The State of EdTech : Thoma Bravo Q&A with Frontline Education CEO Mark Gruzin

Massive change. Political and societal pressures. Issues of equity and access. The future of education. Thoma Bravo managing partner, Holden Spaht, sat down with Mark Gruzin to discuss how EdTech vendors are working with communities and educators to adopt their teaching strategies in the New Normal. Mark is CEO of Frontline Education, a leader in school administration and HR software for thousands of school districts representing over 80,000 schools and millions of educators, administrators and support personnel across the United States.


Holden Spaht: What are the biggest challenges educators are facing as they head back to school?


Mark Gruzin: Very appropriately, attention has been focused on the challenges of providing rigorous academic experiences to students in a remote or hybrid model. From a school administration perspective, there are important additional operational challenges that school districts are facing as they reopen schools. Whether in-person or virtually, information and documentation will need to be shared and archived across systems and stakeholders without sacrificing privacy or data.

Historically, teacher shortage and engagement have been important issues across school districts. Many districts are making adjustments to their recruiting and hiring process to fill their openings virtually. Recruiting and Hiring technology will support districts to proactively attract and hire qualified educators for their open positions.

Another practice that will need to be adjusted is tracking time and attendance. Many schools have staff clock-in and clock-out to record attendance. This becomes difficult in a virtual environment requiring basic processes to be accommodated without relying on a physical location.


Holden Spaht: What are schools and communities doing to prepare for the school year?


Mark Gruzin: We covered a lot of this in The Path Back to School, a webinar series in partnership with AEI, Bellwether Education and the Pepperdine School of Public Policy. The series brought together education leaders, administrators and policy makers with diverse perspectives to discuss the challenges, successes and best practices we have seen and will see as schools reopen.

 Districts are leveraging virtual communication and software tools that support their school administration and classroom needs. They are transitioning from manual processes and disparate technology to integrated virtual platforms that allow them to manage and share data and work across multiple functions and departments. The goal is to save time and resources and connect formerly siloed departments and functional areas that must now work together to support an efficient and effective learning environment.


Holden Spaht: What have been your favorite stories about digital learning or virtual district administration so far?


Mark Gruzin: Districts have been incredibly proactive and creative in their approach to dealing with the broader impact of the pandemic. One of the main concerns early on was how to support students who rely on services and resources from the school beyond the academic classroom—such as mental and behavioral health support or free and reduced meals—especially as issues of equity and access came to the forefront.

One creative approach that was used by a school district leveraged the vacancy feature in Frontline Absence Management to quickly hire substitutes to help distribute meals at 45 sites for their 100,000 students. The students were able to receive three meals a day, five days a week and substitutes continued to work in an essential capacity and support their community in an impactful way while their schools were closed.

Educators in another district spent time creating short videos within Frontline’s Resource Library to help instruct their fellow teachers on ‘how to guide parents on setting up a quiet area for their kids to read.’ They are sharing these videos amongst themselves as self-directed professional development in this virtual learning environment.


Holden Spaht: How have you had to adapt or change your services under COVID-19?


Mark Gruzin: As a SaaS company, our clients were able to continue managing their operations virtually through Frontline’s school administration software.

That said, there are unique challenges that managing a remote workforce introduced, and we responded by enhancing functionality to support new requirements. We have introduced new capabilities within Frontline’s School Health Management solution and made critical enhancements to Frontline’s solutions for Human Capital Management, Business Operations, Student Information and Special Education.

We have also created resources and webinars to assist in training and for the critical thinking and necessary planning around the reopening of schools. Enhancements across all Frontline solutions have focused on adding greater flexibility to reduce administrative burden, allowing administrative functions to be easily and securely managed and adapted to a variety of virtual and in-person models.


Holden Spaht: Will any changes brought on by COVID-19 end up being permanent?


Mark Gruzin: COVID-19 exposed areas of need within the education system in terms of accessibility, equity, operations, logistics and more. Though these changes may vary as far as the degree of necessity and permanence, COVID-19 will definitely have a lasting impact on the way we run our schools and our communities.

In addition to having teachers rethink how to deliver instruction in a virtual environment, the pandemic has also challenged educators on how to provide effective professional development. The initial needs centered around delivering virtual training to teachers on how to most effectively teach remotely. District needs are expanding in staff professional development on a wide variety of topics. Online professional development is being re-envisioned through virtual cohorts and unique opportunities for teachers to provide peer feedback and coaching without the traditional limitations of needing to be in a physical classroom.

