New Class of Fellows Named for Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education Program

August 15, 2011

For Immediate Contact:
Kim Smith
CEO, Bellwether Education Partners


Aspen Institute – NewSchools program recognizes leaders ready to
embrace the challenge of improving public education

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – August 15, 2011 – The Aspen Institute and NewSchools Venture Fund today announced the selection of the fourth cohort of the prestigious Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education Fellowship Program. These 24 accomplished leaders join more than 65 accomplished fellows from the first three cohorts as participants in the program, operated by Bellwether Education Partners and designed to recognize and support exceptional entrepreneurial leaders who are committed to transforming public education.

“The work of entrepreneurial innovators is taking hold and making an impact on the structure of public education, and on the results achieved by students in communities across the country,” said Kim Smith, Executive Director of the program, co-founder of NewSchools Venture Fund, and CEO of Bellwether Education Partners. “We must now cultivate a cadre of leaders to expand the movement’s size, diversity, reach and sustainability, in order to ensure that leadership is a ready asset rather than a limiting factor in the effort to rapidly transform public education for all students—especially for those who are most underserved.”

In collaboration with the Aspen Institute, Smith launched the fellowship program in 2007 in order to provide these entrepreneurial leaders with the opportunity to sustain and advance their work through cohort-based leadership development. Each cohort includes a diverse array of forward-thinking education leaders who gather for seminars that include thought-provoking reading and discussions about leadership, diversity, and important issues in public education and social change. When they complete the program, fellows become part of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, which now includes more than 1300 entrepreneurial leaders from 43 countries who share a commitment to enlightened leadership and to using their extraordinary creativity, energy and resources to tackle the foremost societal challenges of our times. For more information about the program and its first three cohorts of exceptional leaders, see

The fourth class of Fellows in the Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education Program are:

Sally Bachofer, Assistant Commissioner, New York State Education Department
Jim Balfanz, President, City Year
Morty Ballen, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Explore Schools
Jessica Cunningham, Chief Academic Officer, KIPP DC
Aimee Eubanks Davis, Executive Vice President of People, Community, and Diversity, Teach for America
Tracy Epp, Regional Superintendent, Achievement First
Julio Fuentes, President and Chief Executive Officer, Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options
Greg Gunn, Entrepreneur in Residence, City Light Capital
Kevin Hall, President and Chief Executive Officer, Charter School Growth Fund
Jen Holleran, Executive Director, Startup: Education
Bill Jackson, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, GreatSchools
Bill Kurtz, Chief Executive Officer, Denver School of Science and Technology (DSST) Public Schools
Louise Davis Langheier, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Peer Health Exchange
Lynn Liao, Managing Director of Network Services, The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems
Lillian Lowery, Secretary of Education, Delaware
John Luczak, Education Program Manager, Joyce Foundation
Dr. James P. McIntyre, Superintendent, Knox County Schools (TN)
Chris Nelson
, Managing Director, Doris & Donald Fisher Fund
Richard Nyankori, Vice President, Development, Insight Education Group
Neil Phillips, Founder and Executive Director, Visible Men
Ana Ponce, Chief Executive Officer, Camino Nuevo Charter Academy
Stefanie Sanford, Director of Policy & Advocacy, United States Program, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Yutaka Tamura, Chief Operating Officer, Relay School of Education
Carl Zaragoza, Advocacy Director, Stand for Children–Arizona and Governing Board Member, Creighton Elementary School District

Click here to download bios and photos of the fourth cohort of fellows.

Building on the model of its renowned Henry Crown Fellowship Program, the Aspen Institute has partnered with NewSchools and Bellwether Education Partners to offer this groundbreaking Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education program, which has been supported by a range of institutional and individual donors.

“Cultivating and connecting community-minded entrepreneurial leaders is critical to social change around the world,” said Peter Reiling, Executive Vice President for Leadership and Seminar Programs at the Aspen Institute and Executive Director of its Henry Crown Fellowship. “The Aspen Institute and its Aspen Global Leadership Network are pleased to continue recognizing and supporting these important leaders and change agents in U.S. public education.”

Each year, the Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education program selects approximately two dozen exceptional leaders from across the country with backgrounds and skills from both urban and rural communities and from across the nonprofit, foundation, charter school, and traditional school district sectors. During four seminars over the course of two years, as well as in between sessions, fellows have the unusual opportunity to step back from their demanding daily work to learn and reflect with a group of extraordinary peers on their individual goals and their efforts to transform public education. In addition to their own leadership development, Fellows also take on individual or group projects aimed at accelerating the ability of the entrepreneurial education movement to expand high-quality public school education options for underserved communities across the country. Examples of recent projects include a new charter school management organization designed to use technology to better serve students in need of credit recovery, an education reform documentary, a mentoring program designed to bring young leaders of color into the education reform movement, a model for increasing parent involvement in education reform, a campaign to focus high schools on students’ college degree attainment, and a support network of students and alumni from urban charter school management organizations (CMOs).

About the Aspen Institute
The Aspen Institute mission is twofold: to foster values-based leadership, encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society, and to provide a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues. The Aspen Institute does this primarily in four ways: seminars, young-leader fellowships around the globe, policy programs, and public conferences and events. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

About NewSchools Venture Fund
NewSchools Venture Fund is a not-for-profit organization working to close the achievement gap by funding and supporting entrepreneurs who are creating innovative solutions to the problems in public education so that all children have the opportunity to succeed in college and beyond. Since our founding in 1998, NewSchools has invested $180 million in more than 40 nonprofit and for-profit educational organizations working to promote student achievement. Recognizing that neither private charity nor capital markets alone are enough to solve the problem of education inequality, we blend the best of both approaches to ensure an excellent education is available to every child. We actively share what we’ve learned through our investments, bring together educational leaders from across the country, and advocate for smart policies at the federal level. For more information, visit

About Bellwether Education Partners
Bellwether Education Partners is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the achievement of low-income students by cultivating, advising, and placing a robust community of innovative, effective, and sustainable change agents in public education reform and improving the policy climate for their work. For more information, visit

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