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Leonie Haimson

Founder and Executive Director of Class Size Matters

Leonie Haimson is the founder and Executive Director of Class Size Matters, a nonprofit organization that advocates for smaller classes in New York City’s public schools and the nation as a whole. She started the organization in 2000 and continues to lead her team in achieving their goals. The New York Times has called her the “city’s leading proponent of smaller classes.” The organization provides information on the benefits of smaller classes, particularly for at-risk children, as well as helps parents learn how to amplify their voices in decision-making at the school, district, state and national levels. Class Size Matters holds a Parent Action Conference each spring, where hundreds of parents attend workshops to learn about how to become more engaged and active in education policies.



Andrew Hamilton

President of New York University

Andrew Hamilton became the 16th president of New York University on January 1, 2016. Under President Hamilton’s leadership, NYU has made significant advances. Applications for first-year admission have increased by 40 percent, and this fall the University welcomed the most selective and diverse freshman class in its history. Since President Hamilton’s arrival, NYU has increased its research expenditures at a rate higher than any other U.S. college or university. At the same time, President Hamilton put into place the lowest year-to-year increase in cost-of-attendance in two decades, in support of his priority of making NYU more affordable and accessible. Before coming to NYU, Dr. Hamilton served as the vice chancellor of Oxford University, a post he held since 2009. His tenure as vice chancellor was distinguished by the launch of a new School of Government and the expansion of the business school; the enhancement of interdisciplinary research and teaching; and the restructuring of Oxford’s medical school and hospital into a modern academic medical center, among other initiatives.



Kathy Hochul

Governor of New York

Governor Kathy Hochul began her career in public service on her local Town Board before serving as Erie County Clerk, and then as a member of Congress for New York’s 26th Congressional District. She more recently held statewide office as Lieutenant Governor and now serves as the first female Governor of the State of New York. As Lieutenant Governor from 2015 to 2021, Hochul successfully spearheaded numerous initiatives and lead the administration’s economic development and job creation efforts across the state, working every day to advocate for policies that help all New Yorkers make ends meet. She also helped New York State manage the COVID-19 pandemic response, while focusing on a recovery built on greater inclusivity. As Lieutenant Governor, she championed the Enough is Enough law to prevent sexual assault on college campuses, spearheaded the state’s Paid Family Leave program, and worked to eliminate the gender wage gap, expand access to affordable child care, and combat sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace and beyond. She served as chair of the State’s Women’s Suffrage Commission and co-chair of the state’s Child Care Availability Task Force.



Russell K. Hotzler

President of New York City College of Technology

On August 23, 2004, Russell K. Hotzler became the eighth president of New York City College of Technology of The City University of New York, bringing to his position a wealth of experience in higher education and a deep commitment to enhancing the academic opportunities afforded to the students served by the City University of New York. During Dr. Hotzler’s tenure at City Tech, enrollments have risen by 4,000 students and the full-time faculty has grown by 130, now totaling 415. Significant curriculum reform has been underway and faculty and student research has expanded rapidly. The College has launched an ambitious program of renovating and enlarging its physical plant to provide technically advanced instructional facilities for its expanding professional programs. The College has gained substantial public recognition for high-tech workforce development in areas essential to economic growth. Prior to this presidency, Dr. Hotzler served as the Vice Chancellor for Academic Program Planning at The City University of New York, a position that held system-wide responsibility for planning and program initiatives.



Julie Jackson and Brett Peiser

President and Chief Executive Officer of Uncommon Schools

Julie Jackson is the President of Uncommon Schools, a network of 55 urban public charter schools serving 20,000 students from low-income communities. Before serving as President, Jackson served as a Chief Schools Officer, principal, and teacher starting with Teach for America as well as a Board of Trustee to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. Over the course of her career, she has trained over 30,000 teachers and leaders nationally and internationally. During her three decades in education, Jackson’s strong leadership and commitment to improving public education have earned her several honors including the Teacher of the Year and TFA’s Peter Jennings Award for Civic Leadership.


Brett Peiser is the Chief Executive Officer of Uncommon Schools. Prior to becoming CEO in 2012, Brett helped launch the organization by starting and managing Uncommon’s schools in Brooklyn. Since its founding in 1997, 99% of Uncommon high school seniors have been accepted to 4-year colleges and nearly 75% of high school graduates have either graduated from college or are on track to graduate. Uncommon Schools is the proud recipient of the Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools, which honors public charters with the best academic outcomes for students from low-income backgrounds. Brett is a graduate of New York City public schools, and a former history teacher at Midwood High School in Brooklyn. He received his B.A. from Brown University and his M.A. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and is a recipient of the Broad Fellowship for Education Leaders and Pahara-Aspen Fellowship.



