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Diane Geng, Ed.M.
Co-Founder and Executive Director

Diane began her journey working on rural education while a U.S. Fulbright Scholar researching rural development and civil society in China. She and RCEF Co-founder Sara Lam were Echoing Green Fellows for their work with RCEF and she was a Reynolds Fellow for Social Entrepreneurship at Harvard University. Diane obtained an EdM in Human Development and Psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and is currently Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at New York University Shanghai.

General information and



Mailing address:

Rural China Education

P.O. Box 224
New York, NY 10276


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Wei Ji Ma, Ph.D. 
Co-Founder, Chairperson, and Chief Financial Officer

Wei Ji Ma is Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at New York University, where his laboratory studies human perception, memory, and decision-making. A third-generation Dutch Chinese, his grandparents immigrated from rural China (Yantai area) in the 1920s. Wei Ji obtained a Masters in Physics and Mathematics and a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. He was a postdoctoral fellow in computational neuroscience at Caltech and the University of Rochester (2002-8), before starting his first faculty position at Baylor College of Medicine (2008-13). He has long been active in education policy, non-profit management, and science outreach.

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Sara Lam, Ph.D.
Co-Founder and Director of Research and Development

Sara Lam is an Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Minnesota Morris. Her main areas of research and teacher are educational justice, democratic education, and democratic participation in education, with a focus on rural contexts in China and the U.S. She researched rural education and collaborated with various non-governmental organizations on rural education projects as a 2004-2005 Third Millennium Foundation Fellow, then continued on to do curriculum development and professional development work in rural and rural migrant communities and develop RCEF programs until 2010. She and RCEF Co-founder Diane Geng were named Echoing Green Fellows in 2007 for their work with RCEF. She obtained a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Wisconsin Madison, an EdM in International Education Policy from Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a BA in Elementary Education from the University of Minnesota Morris. 

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Yishin Khoo, Ph.D.

Yishin Khoo received her doctoral degree in Curriculum, Teaching and Learning from OISE/University of Toronto. Originally from Malaysia, Yishin spent half of her life in China and Canada. She holds a bachelor degree in International Development Studies and Anthropology from University of Toronto, and a master's degree in International Educational Development from Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research interests focus on teachers' professional learning, communities of learning, social change and sustainability education in both Canada and China. Yishin is about unearthing the gems of educational innovations in grassroots China. She believes that teachers matter in improving the quality of rural education in China.

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Zhizhen (Cathy) Qu, M.A.

Communications Director​


Zhizhen (Cathy) Qu obtained a Bachelor's degree in Chinese Language and Literature from Shanghai Jiaotong University (2012), and a Master's degree in East Asian Studies from Stanford University (2014). She undertook a volunteer role teaching in a rural school in Sichuan Province and also volunteered to teach migrant children in Shanghai during her undergraduate years. She currently works for New York University Shanghai where she is responsible for science communications and promotion. In RCEF, she oversees communications and partners with teachers in writing teaching case studies. 

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