Global Commission

The Cognia Global Commission governs accreditation and certification matters, including granting official recognition to qualified institutions and systems within their authority. Commission members represent a broad range of education expertise and have served in institutions across the globe. Members have demonstrated competence in quality assurance and are practicing or retired educators with a clear understanding of the accreditation process and governance policies.

Abdulrahman Alghofaili

Professional Background

Mr. Abdulrahman Alghofaili is the Director General of Riyadh Schools, a leading school in Saudi Arabia established in 1970 with over 4000 students. Since 2015, he has worked to define and strengthen Riyadh Schools as a premier institution for education and academic excellence. Prior to his appointment as Director General in Riyadh Schools, he has held several leading academic positions as an educational pioneer with a career span that is over 30 years. Mr. Alghofaili actively cultivated relationships with academic, cultural, and scientific institutions and organizations around the world. He has established several collaborations with world-class organizations such as Franklin University, Microsoft, Real Madrid Foundation, Mawhiba, and more.  Many initiatives developed from the partnerships, and the most prominent ones were the online teaching platforms as Riyadh Schools is a leader in this category. One of the online teaching initiatives is Riyadh Virtual School, which is a platform that teaches Arabic to Saudi students living outside of KSA. Mr. Alghofaili received an M.A. in Education from Howard University in Washington D.C., and a B.A. in Educational Management from King Saud University, Saudi Arabia. He has participated in numerous executive educational leadership training including the Harvard University leadership program and received several awards including being an honorary ambassador of quality education. In addition, he is a board member of several committees; the most prominent being Riyadh Chamber of Commerce, Educational Committee.

Dr. Ginger Blackmon

Professional Background

Dr. Ginger Blackmon is an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. She teaches courses in instructional leadership and student success, school resource allocation and management, leadership in Alaska native culture and social justice, and data-informed instruction and decision-making, and supervises principal interns. Dr. Blackmon coordinates the continuous improvement activities for Advanced Licensure programs within the UAA School of Education. She has 13 years of experience as an elementary, middle, and high school principal. In addition to leading traditional school systems and a charter school, Dr. Blackmon opened a new magnet middle school for the creative, performing, and technological arts in San Diego. Dr. Blackmon serves as a lead evaluator for school and system accreditation reviews and is Chair of the Cognia Alaska State Advisory Council. Dr. Blackmon holds a Doctor of Education in Leadership Studies from the University of San Diego. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education and a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from San Diego State University.

Dr. Linda L. Curtis

Professional Background

Dr. Linda L. Curtis has extensive experience in educational leadership in pre-K-12 education. She served as the Principal Deputy Director and Associate Director for Academics for the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) for four years overseeing the education of a worldwide school system. During her 33 years with DoDEA as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, assistant superintendent, superintendent, and area director, Dr. Curtis worked with families of the U.S. military for more than 33 years in many educational overseas locations. She began her career as an elementary teacher in Quirindi, Australia, and then a teacher in Indiana prior to joining DoDEA. Dr. Curtis holds a doctorate degree from Argosy University, Sarasota, Florida; two master's degrees from Indiana University, Fort Wayne, Indiana; and a bachelor's degree from Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.  

Nick Gottlob

Professional Background

Nick Gottlob has served as an educator for 22 years, and a school administrator and principal for 17 years. His service to Cognia began in 2000 working as a volunteer with NCA, and subsequently, Advanc-ED serving on school visitation teams and hosting visits in schools. Gottlob currently serves as a Lead-Evaluator and supports domestic, and global visits in support of the mission of Cognia. His experience and expertise in school administration have placed him in positions on State, National, and Global committees and advisory roles.  Nick served as President of School Administrators of South Dakota, having been appointed to the committee for six years. He was appointed by the Governor to the South Dakota Professional Practices Commission, where he chaired the Ethics Board for school administrators. Gottlob has been an active leader and advocates for the work of K12 schools serving in a variety of capacities in Washington, DC as well over the past 15 years, where he has also served on the Executive Board of the National Association of Secondary School Principals in Reston, Virginia, as well as in federal policy and advocacy roles for the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

Dr. Mark Mathern

Professional Background

Dr. Mark Mathern retired as the associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction, Natrona County School District, after 32 years as a teacher, school principal, and district administrator. He was recognized as a Friend of Education by the Wyoming Foreign Language Teachers’ Association for establishing dual language immersion beginning in kindergarten, for Mandarin and Spanish in several districts across Wyoming. His work also included expanding college and career readiness learning opportunities through Casper’s Pathways Innovation Center and ensuring all district preschools were accredited. Since 2015, he has been an evaluator for schools and systems in multiple countries and in the United States. He works with the North Central Association and Cognia on school improvement and has led staff development sessions for other educational organizations. Currently he works with Cognia as a lead evaluator mentor, serves on the Global Commission, and is a board member for Wyoming’s State Board of Education. Dr. Mathern has a B.A. from North Dakota State University in classical languages, an M.A. from the University of Wyoming in educational administration, and an Ed.D. from Seton Hall University.

