who we are

The Managing Partners of Volta Learning Group, Kris Clerkin, Kate Kazin, and Melissa Goldberg, bring a wealth of experience in higher education to their consulting practice, with special expertise in market strategy and revenue growth, competency-based program design, alternative credentials, workforce and education alignment, and employer partnerships.

  • Kris Clerkin
    Kris Clerkin Managing Partner

    A seasoned advisor, strategist, and executive leader with substantial private sector and non-profit experience in the higher education industry, Kris is Managing Partner of Volta Learning Group. Kris was Sr. VP and on the Executive Leadership Team at Southern New Hampshire University, with 80,000+ students and over $600M+ in annual revenue, one of the fastest growing and most innovative higher education institutions in the U.S. At SNHU, Kris was Founding Executive Director of College for America (CfA) that offered a new model of workforce-aligned, affordable, competency-based Certificate, AA, and BA programs. CfA built a business-to-business employer engagement and recruiting model that resulted in over 100 partnerships with employers in industry, government, and non-profit organizations. In prior roles, Kris was President of Houghton Mifflin’s Higher Education Division and General Manager of Wolters Kluwer Legal Education.

    Kris is a Board Director of the Education Design Lab and has served on the Board of the Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN). She is a member of McKinsey’s Consortium for Advancing Adult Learning and Development (CAALD), a think tank of workforce and education leaders focused on adult learning and reskilling for the future of work. Kris has spoken about new learning models, OER, and competency-based education at the International Conference of Education Innovation, CAEL, WICHE, Educause, OLC, Close-It, ASU-GSV, CBExchange, and the Saylor Summit. In previous roles, Kris was President of Houghton Mifflin’s Higher Education Division and General Manager of Wolters Kluwer Legal Education. She earned her BA from the University of Wisconsin and an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School.

  • Cathrael (“Kate”) Kazin, JD, PhD
    Cathrael (“Kate”) Kazin, JD, PhD Managing Partner

    One of the nation’s foremost experts on competency-based learning and assessment, Kate served as founding Chief Academic Officer of College for America (CfA) and designed its award-winning model for project-focused CBE. She was recognized by the Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN) for “extraordinary contributions to the field of CBE.” She has extensive experience designing and developing competency frameworks and learning strategies, such as market-facing stackable microcredentials, that meet the needs of both individual learners and organizations. She is a former Commissioner of NECHE, the New England accrediting body for colleges and universities and was a member of the C-BEN Board of Directors.

    Kate served as Executive Director of the Higher Education Division at ETS; she is also a lawyer with experience both in government and in private practice. She has taught widely and was a faculty member at the University of Iowa. She holds an AB with Highest Honors in English from Smith College, a PhD in English from Cornell University, and a JD from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she was an editor of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. Kate is often invited to present on CBE, 21st century assessment, project-based learning, and disruptive innovation at a range of domestic and international venues, including the Harvard Graduate School of Education, White House, New America Foundation, ACE, AAC&U, and a variety of global venues.

  • Melissa Goldberg
    Melissa Goldberg Managing Partner

    An accomplished researcher, strategist and advisor, Melissa Goldberg is Managing Partner of Volta Learning Group. Focusing on the nexus of higher education, workforce development, industry, and technology, she employs her expertise in making sense of complex labor market data to inform effective strategy and program design. As Vice President at edBridge Partners, LLC, she advised community college workforce leaders on improving student outcomes by ensuring all programs lead to industry-recognized credentials. At Southern New Hampshire University’s College for America (CfA), she leveraged her research to inform the development of competency-based educational offerings with labor market relevance. She also led a partnership with the largest private employer in Massachusetts to design an industry-informed, online, competency-based, stackable, health-care certificate program that has since been offered to working learners nationally.

    Melissa served as Senior Associate at Workforce Strategy Center (WSC) facilitating state and regional strategic planning efforts, authoring studies of effective workforce development practices, and providing technical assistance to foundations, federal agencies, businesses, workforce boards, and community colleges across the country. Her work with a multi-agency task force in the Commonwealth of Virginia resulted in a statewide career pathways strategic plan which was adopted by then Governor Tim Kaine. Melissa spent eight years leading workforce development and business outreach at community colleges in the New York metropolitan region. She received her M.P.A in Public Policy Analysis from New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service, where she was Dean’s Scholar, and her B.A. from the University of Maine.

  • Kris Clerkin
    Kris Clerkin Managing Partner

    A seasoned advisor, strategist, and executive leader with substantial private sector and non-profit experience in the higher education industry, Kris is Managing Partner of Volta Learning Group. Kris was Sr. VP and on the Executive Leadership Team at Southern New Hampshire University, with 80,000+ students and over $600M+ in annual revenue, one of the fastest growing and most innovative higher education institutions in the U.S. At SNHU, Kris was Founding Executive Director of College for America (CfA) that offered a new model of workforce-aligned, affordable, competency-based Certificate, AA, and BA programs. CfA built a business-to-business employer engagement and recruiting model that resulted in over 100 partnerships with employers in industry, government, and non-profit organizations. In prior roles, Kris was President of Houghton Mifflin’s Higher Education Division and General Manager of Wolters Kluwer Legal Education.

    Kris is a Board Director of the Education Design Lab and has served on the Board of the Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN). She is a member of McKinsey’s Consortium for Advancing Adult Learning and Development (CAALD), a think tank of workforce and education leaders focused on adult learning and reskilling for the future of work. Kris has spoken about new learning models, OER, and competency-based education at the International Conference of Education Innovation, CAEL, WICHE, Educause, OLC, Close-It, ASU-GSV, CBExchange, and the Saylor Summit. In previous roles, Kris was President of Houghton Mifflin’s Higher Education Division and General Manager of Wolters Kluwer Legal Education. She earned her BA from the University of Wisconsin and an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School.

  • Cathrael (“Kate”) Kazin, JD, PhD
    Cathrael (“Kate”) Kazin, JD, PhD Managing Partner

    One of the nation’s foremost experts on competency-based learning and assessment, Kate served as founding Chief Academic Officer of College for America (CfA) and designed its award-winning model for project-focused CBE. She was recognized by the Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN) for “extraordinary contributions to the field of CBE.” She has extensive experience designing and developing competency frameworks and learning strategies, such as market-facing stackable microcredentials, that meet the needs of both individual learners and organizations. She is a former Commissioner of NECHE, the New England accrediting body for colleges and universities and was a member of the C-BEN Board of Directors.

    Kate served as Executive Director of the Higher Education Division at ETS; she is also a lawyer with experience both in government and in private practice. She has taught widely and was a faculty member at the University of Iowa. She holds an AB with Highest Honors in English from Smith College, a PhD in English from Cornell University, and a JD from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she was an editor of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. Kate is often invited to present on CBE, 21st century assessment, project-based learning, and disruptive innovation at a range of domestic and international venues, including the Harvard Graduate School of Education, White House, New America Foundation, ACE, AAC&U, and a variety of global venues.

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