Advisory Board

Anne L. Bryant
Arlington, VA

Anne L. Bryant served as the executive director of the National School Boards Association from 1996- September, 2012. NSBA is a not-for profit federation that represents 50 state school board associations and 90,000 school board members throughout the U.S.  NSBA’s vision is to help boards lead their communities to raise student achievement, and prepare all students to succeed in a rapidly changing global society. Before that she served as the executive director of the American Association of  University Women (1986-1996) and prior to AAUW she worked in Chicago for a multiple association management company serving among others: the National Association of Bank Women and the International Association of Auditorium Managers.

While at NSBA she was vice chair of the Schools & Libraries Committee of Universal Service Administrative Company, which includes oversight of the $2.25 billion technology discount fund for schools and libraries, known as E-Rate; and is past chair of the Learning First Alliance.  Bryant now serves on several non- profit boards.

Bryant was a  trustee and chair of the Simmons College Board (1972-2007).  She holds an Ed.D. from the University of Massachusetts, a B.A. from Simmons College, has two honorary doctoral degrees and has  received numerous awards for leadership in education.

Kelly Butler
Jackson, MS

Kelly Butler is Director of Program Strategy for the Barksdale Reading Institute in Jackson (MS). The Institute's mission is to improve significantly the reading achievement of Kindergarten through third grade students in low performing public schools throughout Mississippi.

She holds a bachelors' degree in special education from the University of Alabama and a master's degree in administration, planning and social policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Following graduate school, she taught at the secondary level in the Greenwich, Conn., Public Schools and later served as special assistant to the Region IV Secretary of Health Education and Welfare in Atlanta. She has worked extensively with a variety of nonprofit organizations in social service, health care, and education in the areas of program development, support, and evaluation.

Prior to joining the Barksdale Reading Institute, she served as the national executive director of Parents for Public Schools. She lives in Jackson with her husband, Thorne.

James Comer, Ph.D.
New Haven, CT

James Comer is the Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine's Child Study Center, and has been a Yale medical faculty member since 1968. He is known internationally for promoting a focus on child development as a way of improving schools. He founded the Comer School Development Program in 1968, which promotes the collaboration of parents, educators, and community to improve social, emotional, and academic outcomes for children that in turn helps them achieve greater school success. His concept of teamwork has improved the educational environment in more than 500 schools throughout America. 

Among his nine books are Beyond Black and White, Black Child Care, (with Alvin F. Poussaint), Raising Black Children, the autobiographical Maggie's American Dream: The Life and Times of a Black Family, Waiting for a Miracle: Why Schools Can't Solve Our Problems, And How We Can; and Leave No Child Behind: Preparing Today's Youth for Tomorrow's World. He wrote hundreds of articles for Parents Magazine and for syndicates on children's health and development and race relations.

He was a consultant to the Children’s Television Workshop, producer of Sesame Street and The Electric Company, and to the Public Committee on Mental Health chaired by former First Lady Rosalyn Carter. Comer was a member of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy, and the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future. He has testified before many state and congressional committees. He served on ASCD’s Commission on the Whole Child and contributed to its 2007 report. 

He has served on many boards and has garnered 47 honorary degrees and recognitions, including the James Bryant Conant Award from the Education Commission of the States and the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize in Education. A native of East Chicago, Ind., he is a graduate of Indiana University, earned an M.D. in 1960 from the Howard University College of Medicine and an M.P.H. from the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

Edwin Darden
Washington, DC
Edwin Darden is the director of law and policy for Appleseed, a Washington, D.C.-based network of 16 public interest justice centers in the United States and Mexico. An experienced education law attorney, his career includes serving as senior staff attorney for the National School Boards Association and as the director of the Center for Urban Schools Program at the New York State School Boards Association. He has often appeared commenting on public school legal issues in many print, television and radio news outlets. He is a contributing editor who writes the monthly “School Law” column for American School Board Journal magazine. He holds a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center and is president of the board of directors of the Education Law Association.
Linda Darling-Hammond, Ph.D.
Stanford, CA

Linda Darling-Hammond is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University, where she has launched the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education and the School Redesign Network. She has served as faculty sponsor of the Stanford Teacher Education Program. She is a former president of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and a member of the National Academy of Education. Her research, teaching and policy work focus on issues of school reform, teacher quality and educational equity. From 1994 to 2001, she served as the executive director of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, a blue ribbon panel whose 1996 report, "What Matters Most: Teaching for America’s Future," led to sweeping policy changes in teaching nationally. In 2006, the report was named one of the most influential in U.S. education, and Darling-Hammond was named one of the 10 most influential people in education policy for the decade. 

