Steve Klinsky, the founder and CEO of Modern States, has been an active philanthropist and education reformer for many years. He founded the Gary Klinsky Children Centers after school program in 1993. That program has served thousands of children in New York City’s most disadvantaged public schools since then, has given or raised over $20 million of public and private funds, and has been replicated in Miami as the team charity of the Miami Heat basketball franchise. In 1999, he wrote the application for, and organized, the first charter school in the State of New York (the Sisulu-Walker Charter School of Harlem) in partnership with Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker and others. He has helped start, organize and fund numerous high performing charter schools since then. He succeeded Jeb Bush as chairman of the advisory board of Harvard’s Program for Education Policy and Governance, and endowed the Klinsky Professorship of Leadership and Social Progress at Harvard Law School, where he also serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council. He began writing editorials describing the Modern States idea in 2012, and conceived and organized the “Freshman Year for Free™” initiative beginning around the year 2014.
Professionally, Klinsky is founder and CEO of New Mountain Capital, a growth-oriented private equity firm that has overseen more than $20 billion of capital commitments since inception, and which has added or created over 43,000 jobs at the companies it owns net of job losses. Klinsky grew up in the Detroit area, where he was educated in Michigan public schools and completed his B.A. with high honors from the University of Michigan in approximately two years (9/74-12/76) using the College Board advance placement tests and other means. He then earned his MBA from Harvard Business School (class of 1979) and his J.D. law degree from Harvard Law School (class of 1981) in four years instead of five, as part of the accelerated JD/MBA program. He is married to the author Maureen Sherry with four children, and lives in New York City.
David Vise is a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter who worked at The Washington Post for 23 years. He is the author of four books, including The Google Story, published in more than 25 languages. David served on the board of Save a Child’s Heart, which provides urgently needed pediatric heart surgery and follow-up care for indigent children from developing countries, and has served on various other non-profit boards.
A volunteer and supporter of Martha’s Table Shelter, which feeds the hungry and homeless in Washington D.C., David also served as a volunteer at the Children’s Hospital of Washington and in a literacy program in D.C. public schools.
David received his undergraduate degree and MBA from The Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania and serves as a Senior Advisor at New Mountain Capital.
Stephanie Costner serves as vice president of Modern States. She joined the organization in 2021 committed to providing strategic leadership in the areas of educational equity and learner outcomes. In her role, she will work to expand the NYC x Freshman Year for Free program. A former professor, Costner has dedicated her entire career to ensuring that students receive the education they deserve. She believes that college degrees are essential and necessary for expanding careers and ending generational poverty.
Before joining Modern States, Costner was a consultant with New York Edge, an organization dedicated to helping bridge the opportunity gap among students in underinvested communities, as a curriculum developer and trainer. She also served as a race and equity instructor, publications designer and a special projects tech consultant.
Costner also consulted with Columbia University on its “Hip Hop Heals” portal development project. She was responsible for reviewing and editing curriculum, curriculum standards alignment, multimedia and multisensory learning, as well as equity and inclusion practices.
Prior to consulting, Costner worked as interim president/CEO and vice president for Programs, Assessments and Evaluations for the Colorado I Have A Dream Foundation (CIHADF). During her tenure with CIHADF, Costner led a team of educators and clinicians who delivered academic and extended day programming, as well as wrap-around and clinical supports to Dreamers in elementary school through college.
Earlier in her career, she served as director of the Say Yes Collegiate Preparatory Academy (SYCPA) at Syracuse University. Prior to Say Yes, she served a 10-year appointment at the University at Buffalo’s Educational Opportunity Center as an associate professor and new media and curriculum developer.
Costner graduated from Medaille College, with a Bachelor of Science degree in government services and a Master of Arts degree in higher education administration from Louisiana State University.