Meet the Executive Team

Burck Smith

Burck Smith is the CEO and founder of StraighterLine. Ten years before launching StraighterLine in 2009, he co-founded SMARTHINKING, the largest online tutoring provider for schools and colleges. Burck has written chapters for three books on education policy for the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He is a member of the American Enterprise Institute's Higher Education Working Group. Prior to starting SMARTHINKING, Burck was independent consultant and journalist whose clients included the Gates Foundation, Microsoft, Computer Curriculum Corporation, the CEO Forum on Education and Technology, the Milken Exchange on Education and Technology, Teaching Matters Inc., Converge Magazine, Wired Magazine, Wired News, University Business, the National School Boards Association and more. In the early 1990's, he wrote articles on a variety of subjects including creating community telecommunication networks, electronic access to political information, telecommunications deregulation and the ability of utilities to serve as telecommunications service providers. Burck holds a Master's Degree in Public Policy from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and a B.A. from Williams College.

David Parento

David Parento serves as Chief Operating and Financial Officer at StraighterLine, where he is responsible for managing the company's day-to-day operations, including overall financial, administration, legal and corporate development activities. He has spent the last twelve years building early-stage and growth companies as a venture capitalist and attorney. Most recently, David was a venture capitalist at Chrysalis Ventures, a leading technology and healthcare-focused venture capital fund doing early and growth-stage investments, where he focused on education and training sector investments. Earlier in his career, David was corporate finance and transactional lawyer with Davis Polk & Wardwell in California, London and New York, where he worked extensively in the firm's venture capital, private equity, capital markets and M&A practices. David has a BA from Yale University, a JD from Vermont Law School and a MSc, Management from the Stanford Graduate School of Business where he was a Sloan Fellow.

Matthew Kraft

Matthew Kraft presently serves as the Vice President of Technology for StraighterLine, Inc. Prior to joining StraighterLine, Matt served as the Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Crawford Media Services, Inc in Atlanta GA from 2010-2012. In two years, Matt lead the technology team to built a Tier 3-targeted Data Center, Multi-PetaByte Private Storage Cloud (STAAS), Media Asset Management Solution (SAAS), and manage the company's build-out at its new Headquarters. Matt also headed the company's DataCenter Solutions Sales Team. Through that role, Matt successfully closed sales ranging from the Georgia Hospital Association (GHA) to Liberty University.

Prior to Crawford, Matt served as a Sr. Manager of Technology for the Group at Aol. Matt's Team at Aol directly managed the Affiliate and Lead Generation Platform, responsible for delivering over $500M in revenues from 2006-2010. From 1999-2006, Matt served in various capacities within the Group (formerly Interland, Inc.) More recently, Matt managed the Internal System Group. Through this work, Matt successfully transitioned the Backoffice Systems from the company's split with Peer1 Networks, Inc.

Prior to 1999, Matt served in various capacities for J/K Foods, Inc. the leading food retailer in Western North Dakota. Most recently, Matt managed the successful Joint Venture between J/K Foods and Coborn's, Inc in the Bakken Formation, Western North Dakota.

Matt graduated Magna Cum Laude from Georgia State University in 2005 with a degree in Bachelor of Business Administration, Management.

Joseph Thibault

Joseph Thibault is Director of Academics at StraighterLine. He leads academic support and policy for StraighterLine’s catalog of credit bearing courses, coordinates qualitative feedback and is responsible for the ongoing maintenance, development, and review of new courses. Before joining StraighterLine, Joseph worked for three years managing the course catalog of low-cost provider of graduate-level professional development courses for K-12 teachers throughout the US. In his spare time he works to advance open education and content and manages a growing eLearning technology news site focused on the worlds most popular open source learning management system, Moodle ( Joseph received his Bachelors and M. Ed. from the University of Vermont..

The StraighterLine team 2013