COVID-19 has also resulted in an expansion of Health Office responsibilities to include students and staff. It requires improved and more rigorous health tracking, reporting and data management for regulatory compliance and a need for cross-functional collaboration from the health office, facilities and HR to improve health and safety. Moving forward, these practices and requirements may likely become part of a permanent process as schools move towards more proactive prevention of spreading illness.


Holden Spaht: What will the future of education be like and how will Frontline enable or empower these changes?


Mark Gruzin: The future of education should focus on flexibility and adaptability that allows educators and administrators to support continued growth and learning for students and staff while staying agile and proactive as issues and opportunities for advancement arise.

School districts will benefit from the adoption of technology in the classroom and the administrative office—leveraging data across multiple systems to facilitate communication and collaboration, prevent interruptions to learning and uphold safety and compliance regulations. This will set the infrastructure for educators as they focus on providing effective learning opportunities for all students and advance their professional growth.

Our focus, long before COVID-19, has been to provide a comprehensive administrative technology suite hosted in the cloud and purpose-built for K-12 education. This has enabled us to support our clients as they transitioned to alternative work environments. Thousands of school districts representing more than 80,000 schools using our innovative solutions for their human capital, school health, business operations and special education needs were able to maintain continuity of operations. We continue to enhance our solutions to support education leaders as they adapt and evolve their operational and administrative requirements.

Fairmount Partners Advises Analytical Graphics in its Pending Acquisition by Ansys

Fairmount has worked with AGI as strategic and financial advisor for over two decades and served as financial advisor on the pending transaction.

Key Highlights

  • Ansys to acquire Analytical Graphics, Inc., a premier provider of mission-driven simulation, modeling, testing and analysis software for aerospace, defense, telecommunication and intelligence applications
  • The acquisition will expand the Ansys portfolio to enable users to solve at the chip level all the way to an entire mission
  • $700 million deal expected to close in Q4 2020 pending the receipt of regulatory clearance

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Chris Lange, Jr. Joins Newmark Knight Frank’s Philadelphia Office

Wayne, PA (September 28, 2020) — Newmark Knight Frank (NKF) announces the addition of Chris Lange, Jr. to the firm’s Philadelphia office. Joining as an Executive Managing Director, Chris specializes in the sale and leasing of office and industrial properties. He has deep experience representing top tenants and institutions in Center City Philadelphia and surrounding suburbs.

“Chris possesses the ability to successfully cultivate business relationships at the highest level. He is a true entrepreneur who will fit into NKF’s culture seamlessly,” said Steve Cousart, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of NKF’s Greater Philadelphia region.

Over the course of his career, Chris has worked with some of Philadelphia’s largest companies in the financial, healthcare, law, development and education sectors. One of Chris’ recent transactions, a built-to-suit headquarters, was honored as one of the Best Real Estate Deals of the Year by the Philadelphia Business Journal.

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DSA Selected in GSA’s Proving Ground Program Evaluation for Grid-Interactive Efficient Building Solutions

TREVOSE, PA – Data Systems Analysts, Inc. (DSA) was selected by the U.S. General Services Administration’s Proving Ground (GPG) program to provide Grid-interactive Efficient Building (GEB) solutions for testing in GSA facilities. The solutions were chosen in response to GSA’s Request for Information (RFI) seeking building technology and energy services that can cost-effectively provide building load flexibility as part of a GEB strategy.

DSA’s solutions utilize OSIsoft’s PI Systems, which is a commercial off-the-shelf operational intelligence platform that integrates multiple disparate systems into a single structured Operational Data Warehouse. Facility operators achieve real-time situational awareness, corrective control, and dynamic load management combined with DSA’s machine learning algorithms and load management devices installed by control systems partner Rovisys.

