Meet Your New EDmarket Chair: Jolene Levin

How did you get started in the industry?

The story of NorvaNivel began humbly in 2008 as the full service logistic and installation company – UFM  Solutions. It was not until walking into a school in 2011 to deliver chairs on behalf of a client that Avron our Creative Director (and my husband) and I were introduced to the world of Education. At the time, educational furniture consisted of chairs and desks with very little in the way of collaborative or soft furnishings. What was presented in this meeting was a concept around a changing philosophy in education. It was at this meeting that the current school principal expressed his frustration at the lack of furniture and spaces that facilitated learners appropriately in the attainment of transversal skills required for future work and life success. As curious innovators, the conversation sparked the desire to tackle this as a design problem that needed to be solved. Utilizing Avron’s skills in industrial design, we began to design bespoke pieces of furniture and learning environments. 

Jolene listening to the needs of customers at EDspaces 2021 in Pittsburgh.

True to intention, the impact these initial spaces activated was not only fascinating – it was immense. Not only did the physical transformation of the space facilitate learning and collaboration, but the very intentional design also incredibly impacted learners within these environments. The space itself proved to be a key initiator in creating an environment in which learners were able to seek out comfort, safety and engagement through the activation of the tools now provided to them within the spaces. 

Excited by the impact, NorvaNivel was created within UFM Solutions. The company continued to create designs both in furniture and space that valued form, function and emotional integration – key elements in facilitating greater learner engagement, continuous exploration, and the activation of the skill sets required for 21st to 22nd century learners. 

By 2015, the decision was made to dissolve UFM Solutions to focus on growing NorvaNivel. In 2016, NorvaNivel was invited to design the spaces for the annual CERA Conference. (Californian, Educational Research Association), where product was manufactured in Australia and shipped to the USA. Intrigued by the tremendous response to their products, we identified the opportunity to bring this niche point of difference into the USA market, leverage off their experience. In 2017 we moved our family to the USA to pioneer this new method of learning in space. In 2023 the company was sold and we began our consulting firm.

What are your goals as EDmarket Chair of the Board?

To work diligently and collaboratively to facilitate Edmarket in its current and future initiatives that facilitate benefits to our members and our industry ensuring that we create the best opportunities for schools, educators and learners both now and into the future. I hope that with collaboration, I can help bring our industry together and help be a part of creating opportunities for future innovation and advancement in design, thinking and planning around learning environments. 

How do you think ECLPS can impact the marketplace?

ECLPS is an absolute game changer in elevating the level of understanding in our industry of how important research informed planning, collaboration and design is in the process of creating future focused learning environments. 

Creating a platform that facilitates collaborative learning and discussion will only benefit us as we are going through such an immense transformation in our industry. Anyone that is on the cusp or within this transformation would benefit immensely from the ECLPS program. Participants in this first cohort will no doubt be able to apply the learning to lead to a more successful outcome in their process of creating new learning environments. 

How can EDmarket help inspire the next generation of leaders in the education market?

EDmarket is the single association in our industry that brings everyone together with common goals that facilitate the rising of all boats. There are some incredible leaders up and coming in our education space. The Nextgen program highlights some of these fantastic individuals that have so much passion and dedication in creating better learning environments and outcomes. Through initiatives such as ECLPS, EDmarket will provide a platform for thought leaders in our industry to come together for the betterment of the whole. 

From left past, present and future BOD chairs, Angela Nelson, Stages Learning; Darlene Akers, Akers Business Solutions; Jolene Levin; and Deb Kerr, St. Francis School District.

How do you feel about the new wave of Bold Women leading EDmarket Chairs?

I love it! I am very much looking forward to working with the next leaders of EDmarket in both my current role and supporting them after the completion of my position. I am confident that we will all add a fresh and energetic perspective to facilitating everyone in our industry in creating better opportunities for schools to make impactful decisions around learning space transformation. 

What do you like best about the educational products industry?

I love the opportunity it has given us to create meaningful design that seeks to create a positive impact in the lives of both learners and educators. Education is the foundation of shaping human perceptions and interactions. Working and designing within this industry allows us to facilitate the growth and development of people from the very beginning of their lives. Collaborating with learners, educators, schools and districts to implement change is a uniquely fulfilling experience. I continue to enjoy the ability to solve meaningful problems through design and collaboration in a fast changing industry.

How had EDmarket helped your business?

EDspaces was the first event that NorvaNivel showcased at in 2017 on arrival in the USA. It is through the connection made at this event that I have had the privilege of being involved in more deeply in EDmarket. EDmarket thoughtfully and intentionally brings together all stakeholders in the industry acting as mentor, informer and connector with the sole purpose of evoking positive change in educational space. EDmarket continues to be a generous and supportive association that is an essential part of the development and relevance of our industry.  

How can EDmarket best serve the industry?

EDmarket as a guiding association in the industry can continue to bring all stakeholders together through meaningful networking whilst continuing to be a source of information through discussions, committees webinars. EDmarket’s advisory role to the industry can certainly serve as a champion for innovation and ethics and serve as a supportive partner to both schools and suppliers within the industry.  

What advice would you give others in our industry?

Always seek to understand the needs of all learners. Create product that consider both the pedagogy and the people and always be curious as this will breed creativity and innovation. Don’t be afraid to fail as it will be in these moments that you will in fact find the greatest success. Most importantly understand the purpose and the people that you are designing for and recognize that this is different and unique for everyone.

Adrienne Dayton, EDmarket

Adrienne is Vice President of Content & Learning at the Education Market Association (EDmarket). She is responsible for strategic planning for content creation and management for all EDmarket publications and education programs and is the Conference Director for EDspaces. Want to share your expertise with the community of thought leaders in the education space? Let's start a conversation.