Among her more than 300 publications are The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future (Teachers College Press, 2010); Powerful Teacher Education: Lessons from Exemplary Programs (Jossey-Bass, 2006); Preparing Teachers for a Changing World: What Teachers Should Learn and be Able to Do (with John Bransford, Jossey-Bass, 2005), winner of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education’s Pomeroy Award; Teaching as the Learning Profession (co-edited with Gary Sykes; Jossey-Bass, 1999), which received the National Staff Development Council’s Outstanding Book Award for 2000; and The Right to Learn (Jossey-Bass, 1st edition, 1997), recipient of AERA’s Outstanding Book Award for 1998.

John N. Dornan
Raleigh, NC

John N. Dornan is the founding executive director of the North Carolina Public School Forum and served from 1986 to 2011. During his time with the Public School Forum, he generated over $55 million to support the organization and helped frame legislation that resulted in over $2 billion of state support to low-wealth and small school systems.

John Dornan’s career began as a high school teacher. He has been an Adjunct Faculty professor for Cornell University and Appalachian State University. For the last forty years he has worked with and led membership-based and non-profit organizations. He has also worked in political campaigns and as a lobbyist. In North Carolina, he has been a member of several legislative study commissions and served on task forces charged with improving North Carolina schools and workforce preparation. He has examined and written reports about the educational systems of several countries, and as an advocate for global education, is frequently called upon to discuss and explain education approaches from countries worldwide.

In 2011, John Dornan started a new chapter and is now consulting with educational and non-profit groups. He continues to work for causes in which he believes and feels little organizations with big ideas can make huge differences. What drives and keeps him motivated is a quote by poet Robert Browning: “Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for?”

John Dornan earned a BA from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and did graduate work at the University of Pittsburgh. He is a recipient of the Institute for Educational Leadership’s National Leadership Award, and has been recognized in Who’s Who in American and Who’s Who in American Education.

Richard C. Harwood
Washington, D.C.

For more than 20 years, Richard C. Harwood has been dedicated to transforming our public and political lives by supporting individuals, organizations and communities in their quest to create change. He is a leading international authority on encouraging and empowering people to live their best public life. As the founder and president of The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, Rich has inspired and guided people to step forward and take action rooted in their community and stay true to themselves.

Rich is an expert contributor for the American news media including MSNBC, NPR, The Christian Science Monitor, CNN's Inside Politics, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Special Report with Brit Hume, C-SPAN, and many others.

He is also the author of Hope Unraveled, Make Hope Real and Why We’re Here: The Powerful Impact of Public Broadcasters When They Turn Outward, as well as numerous studies, articles and essays that chronicle the most vital issues of our time. His most recent written work, The Work of Hope, has just been finalized and will be available in Summer 2012. You can also find Rich on Twitter and Facebook.


Rich is a teacher and speaker, inspiring hundreds of audiences, and making a strong case for his philosophy of turning outward, being relevant, choosing intentionally, and staying true to themselves and their urge to create change.

Karen L. Mapp, Ph.D.
Cambridge, MA

Karen Mapp is a lecturer on education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her research and practice expertise is in the areas of educational leadership and educational partnerships among schools, families, and community members. Previously, she served as interim deputy superintendent of family and community engagement for the Boston Public Schools. 

Mapp also served as president of the Institute for Responsive Education, a research, policy, and advocacy organization that conducts research on and advocates for effective school, family, and community partnerships that support the educational development of children in Boston. She holds a doctorate and master's degree of education from Harvard in administration, planning and social policy; a master's in counselor education from Southern Connecticut State University; and a bachelor's degree in psychology from Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. 