Fran Pierce, DSA’s Chairman and CEO noted, “With this selection, DSA has the opportunity to join commercial applications with DSA’s expertise in machine learning to fully support GSA’s effort to develop cost effective building technology and energy services. We are pleased to apply innovative solutions to successfully address GSA’s mission.”
About GSA’s Proving Ground (GPG) Program
GSA’s Proving Ground program works with third-party evaluators to test innovative pre- and early-commercial building technologies in federally-owned buildings. The program enables GSA to make investment decisions in next-generation building technologies based on actual performance. Following favorable evaluation results, 23 GPG-evaluated technologies have been deployed in more than 500 facilities in GSA’s real-estate portfolio. For more information about the GPG program, please visit

About DSA
DSA is an employee owned professional services provider that enables its customers to achieve sensitive, mission critical goals. We are ISO 9001:2015 and ISO/IEC 27001:2013 registered and appraised at CMMI Maturity Level 3 for Service Projects and for Development. Founded in 1963, DSA’s core competencies are Cloud, Intelligent Analytics, Digital Modernization, and Cybersecurity, which encompass a diverse set of associated capabilities. DSA is headquartered in the Philadelphia area and has major operations in Aberdeen and Frederick, MD; San Antonio and Killeen, TX; Fairfax and McLean, VA; and in other locations in the National Capital Region.

Alvie Johnson, SVP Business Development;

KPMG Spark helps small businesses

The variety of services offered by KPMG Spark allow our clients to grow, develop, and focus on things that matter most. Our services take the responsibilities of bookkeeping and give you all your necessary financial information at the touch of a button or from a quick call to your dedicated bookkeeper. Our contributions not only help you save time so you can focus on other aspects of your business, but it also gives you the information you need in an efficient, presentable, and tax-ready format.

New member of your team

When you use KPMG Spark’s services, you not only receive access to our one of a kind software but you also receive a dedicated bookkeeper that you can contact who keeps track of your books and is there at your service. Your bookkeeper is there to serve you and you can always reach out to them with concerns, questions, or even just updates about your company.

Our bookkeepers enjoy helping their clients and getting to know them and their respective industries. It is so easy to stay in contact with your bookkeeper, you can call or text them when you need information, advice, or consultation. One of our own account leads stated, “Clients LOVE having a live bookkeeper that they can text, call, or email. So many will text me receipts, email me wanting a quick call, or need me to set up a meeting with a CPA. They love having someone working with them on it all.” Having a personal bookkeeper that you can stay in contact with is one of our most popular services as it helps you stay up to date with your books.

Our bookkeepers work at your pace so you can always be on the same page. This helps our small business clients have the books in order at all stages in their growth. One of our startup clients recently commented, “the bookkeeping team is incredibly responsive and helpful which is critical given the fast pace of our growing business”. KPMG Spark is so much more than a bookkeeping software company, we want to add value to your business. Your dedicated bookkeeper keeps up with you so you can be readily informed of the standing of your business and so you can focus on other, more pressing matters at any given moment.

“Our biggest time saver”

As a small business, doing bookkeeping on your own can be daunting and extremely time-consuming. KPMG Spark takes the bookkeeping, payroll, tax preparation, invoices, and so much more off your plate so you can focus on what really needs your attention. As one of our clients recently stated, “[Spark] fuses together some of our most time-intensive tasks into a single platform, streamlining our accounting through to taxes”. Here are just some of the services we can take off your hands.

Online bookkeeping

Just connect all your accounts, and we’ll reconcile your books, securely and quietly in the background. No more monthly reconciliation. Bookkeeping made simple by yours truly.

Tax preparation

We simplify the tax preparation process for you so you can focus on what matters: the day-to-day of your business. Then when you need your tax documents, we’ll already have them ready for you.


Track mileage and other expenses in our unified interface that seamlessly flows into your books and reimbursement processes. Our software has been designed specifically so you can have access to everything you need in a simplified interface that you can see whenever you need it.

These services, as well as others found at, allow you to put more of your time into other aspects of your business like product development, marketing, hiring employees, training, culture development, and other time-intensive tasks for small businesses. As some of our business clients have commented, “Switching over to Spark allowed me to gain more control over the creative part of my business” and “Spark makes it easy for me to focus on my customers and not spending my time worried about… my books”. We make time for your books so you can take time for vital parts of your business.

Let our accounting experience help your business thrive

The combination of our software and our accounting professionals working with you is unmatched and creates a system that allows a business to streamline its efforts to achieve stability and profit. With customizable monthly reports and tax-ready information, all the information you need is right at your fingertips. A startup partner of ours recently commented, “The customizable monthly reports allow us to present our financial picture in a professional and crisp layout.” Our software allows your information to be readily available so you can stay up to date and keep other parts of your business on the same page with your finances.

