Margaret Spellings, President and CEO, Texas 2036
Margaret Spellings serves as President and CEO of Texas 2036, bringing with her knowledge and experience developed over an exceptional career in public service at both the state and national level.
Most recently, Spellings served as the president of the 17-institution University of North Carolina System, leading the state’s public university into a new period of performance, affordability, and growth with a focus on improving economic mobility, ensuring accountability, and advancing the public good. Prior to that, Spellings served as president of the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas, where she oversaw programs on economic opportunity, education reform, global health, and special initiatives on women’s leadership and military service.
From 2005 to 2009, Spellings served as U.S. Secretary of Education, leading the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act, a bipartisan initiative to provide greater accountability for the education of 50 million U.S. public school students. As secretary, she also launched the Commission on the Future of Higher Education, a plan to address challenges of access, affordability, quality, and accountability in our nation’s colleges and universities. Prior to serving as Secretary, Spellings served as White House domestic policy advisor from 2001 to 2005, overseeing the administration’s agenda on education, transportation, health, justice, housing, and labor.
Spellings experience also includes serving as senior advisor to then-Governor George W. Bush of Texas, president and CEO of Margaret Spellings and Company, a Washington, DC, consulting firm that provided strategic guidance on a variety of domestic policy matters, and as a president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, advocating for more effective education and workforce training. Spellings was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, but spent much of her childhood in Houston. She is a graduate of the University of Houston, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in political science. She also received an honorary doctorate and Distinguished Alumni Award from the university in 2006. Spellings has two adult daughters and resides in Dallas.
Denise Forte, Interim CEO, The Education Trust
Denise Forte is the interim CEO at The Education Trust. With more than two decades of experience in the federal legislative and executive branches advancing progressive education and family policy, Denise brings strategic leadership to the organization’s efforts to engage policymakers and diverse coalitions of advocates in demanding and securing equity-advancing policy change at the national and state levels. She also will lead Ed Trust’s legislative efforts and, as a member of the Senior Leadership Team, coordinate an organization-wide advocacy agenda and strategy.
Prior to Ed Trust, Denise was a senior fellow and director of public affairs for The Century Foundation, a progressive think tank. She also spent 20 years in progressively senior congressional staff roles, most recently as the staff director for the House Committee on Education and the Workforce (Minority), providing strategic advice and counsel to the Ranking Member, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), managing and directing the legislative and policy agenda for Committee Democrats and as Education Policy Director for Chairman George Miller. Denise also served in the Obama administration at the U.S. Department of Education, where she held the positions of Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary in the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, providing direction and management of the office that oversees policy and budget development for the agency. Forte also has worked in the nonprofit leadership development space as the vice president for policy leadership at Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE), an organization supporting current and former teachers in public leadership.
In each of these roles, Denise has worked to promote and advance policies that prioritize educational equity for those children who are historically underserved. Denise enjoys her role as a policy leader and welcomes the opportunity to mentor young and diverse professionals who wish to enter into public service.
Denise has a B.S. in Computer Science from Duke University, and a M.A. in Women’s Studies from the George Washington University. She resides in Washington, D.C. with her family.
Lynn Jennings, Ph.D., Senior Director of National and State Partnerships, Education Trust
As Ed Trust’s senior director of national and state partnerships, Lynn leads the organization’s initiatives to engage and mobilize a diverse group of advocates at the national, state, and local levels who are working to forever close gaps in opportunity and achievement. The Education Trust’s national and state partnerships is especially focused on state-based engagement around implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, passed in 2015, and working to improve access to and success in college for historically underserved students.
Lynn previously served as the Senior Legislative Affairs Associate at the Ed Trust where she designed and implemented federal and state legislative campaigns around the organization’s K-12 and higher education equity work. In this position, she worked with several federal and state decision makers to inform and further policies that will increase the academic performance of low-income students and students of color.