She is the author of "Making the Connection between Families and Schools," published by the Harvard Education Letter (1997) and "Having Their Say: Parents Describe How and Why They Are Engaged in Their Children's Learning" in the School Community Journal (2002). She also coauthored with Anne Henderson A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family and Community Connections on Student Achievement (2002).

David Mathews, Ph.D.
Dayton, OH

David Mathews is the president and chief executive officer of the Kettering Foundation. Mathews was elected to the Kettering Foundation board of trustees in 1972, and in 1981 became its president and CEO. Prior to his work with the Kettering Foundation, Mathews served as U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare under President Gerald Ford. 

From 1965 to 1980, he taught history at the University of Alabama, where he also served as president from 1969 to 1980, an era of significant change and innovation, including the racial integration of the institution. At age 33, Mathews was the youngest president of a major university. Mathews received his A.B. degree in history and classical Greek, graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Alabama, and later received his Ph.D. in history from Columbia University. Mathews grew up in Grove Hill, Alabama, where he has deep roots. He maintains a family home there and is active in the Clarke County Historical Society and other civic projects. 

Mathews serves on the board of a variety of organizations, including the Gerald R. Ford Foundation, National Issues Forums Institute, the Council on Public Policy Education, and Public Agenda. He has written extensively on education, political theory, southern history, public policy and international problem solving. His books include Why Public Schools? Whose Public Schools? (NewSouth Books, 2003); For Communities to Work (Kettering Foundation, 2002); Politics for People: Finding a Responsible Public Voice (University of Illinois Press, 1999); and Is There a Public for Public Schools? (1996). His most recent book, Reclaiming Public Education by Reclaiming Our Democracy (Kettering Foundation Press, 2006), focuses on the relationship between the public and public education. Mathews is an avid gardener. He is happily married to his childhood sweetheart, Mary Chapman Mathews. They have two daughters and six grandchildren.

C. Kent McGuire, Ph.D.
Atlanta, GA

Kent McGuire is the president of the Southern Education Foundation, an Atlanta-based organization working to advance fairness and excellence in education across the region. Previously, he served as dean of the College of Education at Temple University and as the director of the Center for Research in Human Development and Education, a university-based research organization focused on effective strategies for educating poor and minority children. 

McGuire also has served as senior vice president at MDRC, where his responsibilities included leadership of the education, children, and youth division. From 1998 to 2001, he served in President Bill Clinton’s administration as an assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, where he was the senior officer for the department’s research and development agency. He was a program officer for education at the Pew Charitable Trusts in Philadelphia and the Lilly Endowment in Indianapolis, was an assistant professor at the University of Colorado, and a senior policy analyst and director of the School Finance Collaborative for the Education Commission of the States. 

He received his doctorate in public administration from the University of Colorado at Boulder, his master’s degree in education administration and policy from Teachers College, Columbia University, and his bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Michigan.

Deborah Meier
Hillsdale, NY

Deborah Meier spent 40 years as a teacher and principal in urban public schools. She is currently senior scholar at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education, and a board member and director of New Ventures at Mission Hill, a K-8 Boston Public Pilot school serving 180 children in the Roxbury community. She also is director and advisor to the Forum for Democracy and Education, and serves on the board of The Coalition of Essential Schools. 

A learning theorist, she encourages new approaches that enhance democracy and equity in public education. Meier is on the editorial board of Dissent magazine, The Nation and the Harvard Education Letter. She is a board member of the Association of Union Democracy, Educators for Social Responsibility, the Panasonic Foundation, and a founding member of the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards, the North Dakota Study Group on Evaluation and the Forum for Democracy and Education, among others. 

She attended Antioch College and received a master’s degree in history from the University of Chicago. She has received honorary degrees from Bank Street College of Education, Brown University, Bard College, Dartmouth University, Harvard University, Hofstra University, Hebrew Union College, The New School, Lesley College, Yale University and Teachers College, Columbia University, among others. She was a recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship in 1987. 

Meier is the author of The Power of Their Ideas, Lessons to America from a Small School in Harlem, Will Standards Save Public Education, In Schools We Trust, Keeping School (with Ted and Nancy Sizer), Many Children Left Behind, and other books and articles that enhance democracy and equity in public education.

