We advance team performance with innovative learning tools that change the way people think and work together.

Grounded in systems thinking, cognitive science and organization development, our products build critical skills and capacities that generate high-performance teams.

Friday Night at the ER® is our flagship product. It has been used to improve performance in organizations and classrooms, across industries and cultures, for more than 25 years.

Meet the Team.

Breakthrough Learning CEO Jeff Heil sits at desk by computer

Jeff Heil

CEO

Jeff leads our team, overseeing all sales, operations, development and customer success. He has a real knack for helping customers from various industries customize the use of our products to address the unique challenges they each face.

Jeff brings years of product innovation and user experience design to the company, with degrees in product design and psychology from the University of Oregon. He was responsible for the 2013 redesign of our flagship product, Friday Night at the ER, working closely with founder Bette Gardner to modernize the game and enhance both its visual elements and functionality. The new version received the 2017 Small Business Innovation Award from the Portland Business Journal.

Breakthrough Learning Founder and Senior Educator Bette Gardner laughs while helping a man play Friday Night at the ER

Bette Gardner

Founder & Senior Educator

Bette founded Breakthrough Learning in 1994 to provide leadership coaching, management consulting and business development services to our earliest customers.

It was Bette’s special interest in systems thinking that led her to create a number of innovative tools and methods for managing within complex systems, including our flagship product, Friday Night at the ER. Bette first developed the tool following a consulting engagement at an urban hospital and trauma center that led to a breakthrough performance there.

Throughout her career, Bette also created computer-based tools for learning and decision support, including ‘management flight simulators’ for private clients and the public. She collaborated with Peter Senge and Arthur Andersen to create The Fifth Discipline-Interactive, and with High Performance Systems (now isee systems) to build simulations for population health management and healthy communities development.

Bette continues to support our customers and projects as a senior educator and frequently partners with others in academic and business leadership organizations to advance the integration of systems thinking in routine work and communities. She has a degree in psychology from Boston University.

Breakthrough Learning Communications and Marketing Director Laura Baughman looks up from laptop while sitting at desk in office

Laura Baughman

Communications & Marketing Director

Laura is the first point of contact for our customers and works to optimize every step of the customer experience, from inquiry to integration. She also coordinates many of our marketing efforts, taking the lead on our media relations and external communications via print, web and email platforms.

Laura has a degree in journalism from the University of Oregon, and held several editorial positions before cutting her teeth at one of Portland’s largest public relations firms focused on technology startups in the Silicon Forest. She calls upon her experience as a storyteller and relationship builder to make meaningful connections between our customers and our company.

Breakthrough Learning Operations Manager Sam Goldenberg sits at desk in front of Friday Night at the ER game boards on shelf

Sam Goldenberg

Operations Manager

Sam is our supply chain superstar. He works with vendors worldwide to source the many parts that go into our products, maintaining high standards for quality and consistency. He personally assembles, packages and ships each order. Sam is also responsible for accounting, managing our office and coordinating our trade show presence.

Sam has a degree in biology, society and the environment from the University of Minnesota, which may explain his keen ability to oversee the entire lifecycle of our product from sourcing parts, to scheduling door-to-door deliveries, to recycling old, returned pieces after a major product update.

Played across industries and in 40+ countries

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