Join the conversation

...about what is working in our public schools.


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.


Nathan R. Monell brings extensive experience leading nonprofit organizations and associations to new role at LFA

Washington, D.C. – May 19, 2015 – The Learning First Alliance (LFA), a partnership of leading education organizations representing more than 10 million parents, educators and policymakers, welcomes Nathan R. Monell, executive director of National PTA, as its newest board member. An advocate for parental engagement in schools and the continued educational success of students nationwide, Monell brings extensive leadership experience working with nonprofit organizations and associations to his new role at LFA.

“Nathan Monell’s impressive background in leading nonprofit organizations and associations will be an asset to the LFA Board of Directors and our organization’s work to advance public education,” said Cheryl S. Williams, executive director of the Learning First Alliance. “Under the collective leadership of all of our board of directors, and through the ongoing work of their respective organizations, LFA continues to make great strides in its advocacy of public education and improved teaching and learning.”

Bringing more than 20 years of experience leading nonprofit organizations and associations, Monell joined National PTA as its executive director on May 11, 2015. Prior to the National PTA, Monell most recently served as the president and CEO of the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships, the advocacy, technical assistance and training organization for the federal GEAR UP program (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs). GEAR UP is a $300 million program of the U.S. Department of Education that serves some 600,000 students from low-income communities by helping them enroll and succeed in postsecondary institutions. Prior to this position, Monell was president and CEO of Foster Care Alumni of America, a national advocacy association of adults who were in the foster care system as children.

Monell holds an M.A. in Communication Studies from the University of Michigan with a focus on organizational communication and behavior. He earned his B.A. in Speech from Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Mich. He is a 2002 graduate of the Georgetown University Center for Professional Development’s Nonprofit Management Certification Program and received his Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation from the American Society of Association Executives in 2009.

To learn more about National PTA, visit To learn more about the LFA, visit

View the complete release here.


ASCD Executive Director Judy Seltz to serve on Alliance’s Board of Directors as LFA works to advance public education

Washington, D.C. – February 19, 2015 – The Learning First Alliance (LFA), a partnership of leading education organizations representing more than 10 million parents, educators and policymakers, welcomes ASCD as its newest member organization. Through this partnership, Judy Seltz, executive director of ASCD, will join LFA’s Board of Directors as the Alliance continues its work for the advancement of public education.

“ASCD’s dedication to excellence in learning, teaching and leading aligns with – and supports – the mission and ongoing work of LFA and our member organizations as a whole,” said Cheryl S. Williams, executive director of the Learning First Alliance. “Through this partnership, and with the expertise of Judy Seltz as a board member, ASCD will be instrumental in helping the Alliance promote the ongoing successes of our nation’s public schools.”

Founded in 1943, ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development is a global community dedicated to excellence in learning, teaching, and leading. Comprising 125,000 members—superintendents, principals, teachers, and advocates from more than 138 countries—the ASCD community also includes 56 affiliate organizations. ASCD's innovative solutions promote the success of each child.

Judy Seltz was appointed executive director of ASCD in June 2014. She formerly served ASCD as Chief Officer of Constituent Services and Deputy Executive Director.  In that capacity she directed the association's work with its affiliates and other constituent groups in the United States and across the globe, on public policy, governance, and the whole child. 

Prior to that role, Seltz served as associate executive director for planning and communications at AASA: The School Superintendents Association. She also worked with International Schools Services in Princeton, N.J., where she supported American international schools overseas, coordinating and directing strategic planning, professional development, and school board training. In the mid-1990s, she served as an ASCD regional director, working with various constituent groups.

Additionally, Seltz spent eight years on the school board of Alexandria City (VA) Public Schools as a member and chair. She also served as the managing editor of Education of the Handicapped Law Report and The Special Educator.

Seltz earned her bachelor's degree from Brandeis University, her Master of Education from Harvard University Graduate School of Education, and her J.D. from George Mason University School of Law.

To learn more about ASCD, visit To learn more about the LFA, visit

View the complete release here.