Our Team

BootUp trains teachers to empower all students in ways they never thought possible.

“I had the feeling that to get into a schoolhouse and study in this way would be about the same as getting into paradise.”
– Booker T. Washington

Through our research-driven professional development initiatives, the team at BootUp is committed to providing access to computer science and coding. As former public educators we are lifelong learners, deeply engaged, and passionate about what we do. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, our status allows us to focus solely on our mission and vision.

Clark Merkley

Clark MerkleyExecutive Director

Clark Merkley is the Executive Director of BootUp PD, a nonprofit focused on preparing and empowering teachers and implementing elementary coding programs nationwide.

Immediately prior to joining BootUp PD, Clark was Chief Operating Officer & General Counsel of Emerald Data Solutions, which provides the industry-leading eGovernance solution – BoardDocs – that is used by over 1500 school districts across the United States. Clark served as a school board member for the School District of Kettle Moraine in Wisconsin, has served on several nonprofit boards and has also served in human resources for Nebo School District, a large school district in central Utah serving over 31,000 students. Clark has also practiced law and represented several nonprofits, health care organizations, and businesses in their corporate and regulatory matters.

In the middle of his professional career, Clark was a junior high teacher at Springville Junior High School in Springville, Utah where he taught Algebra, Physical Science, Earth Science, and Law & Government. He loved being in the classroom and helping to shape the minds of future lifelong learners. He considers teaching to be the greatest of all professions.

Clark received his J.D. and MBA from the University of Chicago and his undergraduate degree in Zoology from Brigham Young University. He and his wife, Sheryl, are the parents of five and the grandparents of nine.

Abby Funabiki - Associate Executive Director

Abby FunabikiAssociate Executive Director

Abby Funabiki has worked with school districts across the country to implement district-wide computer science for all initiatives. She has facilitated workshops for the CSforAll Consortium to help district leadership understand what is needed to support computer science for all.

Abby worked in the nonprofit sector for nine years most recently supporting public schools in Park City, UT. At the Park City Education Foundation Abby supported over 50 district programs, developed and led fundraising campaigns, implemented a CRM database, and analyzed data trends and key indicators to evaluate performance and impact. In 2013, Abby led Park City School District’s rebranding project as their Communications Director and created processes for a newly formed communications department. Abby has presented at state and local conferences on data analytics and fundraising.

While attending Willamette University in Oregon, Abby interned for the Willamette University Foundation and the McCormick Foundation in Chicago. She played on the tennis team and served as Team Captain her senior year. She has earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Utah and wrote her thesis on nonprofit capacity building.

Abby is passionate about equity in public education and believes access to computer science during the school day can be a true equalizer. Abby leads strategic initiatives and enjoys collaborating and creating partnerships for BootUp.

Jarred O'Leary - Director of Curriculum and Professional Development

Jared O'Leary, PhDDirector of Education & Research

Jared O’Leary has over a decade of teaching experience and is committed to supporting teachers and districts by sharing open source resources. He has shared hundreds of resources with other educators and has given over 60 presentations worldwide. Most recently, Jared facilitated district-wide K-8 coding courses, as well as a media arts makerspace and a music production course.

Jared has a PhD in Music Education from Arizona State University. His dissertation is titled “A corpus-assisted discourse analysis of music-related practices discussed within chipmusic.org.” His research interests include the intersections between music engagement, learning, and computer science; music engagement and learning through video games and interactive audio; and affinity, hybrid, and participatory music making and learning. He has designed and facilitated undergraduate and graduate education courses at Arizona State University as well as undergraduate courses at Paradise Valley Community College.

Jared is one of ten worldwide recipients of the 2016 Awards for Teaching Excellence in Computer Science from the Infosys Foundation USA, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), and the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA). Jared is also an Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) and was invited to the 2016 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on an educator scholarship.

At BootUp, Jared designs projects and resources for elementary coding teachers and young coders, consults districts on implementing these resources, and directs our professional development team.

Read Jared’s up-to-date curriculum vitae by clicking here.

McKay Perkins

McKay PerkinsProfessional Development Facilitator

McKay Perkins is dedicated to developing creative instruction to make education come alive for elementary learners. He believes that when teachers devote time and energy to insert education into a child’s imagination, it unlocks the student’s potential, and willingness to pursue it. He has five years of elementary teaching experience and has loved every minute of it.

McKay left the full-time teacher role to receive a Master’s degree in Instructional Design at Brigham Young University, where he wanted to learn how to improve the learning experience for elementary children. He found coding. Since then, McKay has worked for three years teaching elementary students, elementary teachers, and elementary education students how to code and how to integrate technology in ways that transform their classrooms. He has led professional development sessions on coding and he understands students’ desire to learn this exciting medium. He also understands many of the stressors that teachers face, and has had practice helping to alleviate them.

McKay is married to Kristen, and is expecting a baby boy in June. A few of the things he enjoys are: technology, games and game development, stories and storytelling, family time, Star Wars, music, video editing, barbershop singing, classroom design and setup, and coding. He believes that all of these hobbies and activities can be creatively used to enrich and enliven instruction.

Brenda Bass

Brenda BassProfessional Development Facilitator

Brenda Bass has over 30 years of teaching experience, most recently as the Science/STEAM Lab Teacher for Fort Bend School District in Sugar Land, Texas where she taught K-5 coding, STEAM challenges and physical computing to help support science standards. She was also the coding/robotics sponsor. Prior to the Science/STEAM Lab, she was a Digital Learning Specialist supporting multiple campuses with technology integration, facilitating Professional Development as well as supporting coding/robotics clubs. At the District level, she provided support for district-wide initiatives such as STEM/LOGO Institute, Scratch Day, training coding/robotic sponsors and Film Festival.

