Dr. Michael Colvard, Founder

Dr. D. Michael Colvard founded Colvard Learning out of concern for the low literacy statistics throughout the U.S. Born in a rural community to a poor farming family, Dr. Colvard’s goal is to provide early reading programs that will allow every child regardless of their zip code or circumstances an opportunity to become an accomplished reader. Dr. Colvard is also a multiple award-winning eye surgeon, professor, author, and philanthropist. He founded the charitable non-profit, Friends of Vision, in 1989. He has volunteered with SEE (Surgical Eye Expeditions) since 1997, and has just completed his 20th humanitarian expedition to the African village of Namibia where, over the years, he has restored sight to 5,000 men, women, and children, completely free of charge.

Out of concern for the impoverished children in Namibia--many of whom lost their parents in the AIDS epidemic--Dr. Colvard raised funds to assist them with their educational and nutritional needs. Colvard Learning first tested its edtech prototypes in the Namibian school. In Africa, English is essential to helping children rise out of abject poverty onto a path of higher learning and a living wage.

A dedicated philanthropist and educator, Dr. Colvard has received the SEE International Humanitarian Award, the “UCLA-Doheny Distinguished Alumnus Award," and the “Honor Award” from the American Academy of Ophthalmology, recognizing his lifetime contributions to teaching and to the advancement of the field of eye surgery.

Matthew Colvard, Co-Founder

Prior to co-founding Colvard Learning, Matthew Colvard taught music, tutored students with LD (Learning Disability) and built sets for the Metropolitan Opera. His eclectic background is rooted in his passion for experimental music and innovative architecture. He earned his B.A. in Music at Wesleyan in Middletown, Connecticut--a university known for its unique and pioneering environment for advanced exploration committed to the study, performance, and composition of music. His Music Theory & Composition studies in Wesleyan's Experimental Music Department (founded by avant-garde musician, John Cage) would later come to influence his view that conceptual clarity and emotional resonance with children is essential to the development of the Colvard Learning app, "Pup's Quest for Phonics." He was also influenced by original team member Philip Roman (award-winning animation director/producer whose credits include "The Simpsons") who emphasized the importance of heartwarming characters and stories. While observing the highly emotional nature of young children, Matthew reached the conclusion that edtech programs must go beyond the demonstration of facts and engage kids emotionally to hold their attention with art as well as science.

Co-Founder's Statement

I believe literacy is a cornerstone of democratic society. Through reading, we increase our ability to imagine ourselves in one another's shoes and extend our capacity for judgement, knowledge and decency. My work with Colvard Learning builds upon my experience as a music teacher to LD ("Learning Disability") and ADHD ("Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder") children and my frustrations as a child with LD in learning how to read. Professor Jesse Schell once defined game design as "a problem solving activity approached in a playful manner." By this definition, what in life is not a game? My job at Colvard Learning is to ensure that the children using our programs are never frustrated, bored or confused. 

Robert Ketterer, CEO

CEO Robert Ketterer brings a diverse background in real estate, consulting, and investment expertise in startup consumer companies to Colvard Learning. Prior to forging an entrepreneurial career to allow him to spend more time with his kids, Robert was a Director of Real Estate at CB Richard Ellis, and consultant to a variety of real estate, financial and consumer companies. Additionally, he was Vice President of McClier Corporation (a design builder), and product manager for Security Pacific Bank International Private Banking and Financial Management & Trust Group.

Ketterer has sat on the board of Village School, and served on committees for the Claremont McKenna College Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Brentwood School; Ocean Park Community Center; Bel Air Bay Club; and YMCA. He has a BA in International Relations from Claremont McKenna College, and a Masters of Corporate Real Estate (MCR).

CEO's Statement
As a father of three who all had different learning styles, I wanted to create an interactive product that could help parents and teachers alike, to support differentiated learning. My passion and fascination for literacy started as a child in Hong Kong, surrounded by so many languages that were not spoken at home. My dream is take Pup's Quest for Phonics and Professor Pup's Phoneme Farm to the world to make an impact on global English literacy.

Melinda Piña, Director of Implementation and Professional Development

Melinda Piña is an educator with over 22 years of experience as an elementary teacher, reading/literacy coach, district resource teacher, reading and language arts specialist, and owner of Piña Reading Academy. She has created and delivered district wide professional developments in many areas including reading fluency, spelling, comprehension, vocabulary, phonics, and phonemic awareness. Her audiences include administrators, teachers, instructional coaches, paraprofessionals, and parents. Melinda has been responsible for training educators in how to meet the academic needs of each individual student. She obtained her Master’s Degree in Advanced Teaching Skills from the University of La Verne, and earned a Reading and Language Arts Specialist Credential from UCLA.

Roberta Gonzalez, Early Childhood Literacy Consultant

Roberta Gonzalez is a consultant with the Los Angeles County Office of Education’s Curriculum and Instructional Services Division. In this capacity, she provides technical assistance and professional development to teachers and administrators across Los Angeles County. Prior to working as a consultant, Ms. Gonzalez was a preschool director and elementary school principal in Southern California. During her administrative career, she spearheaded curricular reforms aimed at improving children’s readiness for kindergarten and promoting developmentally appropriate practices across the elementary grade span.

Ms. Gonzalez is a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and a former board member with the Southern California Association for the Education of Young Children. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford University, conferred with Honors from the School of Education, and a Master’s Degree from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. 

Chaz Ganster, Creative Director
Prior to creating the Colvard Learning fictional character, Professor Pup, Chaz Ganster worked as a designer on the Oscar-nominated, award-winning (AFI "Movie of the Year") fantasy film, Beasts of the Southern Wild. As a music video designer, he worked with MGMT, the Killers, and Chairlift. He was also a set design assistant & collaborator for the Japanese contemporary dance artists, Eiko & Koma for their Retrospective Tour. Chaz is a graduate of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.

Creative Director's Statement

I have always been fascinated by language. I studied Italian at Wesleyan University and University of Bologna, which allowed me to better understand the connections between languages, and how similar they are. Before I started creating Pup’s Quest, I spent two years teaching myself Japanese to find and communicate with my long-estranged family in Japan, which was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I initially created the look of Pup’s Quest characters as a “puppy alternative” to Hello Kitty, with dreams of bringing the app to Japan, and generally to spread English literacy to children in other countries. We’ve been blessed to have such an amazing team and so many dedicated teachers and students in the Los Angeles area. I’m so excited to see how Professor Pup and his apps will grow and affect the world.

Colvard Learning is an EdTech Publisher of Early Literacy Interactive Apps Designed to Teach Reading via Phoneme and Phonics Awareness