meet our team
The EdVenture Group was founded in 2001 by a high school computer science and mathematics teacher, Dr. Lydotta Taylor. Recognizing the need for change, Dr. Taylor has managed over $20 million in federal, state, local, and private funding to provide innovative solutions to common K-12 education obstacles. Today, her team leads customer-specific educational programming for a variety of educational organizations nationwide.
Dr. Lydotta M. Taylor is the Founder, President, and CEO of The EdVenture Group, Inc. Beginning as a high school math teacher, Dr. Taylor has built a career through her passion to teach and lead others. An entrepreneur at heart, she founded The EdVenture Group, an educational consulting non-profit, in 2001. With her leadership and educational background, The EdVenture Group has implemented over 7,000 workshops for educators and impacted over 25,000 students. Today, The EdVenture Group are leaders in school culture, technology integration, and youth programming and have managed over $20 million in federal, state, and private funding.
Throughout her career, Dr. Taylor has committed herself to a mission of lifelong learning and growth. Her education career began as a high school math and computer science teacher, growing to serve as the Instructional Technology Coordinator for the Monongalia County school system. Prior to founding The EdVenture Group, she served as Vice President for Workforce and Education at the West Virginia High Technology Consortium (WVHTC) Foundation. She completed the Advanced Management Program at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business Executive Education, and completed the Life Success Consulting and Coaching certification in 2009. She earned her Doctoral degree in Curriculum & Instruction with a specialization in STEM Professional Development from West Virginia University in 2011 and continues to seek opportunities to grow both professionally and personally.
Dr. Taylor is an active volunteer in the community and recently led the United Way of Monongalia and Preston Counties in a $1,570,000 campaign. She serves on numerous boards and provides mentorship to many organizations. Dr. Taylor continues to utilize her love for teaching and has taught at the collegiate level in Leadership Studies for the College of Arts & Science at WVU, the MBA, eMBA and MSIR programs at the College of Business & Economics at WVU. Recently, Dr. Taylor was recognized as the 2019 Distinguished Alumnus by Leadership West Virginia for her service and leadership throughout the state.
Dr. Taylor is many things – a leader, an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, a keynote speaker, a published author, a mother. At the foundation of these many roles and titles, Dr. Taylor remains one thing – a teacher. Today, the world is her classroom.
Amber Ravenscroft is the Manager of Innovation for The EdVenture Group. With an eye for design, Amber began her career at the organization as a marketing intern. She quickly found her passion in K-12 educational programming and today brings entrepreneurship education, workforce development, and STEM innovation to the forefront of The EdVenture Group’s professional offerings.
Amber serves as the Project Director for the West Virginia Entrepreneurship Pathway, a collaborative effort between the Marshall University, the WV Department of Education, and West Virginia University to develop and pilot the state (and nation’s) first formal career and technical education (CTE) entrepreneurship program, supported through funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).
Amber has also served as the Program Manager for The National Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education (EntreEd)’s ARC-funded entrepreneurship programs for the past five years, impacting over 55,000 Appalachian students.
Amber serves as Co-Chair of the West Virginia Entrepreneurship Ecosystem, Co-Chair of National Entrepreneurship Week, and Special Interest Group Chair for the K-12 SIG of the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE). She is an avid volunteer and mentor and has judged and mentored students within several national and state-based entrepreneurship competitions and programs.
Amber led The EdVenture Group to be one of only 29 internationally-awarded Google RISE organizations for the CS EdVenture program in 2016, and was a featured breakout speaker that the 2018 National Title I Conference in Philadelphia, PA, where she spoke of the organization’s work on female students in STEM and Computer Science. Today, she manages a portfolio of education initiatives focused on K-12 education innovation.
Amber earned her B.S. in Strategic Communications from West Virginia University in 2015 and her M.S.Ed. from the University of Pennsylvania in 2019. With a skill for finding, framing, and solving problems in the education sector, Amber’s passion for K-12 innovation has led to over $4.5 million in grant funding and impacted thousands of students and teachers across Appalachia and the country.
