Opportunity Is Calling

Our society has shifted fundamentally, rendering the previous path to success obsolete. The unwritten social contract is broken, and security is gone.

To get ahead in the new America, everyone needs to be prepared to pursue multiple paths toward upward mobility. Everyone must answer opportunity’s call.

See What ThinkShift Is All About


PLAY VIDEO

Opportunity isn’t what it used to be.

Opportunity isn’t shallow. It doesn’t play favorites or bet on the front-runner. Opportunity roots for everyone. Every class, color and county. First, second and third shift. Underdogs and overachievers. The young and the not so young. Ivy Leaguers and high-school dropouts. All of us. And when we’re stuck and held hostage by fear, it’s opportunity that begs us to break out of our comfort zones, to get back up, and to be more.

But opportunity isn’t what it used to be. Hard work and determination alone no longer put our goals within reach. We’re not promised the same certain victories some workers of this country once were.

We need to look change in the eye and believe we’ll come out on the other side. Better. Stronger. Smarter. We need to redefine this nation's wild eyes and hungry hearts. To rally together and feed the fire that’s in each of us. Let’s rebuild the land of opportunity and give a piece of it to everyone. We can and we will ThinkShift.

We need to change the way we think about change.

The New Path to Success

After decades of minimal progress, it’s clear that large, complex societal challenges cannot be solved through isolated, scattershot interventions. There needs to be a new path forward, one that addresses root causes rather than just symptoms.

All individuals must be positioned for success.

We must all come together to build bold, new solutions to today's most pressing problems. We need to develop and execute innovative ideas that close the opportunity gap and harness the power of research and practice to equip individuals with the knowledge they need to act on opportunity.

Disconnecting the Predictable Links Between Class, Background and Outcome

By providing the skills and resources needed to move beyond one’s circumstances, we can change the mindset of the nation. Letting everyone see what's before them, and realize that the opportunities once thought out of reach are now possible.

We see a world where we all have the skills, mindsets, and opportunities that enable us to live securely and express ourselves fully.
Our mission is to promote upward mobility, economic security and personal fulfillment.

A New Approach

ThinkShift is building a solution-oriented movement. A movement that serves as a catalyst for nationwide impact through efforts that disrupt the status quo and challenge assumptions about education, the economy and the development of personal resources that facilitate success.

We've built a model that presents a new perspective on the critical components for success in the 21st century. Through engagement, research and human-centered design thinking, ThinkShift is piloting programs and creating resources to support fundamental change.

Nation
How we inspire and engage.

A hub of inspired individuals who share a transformative vision for their lives, for others and for the nation.

Institute for Upward Mobility
How we investigate and reimagine.

A non-traditional transdisciplinary research institute focused on developing innovations for research and evaluation to equip individuals and communities with tools to build opportunity.

Solution Tank
How we create and innovate.

A social innovation collaborative that catalyzes growth by developing resources and strategies which democratize exposure and access to opportunity and self-sustainability.


Founding Directors

Natalia Peart
Executive Director, ThinkShift
Chief Operating Officer of the DeBruce Foundation
Natalia Peart
Executive Director, ThinkShift
Chief Operating Officer of the DeBruce Foundation

Natalia brings vision and leadership to ThinkShift. She has more than 20 years’ experience in the private and non-profit sectors as a clinical psychologist, a leadership and performance executive for national organizations such as Gallup and The Corporate Executive Board, and most recently as the CEO of the Women’s Center for Advancement (formerly YWCA of Omaha). Through her varied experiences, she has developed a deep expertise in change management by helping individuals and organizations take new strategic directions and position themselves for success.

Natalia has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Omaha Branch, and currently serves on the Operation Hope Global Board of Directors. She holds a BA in Psychology with Honors from Brown University and a Ph.D. in Clinical/Community Psychology from the University of Maryland. She completed her clinical internship at Harvard Medical School/Boston Children’s Hospital.

“As Albert Einstein said, 'We cannot solve problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.'”
Erikson Arcaira
Founding Director
Erikson Arcaira
Founding Director

Erikson is a sociologist and digital strategist focused on creating the largest hub of knowledge, stories, tools, and collaborators promoting upward mobility in the 21st century. During his six years at Policy Studies Associates, he evaluated programmatic and policy innovations targeted towards school turnaround, school leadership development, data use, social networks, and youth empowerment at the national, state, and local levels. Erikson completed his bachelor’s degree with a double major in sociology and education studies at Brown University and received his master’s in educational policy and management at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.

