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Press Release Governor Baker Appoints Four New Members to Board of Higher Education

For immediate release:
12/10/2019
  • Executive Office of Education

Media Contact for Governor Baker Appoints Four New Members to Board of Higher Education

Colleen Quinn, Communications Director, Executive Office of Education

Governor Baker held a swearing in ceremony for new members of the Board of Higher Education on Monday afternoon. Pictured from left to right, Ann Christensen, Patty Zillian Eppinger, Governor Charlie Baker, and Judy Pagliuca.

BostonGovernor Charlie Baker has appointed four new board members to the Board of Higher Education, each with years of experience in helping students achieve greater academic success. Three of the four appointees were sworn in at the State House this week.

Governor Baker appointed Veronica Conforme, the chief executive officer of UP Education Network; Patty Zillian Eppinger, an executive producer of a teen television drama and the past interim president of the Ecotarium; Judy Pagliuca, managing partner at Pagsgroup; and Ann Christensen, president of the nonprofit Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.

“Each of these four women are well-qualified to serve on the Board of Higher Education, and we are pleased they have agreed to dedicate their time to supporting students throughout the Commonwealth,” said Governor Charlie Baker.

“Through varying life and professional experience, these four appointees bring a diverse range of knowledge and skills to the Board of Higher Education and to Massachusetts students and their families,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.

“All four of these women have an extensive experience in education-related community initiatives that have enriched the lives of many young people. We are pleased to have them on the Board and look forward to hearing their ideas and perspectives about higher education in the Commonwealth,” said Education Secretary James Peyser.

“We’re delighted to welcome these new board members, each of whom will bring important perspectives to the work of the BHE,” said Carlos E. Santiago, Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education. “I am particularly pleased, in light of the Board’s focus on equitable outcomes for all students, including those who have been historically underserved, to see the increase in gender diversity on the Board resulting from these new appointments.”

The Board of Higher Education coordinates the Commonwealth’s 15 community colleges, nine state universities and the University of Massachusetts system, ensuring that Massachusetts residents have opportunities to benefit from a higher education that enriches their lives and civic engagement, advances economic development and social progress of the Commonwealth.

Board member biographies:

Ann Christensen
Ms. Christensen is currently the president of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation – a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank focused on solving institutional problems in business, education, and health care. She oversees operational development and the organization’s growing research programs. Under her leadership, the Institute has established a visiting fellows program, expanded its education work to include higher education, and added a global prosperity division.

Previously, she worked at Huntsman Gay Global Capital, a private equity firm. She also worked at Deloitte Consulting and spent time working at Elan Pharmaceuticals, an Irish biotechnology company. After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Duke University, Ms. Christensen lived in Mongolia, where she taught in high schools and universities, and worked to facilitate job training and home building.

Veronica Conforme is chief executive officer of UP Education Network, the largest non-profit school management organization in Massachusetts that operates five turnaround schools in Boston and Lawrence. Ms. Conforme is in charge of setting the strategic and operational vision for the UP Education Network and UP Academy Schools. Since 2010, UP Education Network has worked to transform low-performing schools in Massachusetts into exceptional learning environments. The organization currently serves more than 2,600 students.

Previously, Ms. Conforme served as the chancellor of The Education Achievement Authority of Michigan, where she developed a district-wide strategic plan and implemented an accountability system based on an evaluative tool called the “performance framework” which was adopted in legislation for all Detroit schools. She spent a decade working at the New York City Department of Education in various roles including chief operating officer, chief financial officer, and deputy chief schools’ officer. She received a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University and a master’s in public administration and public policy from Columbia University.

Patty Zillian Eppinger
Ms. Eppinger has extensive experience in education-related community initiatives, including serving as the current chair and founding trustee of the Worcester Education Collaborative, an independent advocacy organization working to ensure all Worcester Public School students succeed. She was the co-leader of the Worcester Public Schools Strategic Planning Process and co-founder of Worcester Reads, a consortium of citywide reading-focused organizations.

Currently she is the executive producer and community liaison of a scripted teen drama TV series about the struggles of addiction and recovery. From 2017 to 2018, she served as the interim president of the Ecotarium, New England science and nature museum in Worcester.

Ms. Eppinger worked as a manager of research and information for McKinsey & Company in Boston, and a financial institutions consultant for McKinsey in Atlanta. She received a bachelor’s degree from College of William and Mary and a master’s degree from Dartmouth College.

Judy Pagliuca is managing partner at Pagsgroup, where she invests in Boston-based start-up companies. She began her business career at Fidelity Global Bond Fund and the research group on international bonds and currencies, where she was responsible for more than $2 billion in assets. Ms. Pagliuca’s philanthropic efforts are focused on children and education. She is founder of Step Up Your Game, a partnership with the Boston Celtics that strives to alter the academic trajectory of the lowest achieving students in Boston Public Schools. She serves on the executive committee at the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology. She is a past trustee of Mass Development and past director of the Mass Turnpike Authority. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and master’s from Harvard University.

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Media Contact for Governor Baker Appoints Four New Members to Board of Higher Education

Executive Office of Education 

From pre-school to post-secondary education, the Executive Office of Education works to connect all Massachusetts residents with an education that creates opportunities.

While Massachusetts' students rank first in the nation on many educational measures, the Executive Office of Education strives to strengthen the foundations of education reform, empower schools and educators, and develop pathways to college and careers so all students in the Commonwealth can succeed, regardless of their zip code.
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