In order to keep your business alive and healthy, your finances and financial decisions need to be on the same page. For example, when you get a new plant you have to know how often and how much you need to water it to keep it alive and healthy. Likewise, with your business, you cannot spend too much or too little money or you will inhibit its growth. KPMG Spark’s services work with your business as the info sheet that comes with your plant to provide you the financial information you need to stay up to date with your finances and keep your business alive and healthy. The information we give you works so you can know how much to ‘water’ your business so it continues to thrive.

Let’s spark something

Here at KPMG Spark, we love helping small businesses with their online accounting so they can grow to their full potential. We’ve had many clients over the years that have continually shown positive growth with our help. The accounting system for small businesses that we have developed is a combination of our one of a kind software and a dedicated bookkeeper and CPA to help get your books in order. No need to stress about getting things ready for tax season or getting all your expenses in order, your bookkeeper’s got it covered. Online bookkeeping is our bread and butter and we can take it off your shoulders so you can get back to what makes your business yours. One of our clients said it best, “With KPMG, I finally feel like my business matters.”

To learn more, please contact Jay Daugherty and Andrew Cherry, KPMG LLP.

Quality Assurance for quality care: A healthcare perspective

Contributed by Cigniti Technologies

The rate of adoption of digital solutions in the healthcare sector has expedited in the last few months, courtesy the global pandemic, severe shortage of healthcare professionals, and high volume of incoming patients.

The healthcare institutes are compensating for the low doctor to patient ratio by deploying sophisticated digital health platforms and advanced medical devices to maintain the same level of quality while attending to those in need.

The pandemic has disrupted the normal ways of doing things, from how we engage in social events to how we get treated for a simple flu. Several healthcare organizations cancelled all the elective procedures and stopped attending non-critical patients amidst the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

In such a situation, embracing the path of digital transformation remained the only resolution to maintain the ideal equilibrium between the healthcare practitioners and the patients.

Despite the fact that the journey of healthcare on the path of digital maturity has been really slow, it has garnered the necessary speed due to the situational circumstances.

However, amidst all the chaos and the hastiness to achieve a ‘normalized’ version, it is important not to compromise on the quality of care, and that is where Quality Assurance comes into the picture.

Healthcare software solutions need to be thoroughly tested end to end from the multiple aspects of performance, functionality, security, privacy, and regulatory compliance.

A groundbreaking medical devices company leveraged end-to-end quality engineering services

An innovative medical device company, dedicated to making the lives of people with diabetes and similar conditions easier, offers a unique alternative to traditional insulin delivery methods for people with insulin-dependent diabetes through their proprietary insulin management system.

With the objective of simplifying and customizing delivery of complex drug regimens, the client is focused on innovating groundbreaking medical device technology and improving the overall quality of life. Since the technology and device developed is first-of-its-kind, a novel approach to test it was required. This involved multiple types of testing including the formal Design Verification (DV) testing using both Manual testing & Test Automation for various mobile applications & devices, as also the Medical devices.

They were looking for an organization that could provide a robust framework for integrating software, mobile devices, and medical devices. As the devices were based on the emerging technologies, they lacked test processes and artifacts. They also required certification tests to be conducted to ensure that their device is compliant with the standard protocols and interfaces.

The client chose Cigniti for our deep experience in the emerging technologies and in executing end-to-end mobile application testing to ascertain seamless performance across multiple devices.

The Cigniti team automated the end-to-end testing environment utilizing our Robotics-assisted test automation solutions. We implemented a shift-left strategy and utilized in-sprint test automation for testing the functionality and monitoring the performance and security of the application across devices. We set up a robust test environment to conduct end-to-end testing of the mobile apps, insulin administration devices, simulators, etc.

We implemented QA best practices and process framework across STLC to streamline the testing processes and ensure delivery of continuously high-quality products for the client. Our precision regression testing approach drastically reduced testing time by more than 50% and accelerated time-to-market.

Read the complete success story.

To reach out to our healthcare and lifesciences software testing experts, schedule a discussion with us today.

Newmark Knight Frank Hires Medical Office Capital Markets Expert Ben Appel in Philadelphia, in a Leadership Role Bolstering National Healthcare Platform

Philadelphia, PA (September 15, 2020) — Newmark Knight Frank (NKF) is pleased to announce the addition of national healthcare capital markets expert Ben Appel to the firm’s Global Healthcare Services (GHS) platform. Joining in a leadership role as an Executive Managing Director, Ben specializes in medical office building (MOB) sales, equity placement and financings. Ben is based in NKF’s Philadelphia office, joining a well-established and fully integrated medical office team.