Before joining Ed Trust, Lynn worked for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, where she directed the foundation’s professional fellowship programs for young professionals working on Capitol Hill. She was responsible for the strategic management of all of the foundation’s education programs. Lynn has a rich history in education. She taught English, African American studies, and women’s studies courses at varied institutions of higher education including Spelman College, Columbia College Chicago, and University of Wisconsin-Madison. She received a B.A. in English from Spelman College and her Ph.D. in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Nicholas Munyan Penney, Assistant Director of Policy, Education Trust
As Assistant Director of Policy, Nicholas is responsible for overseeing P-12 work on a range of topics including resource equity, assessments and accountability, and COVID recovery. Prior to Ed Trust, Nicholas worked as Senior Policy Analyst at Education Reform now. Nicholas previously worked as a high school English Language Arts teacher in New Hampshire, in both charter and traditional public schools, which spurred his interest in education reform. He has a master’s in Education Policy from The George Washington University, a MA in Teaching Secondary English from SNHU and a BA in Writing, Literature, & Publishing from Emerson College.
Cheryl A. Oldham, Vice President of Education Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Senior Vice President of Education and Workforce, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
Cheryl A. Oldham is vice president of education policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and is also senior vice president of the education and workforce program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Through events, publications, and policy initiatives-and drawing upon the Chamber’s extensive network of members- the education and workforce program connects the best minds in American business with the most innovative thinkers in education and training, helping them work together to preserve the strength of America’s greatest economic resource, its workforce. Oldham has 20 years of experience in public policy development and implementation as well as in project management and governmental relations.
Her previous experience includes serving for 8 years in President George W. Bush’s administration. In July 2008, the president designated Oldham as acting assistant secretary for postsecondary education while also serving as chief of staff to the under secretary of education. As chief of staff, Oldham was the senior adviser of policy and strategy and oversaw the coordination of the programs and policies for which the office was responsible. These included vocational and adult education, postsecondary education, and federal student aid.
Ian Rosenblum, Principal, ILO Group
Ian Rosenblum previously led the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education during the first year of the Biden Administration.
Rosenblum also served as the founding Executive Director of the Education (Ed) Trust–New York, a statewide policy and advocacy organization committed to educational equity. Prior to leading Ed Trust–NY, Rosenblum served in the administrations of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell.
He recently joined as a principal of the ILO Group, a women-founded national education strategy and policy firm where he will be providing strategic planning and hands-on implementation support to education leaders and systems across the country.
Robin Lake, Director, Center for Reinventing Public Education
Robin Lake is director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) a non-partisan research and policy analysis organization developing transformative, evidence-based solutions for K–12 public education. Her research focuses on U.S. public school system reforms, including public school choice and charter schools; innovation and scale; portfolio management; and effective state and local public oversight practices.
Lake has authored numerous studies and provided expert testimony and technical assistance on charter schools, district-charter collaborations, and urban school reform. She is the editor of Unique Schools Serving Unique Students: Charter Schools and Children with Special Needs and editor of Hopes, Fears, & Reality: A Balanced Look at American Charter Schools. She co-authored, with Paul Hill, Charter Schools and Accountability in Public Education. She has provided invited testimonies to the U.S. House of Representatives Education and Labor Committee as well as various state legislatures.
She presents regularly at conferences and summits around the United States and has advised on charter school implementation in South Africa and the United Kingdom. Lake serves as a board member or advisor to various organizations, including the Journal of School Choice, the National Center on Special Education in Charter Schools, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, and Education Next. She was named to the summer 2016 class of the Pahara-Aspen Education Fellows Program, designed to support exceptional leaders reimagining U.S. public schools.
Lake holds a BA in International Studies and an MPA in Education and Urban Policy from the University of Washington. She currently serves as Affiliate Faculty, School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, at the University of Washington Bothell.
Patricia Levesque, Chief Executive Officer, Foundation for Excellence in Education
Patricia Levesque is the Chief Executive Officer for ExcelinEd. She served as Governor Jeb Bush’s deputy chief of staff for education, enterprise solutions for government, minority procurement, and business and professional regulation. Previously, Patricia served six years in the Florida Legislature in the Speakers Office and as staff director over education policy.
