Understood is a non-profit dedicated to serving the millions of families of kids who learn and think differently.
Since 2014, Understood has served millions of families of kids who learn and think differently. In 2012, our Workplace program was created and has helped thousands of people with all types of disabilities find meaningful employment at inclusive companies.
Our programs for Families, Educators, and Young Adults focus on empowering people who learn and think differently and those who support them, offering customized, accessible resources and a compassionate community. Our Workplace program helps organizations across industries create inclusive workplaces, by developing and implementing best-in-class disability inclusion programs so they can hire, advance, and retain people with disabilities.
We work with educators, health care professionals, researchers, and human resource professionals to provide proven, vetted information. By providing resources, support, and community, we can prevent people from being left behind and start to address systemic issues like high school dropout rates, underemployment, and the stigma surrounding disabilities.
CEO and President of Understood
As the leader of Understood, Fred is determined to ensure that everyone who learns and thinks differently can thrive. His unique perspective was shaped through leadership roles at public companies and years of philanthropy for education causes. For 15 years, he served as the chairman of the National Center for Learning Disabilities. He is a trustee of the Riverview School, a school for children with special needs. Fred brings an impact- and consumer-focused mindset to Understood from his leadership roles at public companies, including chief executive officer and partner of Ascend Performance Materials, and chairman and chief executive officer of Trane Inc. (previously American Standard Companies). Prior to that, he was president and chief operating officer at Allied Signal from 1998 to 1999 where he served in various capacities over his career, beginning in 1969. Fred spent two years in Peru with the Peace Corps. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from New York University.
Chair of the Board
Nancy Poses has dedicated her life to shaping the world for difference. She was instrumental in the development and launch of Understood in 2014 and was engaged in the work of the National Center for Learning Disabilities for 15 years. Nancy is also the driving force behind the Poses Family Foundation, which focuses on initiatives related to learning and thinking differences, education, literacy, and assistive technology. She serves on the board of trustees at the Riverview School, where her son Max graduated, and at the Whitney Museum. She is a member of the board of directors at PASE (Partnership for After School Education) and at the Drawing Center. She holds an EdM in counseling from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Vice President of Editorial Content
Karin leads a strong team of writers, editors, and experts who focus on those who learn and think differently. Before joining Understood, Karin spent nine years as a freelance content consultant working on websites specializing in education, health care and parenting. Her clients included Columbia University Medical Center, Café Mom, Lawrence Woodmere Academy, Meredith Publishing, Girl Scouts, Kaboose, and CBS.com. She previously served as a producer for Billboard.com, as a writer/editor/content manager at AmericanBaby.com, and as the head of website operations for Publishers Weekly magazine. Karin holds a BFA from New York University.
Chief Growth and Development Officer
Maria oversees growth, partnerships, and fundraising efforts for Understood. Prior to this role, Maria was our Chief Operating Officer. She joined Understood from a consultancy she founded, Topo Group, which advised growth-stage organizations on strategy, people management, and operational excellence. Prior to launching Topo, Maria spent eight years at Bain & Company, where she led large-scale strategic growth and change management programs. Maria also held operational roles at Sweetgreen and Warby Parker. She earned her MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Haftan Eckholdt, PhD, MS
Chief Data Officer and Chief Science Officer
As chief data officer and chief science officer, Haftan leads the data science function (analytics and modeling) and builds new initiatives for people who learn and think differently. Haftan has a successful track record building data science teams at companies like Albertsons (Plated), Amazon (Audible), and AIG. Previously he held faculty appointments in neurology/neuroscience at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where he directed the biometry core at the Kennedy Center for Human Development. He holds graduate degrees in biostatistics and developmental psychology from Columbia and Cornell Universities.
Chief Marketing Officer
Nathan leads the multifaceted brand, marketing, communications, and production functions for Understood. He has extensive experience building iconic brands, crafting engaging campaigns, and leading teams through complex operational challenges. He began his career at Ogilvy, where he eventually led its West Coast operation. Other roles include general manager of a mid-sized agency and president of a consultancy focused on startups in the impact space. He is an advisor with The Collaborative Fund and serves on the board of directors of the Point Foundation—-the largest LGBT scholarship fund. He graduated from Washington University in St. Louis. Nathan and his brother both have learning and thinking differences, which makes this cause very important to him and his family.
Vice President of Engineering
Ryan oversees the development of technology and platform infrastructure for Understood. Prior to joining the team, Ryan worked at BuzzFeed, where he led the engineering team responsible for feature development across owned-and-operated web properties. At BuzzFeed, he worked on improving the speed of content delivery and building mobile-first experiences. Previously, Ryan focused on mobile development at Joule, a WPP agency.
Chief Product Officer
Jenny leads the product management, design and user research functions for Understood. She brings a user-centric and entrepreneurial perspective after a decade of building innovative consumer products. She joined Understood from ClassPass, the fitness technology startup, where she led the launch of a new live-streamed, wearable-enabled fitness video product. She also advises consumer startups on building next-gen product experiences by applying a deeply empathetic approach to understand and influence user behavior. She holds an MBA and MA from The University of Pennsylvania, the Wharton School and Lauder Institute.
Chief Human Resources Officer
Yvonne leads our people, finance, legal, and administration teams. She has more than 20 years of supporting diverse professionals across multiple industries. Yvonne joined Understood from YSquare Advisors, a boutique consultancy she founded that helped developing organizations with their human resources functions. She also served as the chief human resources officer at The Fresh Market and was the commissioner of human resources for the City of Atlanta. Yvonne co-leads our “Embrace Difference” internal working group, to help empower diverse communities and perspectives. She enjoys volunteering in her community, mentoring other professionals seeking careers in HR, and is an active member of SHRM. She holds a BA in economics from Northwestern University and an MBA in employee relations from Georgia State University.