Learning First Alliance

Strengthening public schools for every child


Alexandria, V.A. August 31, 2015 Learning First Alliance Executive Director Cheryl Scott Williams announced her retirement from the organization on Dec. 31, 2015. Williams has led the Alliance, a coalition of 15 national education organizations, since 2010.

LFA’s Executive Board has organized a search committee, chaired by National School Boards Association Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel, which has hired Strategic Performance Group to facilitate the search.  

“Cheryl Williams has very capably brought together the LFA member organizations to advance teaching and learning in public schools across the country,” said Stephanie Hirsh, the 2015-16 LFA Board Chair and Executive Director of Learning Forward. “On behalf of the LFA member groups, we wish Cheryl the best in her retirement, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration and commitment to public education.” 

During Williams’ tenure, the Alliance led a communications campaign to change the narrative around public education and the professionals who work in the public education system. As part of that initiative LFA hosted a blog series on Education Week and created presentation tools to support the campaign. Under Williams’ leadership for the past two years, LFA has led the Get It Right: Common Sense on the Common Core, a national campaign showcasing the need for time, support and resources to implement college and career ready standards and the schools, districts, and educators who are using effective strategies in implementation of that major school improvement initiative.

Williams is a nationally recognized leader in education reform and improvement through development of collaborative working teams among and within large education organizations. Prior to working with LFA, Williams served as a senior consultant at APQC. She was previously Vice President, Strategic Initiatives at Teachscape, a San Francisco-based company that designs and delivers online, job-embedded professional development for teachers and principals. She also worked as Vice President, Education at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and as Director of Education Technology Programs at NSBA. She began her career in education as a classroom teacher of middle and high school English.

Working with the LFA Search Committee, Strategic Performance Group has begun its search for the organization’s next executive.

“The Learning First Alliance serves a critical role in convening major education organizations in Washington,” Gentzel said. “The work and relationships cultivated within LFA help advance research and best practices in public education and provide an invaluable service to its members as well as local school officials across the country.”

Strategic Performance Group (SPG), a management consulting firm based in Vienna, Va., is a group of organization development specialists and industrial psychologists that specializes in assisting nonprofits with talent acquisition and management. Partner Christina L. Greathouse will facilitate the search for LFA. Interested candidates should send their résumé in the strictest confidence to:

Christina L. Greathouse, Ph.D.
Partner, Strategic Performance Group

View the complete release here.


CoSN Chief Executive Officer Keith R. Krueger to serve on Alliance’s board

Washington, D.C. – July 9, 2015 – The Learning First Alliance (LFA), a partnership of leading education organizations representing more than 10 million parents, educators and policymakers, welcomes the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), a nonprofit organization that serves as the voice for K-12 school system technology leaders in North America, as its newest member. CoSN’s Chief Executive Officer Keith R. Krueger will serve on LFA’s board of directors as the Alliance continues its work for the advancement of public education.

“CoSN’s dedication to empowering educational leaders and supporting public education aligns closely with our work at LFA as a whole,” said Cheryl S. Williams, executive director of the Learning First Alliance. “The addition of this organization to the Alliance, as well as the added leadership of Keith Krueger on our board, will be a major asset as we continue our outreach and advocacy efforts.”

CoSN is the professional association for district technology leaders. For more than two decades, CoSN has provided leaders with the management, community building, and advocacy tools they need to succeed. Today, CoSN represents more than 10 million students in school districts nationwide and continues to grow as a powerful and influential voice in K-12 education.

Krueger has served as CoSN’s CEO since 1995. Technology & News selected him as one of the “big 10” most influential people in ed tech in 2015.  In 2008 he was selected by eSchool News as one of ten people who have had a profound impact on educational technology over the last decade.

He serves on many Advisory Boards including eSchool News, the Education Committee of the National Park System, the Friday Institute at NC State University and the Wireless Reach Advisory Board. He is a past Board Member/Treasurer of the National Coalition on Technology in Education & Training (NCTET). 

Krueger has a global reputation as a key thought leader and has organized senior-level U.S. delegations to visit Australia, Asia, Europe, and South America to examine best practices in information and communication technologies in education. As a Certified Association Executive (CAE), he has an extensive background in nonprofit management and has a Masters from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

View the complete release here.


ASCD’s Deborah S. Delisle and PDK’s Dr. Joshua P. Starr bring wealth of education experience to new roles at LFA

Washington, D.C. – July 2, 2015 – The Learning First Alliance (LFA), a partnership of leading education organizations representing more than 10 million parents, educators and policymakers, welcomes Deborah S. Delisle, executive director and chief executive officer of ASCD, and Dr. Joshua P. Starr, chief executive officer of Phi Delta Kappa (PDK) International, as its newest board members. Both individuals bring a wealth of education experience to LFA as it continues its leadership and advocacy efforts to improve learning in America’s public schools.