Christy Hovanetz, Ph.D., Senior Policy Fellow, Accountability, ExcelinEd
Christy Hovanetz is a Senior Policy Fellow for ExcelinEd focusing on school accountability policies. She served as the Assistant Commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Education and Assistant Deputy Commissioner at the Florida Department of Education. She has worked in education policy for the state of Florida since 1999 serving as the Director of Evaluation and Reporting, Director of Reading First and a Policy Analyst for Governor Jeb Bush. Christy graduated summa cum laude from St. Cloud State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education with a minor in mathematics and is a certified teacher in the state of Minnesota. She earned her Master of Public Administration at the University of Minnesota and a Doctor of Philosophy in Public Administration and Policy at Florida State University.
Maya Cadogan, Executive Director, Parents Amplifying Voices in Education
Maya is the Executive Director of PAVE (Parents Amplifying Voices in Education. She founded PAVE in April 2016 with an all-parent board of directors to connect, inform, and empower parent leaders to give families in DC a voice and a choice in the vision for education.
John White, Managing Principal, Former Louisiana State Superintendent of Education
John White served as Louisiana State Superintendent of Education from 2012 to 2020. In that role, he developed nationally recognized efforts to unify the state’s fragmented early childhood system, to modernize curriculum, to professionalize the preparation of educations, and to provide pathways to prosperity for all high school graduates.
In 2019, Louisiana students ranked first in the nation for improvement in 8th grade mathematics on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP). Over the decade spanning John’s tenure, Louisiana ranked in the top 10 states for improvement on every one of the four main NAEP tests.
Prior to being named State Superintendent, John served as Superintendent of the Louisiana Recovery School District, leading the reformation of public schools in New Orleans in the years after Hurricane Katrina. He previously served under Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein as Deputy Chancellor for the New York City Department of Education and served as Executive Director of Teach For America – Chicago and Teach For America – New Jersey
John’s writings on education have been published in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Education Next, the Daily Beast, The Hill, and the Brookings Institution’s Evidence Speaks. He has testified in Congress on the No Child Left Behind Act, the Every Student Succeeds Act, the Higher Education Act, and early childhood care and education.
John currently serves as a fellow at the Walton Family Foundation and as managing principal for Watershed Advisors, a recently formed venture building the capacity of governments to implement transformative ideas at a scale. He is co-founder and former chairman of the independent non-profit advocacy organization Chiefs for Change, as well as co-founder and chairman of the Propel America, a non-profit start-up connecting recent high school graduates with good first jobs. John has received faculty appointments to the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and the University of Virginia’s School of Education and Human Development. He holds a bachelor’s degree with distinction from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree in public administration from New York University.
Dr. Ivan Duran, Superintendent, Highline Public Schools
Dr. Duran is a proud product of public education. An early passion for reading and learning sparked his interest in being an educator. He has served more than 30 years in public education and is currently chief of acceleration and recovery for the Renton School District. From 2017 to 2021, Dr. Duran was superintendent of the Bellevue School District. He is now serving as the superintendent of Highline Public Schools.
Kaleem Caire, Founder & CEO, One City Schools
Kaleem Caire is the founder and CEO of One City Schools, the operator of two preschools serving ages 1 through kindergarten that are focused on getting young children ready for school success. Prior to One City, Kaleem was the President and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison in Madison, WI and chair of the National Urban League’s Education Committee. Prior to the Urban League, Kaleem held other executive leadership positions with Target Corporation, Fight For Children of Washington, DC, Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO), American Education Reform Council, Wisconsin Center for Academically Talented Youth (WCATY) and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. In 2008,
Kaleem was among the first recipients of the University of Wisconsin’s Forward Under Forty Award and in the same year, was named a Distinguished Alumni by the University of Wisconsin Alumni Association for his work in education and community development. He was also the youngest recipient of the City of Madison’s (WI) Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award in 2001 and the Urban League of Greater Madison’s Whitney Young Jr. Award (2001), and has received numerous awards and recognition for his work in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Kaleem’s life commitments are to create opportunities in places where people need them the most, to move people from poverty to prosperity and to raise strong and caring children in his own home. His work in education has been chronicled in news articles, research papers and books over the last 20 years.
