Peg Maddocks, Ph.D. of NapaLearns, wins a North Bay Business Journal Nonprofit Leadership Award
Professional background: Public school teacher and administrator for 10 years, then 40 years in industry, leading innovative technical training programs and focusing on online learning since 1984.
Education: Bachelor of Science degree in elementary and special education, Rhode Island College; Masters in Education, Administration, Rhode Island College; Ph.D., educational psychology, Michigan State University
Number of staff: Two full time, two contractors
Describe your organization: NapaLearns was founded in 2010 to transform education through technology and teaching to prepare students for the 21st century world of work.
Since then we have invested over $12 million in programs that provided seed-funding for technology for all public schools in Napa County, professional development for all K-12 teachers to transition teaching to a student-centered project-based learning environment, and launched a career readiness initiative to help all students become aware of careers in the digital workplace.
We have two full time staff members and two contractors to help us plan, market, and implement our programs. Our board of directors has included school district leaders and community members with a passion for technology-enabled education, including several Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.
Our two signature programs going forward are the NapaLearns Fellows master’s program, with 170 graduates, and the NapaLearns Virtual Career Academy to provide learners in high school and above entry-level career certification courses and exams to help them be successful in college and further their careers for high paying jobs in the digital workplace.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I began my career as a kindergarten teacher and then served as director of a program for gifted and talented students in K-12 public schools.
During my Ph.D. program at Michigan State University, I discovered the world of corporate training and landed a job at General Motors, helping skilled trades experts design and teach courses.
Subsequently, I started my own consulting firm, then I spent 14 years at Cisco Systems, where my teams created the first large scale e-learning programs for partners, customers, and employees.
My entire career focused on designing and launching innovative learning solutions in the corporate world, and I was fortunate to have access to the most advanced instructional technology tools, as they emerged, to lead a world-recognized training program, the Cisco Career Certifications.
After taking an early retirement from Cisco in 2009, I was hired by NapaLearns, which took me back to my roots in public education, where we transform public school classrooms by investing in technology, teacher professional development, and career readiness.
I have a 31 year old daughter who works for a video game company and lives in Irvine, California, who is the most important person in my life!
What is your role in the organization?
As executive director I’m responsible for creating a strategic vision and plan with our board, then executing and measuring the impact of our programs. I’m also responsible for fundraising and stewarding our loyal, large donors as well as securing grants.
How has your organization been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
We work very closely with the schools in Napa County to support programs we invest in, such as teacher training. When the shutdown occurred on March 13, our work with teachers was suspended.
We were also in the middle of implementing an industry certification program for high school students and planning a countywide career readiness program for middle school students. All of this work paused as district leaders dealt with the crisis to create a remote learning environment.
What are the ways your organization responded to increased demands for services, and fiscally, in what has your organization been forced to adjust?
We are a small, but action-oriented team of innovators who experienced the opposite effect than other nonprofits, decreased demand, so we pivoted. We asked ourselves, “How can we focus on our strategic initiative for career readiness for students without impacting school operations?”
Within a week we started planning what would become the NapaLearns Virtual Career Academy (NLVCA), offering free industry certification courses and exams to high school students outside of the school day.
With a tremendous amount of research, networking with partners, and designing the program, we launched information sessions in June and courses began in August.
In addition to high school students, we had interest from dozens of older people who wanted to upskill and jump start careers, so we opened it up to anyone living or working in Napa County.