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Panasonic Foundation Appoints Three New Members to Advisory Board

Juan Otero, Ainissa G. Ramirez, and Jeff Werner lend their leadership and experience to Panasonic Foundation’s efforts supporting equity in public education

Newark, N.J., May 15, 2019 – The Panasonic Foundation today announced the appointment of three new members to its Board of Advisors. Juan Otero, Ainissa G. Ramirez, Ph.D., and Jeff Werner are joining the board of the Panasonic Foundation, dedicated to advancing equity in PreK-12 public education in the United States.


“With the addition of these exceptionally talented and distinguished members, the Panasonic Foundation is poised to make further strides in improving the education and lives of at-risk children and families in Newark and across North America,” said Milton Chen, chairman, board of directors, Panasonic Foundation, and senior fellow and executive director, emeritus at The George Lucas Educational Foundation. 


Advisory Board


About the New Board Members:
Juan Otero
serves as vice president of Diversity & Inclusion for Comcast NBCUniversal where he oversees the strategy and implementation of diversity and inclusion in five focus areas: governance, workforce, procurement, programming and community impact. Prior to joining Comcast, Juan served as a director for the National Governors Association in Washington, D.C., and previously was deputy director at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), where he oversaw efforts to develop improved interoperability technologies and communications. Before joining DHS, he worked as principal counsel for the National League of Cities. More.


Ainissa G. Ramirez, Ph.D. is a science evangelist who co-authored “Newton’s Football: The Science Behind America’s Game” (Random House); and, authored “Save Our Science: How to Inspire a New Generation of Scientists” (TED Books). Before taking on the call to improve the public’s understanding of science, she was an associate professor of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science at Yale University and a research scientist at Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies, where she conducted award-winning research. Ainissa received her training in materials science and engineering from Brown University (Sc.B.) and Stanford University (Ph.D.). More.


Jeff Werner serves as vice president of corporate & government affairs for Panasonic Corporation of North America. In this role, Jeff oversees government and public affairs from Washington, D.C., and related regulatory compliance units at the company’s Newark, N.J., headquarters. Previously, Jeff worked at Daimler North America Corporation, where he served as general manager of international and public policy.


“Juan Otero has vast policy experience in Washington and is a respected voice within the Hispanic community. Dr. Ramirez is known for her passion and deep knowledge of science, business and media. Jeff Werner understands the intersection of the government, the public sector and Panasonic’s many technologies for smarter and sustainable solutions. Together, these highly skilled members will strengthen our ability to advance initiatives that will create the next generation of technology leaders,” Chen noted.


Highlighted Panasonic Foundation Initiatives

In 2018, the foundation launched the $1.5 million Students to Science Initiative to bolster Newark Public School students’ grades, from fifth to 12th grade, in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) educational opportunities. Reaching up to 32,000 students annually, the 10,000-square-foot commercial-grade laboratory, located in downtown Newark, is outfitted with $4 million worth of state-of-the-art instruments. At the center, students work side-by-side with professional and volunteer scientists using modern instrumentation to investigate critical world issues, such as the impact of global overpopulation on food scarcity, water pollution, pandemics, and more. These real-world investigations are grounded in Newark's curriculum. Read more.


This year the foundation is advancing strategic partnerships that help bridge the 21st century skills gap and improve lives in our communities and society through STEAM initiatives including:

  • First Robotics - Expanding access to First Robotics in Newark Public Schools in partnership with the Overdeck Family Foundation, to support STEAM education for K-12 students districtwide in Newark, N.J.
  • Coding Institutes – Launching four coding institutes in partnership with the Hispanic Heritage Foundation to provide hundreds of middle and high school students with  access to computer science education and meet the growing demand for technology skills in the workforce. The initiative, Code as a Second Language, expands across the country in four cities including Newark, New Jersey; Atlanta, Georgia; Reno, Nevada and Calexico, California.
  • Teacher Professional Development– Improving academic outcomes in collaboration with the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, provide Newark Public Schools educators with a multi-faceted professional and learning series. Teachers, arts specialists, and teaching artists will receive training on early learning techniques, professional development, and leverage best practices of other school districts to help strengthen the role of arts in schools.

The Panasonic Foundation Board of Advisors Include:

Milton Chen, chairman, board of directors, Panasonic Foundation, and senior fellow and executive director, emeritus at The George Lucas Educational Foundation 

Andres Alonso, professor of practice at the Harvard Graduate School of Education

Patricia Gandara, research professor and co-director of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA

Megan Lee, CHRO and vice president of strategic planning, new business initiatives, Panasonic Corporation of North America

About the Panasonic Foundation

Panasonic Foundation is an operating, not grant-making, non-profit foundation whose mission is to advance equity in PreK-12 public education in the United States. From its creation in 1984, the Panasonic Foundation has been deeply rooted in advancing equity as the driver to improve the academic and social success of ALL students. The foundation invests in the incubation of new ideas and public/private partnerships that directly support student achievement and in the development of skills and credentials students need to lead fulfilling and successful lives. Learn more about Panasonic’s Office of Corporate Social Responsibility at

Dannea DeLisser
Angela Daniels