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Our Board

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Jennifer O’Day is an Institute Fellow at AIR. Over the past 25 years, Dr. O’Day has carried out research, advised national and state policy makers, and written extensively in the areas of systemic standards-based reform, educational equity, accountability, and capacity-building strategies. One main focus of her work in recent years has been on strategies for intervening in low performing, high poverty schools identified under systems of state, local, and federal accountability.

Since joining AIR in 2002, Dr. O’Day has led the state evaluation of California’s Public School Accountability Act (2002-03), the national evaluation of State Implementation of NCLB (2003-08), and the national evaluation of the implementation of Title III of ESEA. This and related work has led to Dr. O’Day’s emphasis on the vital role that school districts play in establishing the conditions for meaningful change in schools and classrooms. In line with this emphasis, she led a four-year investigation (2004-08) of the implementation and effects of the literacy reforms in San Diego City Schools and convened a recent review of the reform strategies in New York City under the leadership of Mayor Bloomberg and Joel Klein (Education Reform in New York City: Ambitious Change in the Nation’s most Complex School System, Harvard Education Press, 2011).

Dr. O’Day is the founder and chair of the California Collaborative on District Reform, which for six years has joined researchers, district practitioners, state policymakers, and funders in an on-going, evidence-based dialogue and collective action to improve instruction and student learning for all students in California’s urban school systems, with particular emphasis on linguistic minorities, who make up over 25% of California’s student population. Dr. O’Day is also a co-convener of the national Working Group on ELL Policy.

Jorge Ruiz de Velasco is the Associate Director of the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities. Affiliated with the Stanford Graduate School of Education, the Gardner Center develops leadership, conducts research, and affects change to improve the lives of youth. Velasco’s work focuses on the study and promotion of change in public schools, the implications of education reform for disadvantaged students, education law and policy, and the effect of immigration on schools and communities. Dr. Velasco comes to Stanford from Berkeley Law, where he was Director of the Warren Institute’s Program on Education Law and Policy. The focus of his work is on the study and promotion of change in public schools, the implications of education reform for disadvantaged students, education law and policy, and the effect of immigration on schools and communities. Prior to his appointment at the Warren Institute, he served as Director of the Institute for Research on Education Policy and Practice at Stanford, and has served terms as a Program Officer for Educational Opportunity and Scholarship at the Ford Foundation, and as a Senior Program Officer at both the James Irvine and William & Flora Hewlett Foundations. Dr. Velasco also served as a Senior Research Associate at The Urban Institute and as a lawyer and policy analyst for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. He is a graduate of Harvard College (1984), and the Boalt Hall School of Law (1987). Subsequently, he earned an M.A. in Education Administration and Policy Analysis (1994) and a Ph.D. in Political Science (1999), both from Stanford University.

“It has been a privilege to spend my entire career in public education. My teaching career began as a student teacher in the Garden Grove Unified School District and ended 41 years later in the same district, the last 14 of which were as superintendent. Along the way I had the opportunity both to teach and serve as a site administrator in elementary and secondary schools as well as to work in a variety of positions at the district level. Each of these experiences allowed me to work alongside and learn from remarkable teachers, administrators and support personnel. The opportunities I had to work with masterful teachers taught me the importance of building caring relationships with students, establishing high expectations and providing all the support necessary for students to meet those expectations. Skillful leaders taught me the importance of applying these same principles to leading schools, and later to leading a system of schools.

Over the years I found that the solutions to even the most complex problems most often were found in the minds of those closest to the work. Given the opportunity to work together, I watched teachers, administrators, support staff, parents and students find and execute creative and practical solutions for challenging situations. Enabling them to do this was simply a matter of giving them the time, space and structure necessary for the work.”

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Mike Smith is one of the nation’s most respected education policymakers. His career includes significant contributions to academia, policymaking, educational research and evaluation, and has authored and made contributions to seminal reports and studies on education. Smith’s areas of expertise include standards and assessments, educational research and evaluation, use of technology in education, and early childhood education. Dr. Smith is currently an education consultant, after having served as key advisor at the U.S. Department of Education during three administrations.

Prior to serving President Barak Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Smith was both acting deputy secretary and under secretary under Secretary Richard Riley during the Clinton Administration. He was chief of staff to the first secretary of education, Shirley Hufstedler, and also served as the assistant commissioner for policy studies in the Office of Education, in the former Department of Health, Education in the Carter Administration. Before that, Smith helped lead the National Institute of Education’s work in education research and development. While in federal government, Smith oversaw the development and passage of several major education laws.

Just before his most recent stint in Washington, Smith was program director for education at The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in Menlo Park, Calif. Outside of government; he was at different times an associate professor at Harvard, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Stanford University, and dean of Stanford’s school of education. A member of the National Academy of Education and former chairman of the board of the American Institutes of Research and throughout his career, Smith authored publications on numerous topics, including school effectiveness and standards-based reform. He has lent his expertise to many commission, foundations and boards, including the National Research Council, and has been a consultant to many government agencies, foundations, and nonprofit organizations, such as the Education Testing Service, and to foreign governments. Marshall earned a B.A. at Harvard College and both a master’s and a doctoral degree in Measurement and Statistics from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

As a founder of both California Education Partners and the Silver Giving Foundation, Phil Halperin has dedicated his career to the kids of California. His work has led him to champion efforts to strengthen pre-school statewide, empower and improve school districts, promote local investment in public schools, support teachers, and build robust and innovative partnerships that close opportunity gaps and help students stay on the path to success in college, career, and life. Phil earned his A.B. in Political Science from Stanford University and his MBA from Harvard Graduate School of Business Phil has also co-chaired five successful local campaigns for public schools, including the $450 million 2006 and the $531 million 2011 School Bonds and the $400 million 2008 Quality Teaching and Education Act (Parcel Tax) and the $125 million per year Our Children, Our City Act.

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