Karen Cator (Digital Promise)

To say the political climate in Washington, D.C., isn’t conducive to getting things done these days would be an understatement.

That’s what makes Karen Cator’s accomplishments in her nearly four years as director of educational technology for the U.S. Department of Education (ED) all the more impressive.

A new national ed-tech plan. Coordination with the FCC on a national broadband plan. The development of an online Learning Registry with open digital content that teachers can use in their classrooms. The Connected Educator project, which explores how educators can learn from each other through online communities of practice—resulting in the first annual “Connected Educator Month” last August.

“I feel really good about the work we were able to do within the context of government,” she said.

Cator left the department earlier this year to become the new chief executive officer of Digital Promise, a nonprofit organization that supports ed-tech innovation. ED has not announced her replacement as of press time.

In an interview with eSchool News, Cator reflected on her tenure as the nation’s top ed-tech chief—and she described how her current organization is building on this foundation of work.