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Richard Culatta Named New Chief Executive Officer of ISTE

Richard Culatta, who pressed for greater information- and resource-sharing in the nation's schools while directing the Obama administration's office of education technology, will become the next CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education.

ISTE is a membership organization recognized in ed-tech circles for the staging of its annual conference, a massive gathering that lures thousands of educators, as well as tech companies, from across the United States and the world.

Culatta has most recently served as the chief innovation officer for the state of Rhode Island. But he is best known in the digital education arena for his work leading the office of educational technology at the U.S. Department of Education, a post he resigned from in 2015.

During his tenure at the federal agency, Culatta backed policies encouraging tech collaboration among educators, fostering the development of open educational resources, and urging developers to become more attuned to the needs of K-12 schools.

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For example, under Culatta the department staged Future Ready Regional Summits, meant to encourage districts to share information about tech policies. He also advocated strongly for giving states and districts information about open resources, materials created on licenses that allow them to be freely shared and modified by educators.

With Culatta at the helm, the department also launched the federal #GoOpen campaign, meant to help states and districts share open resources.

Some of those efforts brought criticism. Representatives of the commercial publishing industry, for instance, have said the department's work promoting open resources amounted to the government improperly tipping the free-market scales in favor of specific types of academic curriculum and delivery.

Culatta, in a statement, pledged to bring a "renewed focus to the impact of the ISTE community," and boost "the value of ISTE membership [while] highlighting the importance of the ISTE voice on key education topics."

He added that he wants to "prioritize ISTE's ability to demonstrate how technology can close opportunity gaps and provide solutions to some of the most critical issues in education."

ISTE's last permanent CEO was Brian Lewis, whose unexpected parting of ways with the organization was announced in September. ISTE officials declined at the time to comment on the reasons for the split.

A former ISTE president, Cheryl Scott Williams, had been serving as interim CEO since Lewis' departure.

ISTE estimates that it serves 100,000 education stakeholders. The organization says its most recent annual conference, which it touts as "the world's most comprehensive tech event," drew 20,000 attendees to Denver last summer.


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