SEF Announces A New Board Chairman And Appointment Of New Trustee

January 23, 2020 (Atlanta, Georgia) — The Board of Trustees of The Southern Education Foundation (SEF) recently elected Michael T. Nettles, Senior Vice President and the Edmund W. Gordon Chair of Policy Evaluation & Research at the Educational Testing Service, as its Chairman. Dr. Nettles follows Mr. Milton Little, Jr., President & CEO of the United Way of Greater Atlanta, whose term as chairman concluded December 31, 2019.

Dr. Nettles steps into the leadership role of Chairman of the Board of Trustees this January. He has a served on the Board of SEF since 2014. Nettles is a highly influential expert on access, opportunity, equity, assessment and student performance and achievement at the K-12 and post-secondary levels.

In August 2014, President Barack Obama appointed Dr. Nettles to the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. He was appointed by two US Secretaries of Education to serve on the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), which oversees and develops policies for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). He also served for eight years on both the College Board of Trustees and the GRE Board.

A native of Nashville, Tennessee, Nettles earned his bachelor’s degree in political science at the University of Tennessee and later received master’s degrees in political science and higher education, and a Ph.D. in education at Iowa State University.

SEF is also pleased to announce that Larry Berger, the Chief Executive Officer of Amplify Education, has been appointed to the organization’s Board of Trustees. Larry brings to the Board a distinguished career that includes national leadership in the advancement of high-quality curriculum and technology in K-12 education.

“We are very fortunate and excited about having Larry Berger included as a member of our Board of Trustees,” said Raymond Pierce, President and CEO of the Southern Education Foundation. Larry Berger has led the invention of mobile software to help early reading teachers, and next-generation English, Math, and Science curricula for elementary and middle schools.

He serves on the boards of Touch Press, the Academy of American Poets, Lapham’s Quarterly, and the Institute for Sustained Attention. Amplify is a Brooklyn-based education company that he co-founded (previously Wireless Generation) in 2000.

“For more than 150 years, the Southern Education Foundation has been bending the arc of American education toward equity and justice. Its mission remains urgent. I am honored to join the Board to help the organization continue to make an impact on K-12 education for students of color and low-income students in the American South,” said Larry Berger, Chief Executive Officer of Amplify.

Prior to founding Amplify Education, Larry served as the educational technology specialist at the Children’s Aid Society, where he led the development of four community computer labs in disadvantaged neighborhoods that have served as models of using technology to empower young people. Larry also developed, with Amplify co-founder Greg Gunn, the Hole in the Web, an online extension of Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang camp for children with cancer and blood diseases.

Larry holds a BA from Yale University and was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University, a White House Fellow dedicated to educational technology in the office of the administrator of NASA, and a Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow. He has published widely on education and on educational entrepreneurship and has served as a co-investigator on several federally funded research grants.

Michael Nettles, Chairman of the SEF Board of Trustees said, “We are very happy to welcome Larry Berger to the SEF Board of Trustees. Larry’s experience leading a successful digitally forward education company, as well as serving in the government and non-profits focused on K-12 education , will be very helpful to SEF’s planning and consideration of new directions for its education improvement agenda for minority and disadvantaged children in the southern region of the United States.”

Berger begins his Board of Trustee service in January 2020.


About The Southern Education Foundation
SEF was founded in 1867 as the Peabody Fund created by wealthy philanthropist George Peabody for the education of formerly enslaved African Americans along with poor whites in the southern states following the Civil War. Through the eventual consolidation of several education foundations, SEF emerged to play a major role in the development of education opportunity in the American South. Based in Atlanta, SEF continues to advance its 152-year-old mission by pursuing equity in education opportunities through its leadership development, research and education advocacy activities. Find out more at