Our Team

Ron Ferguson, PhD

Founder and President

Ron provides active thought leadership for the Basics Learning Network. He is an MIT-trained economist who has taught at Harvard Kennedy School since 1983, including 15 years as faculty director of the Achievement Gap Initiative. His research, writing, and consulting focus on issues of education and economic development.

Haji Shearer, LSW

Program Director

Haji supports staff in organizations throughout Boston to implement best practices for sharing The Basics with families they serve. A Licensed Social Worker, Haji is author of Facilitating Fathers’ Groups: 22 Keys to Group Mastery and is featured in the documentary, Dads Rock: Nurturing Father Engagement.

Nimrah Bakhsh

Program Manager

A licensed ESL teacher with several years of experience in the public and private sectors, Nimrah helps facilitate the delivery and support of The Basics services to partner organizations in and around Boston.

Jim Quane, PhD

Chief Operating Officer

Jim provides oversight for all aspects of the organization’s operations. He served as Associate Director of the Urban Poverty Research Program at Harvard University for 25 years. Prior to that he was the Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Urban Inequality at the University of Chicago.

Jocelyn Friedlander, EdM

Director of Learning and Innovation

Jocelyn leads the development of Basics tools and resources, and helps steer the organization’s learning agenda. She has conducted research on domestic and international early childhood policy and systems and has an Ed.M. in Prevention Science and Practice.

Zoë Hansen-DiBello, PhD

Sr. Liaison to the Basics Learning Network

Zoë leads the development and expansion of the Basics Learning Network. She is an experienced systems thinker and mobilizer of cross-sector partnerships and has a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy.

Olivia Smith

Program Manager

Olivia manages the Basics Insights text messaging program and plays a key role in other product development and evaluation projects. She has previous experience in public health programming and research. She has a B.A. in Child Studies & Human Development and Community Health.

Board of Directors

Turahn Dorsey (Rahn) is a researcher, policymaker and strategist focused on systems change and civic innovation. Dorsey is a Foundation Fellow with the Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation working on transforming early childhood systems and Boston’s former Chief of Education.

Ronald (Ron) F. Ferguson , Founder of The Basics, is an MIT-trained economist who has taught at Harvard Kennedy School since 1983, including 15 years as faculty director of the Achievement Gap Initiative. His research, writing, and consulting focus on issues of education and economic development.

Wendell Knox is the founding co-chair of the Black Philanthropy Fund. Prior to his retirement in 2009, he served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Abt Associates Inc. for 17 years and generated annual revenues of over $300 million from global operations in four lines of business.

Jeff Howard is the founding chair of the Black Philanthropy Fund and the founder and president of the Efficacy Institute, Inc. He has over 30 years of experience as a consultant to school and community leaders as well as to corporate executives and senior managers of Fortune 500 companies.

Tom Manning is a member of the Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard University. He was chairman and CEO of Dun & Bradstreet and served as CEO of Cerberus Asia Operations & Advisory, Capgemini Asia Pacific, and Ernst & Young Asia Pacific.

Katherine S. McHugh is a retired Boston philanthropic leader, most recently executive director of the Cabot Family Charitable Trust. Previously she was a trial lawyer and served for 32 years as a trustee of Northeastern University. She is also a founding director of EdVestors and a board member of Phoenix Charter Academy Network.

Mehrdad Noorani was a Founding Partner of Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), a leading infrastructure private equity investment firm and served as Managing Director and Head of Airport Finance at General Electric Commercial Aviation Services.

Jeri Robinson retired as vice president of Early Childhood Initiatives at Boston Children’s Museum, where she remains an advisor. She has over 45 years of experience in early childhood education and is the current Chair of the Boston Public School Committee.

Michael Yogman, MD is a pediatrician in practice in Cambridge, MA, whose multifaceted career has included prominent roles in the American Academy of Pediatrics at the state and national levels and at Boston Children’s Hospital. He is Chair of the Advisory Board of the Boston Children’s Museum and Chair of the Massachusetts American Academy of Pediatrics Child Mental Health Task Force.