Hayes Mizell
Columbia, SC

Hayes Mizell is the first distinguished senior fellow at Learning Forward, formerly the National Staff Development Council, based in Dallas. Learning Forward is the largest national education organization focused solely on increasing the performance levels of public school educators and their students through professional development. 

Previously, he directed the Program for Student Achievement of the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation from 1987 to 2003. Before joining the Clark Foundation, Mizell worked for more than 20 years as an advocate for better public schools in the South, both as a grassroots organizer and a proponent of education policy reform on behalf of disadvantaged students. A former twice-elected school board member in Columbia, S.C., Mizell was appointed in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter as the chairman of the National Advisory Council on the Education of Disadvantaged Children and served in that capacity until 1982. 

Mizell played leading roles in founding the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform, Grantmakers for Education, and the National Coalition of Advocates for Students. Since 2003, he has written articles, columns, and blogs for various publications of the National Staff Development Council.

Dick Molpus
Jackson, MS

Dick Molpus is the president of The Molpus Woodlands Group, a timberland investment management organization headquartered in Jackson (MS). He served as Mississippi’s secretary of state from 1984 to 1996. He is a Philadelphia, Miss., native and a graduate of the University of Mississippi. 

Molpus and his wife, Sally, were the founders of Parents for Public Schools (PPS), and he served as PPS’ national board president. In 2004, he received from the National Education Association the H. Council Trenholm Memorial Award for his work on behalf of public education. In 2005, he was inducted into the Mississippi Business Hall of Fame, and in 2008 he was honored as a Champion of Justice by the Mississippi Center of Justice. He currently is a member of the board of directors of the Wilson Research Foundation, the fund-raising arm of the Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson. He was co-chairman of the highly successful 2006 Jackson Public Schools bond campaign that brought $150 million for renovations and new schools in Mississippi’s capital. 

In 2007, he became the founding chairman of the United States Endowment for Forestry and Communities, a $200 million endowment funded by the U.S./Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement. The endowment is focused on improving forest health and assisting timber-reliant communities in the U.S. In 2009, he completed his term as chairman, but remains on the board of directors. Molpus also is a founding board member of the National Alliance of Forest Landowners (NAFO), which is dedicated to protecting and enhancing the economic and environmental values of privately owned forests through targeted policy advocacy at the national level.

Aurelio M. Montemayor
San Antonio, TX

Aurelio Montemayor is senior education associate and professional development team leader for IDRA (Intercultural Development Research Association) in Texas. He has extensive experience in working with school personnel, parents, and students. His career in education spans four decades and has included teaching at the high school, middle school, and elementary school levels. 

Montemayor has served as director of the Texas IDRA PIRC (Parent Information and Resource Center) since 1999. He previously directed IDRA’s Educators x Communities = English Language learners’ Success (ExCELS) project, an innovative professional development program that created learning communities of schools, families and communities for English learners’ academic success. He directed IDRA’s work in the national Mobilization for Equity project and led the formation of Families United for Education: Getting Organized (FUEGO) [Familias unidas para la educación: ganando organizadas] -- a Texas network of parents and community members from different backgrounds who work together to achieve the best possible education for all students. 

Montemayor also helped form the Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Public Education -- a San Antonio-based coalition of community organizations and individuals who support the use of public money for neighborhood public schools and who oppose any effort to divert public tax funds to subsidize private education. He also led the formation of the Parent Coalition for Bilingual Education, through which parents across the country are supporting bilingual education and developing their leadership skills. 

He received a bachelor’s degree in English and philosophy from St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas, and a master’s degree in bilingual education from Antioch Graduate School of Education in Ohio.

Pedro Noguera, Ph.D.
New York, NY

Pedro Antonio Noguera is a professor in the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University. He is also the executive director of the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education and the co-director of the Institute for the Study of Globalization and Education in Metropolitan Settings. An urban sociologist, Noguera’s scholarship and research focus on how schools are influenced by social and economic conditions in the urban environment.  

Between 2000 and 2003, Noguera served as the Judith K. Dimon Professor of Communities and Schools at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. From 1990 to 2000, he was a professor in social and cultural studies at the Graduate School of Education and the Director of the Institute for the Study of Social Change at the University of California, Berkeley. 

