Team

John Benfield
President & Chief Executive Officer

John Benfield

President & Chief Executive Officer

John is an experienced senior executive bringing a unique combination of strategic and business expertise. He is widely recognized for his ability to identify, and give dimension to, new growth and revenue stream opportunities and to effectively align resources and execute against them.

John's career began with the Colgate-Palmolive Company, where he worked in Field Sales, Key Account Management, and held various sales, brand management and general marketing roles, prior to his departure, John was the Director of New Business for Colgate U.S.

From Colgate, John joined CoActive Marketing Group's privately held predecessor company, R.G. Meadows, Inc., a Top 3 US promotional radio and marketing firm as Executive Vice President of Operations. He became Chief Operating Officer, and was named President. Subsequently, John led the company through a LBO and brought it public (NASDAQ Small Cap CMKG) as its Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer. He led the organization to become a Top 20 marketing and sales promotion agency in the U.S., with 250+ employees and $135m in revenue and departed after 16 years (the company was subsequently sold to Dentsu Aegis Network).

Following Coactive, John became the Direct Marketing Services CEO for the technology start-up, Next Jump, Inc., a premier  provider of internet-based, next generation rewards and loyalty programs to corporations and affinity groups worldwide.

Upon leaving Next Jump, John founded Wall & Madison, LLC, a consultancy dedicated to assisting companies in start-up and turn-around situations by providing founders with expertise and hands on support necessary to grow their companies.

It was through a Wall & Madison assignment, that John went on to co-founded and became President of StarWalk Kids Media, a digital publisher creating eBooks for children served on a streaming software platform. In December 2015, John helped lead the transaction that resulted in Starwalk Kids Media's acquisition by Isabella Products, Inc. .

John received his BS from the State University of New York and an MBA in Marketing & Business Administration from Adelphi University.

Fun Fact

John's favorite leisure pastime is scavenging for parts and working on his 1929 Model A Ford.

Dan Williams
VP, Chief Product Officer

Dan Williams

VP, Chief Product Officer

Dan Williams is a well-known and respected leader and pioneer in the field of industrial design and emerging technologies for over 30 years. He has vast experience in incorporating technology planning, brand management and experience-driven design methods into the creative development process.

Dan is largely known for his work at Motorola, designing mobile communication devices like the note-worthy StarTAC. He acquired over 50 patents for his innovations, and his team received copious recognition and awards in his tenure. At the company's Cambridge office, Dan worked with institutions like the MIT Media Lab to conjoin next-generation technologies with product solutions for communication. He also spent time at Reebok as the VP of Design, and oversaw product development for two start-up companies involving solar power and cutting-edge technologies.

Dan has been the recipient of many prestigious awards, like New England Business and Technology Association's Innovator of the Year, has been interviewed by multiple publications like the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, and is a continual guest lecturer at Harvard and MIT. He achieved degrees in Engineering and Industrial Design from Wentworth and Syracuse University respectively, and completed courses at Northwestern and MIT's Sloan School.

Fun Fact

Dan lives on the Southshore in Massachusetts and dreams about owning a flying car.

Liz Nealon
Chief Content Officer
VP, Fable Learning

Liz Nealon

Chief Content Officer
VP, Fable Learning

Liz Nealon is an award-winning executive producer and industry leader who played an integral role in shaping indelible youth brands like Sesame Street and MTV.

Liz has a long record of start up and creative leadership experience and was co-founder (along with author Seymour Simon) of StarWalk Kids Media, a leading publisher and distributor of children’s educational eBooks to Schools and Libraries. She also led a brand rejuvenation of a leading children’s brand as the General Manager of the children’s music brand Kidz Bop (2008-2009), transforming the product from a straightforward CD brand to a multiple media entertainment property delivering safe social networking, video games, publishing and lifestyle products targeted to children ages 5-12. 

LIz also served as Executive Vice President/Worldwide Creative Director for Sesame Street (2004-2008), charged with revitalizing the brand and creating a “road map” for the future. She pioneered the Sesame Beginnings videos for infants and their parents, was the driving force behind the creation of muppet “Abby Cadabby,” conceived the primetime Emmy-nominated PBS special When Parents are Deployed, and developed the creative approach for the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning SesameStreet.org.

Liz Nealon has also served as Executive Producer of numerous successful television series, including Knock First, the popular teen reality series for ABC Family, and Out There, the award-winning tween drama designed to teach Mutual Respect and Understanding in the aftermath of 9/11 (for The-N, ABC Australia and the BBC). She was commissioned by the Disney Channel to develop their first original series, The Famous Jett Jackson, which became their top-rated program and is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Television and Radio. Nealon was also co-creator and Executive Producer of the landmark literacy series Ghostwriter (PBS Kids/BBC).

Prior to her work in children’s media, Nealon spent a decade as a writer/producer at the start-up of MTV. She traveled the world as Senior Vice President of International Programming, launching the MTV brand in Europe, Brazil, Japan and Australia. Nealon’s colleagues dubbed her the “keeper of the trademark” due to her ability to adapt and articulate the MTV vision and attitude as it was expressed in diverse cultures and musical environments.