Erik Joerss

Director of Government Affairs at the New York City Charter School Center

As the longtime political strategist and operative of the New York City Charter School Center, Erik has helped navigate New York City’s charter school movement through Albany and City Hall, designing campaigns and building coalitions throughout the sector to grow support among elected officials on behalf of the 145,000 students served by the 272 NYC charter schools.



Alicia Johnson and Jim Manly

President & Chief Operation Officer and Superintendent of the Knowledge is Power Program NYC

Alicia joined the Knowledge is Power Program NYC as the Director of Operations at KIPP Through College in 2007, advanced to a role as Managing Director of College Services in 2010, and then became Managing Director of Data and Operations in 2012. Alicia assumed the position of Chief Operating Officer in 2015 and in 2018 grew her role to President and COO. Prior to KIPP NYC, Alicia worked as a Consultant at Wellspring Consulting and as a Program Associate at the National League of Cities. Alicia earned her B.A. in Public Policy from Stanford University and her M.B.A. from the Yale School of Management.


Jim Manly serves as Superintendent of KIPP NYC, a network of public charter schools (18 schools as of summer 2021) in New York City. Jim came to KIPP NYC in 2015 with 30 years of experience in K-12 education. He previously worked with the national KIPP Foundation as the Senior Director of Instructional Leadership with KIPP co-founder, Dave Levin. From 2007 to 2014, Jim was the Founding Principal of Success Academy Harlem 2 Elementary, which became the top performing school, public or private, in Harlem District 5. He has an additional ten years of leadership experience as Principal of Manhattan Charter School, Assistant Director of Teaneck Community Charter School, and Executive Director of Teach for America in Washington, DC. Before entering educational leadership, Jim was a New York City public school teacher, earning Teacher of the Year in 1998 at M.S. 321X. Jim earned his B.A. in English from Union College and his master’s of Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.



Alan Kadish

President of Touro College

Before being named Touro’s second president in March 2010, Dr. Kadish distinguished himself as a prominent cardiologist, dedicated teacher and researcher, and experienced administrator. A graduate of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University, Dr. Kadish received postdoctoral training at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a fellow in cardiology. He is board certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular disease, and cardiac electrophysiology. Prior to joining Touro in 2009 as Senior Provost and Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Kadish taught at the University of Michigan and held a 19-year tenure at Northwestern University. He served Northwestern as the Chester and Deborah Cooley Professor of Medicine, Senior Associate Chief of the Cardiology division, Director of the Cardiovascular Clinical Trials unit, and sat on the finance and investment committees of the Northwestern clinical practice plan.



Rafiq Kalam Id-Din

Founder and Managing Partner of Ember Charter Schools

Rafiq R. Kalam Id-Din II, Esq., is Founder & Managing Partner of Ember Charter Schools for Mindful Education, Innovation, and Transformation. A social entrepreneur, activist, teacher, lawyer and nonprofit leader with over 25 years of experience, Rafiq grew up in severe poverty in inner-city Philadelphia during the height of the crack epidemic and violence of the 1980s and early 1990s. After receiving his B.A. and M.A. from the University of Virginia, Rafiq received his J.D. from NYU School of Law as a Thurgood Marshall Scholar. A co-founder of the New York Black Latinx Asian Charter Collaborative, co-founder and former Executive Board member of the NYC Coalition of Community Charter Schools, and founder of the #BlackLedSchoolsMatter initiative, Rafiq also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Echoing Green, The National Charter Collaborative, The Brooklyn Crescents, and as President of the NYU Law Alumni of Color Association (LACA). Rafiq was recently honored as a recipient of the Black Voices for Social Justice Fund Award from the Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation.



Melissa Katz

Director of The Collaborative for Inclusive Education

A former teacher, Melissa Katz is now an inclusion and equity advocate for historically underserved populations in NYC charter schools. As Director of The Collaborative for Inclusive Education, an initiative of the New York City Charter School Center, her mission is to empower schools to develop high quality, inclusive educational environments that ensure equity and access for all. Serving over 230 charters across the five boroughs, she oversees a team of five and works to make certain that schools have access to the essential support, trainings (over 130 annually), coaching, resources and technical assistance necessary to ensure the success of their students with disabilities and multilingual learners. Melissa also represents the Collaborative and charter schools in city and state working groups and advocacy efforts, particularly pushing for the equitable treatment and oversight of charter students with disabilities and language justice for English language learner communities.