Noguera has published on topics such as urban school reform, conditions to promote improved student achievement, youth violence, the impact of school choice and vouchers on urban public schools, and race and ethnic relations in American society. He has been a classroom teacher, served on numerous advisory boards to youth organizations, and held an elected seat on a city school board – including a stint as president of the board. He also has advised school districts on closing the achievement gap and worked with charter school start-ups in inner city neighborhoods. 

He served on ASCD’s Task Force on the Education of the Whole Child and serves on the board of the Alliance for Excellent Education. His well-received books include Unfinished Business: Closing the Racial Achievement Gap in Our Schools and the recently released The Trouble With Black Boys: And Other Reflections on Race, Equity, and the Future of Public Education.  

Noguera earned his bachelors’ degree in sociology and history, a teaching credential and a master's degree in sociology from Brown University. He earned his doctorate in sociology from UC-Berkeley. He was a classroom teacher in public schools in Providence, R.I. and Oakland, Calif.

Lyndon L. Olson, Jr.
Waco, TX

Lyndon L. Olson, Jr. was nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1997, to be Ambassador to Sweden and took office in January 1998. Ambassador Olson previously served as the president and chief executive officer of Travelers Insurance Holdings Inc., and the Associated Madison Companies Inc. in New York. He has served as the president of the National Group Corp., and has been president and chief executive officer of the National Group Insurance Company. In addition, he is a cattle rancher and banker.

Ambassador Olson served as a member of the Texas House of Representatives from 1973 until 1978. A few of the awards he has received include: the Distinguished Alumni Award from Baylor University in 1999, the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Waco Public Schools in 1998, and the Gates of Jerusalem Award presented by the State of Israel. 

He has served as chair of the following organizations: the Mental Health Association of Texas, the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association, the Texas Lyceum Association, the Waco Chamber of Commerce, the Association of Fire & Casualty Companies of Texas, Texas Opera Theater, and the Texas Arts Alliance. He has served on the executive committee of the Houston Grand Opera and the Austin Lyric Opera, the Waco Symphony, the Austin Symphony and the Waco Art Center. He has been the president of the Baylor University Alumni Association, honorary co-chairman of the Fulbright Commission, and has served on the Board of Visitors of the Yale Music School and the Baylor University School of Music. He also has served on the Board of Visitors of the Baylor University School of Business, and is a member of The Council on Foreign Relations and The Philosophical Society of Texas. He serves on the board of trustees for Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas.

Olson also served on the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Institute for Social and Economic Policy in the Middle East, International Board of Advisors. He is a graduate of Baylor University and attended Baylor Law School. He is an elder in the Central Presbyterian Church of Waco, Texas.

The Honorable Lt. Governor Bill Ratliff
Mount Pleasant, TX

Bill Ratliff served in the Texas Senate from 1989 to 2003. He was elected Lieutenant Governor by fellow members of the Texas Senate, marking the first time in Texas history that the Senate selected one of its members to serve as Lieutenant Governor and President of the Senate. He chaired the Senate Education Committee from 1992-1996 and chaired the Senate Finance Committee from 1997-2000. As a Senator, he took bipartisan stands on a number of issues, including supporting a controversial reform, the "Robin Hood" education program, involving transfer of funds from wealthier to poorer school districts for a more equitable education funding scheme.

Bill Ratliff has worked to support quality, responsible, and equitable public education opportunities for children. He also works to support public school reform and believes, as was done with the creation of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, that “it has to be the “mamas” (of Texas) who take a stand and change education.”

Bill Ratliff is widely respected and revered for his bi-partisan work and was named one of Texas' Best Legislators by Texas Monthly magazine a record six times. He received a John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 2005. According to the foundation's website, Ratliff "enjoys the deep and abiding respect and gratitude of his fellow Texans, Republicans and Democrats alike," and has set "the example he has set of courage and principle in American public life."

Bill Ratliff was educated at Sonora High School in Sonora in Sutton County in West Texas and then at the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied civil engineering. He then worked as a civil engineer for thirty years. Ratliff and his wife Sally have three children and eight grandchildren.

