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2008 STORM WOMEN OF INSPIRATION RECIPIENT

Ramona Pierson | Founder & CEO, SynapticMash

While jogging in the spring of 1984, Ramona Pierson was struck by a drunk driver, killing her dog and sending her into an 18-month coma. The accident broke 104 of her bones, caused multiple forms of brain trauma, and punctured holes in her lungs, requiring nearly 100 surgeries, including replacing many bones with titanium. The accident also rendered Ramona blind.

Ramona says the coma was a door to a new life. But the road to this new life meant fighting through major obstacles. She re-learned how to speak, and learned to navigate through society with the aid of a seeing-eye dog. After taking the chance on a dangerous surgery, Ramona eventually regained her sight in one eye.

Having been a marathoner for years, Ramona’s drive for competition led her to the sport of cycling. Pushing through the pain of a reconstructed body, cycling eventually yielded Ramona many amazing athletic achievements throughout the 1990s, including competing in the Ironhorse and Masters National races, and becoming a 5-time champion at the Masters World Cup in Australia. Although a subsequent injury ended her cycling career prematurely, Ramona has said that she always intended to “make the most of her life, regardless of the injuries that result.”

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In spite of all these challenges, Ramona forged ahead, attending several colleges and universities where she earned degrees and awards in the social and psychological sciences. More importantly, she brings to SynapticMash a hermeneutical perspective of “how learning happens.” Ramona entered the education industry professionally by volunteering for the San Francisco school district, primarily with parents of students with cognitive disorders from accidental or traumatic causes. This piqued her curiosity of pedagogy. Because she found that many teachers didn’t know what to do with the data she presented, she was inspired to improve the state of education. She earned a teaching degree at the University of San Francisco and held an internship as a 1st and 3rd grade teacher while also working at the local VA Hospital.

Ramona came to Seattle in 2002, through a district administration fellowship at the University of Washington. She worked for the Seattle Public Schools in leadership roles at Cleveland, Madison, and Franklin schools, eventually working at the District Office as District Administrator: Director of Ed Tech, Research, Evaluation, and Assessments.

In order to share the benefits of the tools she created for Seattle Public Schools with everyone, Ramona created her company, SynapticMash, in September 2007. The company’s flagship product, LearningQube, is now under development for a wide variety of clients all over the U.S., with her vision firmly taking the lead: to improve student learning. And although changing the face of education seems like a challenge, Ramona Pierson is tackling it in the same way she lives the rest of her life: head on!