James Kemple

Executive Director of the Research Alliance for New York City Schools

Dr. James Kemple is the Executive Director of the Research Alliance for New York City Schools and Research Professor at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University. Dr. Kemple is particularly well known for his work examining high school reform efforts, assessing performance trends in NYC’s educational landscape, and designing rigorous impact evaluations. As Executive Director, Dr. Kemple provides guidance and oversight for all Research Alliance work. He also serves as the Principal Investigator on a range of Research Alliance studies including those examining the efficacy of on-track indicators for different grade levels, performance trends in NYC high schools, and the effects of school closure. He collaborates with the NYC Department of Education, private foundations, and other stakeholders to identify research priorities and develop new lines of inquiry. Prior to joining the Research Alliance, Dr. Kemple spent more than 18 years at the nonprofit organization MDRC, where he served as the Director of MDRC’s K-12 Education Policy Area.



Jelena Kovačević

Dean of New York University Tandon School of Engineering

Jelena Kovačević became the Dean of the New York University Tandon School of Engineering in August 2018. She is the first woman to head the school since its founding in 1854 as the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute. At Tandon, she is committed to getting more women interested in technology. Tandon’s freshman class has more than double the national average of women in engineering and a quarter of its faculty are women, but Jelena works to make that number grow. She is focused on investing in research (Tandon recorded its highest single year research expenditures at $52M) and helping the school continue its historic rise in the college rankings (over 40 spots in a decade). She also oversees 12 research centers committed to advancing topics like AI, 5G, cyber security, and urban development. She is also the founder and co-chair of the Northeast Regional Deans (NeRDs) council.



Nina Kubota

President & Chief Executive Officer and Chief of Staff at the New York City School Construction Authority

Nina Kubota is President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York City School Construction Authority, whose mission is to improve teaching facilities and educational services for the city’s schoolchildren. Ms. Kubota has served at the SCA since 1998, most recently as senior vice president for Capital Plan Development and Implementation although she also has experience in the SCA’s Architecture and Engineering Department as well as the Administrative Services Division.



Stefan Lallinger

Director of the Bridges Collaborative at The Century Foundation

Stefan Lallinger is a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, the director of TCF’s Bridges Collaborative and scholar-in-residence and adjunct faculty at American University. He focuses on issues of racial and socioeconomic integration, equity, school governance, and district-charter relationships. Dr. Lallinger previously worked as a special assistant to Chancellor Richard Carranza in the New York City Department of Education working on agency policy and strategy. He earned his doctorate from Harvard University, where he studied integration and school district leadership. At Harvard, he received a fellowship with the Reimagining Integration: Diverse and Equitable Schools (RIDES) Project, coordinated the Education Redesign Lab’s By All Means Initiative in Providence, Rhode Island, and facilitated professional learning for some of the nation’s largest districts with the Public Education Leadership Project (PELP) held at Harvard Business School.



Mark Lauria

Executive Director of the New York State Association of Independent Schools

Since 2009, Dr. Mark Lauria has served as the executive director of the New York State Association of Independent Schools. In addition to 13 years of leadership experience at an independent school in California, Dr. Lauria has also worked within the public school system, advancing to the position of assistant superintendent. He remains actively involved in nonprofit organizing, including several organizations to advance independent school networks.



George E. Leonard

Principal of CAMPA Charter School

George E. Leonard is the Principal of the Collegiate Academy for Mathematics and Personal Awareness (CAMPA) Charter School. The curriculum at CAMPA includes rigorous training in math and science, preparing students well for future careers in STEM fields. Principal Leonard also understands the importance of individualized instruction and personal growth, and the comprehensive framework embraced by CAMPA cultivates the long-term success of students. In addition to his work at CAMPA, Mr. Leonard also teaches as an adjunct professor at Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York (CUNY).



Maury Litwack

Executive Director of the Teach Coalition

As founder and Executive Director of the Teach Coalition, Maury Litwack has grown the organization from a single staffer to a multi-state network responsible for billions of dollars in new state funding to non-public schools. He leads TEACH’s advocacy on every issue of import for schools and families: tuition subsidies, STEM advancement, health and nutrition programs, and the priority issue of school safety. Today TEACH is hundreds of schools strong and counts a national core of over 500 politically active lay leaders and thousands of engaged parent and student activists to deliver their message to elected officials and candidates both at the statehouse and at home.



John Liu

New York State Senator and Chair of the Committee on New York City Education

John C. Liu is a New York State Senator representing a broad area of northeast Queens.  He is chairperson of the Senate’s Committee on New York City Education and also serves on the committees of Budget & Revenue, Education, Finance, Higher Education, Rules and Transportation. John was Comptroller of the City of New York (2010-2013) and a New York City Councilmember (2002-2009). As the 43rd Comptroller of New York City, John Liu established an impressive record as the chief financial officer for 8.4 million residents and oversaw municipal government with an annual budget of $70 billion. John saved taxpayers $5 billion through rigorous audits of city agencies, detailed scrutiny of contracts with private companies, and refinancing of $20 billion of outstanding city bond debt. John created the nationally acclaimed online application “,” providing unprecedented transparency in government spending. Currently, John teaches municipal finance and public policy in master’s programs at the City University of New York (CUNY) and Columbia University. 