The Honorable Richard W. "Dick" Riley
Greenville, SC
Chosen by President Bill Clinton in 1992 to serve as the U.S. Secretary of Education, the former governor of South Carolina is one of the nation’s most respected public officials. He has spent decades pushing for better educational opportunities for America’s children. The Christian Science Monitor called Riley “one of the great statesmen of education in this century.” Time named him one of the top 20 Cabinet members of the 20th century.

In his eight years as secretary, Riley led President Clinton’s national crusade for excellence in education, pushing to make education America’s top priority. He launched historic initiatives to raise academic standards, improve instruction for the poor and disadvantaged and expand grants and loan programs to help more Americans go to college. He helped to give schools and libraries deep discounts for Web access and telecommunications. His goals as secretary included helping all children to master the basics of reading and math, reducing class sizes in grades 1-3, modernizing school buildings, and helping students use technology more effectively.

Born in Greenville County (SC), he graduated cum laude from Furman University and served as an officer on a U. S. Navy minesweeper. He earned a law degree from the University of South Carolina, was a state legislator from 1963 to 1977, and was elected governor in 1978 and reelected in 1982, successfully pushing for a historic vote on a statewide sales tax to improve public education. When Riley was governor, South Carolina amended its constitution for him to run for a second term. While governor, he chaired the Southern Regional Education Board, among other posts.He is a senior partner at the Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP and lives in Greenville, S.C. He serves as a distinguished professor of education at the University of South Carolina and a distinguished professor of government, politics, and public leadership at the Richard W. Riley Institute at Furman University. Two education colleges bear his name. Riley and his late, beloved wife, “Tunky,” had four children and 14 grandchildren – whom Riley brags about constantly.

The Honorable Governor Ted Strickland
Columbus, OH
Ted Strickland was elected the governor of Ohio in 2006, serving one four-year term and successfully pushing for major reforms to improve education. While many states were cutting school funding, he invested more in public schools in all of his budgets. He won support for a historic education reforms in 2009, ensuring Ohio’s schools are constitutionally funded. The Education Commission of the States awarded his education plan an innovation award for “bold, courageous and nonpartisan new policies.”

In July 2009, he signed into law a school funding plan that called for increasing the state’s share of education funding to more than 60 percent by 2018, lessening reliance on local property taxes. He directed more than $4 billion for school construction and renovation. He helped to pass a new Ohio graduation test that stresses the skills and knowledge students actually need. He pushed for requirements that new teachers be trained to provide more project-based, cooperative and interactive instruction, and the nation’s first-of-its-kind system to ensure better teacher-education programs. His Closing the Achievement Gap initiative helped more at-risk ninth-graders stay in school, and he increased state oversight of charter schools.

Previously, he served six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, co-authoring the Children’s Health Insurance Program that provides coverage for millions of children nationwide. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Asbury College in Kentucky, a master’s from Asbury Theological Seminary and a doctorate from the University of Kentucky. He was a Methodist minister and children’s home administrator, and a psychology professor and prison psychologist. In 1987, he married Frances Smith, an educational psychologist.

Angela Valenzuela, Ph.D.
Austin, TX

Angela Valenzuela is an associate vice president of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin, and the director for the Texas Center for Education Policy and the National Latino Education Research and Policy (NLERAP) project. A Stanford University graduate, Valenzuela is also a professor in the university’s Department of Curriculum & Instruction and the Department of Educational Administration. She is the author of Subtractive Schooling: U.S. Mexican Youth and the Politics of Caring (State University of New York Press, 1999) and Leaving Children Behind: How “Texas-style” Accountability Fails Latino Youth (State University of New York Press, 2004). 

Her work centers on the public schooling experiences and outcomes for poor, minority, and English-language learning youth, and how policies and practices impact these youth and their families. As the director of the Texas Center for Education Policy, she further ensures student-centered research that promotes equity is made accessible to legislators so that policies take minority students’ needs into account. In 2009, her research on the harms of testing prompted a monumental shift in the way Texas’ third-graders are assessed. No longer will promotion to the fourth grade for these children be solely based on test performance. Rather, a holistic assessment based on grades, attendance, classroom performance, teacher and parent assessments, and test performance will be considered.

