Meet Our Team

Our team is comprised of educational experts and nationally-recognized leaders who carry a vast array of experiences and successes. All of our team members carry an unwavering commitment to student success and student achievement.

Merritt Nelson

Co-Founder; CEO

Dannika Nelson

Co-Founder; Chief Operating Officer

Avi Atholi

Chief Financial Officer

Lisa Fye

Vice President for Innovation & Strategy

Dr. James Sutfin

Strategic Advisor

Andrew Morrison

Value-Creation Advisor

Dr. Joseph Wise

Strategic Advisor

Caden Nelson

Intern – Business Consultant

Merritt Nelson, Co-Founder, CEO of ImpactEd, LLC

Merritt Nelson, co-founder and owner of ImpactEd, LLC, currently serves as the company’s CEO and President. He also serves as the chief innovation investigator and solutions architect. He has a Master’s Degree in PK-12 Educational Administration and Leadership as well as several other certificates and endorsements and carries 25 years of innovation experience as an architect of student success solutions. Merritt previously spent eight years as a university VP, leading all aspects of student affairs, enrollment management, marketing, and financial aid for both the College of Undergraduate Studies and the Center for Graduate and Professional Studies. He been featured on numerous nationally syndicated media outlets including Fox News, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Cheddar News for his innovation in education. Merritt spent seventeen years as a high school math teacher, coach, and administrator before serving in the university setting. Merritt has a beautiful wife of 30 years, four children; a daughter who is a senior in college, a son who is a junior in college, and twin daughters that are freshman in college. Merritt has the insight and passion to impact the education industry.

Dannika Nelson, Co-Founder, COO of ImpactED

Dannika Nelson, co-founder and majority owner of ImpactEd, LLC, currently serves as the company’s Chief Operating Officer. (More to come)

Avi Atholi; Chief Financial Officer

Avi Atholi has served ImpactED as its Chief Financial Officer since the company’s inception in October 2021. Avi has more than 22 years of banking and consulting experience and has taken increasingly influential roles in Finance, Treasury, Risk, Data, Innovation, and HR. 

Avi is passionate about mentoring, guiding, and giving back to the next generation and has been teaching Economics and Strategy at Midland University MBA program for the past 12 years – where he was twice recipient of Excellence in Teaching awards. Avi believes in generously sharing his knowledge and insights, and is a featured speaker at national events including those hosted by global management consultancy Kearney, Mid Size Bank Coalition of America, global data management leader Informatica, US Chamber of Commerce, and Moody’s Global Risk and Finance Symposium

Avi believes in the power of continuous learning and is certified in Risk Management (FRM), Data Governance, has a Chief HR Officer (CHRO) certification form Wharton, and a Financial Management Diploma from American Institute of Banking. Avi is also a strong believer in the power of the community and is a past-board member at  United Way of Midlands, and also serves on the Advisory at Kids Can Community Center in Omaha. Avi is a past recipient of 40 Under 40 award from Midlands Business Journal. 

Avi has an MS in Computer Science from Stephen F Austin State University and an MBA in Finance from Southern Methodist University. Avi and his wife Ash (Instructor Computer Science, UNO) have two children aged 11 and 9.

Lisa Fye; VP for Strategy & Innovation

Lisa Fye is the Vice President of Strategy & Innovation for ImpactED. (More to come…)

Dr. Jim Sutfin; Owner/Strategic Advisor

Dr. Jim Sutfin began as superintendent of the Millard Public Schools in July of 2014.  Prior to this position, Dr. Sutfin was the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources. He began his career in education in 1989 as a science teacher with the Bellevue Public Schools.  While serving the Bellevue Public Schools, Dr. Sutfin not only taught English and Biology, but he also served a role in many co-curricular programs. During the 1994-95 school year, Dr. Sutfin was honored as the Bellevue East Rotary Teacher of the Year and Phi Delta Kappa Showcase Teacher.   

In the fall of 1995, Dr. Sutfin moved to Millard West High School as an Advanced Placement Biology teacher, Student Council sponsor, and assistant track coach.  His classroom was equipped with the latest technology so that students could conduct research as well as experience a digital learning environment that was unfolding before their eyes.  Dr. Sutfin later served as the science department head before moving to Russell Middle School as Assistant Principal. After serving three years as Assistant Principal, Dr. Sutfin was promoted to Principal at Central Middle School.  He served in this capacity for five years earning the Region II Principal of the Year Award in 2006.  

Dr. Sutfin moved to the Central Office in 2006 as the Director of Human Resources and was promoted to the Assistant Superintendent three years later.  In each position that Dr. Sutfin has held the use of technology has been a focal point so that efficiency could be improved and learning could be magnified.  

Dr. Sutfin is married to Julie Sutfin who is also a career educator.  Together they have two children.

Andrew Morrison, Value Creation Advisor

Andrew was a serial CEO and has five successful exits to his credit. He led, turned-around, scaled and sold businesses in multiple education and health-related domains, ranging from enterprise software, consumer products and technology, B:B software and training, professional development, and multi-tenant brick and mortar programs. All of these companies were backed by institutional investors. Andrew has also partnered with institutional investors to develop investment theses and evaluate investment opportunities.