Fun Fact

Liz has her own, personally-inscribed MTV Video Music Awards spaceman statuette that reads: Liz Nealon. 1981-1990. Best Performance by a Generalist, which pretty much sums her up.

Jill Miller
Director of Marketing & Communications

Jill Miller

Director of Marketing & Communications

Jill brings a passion for helping market pioneers create compelling brands that deeply connect with customers. She has been consistently recognized for successfully translating business objectives into actionable marketing strategies, driving exceptional growth for b2c and b2b brands. Having worked in a range of industries over her career from consumer packaged goods to professional services, Jill's leadership, insight, and creativity have enabled companies to break new ground, create desire, generate demand, and enable partnerships with world-class leaders.

Jill began her career in premier advertising agencies in New York and Boston, overseeing the planning and development of numerous multi-dimensional marketing campaigns for leading brands, such as Chips Ahoy!, Skippy Peanut Butter, J.Jill, MCI, The Museum of Fine Arts Boston, T.J. Maxx and Marshalls.

Agency life behind her, Jill spent more than a decade spearheading marketing at three different online innovators, building comprehensive brands from the ground up and developing go-to-market strategies that created immense value for Streamline.com’s successful IPO and for the acquisition of Communispace by Omnicom and CircleLending by Virgin Money USA.

Before joining Isabella, Jill was the VP, Marketing and Communications at Coretelligent, a leading IT services provider, and a marketing consultant for several years advising entrepreneurs and small businesses on brand creation and revitalization, marketing, public relations, social media, and customer experience strategy.

Jill graduated from Wesleyan University (BA), sat on the board at The Cambridge School of Weston and is a development learning partner for the Babson MBA program.

Fun Fact

Jill's brief stint attempting the trapeze with a Ringling Brothers pro ended in temporary blindness.

Ron Maas
Director of Sales, Fable Learning
Schools and Libraries

Ron Maas

Director of Sales, Fable Learning
Schools and Libraries

Ron Maas is a seasoned publishing professional who combines deep experience in educational and professional publishing with a lifelong passion for the business of connecting authors to readers in all media. 

He has served in VP and General Manager roles at McGraw-Hill, Addison-Wesley, Libraries Unlimited, and Greenwood Publishing/ABC-CLIO. 

While serving as VP and General Manager at Addison-Wesley, he directed strategic partnerships with the National Science Foundation to publish three research-based curriculum programs; Investigations in Number, Data, and Space, (TERC) Connected Mathematics, (Michigan State University) and Human Biology (Stanford University).  

He later joined the Greenwood Publishing Group, where he served in VP roles in Marketing, Sales, and Strategic Planning for the corporation, and as General Manager of Libraries Unlimited, the library-focused publishing division of Greenwood.   While at Greenwood, he led development of their proprietary ebook platform and first four of several databases built on existing print assets.  He also negotiated and expanded all third-party ebook and online licensing partnerships for the group.

Ron’s primary mission over the last fifteen years has been to drive improvements in the quality and availability of digital materials for libraries and the children they serve.

Fun Fact

Ron’s first job out of college was driving the Bookmobile for the King County Library System in Washington state. He hopes to track down that bookmobile one day for use as his personal library.

Bill Wharton
Director of Finance

Bill Wharton

Director of Finance

Prior to joining Isabella Products, Bill has extensive CFO/Controller experience in the financial, administration, and operational management areas for start-ups and venture capital companies in manufacturing, software and life science industries, and has been responsible in IPO, turnarounds and merger and acquisitions.  Bill also serves as a board of director/ financial advisor for an electronic sales rep company.  Bill is married, has three children and eight grandchildren, enjoys outside yard work, golf, and skiing with his family.

Fun Fact

Bill enjoys entertaining his kids by skiing backwards and on one ski. It usually ends poorly…

Miranda Barry
Senior Director, Fable Learning

Miranda Barry

Senior Director, Fable Learning

Miranda Barry’s career as a writer, producer, editor, teacher and executive represents a unique blend of popular entertainment and educational engagement across children’s media.  During the past six years at Sesame Workshop, Miranda served as a creator and producer of original Sesame Street adaptations in India and Northern Ireland; head of International Production; Senior Director in charge of the Professional Development aspect of Sesame Learning, a tablet-based, blended learning curriculum for preschool; and Executive Vice President, Creative, in charge of all Sesame productions, domestic and International.  During the 40th season of Sesame Street, Miranda and the production team re-formatted the classic series, resulting in a 60% ratings increase.  The Electric Company, which launched the same year, targeted to older children, won 5 Emmy’s in its first season, including the inaugural “New Directions” award for interactive media.

 In 2002, foreseeing the coming relevance of media and technology to classroom education, Miranda joined the New York City Teaching Fellows and enrolled at Bank Street College of Education to complete her Masters of Science in Education.  She taught in 5th – 7th grade classrooms and developed successful curricula in reading comprehension and media literacy, while also serving as Coordinator for the Center for Urban Teaching and Educational Technology and teaching a graduate-level course on integrating media and technology in the classroom.  

