Alliance for Adult Education Foundation

About Us

Unite. Invest. Empower.

The Alliance for Adult Education Foundation (AAEF) is a coalition of thought leaders who want to expand access to education and career opportunities for the millions of Americans without a high school diploma. We must tap into the potential of this population to create a skilled workforce equipped and ready to contribute in the 21st-century economy.

Empower adults to pursue life-sustaining, family-supporting work and careers. When people overcome the trauma and often shame of dropping out of school, and persist in graduating, life-changing impact can happen. Many keep going—pursuing certificates, degrees, and additional credentials. Help them take the first step!

Help build a more equitable society and economy. By investing in no-cost access to a high-quality secondary education for ALL, we can build a stronger infrastructure and more sustainable economy. Zip codes should not determine who has access to education. 

  1. WORKFORCE: Expand adult education in the workforce development system.
  2. MILITARY: Strengthen military recruitment.
  3. CORPORATIONS: Bolster public-private partnerships to build a better-skilled workforce.
  4. LIBRARIES: Create lifelong learning through public library systems.
  5. COLLEGES: Support and enhance the community college system as a pathway for adults to access higher education.

Create greater opportunities for diverse adults, families, and communities. Our nation has the power to harness our collective strengths and resources to drive better outcomes. We must introduce safe and effective ways to educate adults who left high school without graduating. Join us in advocating on behalf of this community and urging the federal legislature to act now.

Team Members

Meet the Team

Dr. Howard Liebman, Executive Director

A visionary in the field of innovative education, Dr. Howard A. Liebman is a nationally recognized educator and entrepreneur with experience founding and leading successful public and private education enterprises.

Dr. Liebman’s passion for education was first ignited as a math teacher in urban public middle and high schools, where he learned how to think outside the box in order to help students succeed. He went on to earn a master’s degrees and doctorate in clinical social work, during which time he delved into the social and psychological issues—the “educational trauma”—facing many learners today.

After Dr. Liebman joined the Sagemont School, a PK3–12 college-preparatory, private school as assistant principal and then principal, in 2004 he co-founded the University of Miami Online High School. 

In 2009, Dr. Liebman founded Smart Horizons Career Online Education, the world’s first accredited, private online school district, designed with career certificate programs for adults and older youth.

Ron J. Stefanski, Chief Community Affairs Officer

Ron Stefanski is a nationally recognized expert in harnessing innovative technology-augmented educational solutions. Stefanski has held a variety of executive roles in his more than three decades in education/technology. He served at Cengage Learning in several executive roles overseeing public libraries, higher education, and workforce development. Stefanski’s work launching an online accredited career high school with McDonald’s and Walmart earned him recognition in Washington, DC, as did his work increasing the number of opportunity students graduating and continuing to pursue college and career pathways.

Prior to Cengage, Stefanski was on the team that launched the Michigan Virtual High School in 2000. Michigan Virtual became the second largest virtual high school in the U.S. Stefanski returned to his native Detroit with his wife as empty nesters after their two sons launched, and became a big brother to his “little” Reynard, who is on a college pathway in engineering at Southern University.

Major General Bob Silverthorn, Military Recruitment Liaison

Major General Bob Silverthorn, Jr, USA (Ret) holds a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies from Dickinson College and a Juris Doctor from Brandeis School of Law, and he is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College. During his 35-year active and reserve Army career he participated in the development and implementation of continuous methods of improvement in the delivery of individual and collective training at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels. His last assignment was as the Senior Reserve Advisor to the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. Today, that expertise is being applied to the critical issue of obtaining a foundational education for the millions of adult potential learners in America who do not have a high school diploma. This is a national security issue as it relates to recruiting and retaining qualified adults for the U.S. military.

Kari Greenfield, Strategic Corporate Partnerships

Kari Greenfield brings an abundance of strategic relationship expertise to her role at the Alliance. After serving in various marketing roles at Borders, and Meredith Publishing, Kari joined ed2go, a Cengage Learning company in 2013.

Whether developing branded DIY books for The Home Depot or developing education and training strategies with leading companies, including McDonald’s Corporation, Amazon, and Walmart, Kari’s work with employers has led to efforts that empower employees through education.

Greenfield began working with Smart Horizons Career Online Education in 2018 where she handled account implementations, training, and partner management activities for new accounts. As Corporate Development Director, she built strategic enterprise relationships with corporations and workforce leaders including Goodwill, McDonald’s, Amazon, Walmart, CVS Health, Hilton, and Kroger.

Greenfield is a graduate of Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY, with a Bachelor of Science in Corporate Communications, and a minor in writing.

Rivkah Sass, Public Library Liaison

Rivkah Sass brings an extraordinary amount of success in public libraries to her role at the Alliance. Most recently, Sass was the Library Director of Sacramento Public Library, where she enjoyed abundant success in overcoming barriers and transforming California’s fourth largest library system into an award-winning institution.

