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Change lives. Change organizations. Change the world.
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“We live in a different time, a time of great opportunity, but a time in which we have to step up,” NewSchools CEO Ted Mitchell affirmed at the opening of the 2010 NewSchools Summit, an event convened by the NewSchools Venture Fund. In such times, there is an unprecedented opportunity to change the national conversation about what is possible in education, however doing so requires political strategy and savvy. With education being more politicized than ever, educators, social innovators and practitioners must tactically push for progress in the broader landscape. An accomplished panel of educational reformers, who have forged new grounds on a number of public policy issues, share ideas and advice on how to build coalitions, engage with politicians and understand the operational and political challenges ahead.
Jonah Martin Edelman is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Stand for Children. Edelman's personal stand for children began when he taught a six-year-old bilingual child in New Haven, Connecticut to read. More volunteer efforts followed. He ran a teen pregnancy prevention speakers' bureau, founded a mentorship program for middle school students, and served as an administrator of an enrichment program for children living in public housing-Leadership Education and Athletics in Partnership (LEAP).
Steve Barr founded Green Dot Public Schools in 1999 with the vision of transforming secondary education in California by creating a number of high-performing charter high schools using available public dollars. Under Barr's leadership, Green Dot became the leading change agent in the region, starting in fall 2000 by founding one of the first comprehensive public high schools in the Los Angeles area in thirty years. In 2008, Green Dot began to operate Alain LeRoy Locke High School in Watts, re-structuring it into eight small public schools.
Andrew Rotherman is a co-founder and partner at Bellwether Education Partners, a non-profit organization working to improve educational outcomes for low-income students. Rotherham leads Bellwether’s thought leadership, idea generation, and policy analysis work. He also writes a weekly column on education for TIME.com as well as the blog Eduwonk.com and is co-publisher of “Education Insider” a federal policy research tool produced by Whiteboard Advisors. Rotherham previously served at the White House as Special Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy during the Clinton administration and is a former member of the Virginia Board of Education. In addition to Bellwether, Rotherham has founded or co-founded two other influential education reform organizations including Education Sector and served on the boards of several other successful education start-ups.
Joe Williams is the executive director of Democrats for Education Reform, a political action committee whose mission is to encourage a more productive dialogue within the Democratic Party on the need to fundamentally reform American public education. Williams has built a reputation as one of the most effective strategists and coalition-builders in the education reform community. Williams is a nationally recognized analyst and public speaker on education policy and politics, reaching thousands of listeners in audiences from coast to coast each year. He is also one of the most prolific writers and commentators in the education reform world, often tapping into his experience as a newspaper reporter and author to make the case for reform. He has written extensively on education politics nationally and has served as a non-resident senior fellow for the Washington-based think-tank Education Sector.
Alice Johnson Cain is education director at Hope Street Group, a bipartisan non-profit dedicated to building an Opportunity Economy in America which convenes business, political and civic leaders online and in person to formulate policy proposals; educates policy makers about the foundations of economic opportunity; builds community and support for its American Dream Agenda; and provides a platform for social entrepreneurs to be heard and to engage on economic opportunity issues.
Previously, Cain spent six years as Congressman George Miller’s chief advisor for K-12 education. She has served in numerous capacities in education policy work for the Clinton administration, Vice President Al Gore, Senator Paul Simon and the Children's Defense Fund. She spent several years teaching GED classes to low-income and homeless adults and has served on the boards of several national nonprofit organizations, including the Success for All Foundation. She received her BA with honors in political science from Gettysburg College, a MA in Policy Management from Georgetown University and is a Fulbright Fellow.
Dan Katzir worked with Eli Broad to develop the vision for The Broad Foundation’s education work and has been with the foundation since the education division formally launched in 1999. Today, Katzir oversees all aspects of the foundation’s investments. One of the nation’s leading education reform experts, he has more than two decades of experience in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of organizations, including school districts, schools, national education nonprofits and businesses. Katzir also served as the founding regional director of Sylvan Learning Systems in Los Angeles, managing 33 reading tutorial centers in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Katzir has a bachelor’s degree in history from Dartmouth College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.