Previous experience includes SVP, Creative at JP Kids, a pro-social children’s media company, where she developed the hit Disney Channel series, The Famous Jett Jackson; and Supervising Producer on Ghostwriter, a ground-breaking multi-media literacy series for 7-10 year-olds for PBS, which included interactive software and a book series for Bantam.  She has written books for young readers published by Harcourt and Bantam and TV episodes for NBC, ABC and PBS.  She taught screenwriting at Columbia University and was a screenwriting mentor at Sundance while Director of Program Development at American Playhouse, where she worked as a script editor on over 100 films. Of all her adventures, working with writers to build great stories across multiple media is Miranda’s favorite craft. 

Fun Fact

For a brief moment, Miranda was a door-to-door encyclopedia salesperson.

Gabrielle Howard
Manager, Fable Learning

Gabrielle Howard

Manager, Fable Learning

At age 10, Gabrielle auditioned for an ABC After School Special. She didn’t get the part, but that didn’t crush her love for television. Perhaps, it was the gods saying that she was meant to work behind the scenes because 15 years later she landed her first job as talent coordinator for the Emmy Award-winning “Sesame Street.” There she supervised children’s casting and co-managed celebrity bookings, landing the likes of Jodie Foster, Laurence Fishburne, and Julia Roberts. 

After ten years of talking to kids about what they liked and didn’t like, Gabrielle took that knowledge and accepted a development position at JP Kids, Inc., producer of Disney Channel’s “The Famous Jett Jackson.” It was there that she moved from preschool to embracing everything tween and developed edutainment properties across multiple platforms. Four years later, she tapped into her 14-year-old self as director of development at the N Network, a nighttime network for teens, and programming arm of MTV Networks. There she developed live action and animated properties with production giants such as Endemol and Klasky Csupo.

Gabrielle earned her B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina.

Fun Fact

Gabrielle’s big acting break came in 2004 when she was cast in a commercial for the AMC network. Yes!

Rafael Febres-Cordero
Senior Advisor

Rafael Febres-Cordero

Senior Advisor

Rafael Febres-Cordero is a Board Advisor at Isabella Products and Partner at a Boston based consumer technology venture capital fund named Rudyard Partners. He is also a senior advisor of two new private equity funds established in New York, a Boston based medical technology venture capital fund named BioVentures and a global advisory firm from St. Louis that serves family offices named Lowenhaupt Global Advisors.

Rafael is an experienced and highly ethical financial executive with a broad and global background in general management, investment management, wealth management, private equity and venture capital. He has operated both domestically and internationally with clients including individuals, corporations, financial institutions and family offices.

Rafael was the head of the international wealth management business at Brown Brothers Harriman (BBH) until 2012. Before joining BBH and for 14 years, he held several executive roles across various companies at Fidelity Investments including Managing Director of Devonshire Investors (private equity firm specialized in buyouts across multiple platforms).

Rafael lived and worked in Europe as Managing Director of Fidelity International’s business in Southern Europe and Latin America before joining Devonshire Investors. He also had several roles in corporate banking at BBVA Banco Provincial and was Director of Corporate Finance at Serfincorp when he lived in Venezuela.

Rafael serves as a board advisor to several non profit organizations focused on disability inclusion, diversity and education. He currently is a Board Member of the Concord Education and Caring for Colombia.

Rafael earned his undergraduate degree in Science from Northeastern University where he had a dual major in Finance & Insurance and International Business. He also earned his Master of Science in Management from Hult International Business.

Fun Fact

Rafael could nail runners stealing 2nd base by throwing a rope from a catcher's squat.

Seymour Simon
Senior Advisor

Seymour Simon

Senior Advisor

Seymour Simon, whom the New York Times called "the dean of the [children's science] field," is the author of nearly 300 highly acclaimed science books. He has received the American Association for the Advancement of Science/Subaru Lifetime Achievement Award for his lasting contribution to children's science literature, and his website, www.SeymourSimon.com, is both a Webby Honoree and one of the American Library Association’s (ALA’s)  “Great Websites for Kids.” More than 75 books written by Seymour Simon have been designated “Outstanding Science Trade Books K-12” by the National Science Teachers’ Association (NSTA).

Seymour Simon was also the founder of StarWalk Kids Media, a streaming eBook platform designed to provide high quality digital literature from award-winning authors to Schools and Libraries. Nearly 70 of Seymour Simon’s popular books are now available in this digital format.

His followers join in the discussion of kids, science and reading, and enjoy his photographs from the field on Twitter @seymoursimon. 

Fun Fact

Fun Fact: Night at the Museum! When Seymour was a teenager he had his own key and after-hours access to the American Museum of Natural History (because he was President of the Junior Astronomy Club and Editor of their magazine).

Board of Directors

Matthew I. Growney

John Benfield