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Our People

We share the belief that for far too long, career and technical education has not received the attention, support and funding it deserves. We want to help turn the tide.

Eric Smidt

CEO, owner and co-founder of Harbor Freight Tools; Founder of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools and the Smidt Foundation

Eric is the CEO, co-founder and owner of Harbor Freight Tools, a national specialty retailer in the tool sector with over 800 stores and 20,000 employees in 47 states.

Eric created Harbor Freight Tools for Schools to make a meaningful difference in the lives of young people with the under-appreciated talents of building, fixing and creating. This commitment is based on his strong belief in the dignity of the skilled trades and the incredible opportunities this sector offers to individuals and their families, and to our country’s economy.

He established Harbor Freight Tools for Schools to support the revival of the skilled trades in public schools across the U.S. with a kick-off donation of $1.5 million in tools and equipment to the Los Angeles Unified School District and additional donations to support career technical education in Chicago and Dillon County, South Carolina.

He serves on the boards of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Portland Art Museum. Eric and his wife, Susan, have been long-time supporters of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and UCLA. They were also the lead funders of the Alliance Susan & Eric Smidt Technology High School, a charter school in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Allan Mutchnik

CAO of Harbor Freight Tools

Allan joined Eric Smidt’s team in 2012 to help lead Harbor Freight Tools as Chief Administrative Officer, and to help manage the Smidt family’s interests and philanthropy, and where he helped establish Harbor Freight Tools for Schools. Allan also serves on the board of the Smidt Foundation. Previously, Allan was a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagler & Flom, where he practiced as a transactional lawyer for 24 years. He has served on the boards of several nonprofit organizations and has held leadership positions in a wide range of civic and charitable activities. Allan received his BA from UCLA and his J.D. from Cornell Law School.

Robin Kramer

Managing Director, The Smidt Foundation

Robin is managing director of The Smidt Foundation. She brings to The Smidt Foundation and Harbor Freight Tools for Schools broad experience in public, private and nonprofit leadership and inventiveness. Robin served as chief of staff to two Los Angeles mayors, Antonio Villaraigosa and Richard Riordan—the first woman in the history of the nation’s second largest city to serve in this post.

Robin has also held senior positions at the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands, the Broad Foundation and the California Community Foundation. She has worked extensively as an independent consultant for entities focused on advancing access, equity, and engagement in civic life, public education, philanthropy and the arts. Robin has been a port commissioner, chief deputy for two Los Angeles City Council members, and the executive director of two nonprofit organizations.

A trustee of the John Randolph Haynes & Dora Haynes Foundation and advisor to the Public Policy Institute of California, Robin has an MA in urban studies from Occidental College, and a BA in political studies and journalism from Pitzer College.

Danny Corwin

Executive Director, Harbor Freight Tools for Schools

Danny is the first full-time executive director of this philanthropic initiative of The Smidt Foundation. He brings over two decades of leadership dedicated to expanding opportunities for K-12 public school students. He held a series of leadership positions over 13 years with the California Charter Schools Association, including chief financial officer and senior vice president of development. He has passion and experience linking students to the workplace and expanding college access, spending four years as director of career academies with the Los Angeles Educational Partnership.

Danny has served on the boards of several nonprofit organizations and spends many fun hours on the field as a volunteer youth baseball and soccer coach.  He received his BA from UC Santa Barbara and master’s in education from UCLA.

 

Erin Walsh

Consulting Program Director, Harbor Freight Tools for Schools

Erin Walsh advises Harbor Freight Tools for Schools on areas of partnership, advocacy, research and policy. She manages the Harbor Freight Scholars Program and the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Salutes feature, among other projects. Erin served in the administration of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as Associate Director of Legislative and Intergovernmental Relations, as a member of the Mayor’s education team, and as facilitator of the administration’s second-term strategic planning effort. She served in prominent roles during the 2004 presidential election, including leading a voter protection program.

Previously, Erin worked as a litigation associate at Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson on securities and general commercial matters. Erin is a past Co-Chair of the Women’s Political Committee, and has served on the group’s Executive Committee since 2009. She received her B.A from Yale University and her J.D. from UCLA School of Law.

Tae Kang

Special Projects, Harbor Freight Tools for Schools

Tae serves as the technical manager for the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence, collaborates with partners including Real World Scholars, and anchors operations and research projects. Tae previously was a middle school social studies and math teacher at St. John Chrysostom School in Inglewood, CA, and a high school religion teacher at St. Elizabeth High School in Wilmington, DE.

Tae earned his Master of Public Policy (MPP) in 2016 from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. He received both a MA and a BA in Theology from the University of Notre Dame in 2010 and 2008 respectively. Tae is passionate about education policy and hopes to impact classrooms throughout the country.

Scott Springer

Educational Consultant, Harbor Freight Tools for Schools

Following 33 years in Denver Public Schools as a teacher, assistant principal, Executive Director for the Office of College and Career Readiness, Director of Career and Technical Education, principal of CEC Early College, Scott Springer serves as Harbor Freight Tools for Schools’ Educational Consultant. In 2017, the Colorado Association of Career and Technical Educators awarded Scott the Administrator of the Year Award for the state of Colorado. Scott brings innovative ideas, on-the-ground perspectives, and years of award-winning experience to the team. He helped develop the CEC Early College of Denver when he was first appointed principal in 2005, which is now one of the most successful high schools in the Denver Public School System, serving 95% first generation college-bound students, and enrolling 60-70% of its graduates in two or four year programs. 

Jennifer Nairne

Project Assistant-Charitable Engagement, Harbor Freight Tools for Schools

Jennifer Nairne assists with program evaluations and research, and is the main administrative support for the team. Jennifer brings more than 12 years of experience in the field of education, including assessment development, standardized testing, data analysis, and program evaluation. She received her BA in History from UCLA in 2005. Jennifer is committed to improving public education to ensure every student has the opportunity to realize their full potential.