Kaleem is married to Lisa Peyton-Caire and together, they have five children ages 12 to 26. He holds a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has a Grassroots License with the United States Soccer Federation and is a part-time volunteer coach with the Wisconsin Rush Soccer Club. He is also a Pahara-Aspen Institute Fellow.
Dr. Jennifer Randall, Director of Evaluation for the Center for Educational Assessment, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Jennifer Randall, Associate Professor, joined the faculty in September 2007. Prior to her graduate studies, Jennifer taught pre-school and high school social studies for several years. Her research interests primarily reflect the measurement issues and concerns she encountered as a classroom teacher which include the grading practices/philosophies of teachers, particularly differential practices as they relate to students of color, first generation students, English learners, and students with disabilities. She is especially interested in the ways in which assessments (both large-scale & classroom-based) take into consideration, and impact, historically marginalized populations in the U.S. and abroad. Currently, she is investigating the differential impact of licensure examinations on the certification rates of prospective teachers of color; and the resulting consequences on the learning experiences of students of color. At present, Dr. Randall serves as the Interim Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Director of Evaluation for the Center of Educational Assessment. She teaches courses in statistics, research methods, scale development, and measurement theory.
Dr. Randall is an active member, and has presented her work at the annual meetings, of several regional and national professional organizations including the American Educational Research Association, the National Council of Measurement in Education, and the Northeastern Educational Research Association. She has served as co-chair of the NERA Diversity Task Force as well as a chair of the NCME Diversity Issues in Testing Committee.
Rodney Robinson, 2019 National Teacher of the Year and Senior Policy Advisor, Richmond Public Schools
Rodney is a 20-year teaching veteran. He graduated from King William High School in rural Virginia in 1996. He received a bachelor’s degree in history from Virginia State University in 2000 and a master’s in educational administration and Supervision from VCU in 2011. He started teaching at Virgie Binford Education Center in 2015, a school inside Richmond Juvenile Detention Center, in an effort to better understand the school to prison pipeline. His classroom is a collaborative partnership between him and the students. He provides a civic centered education that promotes social-emotional growth. The knowledge he is gaining from his students is also helping develop alternative programs to keep students from becoming part of the school to prison pipeline.
His accomplishments in education vary from his professional growth to his students’ personal growth. He has been published four times by Yale University. He has received numerous awards for his accomplishments in and out of the classroom, most notably the R.E.B. Award for Teaching Excellence. He has worked with Pulitzer winning author James Foreman to developing curriculum units on race, class, and punishment as a part of the Yale Teacher’s Institute.
He was named the 2019 National Teacher of the Year by the Council of Chief States Schools’ Officers. He is used his time as teacher of the year to advocate for cultural equity to make sure students have teachers and administrators who look like them and value their culture. He was recently named HBCU male alumnus of the year by HBCUdigest.com. He was also named #8 on the Root magazine’s Top 100 influential African Americans of 2019. Last December he was named Richmonder of the Year by Richmond Magazine. His passion is helping the underprivileged and underrepresented populations in America.
Future of Data Project Team
Caitlin Codella Low, Vice President, Policy and Programs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
Caitlin Codella Low develops and leads the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s portfolios for early childhood education, K-12 education, and college- and career-readiness.
Kyle Butler, Manager, Programs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
Kyle Butler manages the K-12 education portfolio for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, including the Business Leads Fellowship Program and work surrounding the Future of Data in K-12 education.
Cindi Williams, Principal, HCM Strategists; Senior Advisor
Cindi Williams is a Principal at HCM Strategists, leading the k-12 practice. She worked for over 2 decades at the intersection of communications and advocacy as a senior official at the White House, US Department of Education and The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation as well as serving on two presidential campaigns. She recently stepped down as Chair of the Washington State Charter Commission.
Duncan Robb, Associate Principal, HCM Strategists; Senior Advisor
Duncan Robb is an Associate Principal at HCM Strategists and leads the firm's state and federal policy practice. He works alongside policy and advocacy organizations to push for and implement sound education policy in states across the nation. He most recently served as the chief policy advisor at the Idaho State Department of Education and has a decade of experience creating and influencing state education policy.