“I couldn’t sit by as more and more people feel the American Dream slip beyond their reach, so I joined ThinkShift to help turn the tide and do what I can to help my fellow citizens meet the changes of our time.”
Burt Barnow
Founding Director
Burt Barnow
Founding Director

Burt is a labor economist and program evaluation specialist seeking to help individuals succeed in the modern economy. Concurrently a faculty member at The George Washington University, his insights are rooted in research and evaluation experiences over his career, which also included positions at Johns Hopkins University, the Lewin Group, and the U.S. Department of Labor. Burt received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a doctorate in economics from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

“After spending most of my career doing or managing research at universities and in the federal government, I liked the idea of working somewhere where the emphasis would be on effecting change.”
Katrina Bledsoe
Founding Director
Katrina Bledsoe
Founding Director

Katrina is dedicated to improving lives and communities through the development of interconnected resources. She specializes in social, cultural, and contextual psychology which undergirds several initiatives, such as multi-media platforms designed to raise aspirations. Prior to joining Thinkshift, Katrina was at the Education Development Center where she conducted multi-site, community-based program evaluations at the local, state, and federal levels. She earned her doctorate in social psychology with a specialization in evaluation research from Claremont Graduate University.

“I joined ThinkShift because I am genuinely moved by the human spirit. I feel called to do work that helps people constructively and collectively achieve whatever dream they aspire to in life.”
Julie Bosland
Founding Director
Julie Bosland
Founding Director

Julie is focused on building strategic partnerships to promote widespread transformation of individuals, communities, and our nation. She has a personal passion for strengthening children and families in U.S. cities that she has applied over the years to her work at the National League of Cities, the White House Domestic Policy Council, the Mayor’s Office in Philadelphia, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She has a bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College and a master’s in public affairs from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School.

“ThinkShift’s mission captures the essence of what drives me: ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to rise to their highest potential.”
Jonathan Brice
Founding Director
Jonathan Brice
Founding Director

Jonathan is a Pk-12 policy maker and practitioner who focuses on implementing systemic approaches to increase educational outcomes. Prior to ThinkShift, he was appointed as a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. Before his appointment, he served for 18 years in senior leadership, school leader and teacher positions in Maryland, Florida and Delaware school systems. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Baltimore, a masters in human resource management from Towson University, and a masters and doctorate in administration, planning and social policy with a concentration in the urban superintendency from Harvard University.

“I joined ThinkShift because I was enthralled by the idea of working at the nexus of education, social activism and philanthropy.”
Leon Caldwell
Founding Director
Leon Caldwell
Founding Director

Leon is a scholar-activist who utilizes strategic evaluation and participatory research to implement empowering solutions with individuals and communities. He most recently served as a senior research associate at The Annie E. Casey Foundation; prior to that, he was the Founding Director of the Center for the Advancement of Youth Development at Rhodes College in Memphis, and launched the Family Potential Center at the University of Nebraska, where he was a tenured professor. Leon earned a doctorate in counseling psychology from Penn State, and a master’s degree in education and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Lehigh University.

“I am excited about our ability to collaborate with other organizations and individuals to make a large scale contribution to improving the quality of life and outcomes for children and families.”
Andrew Clarkwest
Founding Director
Andrew Clarkwest
Founding Director

Andrew is a student and practitioner of how people develop the resources needed for success in life. He is driven to create a world where all individuals feel like they have both a stake in society and a contribution to make to it. During seven years at Mathematica Policy Research, and earlier positions at the University of Michigan and the Illinois Department of Employment Security, his work focused on ways to create healthier home environments and better prepare individuals for advancement in the workforce. He holds a doctorate in sociology and social policy from Harvard University.

“I was drawn to ThinkShift for the opportunity to turn ’think’ into ’do’ in regards to creating equality of opportunity and full participation.”
Steven Honegger
Founding Director
Steven Honegger
Founding Director

Steve is passionate about using social design innovation and outside-the-box thinking to reimagine education and learning. Drawing from policy and evaluation expertise across the learning spectrum – from K-12 education policy and reform and higher education policy to innovative strategies for community college completion and workforce, he brings an understanding of how an array of knowledge and experience can be combined and recombined to access and create opportunity. He holds a master’s degree in economics from the University of Illinois and bachelor’s degree in economics and French from Illinois Wesleyan University.

“Everyone at ThinkShift came here with a passion and fire to make a positive change. We continuously push to think beyond the problems and find bold solutions to close the opportunity gap.”
Megha Kansra
Founding Director
Megha Kansra
Manager of Strategic Initiatives

Megha helps guide and develop operational and strategic initiatives at ThinkShift, parlaying a lifelong love of strategic challenges into pushing the boundaries on social innovation. She comes to ThinkShift from the Boston Consulting Group, where she developed solutions from strategic analyses, managed cross-functional projects, and served on the strategic planning team of Green Dot, a charter management organization operating over 20 schools nationwide. Megha earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin with dual Honors degrees in liberal arts and business administration/marketing.