Throughout his 12-year career, Ben has advised on medical office and healthcare real estate transactions in excess of $5 billion, including some of the nation’s most notable medical office transactions in recent years. Appel’s experience includes medical office sales, re-capitalizations, joint venture equity, physician and hospital monetizations and facilitating developer selection processes. During his career Ben has represented core funds, public and private REITs, pension fund advisors, developers, family offices, private equity firms and healthcare providers. Appel joins from JLL where he was a managing director in the national healthcare practice group.

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Alvie Johnson Joins DSA to Lead Business Development Operations

FAIRFAX, VA – August 31, 2020 – Data Systems Analysts, Inc. (DSA) announced today that Alvie Johnson joined DSA as Senior Vice President, Business Development. He is responsible for planning, implementing, and managing DSA growth strategies and business development operations. “We are excited to have such a talented executive join our team as we continue to grow our customer base and industry partnerships” stated Fran Pierce, DSA’s Chairman and CEO.

Mr. Johnson most recently served as the Vice President for Army Accounts for ALL POINTS LLC, a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Corporation located in Reston, VA. Mr. Johnson has served as the Principal Enterprise Lead for Lockheed Martin, ISGS and Senior Associate, Business Development for Booz Allen Hamilton where he oversaw US Navy, Marine, and Army Markets. In this role, Mr. Johnson developed and coordinated teaming for strategic opportunities with a value greater than $50M. Mr. Johnson has also held various business development and technical roles for Data Solutions and Technology, LEIDOS, AT&T, TelCove and CRGT.

He is a strong supporter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA), Mr. Johnson has provided over twenty continuous years of outstanding leadership and service to the AFCEA community, currently serving as the Regional Vice President for AFCEA National Capital Region. He also serves as the Prince William County Representative to Northern Virginia Community College Board of Directors appointed in 2016.

Mr. Johnson has over 21 years of former military service as an Army Officer in the Signal Corps. He has held a variety of positions that include Satellite Operations Officer, Joint Chiefs of Staff where he managed the allocation of operational satellite communications capacity for all Department of Defense and Government Agencies. He was a Presidential Communications Officer, White House Communications Agency, where he was responsible for the fixed and deployable state of the art telecommunications support to the White House.

Mr. Johnson holds a Master of Arts degree in International Relations & Strategic Studies from the Naval War College, Newport, RI and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcast Production Howard University, Washington DC.

About DSA

DSA is headquartered in the Philadelphia area and has major operations in Honolulu, HI; Aberdeen and Frederick, MD; Tinton Falls, NJ; San Antonio, TX; Fairfax and McLean, VA; and in other locations in the National Capital Region.

University City Science Center Names Tiffany Wilson as President & CEO

Wilson brings deep experience in scientific innovation to raise the profile of the organization nationally and globally 

PHILADELPHIA, PA — (August 24, 2020) – The University City Science Center announced today that Tiffany Wilson will assume the role of President & Chief Executive Officer effective October 1, 2020. This appointment comes at a pivotal time for the Science Center and the Philadelphia region, as the organization focuses on delivering on economic, scientific, and civic impact. It is supporting innovative new health treatments and technologies, delivering equity in access to STEM education and workforce opportunities, and convening the innovation community.

Ms. Wilson brings more than 18 years of leadership transitioning innovative medical technologies from benchtop to bedside, building partnerships across academia, industry and economic development organizations. She most recently served as CEO of Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI), an Atlanta-based non-profit dedicated to supporting the development and commercialization of innovative medical products. She joined GCMI in 2011 to lead its startup phase, establishing an overall vision, building strategic relationships and bringing together key stakeholders of the medical device ecosystem. Wilson’s strong background in medical devices, commitment to fostering innovation and understanding of business strategies propelled her into a leadership role in the Southeast and brought her into the national spotlight.  Wilson served on the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE) of the U.S. Department of Commerce. She was recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of “17 Inspiring Women to Watch in 2017” and one of Becker Hospital Review’s “110 Women in Medtech to Know in 2017.”

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Bentley Systems IPO

Bentley Systems, an Exton, Penn.-based provider of construction and infrastructure project software, filed for a $100 million IPO. Renaissance Capital estimates the actual raise could be closer to $800 million. Bentley plans to trade on the Nasdaq (BSY) with Goldman Sachs as lead underwriter, and reports $69 million of net income on $679 million in revenue for the first half of 2020. Shareholders include Siemens.