Under Sass’s leadership, the Sacramento Public Library recently won the Inaugural Jerry Kline Community Impact Prize for exemplifying the singular power of the public library to be a fully integrated and critically valuable community asset. Additionally, Sass was named Librarian of the Year by the Library Journal in 2006, and she received the 2020 Charlie Robinson Award from the American Library Association.

Sass earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from California State College and her master’s degree in information science from the University of Washington.

Board Members

Board of Advisors

John Szabo, City Librarian, Los Angeles Public Library

John F. Szabo is the City Librarian of the Los Angeles Public Library, which serves more than four million people—the largest population of any public library in the United States. He oversees the Central Library and 72 branches.

Under his leadership, the Library’s major initiatives include those related to immigrant integration and citizenship, sustainability, civic engagement, digital inclusion and lifelong learning. He has expanded the library’s reach into the city’s diverse communities through partnerships with several community-based organizations.

He has more than 30 years of leadership experience in public libraries, previously serving as
the director of four libraries including the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System. He currently serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees of OCLC, a global library cooperative and on the Board of Visitors for the University of Alabama College of Communication and Information Sciences. He has previously served on the Executive Boards of the Urban Libraries Council and California Humanities and as president of the Florida Library Association.

Lisa Hunt Schumacher, Director of Education Strategies and Workforce Policy, McDonald's

Lisa Schumacher is the Director of Education Strategies and Workforce Policy at McDonald’s Corporation. She has more than 25 years of experience in organizational learning and development. Lisa’s current focus is on leading workforce development efforts to provide access to education and create non-traditional pathways to careers both within the McDonalds’ system and in other industries. She leads the execution of McDonald’s education strategy, Archways to Opportunity, which provides restaurant employees an opportunity to learn English language skills, receive a high school diploma, complete a college degree, and access education advising services.

In her previous role at the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) as the Director of WorkforceChicago, Lisa collaborated with Chicago-area CEOs and managed a business-led initiative that identified and disseminated best-practice learning strategies and policies. Prior to that, Lisa was the Director of the Learning Academy at The University of Chicago Hospitals. Lisa completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Communications at Purdue University.

Haley Glover, Director of UpSkill America, The Aspen Institute

Haley Glover is the director of UpSkill America, an initiative of the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program.

Prior to joining the Institute in July 2022, Glover was a senior program manager at Amazon, where she led college programming for associates on Amazon’s Career Choice team, supporting associates to earn a college degree.

Before January 2022, Glover served as Lumina Foundation’s strategy director for state action and equity. In that role, she led Lumina’s efforts to mobilize states to support student success and reduce racial disparities in credential attainment.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary education, English, and American history from Franklin College in Indiana. She earned a master’s in liberal arts from St. John’s College Graduate Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and a master’s in public administration from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.

Earl Buford, President, Council for Adult Experiential Learning (CAEL)

As the president of CAEL, Earl Buford oversees the national nonprofit organization’s work to promote sustainable and equitable economic growth for adult learners in collaboration with workforce and economic developers, post-secondary educators, employers, industry groups, foundations, and other mission-aligned groups. Before CAEL, Buford was the Chief Executive Officer of Partner4Work, the leader of the public workforce system for Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, as well as Employ Milwaukee, where he was nationally recognized for implementing and integrating a sector-based approach to workforce development. Buford was also the leader of one of the first intermediaries in the country, WRTP/BIG-STEP.

Buford is an active board member with several organizations, including the National Fund for
Workforce Solutions, Apprenticeships for America, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Catalyst
Connection, Bridgeway Capital, Cleveland Federal Reserve (Pittsburgh Chapter), and Strada Education Network’s National Strategic Advisory Group. He is a former member of Vice President Joe Biden’s Task Force on Effective Workforce Strategies, the National Network of Sector Partners, the Wisconsin Governor’s Task Force on Minority Unemployment, and the National Skills Coalition Advisory Board, among many others.

John Chrastka, Executive Director and Founder, EveryLibrary

EveryLibrary’s founder is John Chrastka, a long-time library trustee, supporter, and advocate.  Mr. Chrastka is a former partner in AssociaDirect, a Chicago-based consultancy focused on supporting associations in membership recruitment, conference, and governance activities.  He is a former president and member of the Board of Trustees for the Berwyn (IL) Public Library (2006–2015) and is a former president of the Reaching Across Illinois Libraries System (RAILS) multi-type library system. Prior to his work at AssociaDirect, he was Director for Membership Development at the American Library Association (ALA). He is a member of ALA as well as the Illinois Library Association (ILA), and the American Political Sciences Association (APSA). He was named a 2014 Mover & Shaker by Library Journal and tweets @mrchrastka.