About reimaginED

reimaginED is the policy and public affairs communications platform for Step Up For Students, a state of Florida approved nonprofit scholarship funding organization that helps administer four scholarship programs for Florida K-12 students. Launched as redefinED more than a decade ago, reimaginED’s mission is to examine and report on how expanded education choice options are transforming K-12 education in Florida and beyond.

The reimaginED team examines the opportunities and real-world challenges of customizing learning for each child from its vantage point of being geographically located in a state that is the national leader in education choice. Our contributors rely on their experience to speak about how the explosion of education options – traditional district schools, charter schools, private and parochial schools, homeschooling, learning pods and more – and the various means available for tapping into these options – tax credit scholarships, state-funded scholarships, education savings accounts – provide the opportunity to reimagine education.

The reimaginED team

Matthew Ladner

Executive Editor

Ladner, who serves as director of the Arizona Center for Student Opportunity, has authored numerous studies on school choice, charter schools and special education reform, and has testified before Congress, state legislatures and the United States Commission on Civil Rights. He was a member of the team that created the nation’s first education savings account program in 2011. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry awarded him the Milton Friedman Award in 2016. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and received a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Houston.

Donna Winchester

Managing Editor

A former journalist, Winchester spent 10 years at the Tampa Bay Times where she covered K-12 education. She left the newsroom in 2009 to lead the communications team at the Pinellas County School District. She worked as director of strategic communications at the University of Florida for four years before coming to Step Up For Students in 2014.


Lisa Buie

Senior Writer

The daughter of a public school superintendent, Buie spent more than a dozen years as a reporter and bureau chief at the Tampa Bay Times before joining Shriners Hospitals for Children — Tampa, where she served for nearly five years as marketing and communications manager. In addition to writing news and features, she hosts a monthly podcast featuring education choice families. She lives with her husband and their teenage son, who has benefited from education choice.

reimaginED contributors

Patrick Gibbons is public affairs manager at Step Up for Students. He worked for the Friedman Foundation as a researcher and writer and served as a research fellow at EdChoice after enjoying a career as a public school history teacher.

Jacobs is assistant director, external affairs, for Step Up For Students. He previously worked for 14 years as a K-12 educator and administrator in traditional and charter public schools.

Kent manages strategic communications for Step Up For Students. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, he spent 30 years in newspapers, the last 25 as an editorial writer and opinion page editor in Georgia and Florida. 

McBride, assistant director for advocacy at Step Up For Students, attended both public and private schools. She believes every child deserves a chance to succeed and that all parents should be empowered to champion the best educational environment for their children.

Matus is director for policy and public affairs at Step Up for Students and a former redefinED editor. He joined Step Up in 2012 after 20 years in journalism, including eight years as an education reporter with the Tampa Bay Times. 

Mooney is marketing communications manager for Step Up For Students. He joined the organization after a career as a sports and features writer for several Florida newspapers, including the Tampa Tribune and the Tampa Bay Times.

A lifelong educator and former teacher union president, Tuthill has been president of Step Up For Students since August 2008.

reimaginED guest bloggers

Garrett Ballengee, executive director for the Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy

Michael Barrett, Associate for Education for the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops

Jonathan Butcher, senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Education Policy

John E. Coons, professor of law, emeritus, University of California at Berkeley

Nathan Cunneen, communications specialist, American Federation for Children

Garion Frankel, policy director for the Texas Federation of College Republicans and a contributor to Young Voices.

Valeria Gurr, external relations director, American Federation for Children

Dan Lips, vice president for National Security and Government Oversight at Lincoln Network and a visiting fellow for education policy at the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity.

Karla Phillips-Krivickas, senior director of policy of KnowledgeWorks,

Bruno V. Manno, senior adviser for K-12 Education at the Walton Family Foundation

William Mattox, director of the J. Stanley Marshall Center for Educational Options at the James Madison Institute

Mike McShane, director of national research at EdChoice

Denisha Merriweather, director of public relations and content marketing at the American Federation for Children

Sean-Michael Pigeon, program officer at the Manhattan Institute

Gwen Samuel, founder of the Connecticut Parents Union

Don Soifer, president of Nevada Action for School Options and a founding leader of the Southern Nevada Urban Micro Academy

Garris Stroud, an educator, writer and education choice advocate from Greenville, Kentucky

Patrick J. Wolf, Distinguished Professor of Education Policy and 21st Century Endowed Chair in School Choice in the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas College of Education and Health Professions