Kayla Benson, MPA is a Program Manager and Family Engagement Specialist with The EdVenture Group. Kayla received her Master’s degree in Public Administration from West Virginia University in 2011, supported by a B.A. in Multidisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in Leadership Studies, Entrepreneurship, and Communication.
Prior to The EdVenture Group, Kayla led growth efforts at two community-based organizations as a Development Coordinator at the Monongalia County Child Advocacy Center and most recently, as the Executive Director at CASA For Kids of Monongalia and Preston Counties. Kayla’s passion for helping children and families drive her efforts in development of prevention programming to decrease the occurrence of adverse childhood experiences (ACES) through education and intervention.
Kayla applies knowledge as a non-profit leader, and nearly a decade of experience working with children, families and team members across West Virginia, to support The EdVenture Group’s WVFEC, professional development and leadership efforts to benefit education communities.
Donna Atwood, Ed.D, ABD is a Program Manager and Family Engagement Specialist with The EdVenture Group. Donna is currently in her candidacy at Marshall University’s Curriculum and Instruction Doctorate program. She received her Master’s degree in Reading Education from Marshall University in 2012, as well as a B.A. in Elementary Education.
Prior to The EdVenture Group, Donna was a faculty member at Marshall University in the Literacy Education department. She also spent seven years in Kanawha County teaching as a classroom teacher and reading specialist. Donna has a passion for propelling literacy in West Virginia schools and homes.
Donna has served on the Central West Virginia Writing Project for several years assisting in writing workshops, Young Writers Day, and CWVWP annual Writing Conference. A few of her present interests in education pertain to bringing learning through play into the classroom, family engagement through literacy, and higher-level thinking integration of technology.
Meaghan Cochrane, Ph.D. is a qualitative research methodologist and Education Researcher with The EdVenture Group. In 2018, Dr. Cochrane authored a $4.8 million grant proposal awarded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement to implement a statewide family engagement center initiative in West Virginia schools. The West Virginia Family Engagement Center supports student achievement and school improvement and increases the number of high quality educational options available to students and families. Dr. Cochrane serves as the Assistant Director of this program, managing a team of Family Engagement Specialists and providing evidence-based technical assistance, school support, and network of partnerships, advocacy, and outreach to 100 rural schools in West Virginia.
A West Virginia native and first generation student, Dr. Cochrane has a vested interest in advocacy, policy, and support of social justice and educational equity in rural schools. She attended Pleasants County Schools and West Virginia Wesleyan College prior to receiving her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Kansas State University. Her commitment to rural schools and educational equity has been demonstrated through her work and research in various advocacy projects including Reconnecting McDowell, Regional Educational Laboratory Appalachia, the West Virginia Family Engagement Center, AmeriCorps Energy Express, and West Virginia Communities in Schools. A former educator, she is committed to being an advocate and catalyst for change among educators, administrators, school staff, students, and families in underserved and underrepresented communities, affirming that neither geography nor demography should negatively define students’ destinies.
In addition to her doctoral degree, Dr. Cochrane holds a Master’s degree in Education Management, Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction, Middle-level and Secondary Teaching Certification, Graduate Certificate in Qualitative Research Methods, Graduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning, Professional Certification in Grant Writing and Grant Management, and Professional Certification in Advanced Education Leadership from Harvard University. Her research interests include qualitative inquiry; rural education; family engagement; at-risk youth development; place attachment and place-based pedagogy; trauma-informed pedagogy; and social-emotional learning. Dr. Cochrane’s pedagogy, scholarship, and service are centered in social justice initiatives and the promotion of educational equity for all students.
Dr. Cochrane’s established program of scholarship focuses on a broad vision of education and human development of the needs of the whole child supported by the community school educational model. Her primary research, situated in McDowell County, West Virginia, engages with issues of educational and economic inequity through the implementation of school-community partnerships in high need, rural schools. Dr. Cochrane has demonstrated this work in various scholarly arenas including the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry (ICQI), and the Association of Contemplative Mind in Higher Education (ACMHE). Dr. Cochrane’s pedagogy, scholarship, and service are centered in social justice initiatives and the promotion of educational equity for all students. Dr. Cochrane is very excited for the opportunity to showcase her passion for high quality research, innovative pedagogical strategies, and the promotion of educational equity in her work with The EdVenture Group.
