Specialist with the Brockton Public Schools where she oversees state and federal grants for young children and their families. Joni has had experience in educational policy issues at the local, state, national, and international levels involving curriculum, instruction, and assessment issues. Joni previously served as a consultant to several Departments of Education and to the Massachusetts legislature’s past Early Education and Care Advisory Committee. Her teaching experience has encompassed preschool through graduate programs where she focused on inclusive practices and providing access to quality education for ALL. Her work involves collaboration with families, educators, and community organizations. Joni was a member of the Wheelock faculty, teaching and coordinating early childhood and leadership courses and programs. Joni has a Master’s degree in Education, Early Childhood/Special Needs from Rhode Island College, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education and Elementary Education from Southern Connecticut State College.
Joni and her husband, Cliff Shatz, are the founders of Rosie’s Rafikis, Inc., a non-profit organization providing education, health, and community support in rural Kenya. Rosie’s Rafikis Inc. was established to honor the memory and good deeds of their daughter Rose.
JD Chesloff, Executive Director, Massachusetts Business Roundtable
As Executive Director at MBR, JD is responsible for developing and implementing the strategic framework and direction for MBR in partnership with the Chair, Executive Committee and Board of Directors. He works with MBR Task Forces and MBR leadership to develop its agenda on public policy matters—particularly in the areas of competitiveness, health care, education, and transportation and infrastructure—and convey those ideas to opinion leaders and policy makers to help inform their deliberations.
JD has worked in and around Beacon Hill for more than 20 years. In the Legislature, he was the Chief of Staff to the House Committee on Commerce and Labor, and was the education issues analyst and Deputy Budget Director for the House Committee on Ways and Means. After working as both a budget analyst and Assistant to the President at the University of Massachusetts, JD worked as the Legislative Director for State Treasurer Shannon O’Brien and then as Issues Director for the O’Brien-Gabrieli gubernatorial campaign in 2002. He joined MBR in 2004 after serving as Legislative/Issues Director for the Early Education for All (EEA) Campaign, where he was responsible for developing and driving legislative support for EEA’s legislation and agenda which included the creation of the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care. He currently serves on the Department’s Board of Directors as Chairman. In addition, he is Chair of the Governor’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Advisory Council’s Executive Committee, and is a Trustee at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. He also serves on the Board of The Discovery Museums; the Board of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education; and the Advisory Board of ReadyNation.
JD holds a Masters in Public Affairs from the McCormack Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Law and Public Policy and Telecommunications Writing from Syracuse University. He lives in Arlington, MA with his wife Lori and his two daughters, Sadie and Tessa.
Elizabeth Childs, M.D., M.P.A.
Dr. Childs is the former Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health and has an extensive background in serving people with mental illness in both the private and public sectors. She holds Diplomates in Adult, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, an A.B. from Mount Holyoke College, an M.D. from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, and an M.P.A. from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She completed her residency in 1990 and her child/adolescent fellowship in 1992 at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center. She is associated with Carney Hospital in Dorchester, MA, serving as the Chief and Director of Psychiatry from 1996-2003. She is appointed to the National Institute of Mental Health Advisory Council. She has been an active member of the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society, serving as its president 2002-2003. Dr. Childs has held academic appointments at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, and the University of Cincinnati.
Dr. Childs is a former Head Start parent and member of the Head Start Parent Council and Policy Committee. She has two children, and resides with her husband in Brookline where she is an elected member of the Brookline School Committee.
Katie Joyce is the Vice President for Policy and Domestic and International Government Relations at Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. She previously held positions as Chief of Staff to former Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray and Senior Advisor to Governor Deval Patrick. Joyce also has worked for then-U.S. Senator John Kerry and Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Communications from Boston College, and a Master of Public Management from George Washington University. Joyce is a native of Holyoke and resides in Natick with her husband and three young children.
Sharon Scott-Chandler, Esq.
Sharon Scott-Chandler, Esq. is currently the Executive Vice President of Head Start and Children's Services for Action for Boston Community Development. Sharon has been engaged in early child policy and services for ten years. She previously served as the Director of Child Care Choices of Boston, the Child Care Resource Referral Agency for the Metro Boston Region. Sharon has a degree in law from Northeastern University and was the former Director of Legislative and Intergovernmental Policy and Assistant Attorney General for Massachusetts Attorney General, Scott Harshbarger. Prior to that, she was also an Associate in a Boston law firm and a Legislative Aide to a U.S. Congressman in Washington, DC. She was a 2005 Schott Foundation Fellow and serves on numerous Boards & Taskforces related to Early Childhood and youth issues. She is a native Bostonian who now resides in Natick with her husband and three young children.
