Innovation in Early Education

The Ounce has submitted a panel proposal for SXSW EDU 2020. Read more about the panel and panelists.

Innovation in Early Education

Continued evidence supports the fact that the first five years of a child’s life are critical for setting the foundations for lifelong academic, personal and professional success, especially for low-income children and families. But where should we focus our efforts for the greatest impact? Which needs must be addressed most urgently? The Ounce of Prevention Fund, a leader in research, program development and policy/advocacy in the field of early childhood education since 1982, will lead a panel discussion of the key macro-trends and urgent needs in the early learning space to address to impact our youngest learners, especially our most vulnerable.

Meet our panelists

Diana Rauner

The Ounce of Prevention Fund

Diana serves as President of the Ounce of Prevention, a public-private partnership that provides and advocates for quality early education for children living in poverty. Diana holds a Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the University of Chicago, an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and a B.A. from Yale University.

Ashley Beckner

Venture Partner, Investments
Omidyar Network

Ashley is a venture partner at Omidyar Network where she focuses on the firm’s US education strategy and investments. Prior to joining Omidyar Network, Ashley built and ran all non-instructional organizational functions of Bricolage Academy, an innovative, socioeconomically diverse, startup charter elementary school in New Orleans, Louisiana. Ashley received her MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and graduated from Marquette University with a B.S. in business administration.

Sam Yagan


Sam Yagan has been Chief Executive Officer of ShopRunner, Inc. since July 2016; founded Corazon Capital LLC in 2014 and serves as its Founding Managing Partner and Founding General Partner. He served as the Chief Executive Officer of, L.L.C. until December 2015 and also served as Chief Executive Officer of Okcupid until January 2016. Sam holds a bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics and Economics from Harvard University and an MBA from Stanford University, where he earned distinction the Henry Ford Scholar, the award granted to each class’s valedictorian.

Cassie Walker Burke

Founding Bureau Chief
Chalkbeat Chicago (Panel Moderator)

Cassie Walker Burke is the founding Chicago bureau chief for Chalkbeat, the nonprofit, nonpartisan news outlet dedicated to telling the story of public education in American cities. At Chalkbeat Chicago, she covers early education in Illinois and Chicago as well as the city’s transition to universal pre-K, and under her leadership, Chalkbeat Chicago won the Chicago Headline Club award for best media start-up in 2019. An award-winning journalist, she earned an M.S.J. from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, and she has taught magazine writing and editing at both Medill and DePaul University. She is currently a LEAD Fellow with the Independent News Network.