Robert Lowry, Jr.

Deputy Director for Advocacy and Communications for the New York State Council of School Superintendents

Robert Lowry is Deputy Director for Advocacy and Communications for the New York State Council of School Superintendents. He joined the Council in 2002. He began his career in public policy nearly 40 years ago on the staff of the Assembly Higher Education Committee and later served as the Assembly Ways and Means Committee’s principal School Aid analyst and as Assistant Secretary to the Governor for Education in the Arts during the last three years of Mario Cuomo’s time in office. Immediately before joining the Council, he worked for New York State United Teachers as Manager of School Finance and Policy Development. Robert is a graduate of the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo and earned a master’s degree in Public Administration from the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at SUNY Albany. He resides in Delmar, New York, just outside the capital city and is a native of Niagara Falls.



Tom Liam Lynch

Director of Education Policy at The Center for New York City Affairs

Dr. Tom Liam Lynch is Director of Education Policy at The Center for New York City Affairs at The New School and Editor-in-Chief of the website InsideSchools. A former educational technology professor, English teacher, and official for the New York City Department of Education, Lynch has written dozens of articles and presented all over the world on educational technologies, online learning, school reform, new literacies, and K-12 computer science. He holds a doctorate in education from Columbia University’s Teachers College.



Jim Malatras

Chancellor of the State University of New York

Dr. Jim Malatras was named the 14th chancellor of The State University of New York on August 21, 2020. Prior to his role leading the SUNY system, Dr. Malatras served as the fifth president of SUNY Empire State College. Prior to joining SUNY Empire in May 2019, he served as President of the Rockefeller Institute of Government, where he led the Institute’s modernization effort to offer policymakers evidence-based policy analysis and recommendations on timely topics. Dr. Malatras has held several high-ranking positions in New York State government, including Director of State Operations to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, where he managed the day-to-day operation of state government and served as the administration’s point person on policy development and implementation.



Christine Mangino

President of Queensborough Community College

Dr. Christine Mangino, the sixth president of Queensborough Community College, formerly served as the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Hostos Community College of the City University of New York. She began her tenure at Hostos as an assistant professor for early childhood education in 2004 and soon after served as Coordinator, Chairperson, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and Interim Provost. Prior to Hostos, Dr. Mangino taught in both an early childhood center, as an elementary school teacher, and later on as an adjunct professor at St. John’s University. She served on nine doctoral dissertation committees, chairing four of them. Dr. Mangino began her education earning an associate’s degree from Nassau Community College, a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Education from Hofstra University and a doctoral degree in Instructional Leadership from St. John’s University. Like many community college students, Dr. Mangino was the first in her family to attend college.



Rajan S. Mathews

President of Nyack College

Rajan Mathews was named the 13th president of Nyack College and Alliance Theological Seminary in May 2021. From 2010 to 2020, President Mathews was the Director General of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the Telecom Communications Industry Association in India, leading a $36 billion advocacy group representing the industry in India and around the globe. His remarkable leadership background also includes various senior executive positions including Chief Executive Officer, President, Chief Financial Officer, and Vice President-Controller of companies such as AT&T, Telargo Inc., Afghan Wireless Communications, Call Sciences Inc., Beatrice Foods International, and Columbia Tri-Star Pictures. While at AT&T, Mr. Mathews was named President and CEO of Birla AT&T, then AT&T’s largest international investment. There he introduced digital mobile telephony services in India, building out and operating one of India’s largest Global System for Mobile Association networks.



Félix V. Matos Rodríguez

Chancellor of the City University of New York 

Chancellor Matos Rodríguez’s distinguished career spans both academia and the public sector. He is a scholar, teacher, administrator and former Cabinet secretary for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Dr. Matos Rodríguez is a dedicated champion of accessibility, inclusion and excellence in higher education. He built a diverse team of tested leaders to serve on his cabinet and as administrators. During his first year in office, he appointed pioneering leaders such as Dr. S. David Wu, who in July 2020 became the first Asian-American to serve as a CUNY president at Baruch College. In keeping with his ambition to grow access for traditionally underrepresented firms to CUNY, he unveiled a comprehensive plan to bolster business opportunities for firms owned by women, minorities, and service-disabled veterans.


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