The Honorable Governor William F. Winter
Jackson, MS

Governor Winter is best known for leading the charge for publicly-funded primary education as the governor of Mississippi from 1980 to 1984. His governance echoed his belief that all people, regardless of race or class, should be entitled to the same rights and privileges as the most privileged Americans. He is known for his strong support of public education, racial reconciliation, and historic preservation. He successfully pushed for passage of the Mississippi Education Reform Act, the state’s first major effort to improve public education decades -- and, among other things, established public kindergarten. While in law school, he was first elected to the state legislature. He later served as the state tax collector and as state treasurer.

In a substantial way, Governor Winter's accomplishments were honored in 1997 when President Bill Clinton initiated “One America,” an unprecedented national conversation on race. Winter served on the board of One America, helping to bring the only public forum in the Deep South to the University of Mississippi. President Clinton has called Winter a “great champion of civil rights,” and many admirers see Gov. Winter as a guiding light on education and race relations for Mississippi and America.

Born in Grenada (MS), he served in the U.S. Army in World War II and the Korean War. He graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1943 and finished his law degree there. He has since been awarded several honorary degrees. He also served as the Jamie Whitten Professor of Law and Government at the University of Mississippi School of Law, the Eudora Welty Professor of Southern Studies at Millsaps College; a fellow at the Institute of Politics, Harvard University; and president of the Ole Miss Alumni Association. The William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi is named in his honor. He was chosen for a Profile in Courage Award by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in 2008. He continues to practice law with the Jackson, Miss., firm of Watkins Ludlum Winter & Stennis P.A., which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2005.

The Honorable Governor Bob Wise
Washington, DC

Former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise is president of the Alliance for Excellent Education (the Alliance), a nonprofit organization that has become a national leader for reforming the nation’s high schools so that all students graduate from high school prepared to succeed in college and a career. Led by Gov. Wise since 2005, the Alliance has become a respected advocate for the Common Core State Standards, deeper learning, digital learning, adolescent literacy, and other key education policy issues.

After serving a combined twenty-four years as governor, member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and state legislator, Gov. Wise has become a sought-after speaker and advisor on education issues as well as an advisor to the U.S. Department of Education, White House, and key policymakers in the U.S. Congress. In 2011, Gov. Wise was named to the NonProfit Times’s “Power & Influence Top 50,” an annual listing of the fifty most influential executives in the nonprofit sector.

Gov. Wise earned a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and a juris doctorate degree from Tulane University School of Law. He has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. He and his wife Sandy live in Washington, DC, and have two grown children.

Robert W. "Bob" Witherspoon
Herndon, PA

An educator and family/community involvement specialist for more than 30 years, Bob Witherspoon is the former training specialist and executive director of the National Coalition of Title I Parents. In this role, he coordinated the information, training and technical assistance services of the education’s headquarters, The National Parent Center, in Washington, D.C. 

Currently a national education consultant, Witherspoon previously served as a senior research associate for RMC Research Corp., in Arlington, Va., for more than 15 years. In this role, he was involved in several national and state-level education initiatives, including the nonprofit New York Comprehensive Center for education, the National Head Start training project, and the Region III Comprehensive Center at The George Washington University (GWU). 

His current clients include the Guilford County Schools in Greensboro, N.C., where he provides technical assistance and professional development to the district’s Title I family engagement efforts. Other clients include the Red Clay Consolidated School District in Wilmington, Del.; the National Coalition of Title I Parents Region V; the Mid-Atlantic Comprehensive Center (MACC); and the National Education Association (NEA). 

He has served on the board of directors of Parents for Public Schools, the National PTA, the National Council on the Education of Black Children, and is a founding board member of the National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education. His writings include the NEA’s family/school/community partnerships training manual; Changing the Conversation, published by the Center on Innovation and Improvement; and The Involvement of African-American Families in Education: Whose Responsibility Is It?, published by the Mid-Atlantic Equity Center at GWU. He was the editor of the National Coalition of Title I Parents newsletter and 25th anniversary yearbook. He lives in Herndon (VA).