“Rather than merely observing, guiding, or evaluating change efforts, I wanted to be part of an innovative transformation effort from start to finish.”
Denese Neu
Founding Director
Denese Neu
Founding Director

Denese focuses on social infrastructure for community and economic development, seeking to translate research for multiple audiences and promote new-on-the-ground approaches. Her work draws on broad experience that encompasses health, human services, housing, cultural resources, business, financing, and urban planning. Former engagements include work for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, City of New Orleans, and the U.S. Treasury Department as well as investment firms, for-profit and non-profit entities. She earned her doctorate in urban studies at the University of New Orleans.

“ThinkShift will succeed because it’s a space where innovation won’t just be a buzzword; true innovation will be allowed.”
Austin Nichols
Founding Director
Austin Nichols
Founding Director

Austin is an innovator, wide-ranging economist and expert methodologist. Over the last decade at the Urban Institute, his research focused on economic mobility and the impacts of education, healthcare, and social insurance. He has studied disability, poverty, K-12 education, minimum wages, and Promise Neighborhoods. Austin received his doctorate in economics from the University of Michigan, and holds a master’s in public policy from Harvard University.

“We are not simply aiming to make a difference. We are aiming to eradicate the opportunity gap.”
Argun Saatcioglu
Founding Director
Argun Saatcioglu
Founding Director

As a sociologist of education, Argun promotes holistic learning strategies that address the entire ecology of human development and wellbeing. Concurrently teaching at the University of Kansas, his research focuses on social class and racial/ethnic inequality in K-12 education, school board governance, and organizational responses to reform pressures in the field of education. He received his doctorate from Case Western Reserve University in organizational behavior, specializing in sociology of organizations and education.

“I joined this team to help restore the American Dream for everyone in this country, especially low income and historically underserved groups.”
Robin Smith
Founding Director
Robin Smith
Founding Director

Robin is passionate about decoupling the link between geography and opportunity for individuals. Her conviction reflects twenty-five years as a researcher with the Urban Institute focused on housing and community development including co-creating a program to understand how neighborhoods influence youth transitions to adulthood. Robin holds a master’s of public administration degree from George Mason University.

“ThinkShift empowers me to move from critique to create; beyond defining problems to solving them. I’m inspired to act on bold, innovative solutions not bounded by the status quo, established interests, or existing efforts.”
James Taylor
Founding Director
James Taylor
Founding Director

James is a designer and evaluator of learning support systems. His work is focused at the intersections among learning, work, and community, and how we can leverage those points for greater social and economic mobility. During his previous ten years at American Institutes for Research, James led major experimental and quasi-experimental evaluations of adult learning, coaching, professional development and leadership; organizational and systems redesign; and the skills needed to be prepared for everything from kindergarten to college and career. He earned his doctorate in educational administration and policy from the University of Michigan.

“Although I had intellectually stimulating work before coming to ThinkShift, I wanted to be able to look back and say that I had an impact.”
Daryl Williams
Founding Director
Daryl Williams
Founding Director

Daryl is passionate about economic development, innovation, and entrepreneurship. His work includes designing innovative economic and entrepreneurial platforms. Daryl spent the previous 15 years as the Chief Executive Officer of the Urban Entrepreneur Partnership (UEP) and Director of Research and Policy at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. He holds a master’s degree in sociology from the University of Kansas.

“At ThinkShift, we believe the impossible is possible. We think of strategies and solutions from the point of view of the end user. I believe this is the path to success.”
Darren Woodruff
Founding Director
Darren Woodruff
Founding Director

Darren works on a variety of projects related to expanding learning opportunities and using education as a platform for success in life. Past leadership roles at the American Institutes for Research and Comer School Development Program have focused on the intersection of culture, context, educational practice, and systemic achievement and opportunity gaps. Darren has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and communication from Stanford University, a master’s degree in education from Harvard University, and a doctorate in educational psychology from Howard University.

“My career path has always centered on efforts to increase educational equity and opportunity for all learners, no matter what their racial, social, or economic circumstances. ThinkShift allows me to do this work on a national level.”

Ready to Get Involved?

Contact us today to help move America forward.

Join Us on Social Media.

ThinkShift is an initiative of the DeBruce Foundation.

Washington, D.C. Office

1899 L Street, NW
Suite 400
Washington, DC 20036
Email: info@wethinkshift.org
Kansas City Office

4520 Main Street
15th Floor
Kansas City, MO 64111