John Bailey, Founder, Vestigo Partners
John’s experience has spanned government, philanthropy, and the private sector working on a range of issues including technology, immigration, education, economic mobility, COVID-19 response, and criminal justice reform. He currently serves as an advisor to the Walton Family Foundation and A-Street Ventures, a fellow at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Previously, John served as a Domestic Policy Advisor in the White House from 2007-2009, Deputy Policy Director for the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Director of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education, co-founder of Whiteboard Advisors, senior program officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and VP of Policy for the Foundation for Excellence in Education.
Dr. Chris Mathias, Senior Affiliate, HCM Strategists
Dr. Chris Mathias is a Senior Affiliate at HCM Strategists working on both the K-12 and post-secondary teams. The former Chief Academic Officer for the SEA in Idaho, he is currently a member of the Idaho House of Representatives. He has spent over a decade advancing education policy by coupling deep policy knowledge with political acumen.
Dan Goldhaber, Director, Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research, American Institutes for Research; Quantitative Researcher
Dan Goldhaber is vice president and director of Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research at AIR. He is also an affiliate professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Washington, the director of the Center for Education Data & Research, and the co-editor of Education Finance and Policy. Dan is leading the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s quantitative research portion of the Future of Data project.
Michael DeArmond, Principal, Center on Reinventing Public Education; Quantitative Researcher
Michael DeArmond is a principal at the Center on Reinventing Public Education. His research looks at educational governance, bureaucratic reform, and policy implementation. In addition to policy reports, his research has been published in academic journals, including Education Finance and Policy, Education Administration Quarterly, and Journal of Education Finance, as well as in edited volumes from the Brookings Institution Press, the Urban Institute Press, and Harvard Education Press. Michael is working with Dan Goldhaber on the Future of Data project’s quantitative research.
Chris Stewart, CEO, brightbeam; Qualitative Research Lead
Chris is CEO of brightbeam. In 2018, he founded Wayfinder Foundation, a nonprofit that invests in grassroots anti-poverty and education activism. Prior to that he built relationships in urban communities as Director of External Affairs at Education Post. In 2013 Chris became the founding Executive Director of the African American Leadership Forum (AALF), a cross-sector network of Black leaders working to develop and implement an urban policy agenda across five northwest states. In 2007 Chris was elected to the Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education. In that role, he helped establish the Office of New Schools, a department of the Minneapolis Public Schools that implemented school reform strategies.
Lesley Guggenheim, Chief Operating Officer, brightbeam; Qualitative Researcher
Lesley is Chief Operating Officer at brightbeam has more than 15 years of experience leading nonprofit work to support schools and educators across the country. While the roles have varied, her underlying purpose has always been to deliver an excellent education to students, particularly those in under-resourced schools. Most recently, she served as the Chief Operating Officer at Student Leadership Network and was a Vice President at TNTP.
Kristen Smith, Partner, External Affairs, brightbeam; Qualitative Researcher
Kristen is Partner, External Affairs at brightbeam and her decade-long career in education has seen her in Head Start classrooms, high schools, and model college-in-prison programs. Her passion for education stemmed from her interest in gender equity and the experience of Black girls in education. She co-founded the South Louisiana Coalition for Education (SLCE) and has served as a policy advisor fellow in the office of policy and governmental affairs at the Louisiana Department of Education.
Lane Wright, Chief of Staff, brightbeam; Qualitative Researcher
Lane is Chief of Staff at brightbeam and has worked in education reform for roughly a decade, including stints at StudentsFirst and TNTP. Before that, he was a journalist for local and statewide news outlets in Florida and Virginia and served as press secretary to Florida’s governor in 2011-2012. The majority of Lane's training and experience is in communications, though he's a go-to player for a variety of projects because of his leadership skills and his ability to adapt to new situations or take on projects that break new ground for organizations.
Grace Tan, Consulting Partner, brightbeam; Qualitative Researcher
Grace is a Consulting Partner at brightbeam with more than 15 years of experience working with a diverse range of entities across the country to improve student experiences in K-12 public education. She has also worked at TNTP, Pittsburgh Public Schools and Accenture. Grace began her career as a high school teacher in Baltimore.