Andrew previously was an investment banker with Donaldson, Lufkin, Jenrette, where he focused on corporate finance and M&A, and also served as a lawyer with the firm of Skadden, Arps where he focused on M&A, corporate finance and restructuring. He has an MBA in Finance from the University of Chicago and a law degree from the University of California at Berkeley.

Dr. Joseph Wise, Strategic Advisor

Joseph Wise has a longstanding record of helping school districts, school boards, and school leaders make rapid improvements to support student achievement—in the government, NPO, and private-sectors. He has successfully led major public and private sector organizations throughout North America to set ambitious goals and achieve impressive results. Dr. Wise has successfully bridged academic, business, and governmental interests to build—and sustain—decisive organizational reforms.

His passion for all students, particularly those who are underserved and disadvantaged, drives a sense of urgency about the reforms needed to help America regain its competitive edge through the academic preparation of our nation’s children. His focus on great governance, great leadership, and great student and parent engagement has been the keystone of his accomplishments.

Dr. Wise formerly served as Superintendent of Schools for the nation’s 15th largest public school district (Duval County Public Schools, Jacksonville, FL) and the State of Delaware’s largest public school district (Christina School District, Wilmington, DE), earning a reputation as a visionary leader who brought about measurable improvements in both student achievement and operational management.

Dr. Wise currently serves as Chairman of the Board for LEAP Innovations. He is also Co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Distinctive Schools, which is responsible for the management of high-performing urban public non-profit charter schools in Chicago and Detroit.  Wise is also Co-founder, and served for ten years as Chief Executive Officer of Acceleration Academies, an organization focused on providing teens and young adults who had abandoned education an opportunity to re-engage in academics—and ultimately achieve a diploma from the high school they had abandoned.  Wise continues as Senior Advisor and on the Board of We Work for Kids, LLC which acquired Acceleration Academies in 2020.

Wise is the Co-founder and former Chief Executive Officer of Atlantic Research Partners, a professional services firm that supports public schools and school districts in 18 states.   Former Executive Vice President and Chief Education Officer with Edison Learning, Inc., which provides education programs and services to 340,000 students throughout 25 states and the United Kingdom. He also previously served as Director of Organizational Development for the Walt Disney organization. He began his career in education as a teacher before assuming executive leadership roles in various districts, including Orange County Public Schools and Seminole County Public Schools in Florida, and Anne Arundel County Public Schools in Maryland.

Dr. Wise has earned numerous honors, including the 2006 Champion for Children award conferred by the HOSTS Learning organization. He served on the National Commission on Writing for America’s Families, Schools, and Colleges, was selected as a Broad Fellow by Eli Broad Institute for School Boards (2005), was appointed a Fellow to the Eli Broad Urban Superintendents Academy (2003), and served on the Academy’s adjunct faculty and advisory committee. Dr. Wise also served on the Board of Directors of NWEA, a non-profit assessment firm that supports teaching and learning for more than 12 million students in more than 4,000 North American school districts. In addition to his professional achievements, Dr. Wise has been honored for his individual and community service work. He is a lifetime member of the NAACP, holds a lifetime membership with the Florida Association of PTAs, and previously served on the CEO Advisory Board for The College Board.

Dr. Wise is the author of three textbooks: Power of Teaching—The Science of the Art (1st Edition, 2002; 2nd Edition, 2007); Power of Coaching—Teachers and Teaching (2009); and TAO of Interviewing (1st Edition 1994; 4th Edition, 2007). He earned a doctorate from the University of Florida, a master’s degree from the University of Central Florida, and a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University.

Dr. Wise has provided strategic advising for multiple corporations including the following:

Led the angel, series A and series B rounds of capital and exited successfully for investors of eSchool Solutions, Inc. to TeacherMatch Holdings (2014).  Assisted on the sale of TeacherMatch Holdings to Vista Partners as part of their PeopleAdmin Holdings (now PowerSchool)—2017

Provided due diligence services and supports to Prairie Capital, LP; Chicago Growth Partners, Pondera Holdings, and Riverside Capital during the years of 2009—present.

Led and completed angel (2013) and series A (2014) capital raises for Acceleration Academies, LLC; successfully leading this company to merger with an Ed Tech firm in 2021.

Provided strategic advisement services for Scientific Learning, Pondera Holdings, Foundations in Learning, Literacy Resources, LLC, McGraw Hill, and various other education-related companies on matters of mergers & acquisitions, financing, and turn-around aspects necessary when organizational performance was of concern.

Led the successful exit in 2017 of ERDI for Dulle Enterprises, to include SBA-backed debt financing for the transition of the business.

Wise currently serves on numerous corporate and national NPO boards of Lemnis (formerly NWEA), the Education Research & Development Institute, We Work for Kids, Distinctive Schools, and LEAP Innovations.

Caden Nelson, Intern/Business Consultant 

Caden Nelson is a junior at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, CO. He is pursuing his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Caden joined the ImpactED team in July 2023. In his short time with ImpactED, Caden has displayed an uncanny ability to provide insightful thought leadership. He is quick to challenge traditional business models and their effectiveness – while exploring new, innovative models that provide better efficiencies and drive better outcomes. Caden is a relationship-driven professional that understands the importance of a thriving work environment and culture.