About Us

PDE Action is a nonpartisan policy and advocacy organization that helps reclaim our public schools through policy engagement and advocacy at the local, district, and state level.

If you would like more information or to join our efforts, please sign up for email updates or contact us at [email protected].

Meet our Team

Nicole Neily

Nicole Neily

Executive Director
Nicole Neily is the executive director of PDE Action and the president and founder of Parents Defending Education. She sits on the board of Speech First, a national campus free speech organization, and has worked at the Independent Women’s Forum and the Cato Institute
Caroline Moore

Caroline Moore

Director of Government Relations
Caroline Moore is the Director of Government Relations for PDE Action and the Vice President of Parents Defending Education. She has worked for several non-profits including the Federalist Society and the Mercatus Center. Additionally, she has worked for the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the White House, and the Republican Attorneys General Association. She has a master’s in Regulatory Policy from Northwestern University.
Alex Nester

Alex Nester

Political Director
Alex Nester is the political director of PDE Action and an Investigative Fellow for Parents Defending Education. Before joining Parents Defending Education, Alex reported on education at the Washington Free Beacon and produced podcasts for Nebulous Media.
Michele Exner

Michele Exner

Director of Federal Affairs
Michele Exner is the Director of Federal Affairs at PDE Action and a Senior Advisor for Parents Defending Education. Prior to joining PDE, she spent nearly 15 years managing press and communications at various levels of government and the private sector, including at the Office of the Speaker of the House, the U.S. Senate, CBS News and various Department of Defense organizations. Michele began her career serving as an active-duty Marine officer, including two overseas deployments to Iraq and Africa. She received her undergraduate degree from the U.S. Naval Academy and has a master's in Leadership, Education, and Development from the University of Maryland. She is the mother to a son and daughter who currently attend elementary school.
Marissa Fallon

Marissa Fallon

Senior Advisor
Marissa Fallon is a Senior Advisor at PDE Action and the Director of Advocacy for Parents Defending Education, where she assists parents and parent groups to advocate for their students. She is a founding member of Coalition for TJ, a parent organization that promotes meritocracy in K-12 education. She has over two decades experience as a business owner and researcher. Marissa has a MA from The George Washington University.
Scarlen Valderaz

Scarlen Valderaz

Senior Fellow
Scarlen Valderaz is a Senior Fellow at PDE Action and the Public School Advocate Associate for Parents Defending Education, where she assists and equips parents with resources to successfully advocate for their students. Scarlen is an active member of her local PTA and other parent groups that believe in public school student advocacy. She holds a BA in business leadership and has a background in telecommunications and business ownership.
Paul Runko

Paul Runko

Digital Communications Specialist
Paul Runko is the Digital Communications Specialist for PDE Action and Parents Defending Education, where he communicates with parents and parent groups through a wide range of digital channels, sharing resources, information, events and news. Paul has many years of experience in media as well as in education.