Allison Gage, President
Allison Gage entered the U.S. education system in first grade, after her family immigrated to the U.S.
Through her studies, she realized that if she worked hard and dreamed, the sky was the limit. She
looks forward to a day when all students will have the same opportunity to achieve their dreams. As
President of Sophia she leads strategy, partnerships and product development, collaborating closely
with the team to drive product innovation.
Prior to joining Sophia, Allison was Executive Vice President with Living Independently Group, a
venturebacked health care startup that launched the aging services industry’s first smart, sensorbased
health monitoring system. During her tenure, she established the market for this new technology
category. The company was sold to GE Healthcare.
In 2005, she was recognized by the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal as one of “25 Women
Changemakers”. Previously, Allison was a venture capitalist with Coral Ventures and a management
consultant with Mercer Management Consulting.
She received her M.B.A. from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and graduated
magna cum laude with a B.A. from UCLA. She currently serves on the board of the Minnesota
Steve Anastasi, Chief Technology and Chief Operations Officer
With more than 25 years of leadership experience in the software and technology industry, Steve
Anastasi brings expertise in general management of technology startups, corporate technology
management, software product development and execution of corporate, product and business strategy.
Since joining Sophia as a founding member in 2009, he has led the creation of the Sophia platform. As
our Chief Technology and Chief Operations Officer, he helps drive product strategy, leads product
engineering and design and facilitates daytoday operations.
Prior to his current role, Steve led development of ecommerce platforms for Best Buy for Business,
and also founded and led a software technology startup specializing in custom software development.
He earned his BS in Computer Science from the University of Minnesota and an MS in Computer
Science from the University of Michigan.
Mark Flannery, Executive Director, Sophia Pathways for College Credit
Mark Flannery is the Executive Director of SPCC for Sophia. Mark has 25 years of experience leveraging technology to build customer value and has worked with a wide breadth of market-leading organizations, including Mayo Clinic, Carlson Marketing Group, Deluxe Corporation, International Multifoods and Hallmark Cards. His experience ranges from business start-ups to multi-million dollar business ventures and he brings a unique expertise in new product development, marketing, strategic planning and online education solutions to his position.
Prior to joining the Sophia team, Mark led the K-12 and Higher Education markets for Capella University, overseeing 300 percent growth and achieving $65 million in annual revenue. While at Capella he launched 14 degree programs and achieved state and national accreditation for all of K-12 specializations. Previously Mark was a partner at BORN Information Services, one of the fastest growing private companies in the U.S. for three consecutive years, and was recognized with their highest award, Spirit of Success for Customer Service. Mark received his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Iowa State University.
Kashif Asdi, Director, Curriculum and Instructional Design
Kashif Asdi is the Director of Curriculum and Instructional Design for Sophia, where he leads a team that creates innovative academic curriculum and instructional systems for the first-of-its-kind social education platform. With more than 20 years of experience in education, training and development, and performance-improvement disciplines, Kashif brings a deep knowledge and passion for teaching and learning to his role.
Prior to joining Sophia, Kashif managed a team of curriculum specialists that created online competency-based, learning-centered and scholar-practitioner curricula for Capella University. Prior to his role at Capella University, Kashif worked at the University of Minnesota as a Senior Instructional Technology Specialist where he created and managed an award-winning Teaching Assistant Web Certification program to create future leaders in education.
Kashif also designed and taught undergraduate and graduate level courses at the University of Minnesota for more than 6 years. Previously, Kashif worked to improve adult literacy and health education among the rural population in Pakistan for UNICEF and UNESCO of the United Nations.
Kashif is a doctoral candidate in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Minnesota. He earned his Master’s of Science degree in design communication from the University of Minnesota and his Bachelor’s of Arts degree in journalism from the Punjab University in Lahore, Pakistan. He also earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting from the National College of Arts in Lahore, Pakistan. Kashif has served on several university curriculum, academic standards and policy committees and he regularly presents at national and international conferences for the academic community.
Don Smithmier, Sophia Founder
Don is the founder of Sophia, which was created on the premise that there are millions of great ideas, methods, lessons and people who can contribute to society’s goal of spreading knowledge and making education better and more effective. His goal is to use innovation to bring education and technology together in an impactful way for students, teachers, parents, tutors and more.
Previously, Don was an early‐stage employee and ultimately Vice President at Capella University (NSDQ: CPLA), the first fully online, accredited university.
During his 14 years at Capella, Don held a succession of Marketing, Technology and Business leadership roles and was recognized as a pioneer in the innovative use of web technologies. Don is a winner of the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” and founder of Matter Worldwide (www.matterworldwide.com), the parent company of three successful start‐ups including GoKart Labs, the digital innovation company that incubated and built Sophia; Rumble, a full service music salon; and Sophia. Don earned his MBA with honors from the University of Minnesota and his BA from the University of Wisconsin.