John Polanowicz, Secretary of Health and Human Services
John Polanowicz was sworn in as Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) by Governor Deval Patrick on January 22, 2013. Secretary Polanowicz oversees 15 state agencies in this role, serving in the Cabinet of Governor Patrick. He is an experienced health care leader, using his expertise to help Massachusetts increase our already nation-leading access to care, while also tackling the issue of costs. John’s compassion and thoughtfulness makes him a strong advocate for our veterans, families and individuals with disabilities across the Commonwealth.
Prior to his appointment, Secretary Polanowicz served as president of St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton since 2011, overseeing the largest hospital in the Steward Health Care System. He brings expertise working in a cutting-edge community health care system, serving tens of thousands of patients and families. He was also instrumental in positioning Steward as an accountable care organization to increase access and decrease cost for patients.
Prior to joining St. Elizabeth’s, Polanowicz served as president and chief executive officer at Marlborough Hospital for eight years. There, he bolstered patient care by establishing new service lines, building relationships with physician groups and investing in emerging technologies. He also led a financial turnaround that resulted in five straight years of positive financial results. Polanowicz previously served as vice president of operations at UMass Memorial Medical Center.
Polanowicz is a former company commander in the U.S. Army, where he served in a Blackhawk Assault Helicopter Company during overseas military operations. He brings a deep understanding of issues facing our veterans and military families.
Secretary Polanowicz is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and holds a MBA from Stanford University. He resides in Northborough.
Eleonora Villegas-Reimers, Ph.D.
Dr. Villegas-Reimers is currently Chair of Elementary Education Department and Associate Professor at Wheelock College. She has worked as a high school teacher, an assistant principal and served as an international student advisor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her extensive academic resume includes expertise in child cognitive development and published research on improving teacher professional development, particularly in developing countries, and in values education, particularly democratic values and skills. She also serves on the Subcommittee on English Language Learners of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education's Committee on the Proficiency Gap. Dr. Villegas-Reimers is the representative on the Board filling the role of Early Education Evaluator.
Mary E. Walachy
Mary Walachy is the Executive Director of the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation. Hired in 1997 to manage the affairs of the Davis Foundation, Walachy’s responsibilities include development of the organization’s strategic direction, general oversight of its administration, developing proactive and new funding initiatives, developing the Foundation’s funding and application guidelines and reviewing grant proposals.
Under Walachy’s direction, the Cherish Every Child Initiative, a city-wide initiative focused on improving the lives of children from birth through age five and their families in Springfield by helping to ensure that they enter kindergarten ready to succeed, has been a critical ally in the successful passage of universal Pre-K legislation in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The initiative has also successfully engaged the workforce development and family literacy establishment in recognizing the long-term return on investments in early education.
Named the 2005 “Woman of Distinction” by the Pioneer Valley Girl Scout Council, Walachy is active and engaged in community work beyond her role at the Davis Foundation. She is the Co-Chair of Homes Within Reach – City of Springfield Plan to End Homelessness, a Member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the Springfield Chamber of Commerce, a Trustee and Member of the Coordinating Council of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission Plan for Progress, and a Member of the Steering Committee of the Massachusetts Early Education for All Campaign.
Joan Wasser Gish, J.D., M.A.
Joan Wasser Gish brings a breadth of public policy experience to the Board. Currently Principal at Policy Progress, a consulting firm, Joan previously served as a Senior Policy Advisor to United States Senator John Kerry with whom she worked on a wide range of matters including those related to education, children, and families. Joan was also the Director of Research and Policy at Strategies for Children where she produced numerous papers and reports on early education and care. Joan also worked as an attorney on cases related to expanding educational opportunities for all children, and has testified before Congress in support of legislation that would benefit the early education and care field.
Joan Wasser Gish earned a law degree from Columbia University Law School, a Masters degree from Columbia University Teachers' College, and a bachelor's degree from Brown University. She resides in Newton with her husband, Jason, and their daughters.