Cameron Keefe graduated from West Virginia University in May of 2022 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, majoring in Global Supply Chain Management and with a minor in Entrepreneurship.
During her undergrad, she created her own product and entrepreneurial venture and entered various business plan competitions both state and nationwide. This experience sparked her passion for entrepreneurship and mentoring others to embrace innovation. She has competed in the WV State Business Plan Competition, part of Bridging Innovation Week, and worked with many of EdVenture’s partners within the WV Entrepreneurship Ecosystem.
Cameron will share her enthusiasm for innovation and creativity throughout schools and communities in Appalachia and empower others to chase their dreams.
Megan Mikesell, M.A., is a Program Manager and Family Engagement Specialist with The EdVenture Group. She is currently in her doctoral candidacy at West Virginia University (WVU) focusing on Human Development and Family Studies, specifically on early childhood educators’ attitudes toward addiction and how it relates to their relationships with students. She received her Master’s degree from West Virginia University in Educational Psychology in 2014, and her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Marshall University.
Prior to joining The EdVenture Group, Megan worked as the program coordinator for Project TRAIN (Teacher Resources for Addiction Impact Now), an initiative at WVU that seeks to meet WV K-12 teachers’ expressed needs regarding the impact of the opioid crisis. She has also previously worked as a primary instructor for beginning-level undergraduate courses in WVU’s Child Development and Family Studies program and as an Assistant Preschool Teacher at WVU’s Early Learning Center.
Megan is excited to bring her human development expertise to work with a passionate, like-minded team whose primary goal is to support families, schools, and communities for a safer and healthier future.
Victoria Taylor graduated from West Virginia University in May 2021 with a B.A. in Criminology along with minors in Law and Legal Studies and Addiction Studies. She currently is attending WVU to pursue her Master’s in Social Work.
During her undergrad, she completed internships with CASA for Kids of Monongalia and Preston Counties and the Northern District of West Virginia Drug Court Program which allowed her to explore her interests while gaining new perspectives of how she can help individuals in her home state of West Virginia. While interning for CASA for Kids MPC, she created and organized the Back-to-School Supply Drive. Over 1,500 supplies were collected along with donations for children in the community. The NDWV Drug Court Program allowed her to observe and participate as a team member, expanding her knowledge of the rehabilitative program, the criminal justice system, and substance abuse culminating in a capstone project and presentation.
Joining The EdVenture Group as a Family Engagement Specialist with the WV Family Engagement Center program is an opportunity that will allow Victoria to use her beliefs and skillsets to empower and encourage others.
Jennifer Wotring, SHRM-CP, began her career and project development experience over 20 years ago when she played a lead role in the design and implementation of the Internet Fraud Complaint Center. Through strong management and oversite, this project later developed into a joint partnership between the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) and the FBI. Jennifer served in a supervisory role where she trained, guided and lead a group of 15 analysts, while also serving as the liaison between the NW3C and FBI. Shortly after joining The EdVenture Group in 2006, Jennifer was able to bridge her two passions of criminal justice and education by developing an internet safety training CD for school administrators and staff.
Jennifer is a skilled presenter with over 14 years of experience developing and delivering educational programming and professional development to students, staff, and administrators, including the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, Preston County’s After School Explorers Staff and numerous other clients. In her current position she excels at providing event planning and logistics facilitation to a variety of educational clients including REL Appalachia, EntreEd, and partners of the ARC-POWER funded CODE grant. Jennifer has previously served as the Director of Lemonade Day West Virginia.
Jennifer holds a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Psychology. Dedicated to personal and professional growth, she is a 2011 graduate of Leadership Monongalia and a 2012 graduate of Leadership West Virginia. In 2015, Jennifer became a SHRM-Certified Professional and now provides HR oversite to the leadership and staff at The EdVenture Group. Jennifer currently serves on the United Way of Mon and Preston Counties Citizens’ Review Committee and Women United initiative.