John McLaughlin


John has more than four decades of entrepreneurship experience. The first school he created, Benton Hall, has served students for 40-plus years. As a tenured professor at Saint Cloud State University (1988–1998), John researched the rise of private investment in education. In 1992, he created and published The Education Industry Report, which shaped the early years of the industry. John wrote the first Galileo Education business plan in 1999 with a dream that learning like this was possible. Prior to his career, John attended the Peabody Institute, which was on the cutting edge of special education rights.

John has advised investment clients from Warburg Pincus to the late Ted Forstmann, served on corporate boards from Behavioral Innovations to National Heritage Academies, and fostered some 30 acquisitions in the education and behavioral health space. He is also a well-known speaker and writer on the intersection of capital markets and education and currently is writing two new books.


Mark Claypool


Mark has been a leader in education for more than two decades and specializes in building student-centered education models. During the course of his career, Mark has built more than 170 schools and programs in 20 states. He is a frequent speaker at education industry events and for years served as a sponsor and judge for the Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition. Mark has been named one of Nashville’s most admired CEOs and E&Y’s Entrepreneur of the Year for Social Responsibility in 2016. He also has written two books with co-founder John McLaughlin.

Mark began his career working as a child abuse investigator and foster child advocate for the state of Tennessee. In keeping with that, Galileo Prep will support the education of foster children as its charitable mission.


Clara Houin

Chief Financial Officer

Clara brings a diverse background in finance with over a decade of progressive experience ranging from sell-side equity research to mergers and acquisitions, to corporate financial planning and analysis. As CFO, Clara leads accounting, financial planning and reporting, capital formation, acquisitions, tax, treasury, and risk management. She earned her bachelor’s degree in finance from Kelley School of Business at Indiana University and is a Level III Candidate in the CFA program.

In her free time, Clara mentors young women in partnership with Rock The Street, Wall Street/Girls Rock Wall Street to promote diversity and inclusion in finance.


Grace Claypool

Creative Director
Grace is a Nashville-based, multidisciplinary artist. She is the former curator of Open Gallery and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in studio art at Lipscomb University. Her work has been displayed in various Nashville art galleries and featured in the Burnaway “To Do List” and The Nashville Scene.

Josh Short

Chief Human Resources Officer and General Counsel
Josh is an attorney with expertise in compliance, regulatory proceedings, and trend and data analysis. He joins Galileo Education as chief human resources officer and general counsel after serving public-facing, private organizations as general counsel and head of human resources for 10 years. Josh specializes in recruiting and working with high-value talent, who serve students in the education and human services fields.

Lacy Duffer

Chief of Staff

Lacy is a seasoned executive associate with nearly a decade of experience in project management, training, strategic planning, and executive support. She brings expertise in all aspects of communication, administration, finance, and operations to our executive management team. Lacy specializes in aligning business objectives with comprehensive administrative knowledge to achieve maximum impact, time management, and efficiency.

She is passionate about providing young people the opportunity to experience education outside the norms and preparing them for successful, ambitious futures.


Dr. Wendy Oliver

Chief Education Officer
Wendy thrives on implementing innovative learning models and experiences for students. With more than 15 years of experience in digital education, Wendy has developed and pioneered a district- and state-wide online learning program in Tennessee and previously served as Chief Learning Architect for Arizona State University’s digital 9–12 charter school. She has written digital teaching standards and developed software that allows teachers to self-assess their knowledge of digital instruction, including her book series “Not Your Mama’s Classroom.” No matter which hat she’s wearing, Wendy loves to learn and is committed to her goal to empower all learners.