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Conversations with leaders in the public, private, and non-profit sectors about working together to make NYC greater.

What is a Classroom? Covid-19, Education and Innovation

Jonathan Harber has been pushing for innovation in learning long before it became such a necessity during the pandemic. As someone who has started a charter school, as chairman of StartEd Inc, and as a board member of the Fund for Public Schools, he supports a community of innovators looking to find the pain points in education – and solve them. Perhaps nowhere is this more important than in New York City, where a large, diverse student body faces many challenges in getting an equitable education while having to learn remotely. Harber is arguing for, among other things, an innovative approach to repurposing school gyms and cafeterias for distanced learning.


Jonathan D. Harber has been a pioneer in education innovation for over 25 years.  As an entrepreneur, CEO, investor, board member, consultant, and professor, he has worked to advance the field.

Jonathan was previously the CEO and co-founder of Schoolnet, Inc., a company that helped school systems use data and assessment to increase academic achievement. Following Schoolnet’s acquisition, Harber served as CEO of Pearson K12 Technology, including PowerSchool, SchoolNet, and other technology platforms serving over 25 million students.  

As an Adjunct Professor at NYU, he teaches entrepreneurship in education. Harber co-founded StartEd Companies, a public-benefits corporation aiming to galvanize the ecosystem of education innovation – and to develop edtech entrepreneurs.  StartEd produces Accelerators – boot camps for early stage companies – and EDTECH WEEK – a global festival for education innovation.  

Harber serves on the Board of Directors of The Fund for Public Schools, an organization dedicated to building public-private partnerships in support of the New York City Department of Education. Jonathan is the founding Chairman of the Launch Expeditionary Learning Charter School in Brooklyn providing an education rooted in project-based active learning and character development for underserved children.  Recently, Jonathan joined the board of the Infectious Disease Council whose goal is to help businesses and institutions get back to work and school, while dealing with the new normal of infectious disease prevention and control.

Harber serves on PE and VC backed private company boards including Finalsite, the marketing and communications platform for schools, and Synapse, creating tools for Learning and Design organizations.

He received his master’s degree from MIT and completed a joint thesis on education technology between the MIT Sloan School of Management and the MIT Media Lab. He completed his undergraduate degree with honors in Cognitive Science from Wesleyan University.

He lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife and three children.




Cheryl Cohen Effron

Cheryl Cohen Effron spent most of her career as a New York-based real estate developer. Ms. Effron left full-time real estate work to dedicate her time to tri-sector (government, non-profit and corporate) solutions for urban issues. Ms. Effron is currently board chair of Greater NY, a non-profit she co-founded during the financial crisis in 2009 which pairs civic leaders in the business world with the heads of non-profit organizations in two-year one-on-one strategic partnerships.


Jamie Rubin

Jamie Rubin is a veteran of federal and state government and a longtime investment professional. He served in the Clinton Administration, then spent 15 years on Wall Street as an investment banker and partner with two global private equity firms. Jamie rejoined the public sector in 2012. Jamie is now CEO of Meridiam NA, a developer of large infrastructure projects in the US and Canada. Jamie is a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School. He and his wife, author and podcaster Gretchen Rubin, live in New York City with their daughters and a dog.