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.
Whitney Macdonald, the Senior Director of Operations for Modern States, began at the agency in 2015 as the Director of Operations. She left in late 2018 for two years to work at Peloton Interactive before returning in April 2021 to help with the growth and enhanced program outreach for NYC x Freshman Year for Free.
Elizabeth Dennis has spent the last 15 years dedicated to education reform and a multitude of community philanthropies. Prior to this, her background is in financial services having spent over a decade at Goldman, Sachs and JP Morgan Chase. She currently serves on the Executive Board of KIPP Nashville and the Boards of Modern States Education Alliance and the Frist Art Museum. She has served on the boards of the Harpeth Hall School where she chaired strategy and investment committees and the Women’s Fund of Middle Tennessee.
Elizabeth received her undergraduate degree in Finance from the University of Connecticut.
Emily joined Modern States in 2018. She received her B. A. in Music Technology in 2019 from The New School.