Ellen Patterson has spent her career at the intersection of education, technology, and social impact. With a penchant for operational excellence and relationship building, she spent the past seven years in various executive leadership positions architecting the underpinnings of growth, scale, and transformation through EVERFI’s most critical moments.
Prior to her current role as Chief Operating Officer, she established and oversaw a world-class revenue team spanning sales, customer success, partner marketing, and revenue operations as Chief Revenue and Partnership Officer. During her tenure, EVERFI attracted and grew several thousand customers, including major brands like the NBA, BB&T, UBS, GE, AirBnB, and Google and over 1,700 institutions of Higher Education, who leverage EVERFI’s technology-driven social impact programs in K-12 schools, higher education campuses nationally, and with customers and employees globally. In the four years under her leadership, EVERFI experienced triple-digit revenue growth.
A former educator, Ellen brings more than two decades of business development and operations experience in consumer technology. She began her career teaching and mentoring at-risk youth in K12 schools across the Gulf Coast, Boston, and San Francisco. She later spent four years in Silicon Valley at both a digital media startup and AOL (now part of Verizon) where she ran several business lines and incubated consumer products as they took their online form – photos, video, retail, and app stores – shaping how we socialize, share, shop and engage today.
Ellen received a BA in Psychology from Georgetown University; an MA in Counseling Psychology from Boston College, where she served as graduate assistant to Pulitzer Prize winning author and Harvard child psychology scholar, Dr. Robert Coles; and an MA in Teaching as a pioneering graduate from the University of Notre Dame’s ACE program. She served as an AmeriCorps volunteer; Board President & Strategic Planning Chair of Holy Trinity School in Georgetown, DC; and board member of CYO/Catholic Charities of San Francisco, among others. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband and three daughters.
The vision and mission for EVERFI start with our CEO and founder, Tom Davidson. During his time serving in the Maine State Legislature (1994-2000), Tom witnessed public schools struggling with some very difficult problems—financial education, digital literacy, alcohol abuse, and other key areas that affect student performance – and teachers being asked to do more with a lot less. He saw an opportunity: innovative technology could allow teachers to address these issues and meet growing standards and unfunded mandates.
Out of this idea, EVERFI was founded in 2008 by Davidson, who was joined soon thereafter by fellow Bowdoin alumni, Jon Chapman and Ray Martinez. Just months after incorporating the business, Tom, Jon, and Ray set off on an RV trip across the southern United States to officially launch the EVERFI platform. They focused on early-adopter schools in low-income areas while vetting their business model with major thought leaders, company CEOs, governors, and superintendents. They needed to prove that corporate sponsors would in fact pay to improve education—a business model that was unproven and very high-risk.
Today, EVERFI has become one of the best examples of how the private sector can help drive innovation in schools and produce profound student learning outcomes. EVERFI does this by delivering critical life skills education to the students who need it most, from rural communities in the Mississippi Delta to large urban areas such as Chicago, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas.
The company has designed a massive new infrastructure in the education space that networks together America’s most powerful financial institutions, companies, and foundations to underwrite and license the use of EVERFI’s learning platforms—making them available at no cost to K-12 schools.
Bringing technology to scale in a co-curricular manner was a significant early obstacle for EVERFI. It required knowing every teacher, principal, and superintendent on a first-name basis, inspiring them, and showing them that technology could actually improve student learning outcomes. The company’s founders took the time to listen to teacher feedback and continually refine and improve the teacher and student experience. Today, EVERFI employs more than 100 schools managers across the US (many of whom are former teachers themselves) who are responsible for school outreach, teacher training, and organization of student certification ceremonies.
EVERFI’s relationship with schools and school districts has grown to one of a trusted partner and in the summer of 2020, EVERFI’s K-12 team hosted Learn On: A Virtual Conference for Whole Child Education. This one-day event featured more than 60 education experts and speakers discussing the latest research and resources related to real-world education and to help teachers create a path forward in uncertain times. More than 4,200 teachers, school counselors, and administrators registered to participate in the event.
Today, EVERFI’s learning platforms reach individuals at every stage of life from K-12 to college and adult. The company has grown from a focus on financial literacy to offering more than 250 courses that cover pressing topics such as mental wellness; compassion; digital wellness and safety; prescription drug safety; sexual assault prevention; preventing harassment and discrimination; and diversity, equity, and inclusion, amongst others.