Before moving to Fort Bend, Brenda taught in Frenship and Lubbock School Districts. She taught 6-8 grade Multimedia and Web Design where she incorporated Project Based Learning. Brenda assisted with BEST Robotics Team. She was a Curriculum Technologist Specialist as well as a Computer Technologist. She was a student sponsor for TCEA Robotics Contests where students placed 2nd in 2006 and 2nd and 3rd in 2007 at the Regional Technology Fair.

Brenda has presented on technology integration in the classroom at TCEA and ISTE. She was a part of the We Teach CS Collaborative Grant where she received over 60 hours of Computer Science Training.

Laurie Green

Laurie GreenProfessional Development Facilitator

Laurie Green has been an educator for nearly 30 years, with a majority of that career as a technology integration specialist/coordinator in both the public and private school settings. During her career, Laurie has been dedicated to sharing the benefits of programming across the K-12 curriculum and educator professional development. Throughout her career, Laurie has maintained a passion and dedication to understanding how girls learn and applying those concepts to encourage interest and confidence in Coding and STEM-related careers.
A recognized speaker, curriculum consultant, and workshop leader, Laurie’s experiences have included serving on the keynote panel for Learning 2.0 in Shanghai, China, a Keynote speaker for the Maths and Science conference in Queensland, Australia, and presenting at various conferences throughout the United States, including ISTE and OETC. She is a Certified LEGO Robotics Instructor, Quality Matters Certified, Makey Makey Certified trainer, and Raspberry Pi Certified Educator.

Laurie holds a Bachelors in Business from The Ohio State University, a Masters Degree from Cleveland State University in Curriculum and Foundations with a focus on Technology Education, and a post-grad certificate in Computational Thinking from The University of Pennsylvania.

Karen Elena MelaraMarketing and Video Specialist

Karen has over 6 years of experience working with NGOs, SMEs, and multinational corporations as a digital marketer and designer. Her expertise includes working in the North American and South Asian markets creating and implementing marketing strategies, social media strategies, digital and print designs and art directing. She holds a BSc in Business Administration with a focus on Marketing, Management, and International Business from the University of South Florida.

She’s a staunch advocate for environmental change and social justice and dedicates her time to helping causes that empower women and youth. She believes that educating our youth with the right tools give them the ability to create a brighter future for all.

Outside of work she enjoys learning about cultures, traveling, trying new food, dancing, reading a good novel, and watching random documentaries with her husband.

Kelly PowersProfessional Development Facilitator

Kelly is a life-long Computer Science enthusiast. She has 20 years of experience teaching Computer Science and 14 years working in industry. As a dedicated advocate to the “CS for All” movement, Kelly has had the opportunity to serve on many projects to advance Computer Science teaching and learning giving both equity and access to schools in the country.  She has been recognized for her work in the field by receiving the Massachusetts Stem teacher of the Year award and by the Mass Technology Leadership Council for leadership in CS.

While in New York, she serves as a Cornell Tech Teacher in Residence working to make Computer Science teachable in schools across the city. She has had the opportunity to present at CSTA, To Code and Beyond and lead CT professional development for teachers in Texas, New York City and in upstate New York.

While at MassCAN and EDC, Kelly was very proud to have the opportunity to collaborate with teachers and leaders across the state to launch the CS and DLCS Massachusetts standards project.  The outcome of the collaboration resulted in new DLCS and CS standards in Massachusetts and ultimately lead to stronger collaboration efforts to improve CS education, funding, and then later to a Massachusetts DOE teacher DLCS/CS certification.

Kelly continues to work with national leaders to review research, policy, and actively contribute to informing implementation strategies for CT and CS integration for all. She serves on national panels to advise what students and teachers should be able to know and do to bring a program of rigor and joy to all schools.

In her spare time, Kelly (who is one of 11 children) with her husband and two children, enjoys hosting parties at her home and participating in simple backyard fun!

Stacie Mason, PhDResearch and Evaluation

Stacie Mason has enjoyed teaching students in college, middle, and elementary school. She has taught teacher education for more than ten years, including university courses and district professional development. Her specialties include K-6 coding, computational thinking, technology integration, and writing.

Having earned four degrees from Brigham Young University, Stacie considers herself a professional student and life-long learner. As a student, she especially likes active learning, which is one reason she was drawn to BootUp.

Stacie’s primary professional goal is to improve student outcomes through impactful research and teaching. She has co-authored several articles focused on understanding what factors influence coding attitudes, applying that understanding to the design of interventions, and assessing teacher and student outcomes.

When not teaching or doing research, Stacie enjoys drawing house plans, curling up with a good book, watching period dramas with her husband, and playing games with her four children.

Michael Hanahan Development Consultant

Michael Hanahan is a results-driven, senior executive with over 25 years of marketing, sales, strategic alliance, fundraising and creative experience at global technology, ad agency, medical device, SaaS, and non-profit organizations.

A disruptive thinker and outstanding writer, Michael also served as Chief Marketing and Sales Officer for Emerald Data Solutions, which developed the industry-leading eGovernance solution – BoardDocs – used by over 1,500 school districts. There, Michael also worked closely with Founder and Board President Ari Ioannides on the initial branding, marketing and launch of BootUp.

Michael is Immediate Past Chair and current board member of the American Cancer Society, Utah. Michael has won multiple industry-specific awards for creativity, sales and marketing effectiveness. His creative work for the Catholic Archdiocese resulted in a personal invitation to the Vatican and he has also served as a guest speaker at the Martin Luther King Center.

Michael received a dual-major, Bachelor of Arts from Washington & Jefferson College and studied coding at the University of Pittsburgh. He is the proud father of three and has been married to wife, Helen Ya-Luin, for over twenty years.

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