“Both Deborah and Joshua are esteemed leaders in education, bringing extensive expertise to their respective organizations, as well as to LFA as our newest board members,” said Cheryl S. Williams, executive director of the Learning First Alliance. “We look forward to working with them as we continue our ongoing advocacy and work toward the advancement of public education.”

Prior to joining ASCD in July 2015, Delisle served as a teacher, gifted education specialist, curriculum director, elementary school principal, district associate superintendent, superintendent, and most recently as the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education. She was nominated to this position by President Obama in January 2012 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on April 27, 2012. During her tenure, she played a pivotal role in policy and management issues affecting elementary and secondary education for the U.S. Department of Education. Delisle coordinated and recommended policy for programs designed to assist state and local education agencies in improving the achievement of elementary and secondary school students.

Before her work at the Department of Education, Delisle was a senior fellow at the International Center for Leadership in Education with a deep interest in educator performance systems and creating transformative cultures in schools and districts to support educators and students. Prior to that, she served as Ohio's 35th state superintendent of public instruction from 2008 to 2011.

Prior to joining PDK in June 2015, Dr. Starr most recently was superintendent of the 154,000-student Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) in suburban Washington, D.C. Dr. Starr, a father of three who attend public schools in Montgomery County, began his career as a teacher in Brooklyn, NY, working with adolescents with several emotional disabilities. He later served as director of accountability for the New York City public schools and as superintendent of the Stamford, CT, schools. Dr. Starr has a doctorate in education from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, a master’s degree in special education from Brooklyn College, and a bachelor’s degree in English and history from the University of Wisconsin.

During his tenure at Montgomery County, Dr. Starr developed a reputation as a leader who was focused on ensuring that all MCPS students received a high-quality education focused on academic excellence, creative problem solving and social-emotional learning. Under his leadership, MCPS directed more funds to schools that enroll many high-need students, expanded community engagement and partnerships, created a data-driven early warning system to identify students at risk of failing, and revised the district’s discipline policy to reduce out-of-school suspensions. Graduation rates increased across the board during Dr. Starr’s tenure, and he revised school report cards to include comprehensive measures of school improvement, including well-being and employee engagement.

View the complete release here.


Stephanie Hirsh brings wealth of leadership experience to LFA as organization continues its work for the advancement of public education

Washington, D.C. – June 23, 2015 – The Learning First Alliance (LFA), a partnership of leading education organizations representing more than 10 million parents, educators and policymakers, has named Stephanie Hirsh, executive director of Learning Forward, as the 2015-16 chair of LFA’s Board of Directors. Committed to increasing student achievement and educator effectiveness through standards-based professional learning, Hirsh has served in her current position at Learning Forward since 2007. Learning Forward is a membership association focused on building the capacity of leaders to establish and sustain highly effective professional learning.

“Stephanie Hirsh’s extensive experience as a teacher, administrator, school board member, and organizational leader has positively impacted the students and educators she has served, as well as public education as a whole,” said Cheryl S. Williams, executive director of the Learning First Alliance. “Now, as the chair of LFA’s Board of Directors, Stephanie will be instrumental in leading our organization’s efforts to promote successful work in our nation’s public schools and the continued and long-term improvement of our public education system.”

Before her appointment as executive director of Learning Forward, which has more than 10,000 members and 40 state and provincial affiliates, Hirsh served the association as deputy executive director for 18 years. She began her career as a secondary teacher and later served as a school district administrator in the Richardson (TX) Independent School District. In 1996 she was elected to the Richardson school board and served for three terms. Today, Hirsh advises policymakers, state and local superintendents, foundation leaders, and other thought leaders on improving student learning through effective professional learning and school improvement.  

Hirsh also presents, publishes, and consults on Learning Forward’s behalf across North America. Her recent books include Becoming a Learning System (2014), co-authored with Frederick Brown and Kay Psencik; A School Board Guide to Leading Successful Schools (2013), co-authored with Anne Foster;  A Playbook for Professional Learning (2011), co-authored with Shirley Hord; The Learning Educator (2009), co-authored with Joellen Killion; and, Transforming Schools Through Powerful Planning (2006), co-authored with Kay Psencik. Hirsh writes a regular column for JSD, Learning Forward’s bi-monthly magazine. She has also written articles for Educational Leadership, Phi Delta Kappan, The Record, The School Administrator, American School Board Journal, The High School Magazine, and Education Week

Hirsh serves on the advisory boards Knowledge Alliance, University of Texas College of Education, and National STEM Equity Pipeline. She has been recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award by Learning Forward Texas; as a Distinguished Alumnae from the University of North Texas; and, as Master Trustee and member of an Honor Board from the Texas School Boards Association. 

In addition to the appointment of Hirsh as chair, LFA’s Board of Directors has elected Thomas J. Gentzel, executive director of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), as its 2015-16 secretary treasurer.

View the complete release here.