Phil Metcalf

Professional Background

Phil Metcalf has been in education for over 50 years. He graduated from Ball State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and psychology in 1970 and from St. Francis University with a Master of Science degree in mathematics and psychology in 1974. He retired from public education after 38 years while holding positions as a middle school and a high school mathematics teacher, a visiting professor at Ball State University, and a Career and Technical Director for three school districts in Indiana. Since retirement, Phil has chaired many Engagement Reviews at all levels of schools in the Middle East, South America, and the Far East along with Russia, China, South Korea, Japan, and India. Since the pandemic, Phil has served on online review teams for schools and school systems in the United States. In the past, he has conducted data analysis sessions at many Cognia Global and Connect Conferences and was named the conference’s keynote speaker in 2015, and presented on the use of data in schools. Phil has been trained as a Lead Evaluator for Cognia and is also a trained mentor for other Lead Evaluators in several regions in the U.S. He is past Chairman of the Cognia Global Accreditation Commission.

Drew Moore

Professional Background

Beginning his career as an elementary music teacher, Drew Moore moved to the university lab school setting adding reading, education technologies, science, theatre, and drama, and teaching instructional methods at the college level to his background. After spending several years in a residential high school for the gifted in math, science, and performing arts, he served as a middle school principal in a laboratory school and university setting, retiring after 33 years in public education, all the while serving Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and AdvancEd. Drew now has the pleasure of chairing school, district, and corporate Engagement Reviews in many states, serving as well on the Louisiana Cognia Advisory Council and on the Cognia Global Accreditation Commission.

Dr. Andrea Nevins

Professional Background

Dr. Andrea Nevins is dean of the Farquhar Honors College and a professor of English at Nova Southeastern University. Her areas of academic focus are Caribbean literature and popular culture, as well as creative writing. She has held various leadership roles at NSU. Most recently she has served as chair of the Department of History and Political Science, assistant dean for academic affairs in the former College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, and interim dean of the Halmos College of Arts and Sciences and Guy Harvey Oceanographic Research Center. Dr. Nevins has managed the annual assessment of degree programs in her department, as well as leading numerous internal review committees that support the university’s reaccreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). She grew up in Jamaica and moved to the United States to attend college after she completed high school. She graduated from Florida International University with a B.B.A. in business, an M.A. in English, and an M.F.A in creative writing and from the University of Miami with a Ph.D. in English. She is author of The Embodiment of Disobedience: Fat Black Women's Unruly Political Bodies (2006) and Working Juju: Representations of the Caribbean Fantastic (2019). Her fiction as well as her scholarly writing have been published in numerous journals, including Small Axe, World Literature Today, sx salon, MaComére, The Caribbean Writer, Crab Orchard Review, Feminist Media Studies, and Social Semiotics.

Victoria Tafoya

Professional Background

Ms. Victoria Tafoya is an experienced philanthropist, educator, professional learning provider, and leader with 24 years of experience, currently working as a program officer for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to support thriving children, working families, and equitable communities in New Mexico. Ms. Tafoya holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with an emphasis in Bilingual Education and a master’s degree in educational leadership. She efficiently blends research-based organizational leadership, programmatic, and instructional knowledge to enhance continuous improvement efforts in multiple environments. Ms. Tafoya began her career as a teacher for the Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) and the Department of Defense Educational Activity (DoDEA). She has served as site Administrator and district Administrator for Rio Rancho Public Schools in New Mexico. During this time, Ms. Tafoya also served as executive director of Federal, Bilingual and Native American Programs where she planned, implemented, monitored, and evaluated various state and federal grants to assist English Language Learners, Native American students, and opportunity youth. She served a local educational non-profit as Director of Operations for Dual Language Education of New Mexico, and is a proud educational advocate, helping to lead the efforts of Transform Education New Mexico (TENM) and engaging all levels of education and educational leadership throughout the state of New Mexico. Ms. Tafoya has been a member of the Cognia New Mexico Advisory Board and has participated as a team member during accreditation reviews.

Yong Zhang

Professional Background

Mr. Yong Zhang serves as Chairman, Massachusetts Education Center (MAEC), a Massachusetts-based company focusing on promoting US education and education standards to China and other Asia countries. He is also the President, COO, and CRO of Salary.com, a compensation, pay equity and talent intelligence company headquartered in Massachusetts. Under his leadership, MAEC has successfully helped institutions of higher education to create partnerships and promote education programs in China. The organization also provides quality improvement services to international schools and programs in China and other Asia countries based on Cognia assurances, performance standards, and procedures. Mr. Zhang holds master’s degrees in business administration from Cornell University, physics from University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and electrical engineering from University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.