At the Forefront of Personalized Learning in Education


Protean is the brain child of award-winning and nationally recognized technology and education experts passionate about the use of technology in learning, both inside and outside the classroom.  

We are off to a good start! Protean is the winner of the 2017 Techjam, selected from over 240 nominations and 7 finalists. 



Ali Sarafzadeh, President

Ali is a digital entrepreneur who works at the intersection of law, technology and business and is an expert in the development of digital solutions for regulated industries like government and education.   As the former Chief Product Officer at a national IT firm, Ali helped develop and deploy complex digital solutions currently used in over 30+ states & municipalities, his first successful startup exit.  Prior to that, Ali held senior executive roles within government and international private equity out of Dubai, Asia and East Africa. He developed an expertise in the development of systems for regulated industries, was co-founder of Education Vermont USA and has won multiple public service and IT awards for his digital implementations. Ali speaks 4 languages and volunteers time as a judge for Duke University's startup competition and actively advises various tech startups in the block-chain and ed-tech sectors. 

MBA, Duke University, Fuqua School of Business. JD, University of Virginia, School of Law.

Gary Tilden,  Technology & Infrastructure

Leads product development. His past experience includes a software engineering role at a global semiconductor corporation. He has many years of experience building and supporting complex applications and platforms crucial to the management and development of multiple product verticals.  Prior, Gary worked for 7 years as a Software Engineer at a utility solutions company which provides enterprise solutions to electric, gas, and water utilities across the nation. 

BS Software Engineering Champlain College

James Nagle, Personalized Learning

James is a nationally published expert in middle and high school curriculum and assessment, content literacy, middle level organization and educational research. He works extensively with Vermont teachers on proficiency based education and personalized learning. His research investigates the intersection of school reform initiatives and collaborative teacher learning in middle and high schools. James has been a Principal Investigator of grants in support of teacher learning including Project CREATE, a U.S. Department of Education grant. James' work has appeared in such journals as The Educational Forum, Research in Middle Level Education Online, and Currents

M.A. Ph.d, University of California, Berkeley ; JD, Suffolk University Law School BA, Georgetown University

Penny Bishop, EdTech Integration

Penny is Director of the Tarrant Institute on Innovative Education, Professor and Associate Dean for International Education in the College of Education at the University of Vermont. Penny has brought over $12 million dollars to Vermont schools to help teachers personalize education in technology-rich settings. Penny is co-author of five books on effective middle grades practice, one of which was awarded the prestigious American Educational Studies Association’s Critics’ Choice Award. In 2008 Penny was appointed as Sir Ian Axford Public Policy Fellow to the New Zealand Ministry of Education, where she guided policy development on middle years schooling. Her research has appeared in the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, Middle Grades Research Journal, The Reading Teacher, Research on Middle Level Education, and Educational Action Research.

Ed.D. University of Vermont; Sir Ian Axford Fellowship (Fulbright New Zealand); M.D.P. Harvard Univeristy, M.Ed. University of Vermont;

Berenice Fernandez, Finance Manager

Berenice is instrumental in navigating the complex world of education finance and procurement. She has extensive experience in the accounting and audit of educational institutions, foundations and school boards. Past experience includes the audit of multiple state-wide school districts, colleges, and educational foundations.  Berenice was Finance Manager at the Meyer Foundation in Washington D.C. She was also staff accountant at the Center of Intercultural Education & Development (CIED) of Georgetown University where she focused on the accounting of CIED international student development programs, and USAID education programs.

M.Acc North Carolina State University, Poole School of Mgmt, BSAcc UANE (Mexico)


Nicholas Donofrio

IBM Fellow Emeritus & EVP of Innovation and Technology (Ret.)

Nicholas Donofrio is a 44 year veteran of IBM.  

Mr. Donofrio is a Fellow of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, a member of Tau Beta Pi, Eta Kappa Nu & Sigma Xi engineering and science honor societies, a Fellow of the U.K-based Royal Academy of Engineering, a member of the US-based National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Board of Directors for the Bank of New York Mellon, Liberty Mutual, Delphi Automotive, AMD, Gere, Sproxil and MITRE.

In 2005, the U.S. Department of Education appointed Mr. Donofrio to the Commission on the Future of Higher Education, a 20-member delegation of business and university leaders charged with developing a national strategy for post-secondary education to meet the needs of America's diverse population and workforce. The commission report, A Test of Leadership: Charting the Future of Higher Education, is available through the US Department of Education

Daniel French 

Former Superintendent Bennington-Rutland Supervisory Union; School Leadership Coordinator, Saint Michael's College Department of Education

Dr. French is an experienced Vermont educational leader whose research interests are focused on various dimensions of educational systems change including the use of technology, innovation, and Open Education. He is frequently consulted by school districts and policy makers on issues surrounding the impact of technology on the future of education.

Dr. French was presented the "Making IT Happen Award" at VT Fest, the Vermont state educational technology conference in November.  One award is presented annually by each state affiliate of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) to honor outstanding educators and leaders who demonstrate extraordinary commitment, leadership, courage and persistence in improving digital learning opportunities for students.  Dan will be acknowledged for his leadership along with the award recipients from other states at the ISTE national conference in San Antonio, TX in June 2017.

Dr. Margaret Honey

CEO, New York Hall of Science

Dr. Margaret Honey is the president and CEO of NYSCI.  Among her current interests at NYSCI is the role of design-based learning in promoting student interest and achievement in STEM subjects. She is widely recognized for her work using digital technologies to support children’s learning across the disciplines of science, mathematics, engineering and technology. Prior to joining NYSCI, she spent 15 years as vice president of the Education Development Center (EDC) and director of EDC’s Center for Children and Technology. While at EDC, Dr. Honey was the architect and overseer of numerous large-scale projects funded by organizations including the National Science Foundation, the Institute for Education Sciences, The Carnegie Corporation, The Library of Congress, the U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Energy. She also co-directed the Northeast and Islands Regional Education Laboratory, which enabled educators, policy-makers, and communities to improve schools by helping them leverage the most current research about learning and K-12 education.