Dr. J.D. LaRock
President & Chief Executive Officer
A respected educator, scholar, and policy expert, Dr. LaRock joins NFTE from the Commonwealth Corporation, Massachusetts’ public-private state authority focused on workforce development and regional economic development. As president and CEO of Commonwealth, Dr. LaRock chaired Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s Commission on Digital Innovation and Lifelong Learning, producing a blueprint for innovative work-based learning models that garnered significant investment from major foundations. Previously he served as a senior education advisor to the late U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, leading work on the renewal of the federal Higher Education Act, as well as passage of a law that provided $20 billion in new Pell Grants to college students. As education policy director for former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, he helped author a K-12 education law that enabled turnarounds in low-performing school districts and helped the state win $250 million through the U.S. Department of Education’s “Race to the Top” program.
For much of the past decade, Dr. LaRock has worked as a teacher, scholar, and university administrator focused on experiential learning, entrepreneurship, and the future of work. As chief of staff to the president of Northeastern University, he served on the leadership team that completed the institution’s transformation from a commuter college to a top-ranked global research university. He has also served as Professor of the Practice of Law and Policy at Northeastern and as a Fellow with the Aspen Institute’s Economic Opportunities program.
Dr. LaRock grew up in Queens, New York, in a family of public school educators, and is a proud graduate of the city’s public schools. He went on to earn his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate at Harvard University and his law degree at Georgetown University. He currently resides in Massachusetts with his wife Christina, a sign language interpreter, and their daughter Callie.
Denise L. Berkhalter, APR
Director of Communications
A Mississippi native, Denise has nearly three decades of experience in mass communication fields, including as a longtime digital news editor, newspaper editor, reporter, freelance writer, graphic designer, and public relations professional. She has served as Director of Public Relations & Social Impact for YWCA Central Alabama, Vice President of Public Relations and Marketing for the Birmingham Association of REALTORS, Director of Public Relations for the Alabama Association of School Boards, Coordinator of Marketing and Communications for Tuskegee University, and Assistant Managing Editor-News for the Montgomery Advertiser. She has been a member of COSBAC, PRSA, NSPRA, NABJ, and the Alabama Association of Black Journalists. She formerly served as a member of the SAYNO and Montgomery Area Food Bank boards of directors and was national president of the Council of School Board Association Communicators. Denise graduated summa cum laude from Troy University Montgomery (master’s in management) and Jackson State University (bachelor’s in mass communication, public relations emphasis).
Vice President, Curriculum and Research
Since joining NFTE in 2009 as a Program Manager in the Chicago office, Jason has played an integral role in the evolution of NFTE’s next generation instructional resources, from authoring the 12th edition of NFTE’s Owning Your Future textbook to the creation of NFTE’s Entrepreneurship and Small Business Pathway. Prior to his time at NFTE, his experience included working for divisions of Pearson and Kaplan Academic Tutoring as well as teaching in the Chicago Public Schools.
Mary Radford, CPA, MBA
Chief Financial Officer,
A seasoned finance executive with more than 25 years experience overall, Mary has devoted the latter part of her career to service in the nonprofit sector, providing guidance to organizations dedicated to supporting underserved communities. Mary came to NFTE from Planned Parenthood, where she oversaw the merger of five regional affiliates and led the streamlining of finance, information technology, and operational functions. Mary earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Public Accountancy at Pace University, graduating with high honors.
Chief Growth Officer
An experienced K-12 educator and former school administrator, Jeannine joined NFTE as a program manager in 2015. She has substantially expanded NFTE’s reach throughout the southeast region, built a high-performing regional team, and taken on a senior leadership role guiding regional operations across the country.
Director of National Postsecondary and Alumni Programs
Kene specializes in the Development and Implementation of community-based programs, geared towards the economic development of under-resourced communities. Kene is also a business education training specialist with 15+ years of experience in design, delivery, and administration of business education services. He also has experience working with academic institutions, and business entities, with a focus on business education, workforce development, and community development, both in New York and Los Angeles. In the past several years, Kene has helped NFTE’s Los Angeles region expand its program offerings while providing leadership and innovation. Kene has also successfully trained and supported educators internationally, in areas such as China, India, and most recently, Hiroshima, Japan. These and other efforts have helped support Kene’s passion centered around the importance of entrepreneurship as a solution to economic development in disadvantaged communities.
Executive Vice President, Chief Advancement Officer
Jane is an accomplished fundraiser with extensive experience leading during times of rapid growth, change management, and transformation. Under Advancement, she oversees fundraising, events and volunteerism. Her proven track record demonstrates success in setting and achieving ambitious, high impact goals. Jane has worked at NFTE for nearly 20 years focused on strengthening, growing, and diversifying the fundraising program to bring about greater sustainability. She brings a deep commitment to and passion for mission-driven initiatives and partnerships that align corporate, foundation and individual philanthropy with a shared vision for strategic impact.