Note: The individuals below are representing themselves on Students Matter’s advisory board and not representing the organization for which they work.
Ben Austin is the former Students Matter Policy and Advocacy Director and former Executive Director of Parent Revolution, a non-profit organization focused on transforming underperforming public schools by empowering parents to advocate for their children through grassroots community organizing, which Ben both founded and led for seven years. At Parent Revolution, Ben invented, passed into law, implemented, and scaled California’s historic parent trigger law, which enables parents to turn around failing schools through community organizing. Ben’s work was the subject of two feature films, the documentary We the Parents and the fictional account Won’t Back Down.
Prior to founding Parent Revolution, Ben helped run the successful teacher organizing campaign to transform Locke High School from the most violent and lowest-performing high school in Los Angeles into a high-performing neighborhood college prep charter school. He served as a Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles under Mayor Richard Riordan from 2000-2001; and was a senior advisor to Rob Reiner and First 5 California from 2002-2006, where he invented and launched LAUP (Los Angeles Universal Preschool). In 2010, Ben was appointed to the California State Board of Education where he cast the vote to approve new statewide Common Core standards. Ben came to the education space through a career in national Democratic politics, during which he worked on five presidential campaigns and served as the host committee communications director for the 2000 Democratic National Convention. He worked in the Clinton White House in a variety of roles, coordinating western state politics for The President and First Lady in the Political Affairs Office, and traveling with The President and First Lady to over a dozen different countries working in the Scheduling and Advance Office.
Dr. John Deasy
Dr. John E. Deasy served as Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District from 2011 to 2014. Dr. Deasy recently joined The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems as superintendent-in-residence. In this role, the 30-year educator provides executive coaching to Center alumni leading urban public school systems as well as facilitating professional development sessions for The Broad Academy.
As superintendent of the second-largest school district in the nation, Dr. Deasy led improvements that yielded historic student achievement and high school graduation rates. He championed a “youth first” agenda, which has been credited with reversing the district’s school-to-prison pipeline and preparing graduating students for college and the workplace. Under his leadership, school suspensions were reduced from 48,000 per year to fewer than 8,000 and graduation rates improved to the highest in the district’s history.
Prior to his leadership of L.A. Unified, Dr. Deasy served as superintendent of Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District in Southern California, and Coventry Public Schools in Rhode Island. In 2001, the Rhode Island School Superintendents’ Association named John Superintendent of the Year.
Sandi Jacobs is a Principal at Education Counsel, where her main area of focus is educator quality. Before joining EdCounsel, Sandi was the Senior Vice President for State and District Policy at the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). At NCTQ, she oversaw all teacher policy work, including direct work with states and testimony and presentations for national and local audiences. She also developed and managed NCTQ’s comprehensive State Teacher Policy Yearbook.
Sandi previously worked at the U.S. Department of Education as a Senior Education Program Specialist for the Reading First and Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration programs. She also taught 4th and 5th grade for nearly a decade at Public School 9 in Brooklyn, New York. Sandi was a Presidential Management Intern and a charter corps member of Teach For America. She holds a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Teachers College and a BA from Columbia College.
James S. Liebman
James S. Liebman is the Simon H. Rifkind Professor of Law and director of the Columbia Center for Public Research and Leadership (CPRL). His work focuses on institutional design and change in public education and criminal justice.
Liebman founded CPRL in 2011 to engage graduate and professional students in projects designed to equalize school children’s access to high-quality public schools. The center, jointly sponsored by Columbia’s Business and Law Schools and Teachers College, brings together students in business, education, law, and policy from over a dozen participating universities across the country to immerse themselves for a semester in the theory and practice of transformative change in public education.
From 2006 to 2009, Liebman led the New York City Department of Education’s Division of Accountability and Achievement Resources under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. His division provided parents and educators with information and tools to improve student results and hold schools accountable for helping all students make academic progress.
Liebman served as law clerk to Judge Carl McGowan of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia from 1977 to 1978, and to Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens the following year. He was assistant counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund from 1979 to 1985.
Liebman joined the Law School’s faculty in 1985, where he served as vice dean from 1991 to 1992. He earned his J.D. from Stanford University and his B.A. from Yale College.
The son of a former Idaho state senator, Bruce Reed has a long record of public service, including serving as an assistant to President Barack Obama and chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden. In that role, Reed focused his work on economic and domestic issues including deficit reduction, the fiscal cliff, entitlement and tax reform, education and gun safety. He previously served as executive director of the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction commission and lead author of its report, The Moment of Truth. From 2013-2015, he served as the first president of The Broad Foundation.
Earlier in his career, Reed was President Clinton’s chief domestic policy advisor from 1996 to 2001, overseeing numerous issues in the Clinton administration, including the Clinton education agenda. He was deputy campaign manager for policy in the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign and previously was chief speechwriter for then-Sen. Al Gore from 1985 to 1989.
Is one of America’s first venture capitalists. He played a key role in launching Fairchild Semiconductor, Teledyne, Intel, Apple, and many other high-tech companies. He is a visionary who saw very early on the future of the computer industry and, in many ways, was a driving force in the emergence of Silicon Valley as a center of innovation and entrepreneurship.
Following an early career on Wall Street in investment banking, Arthur started his first venture capital partnership with Tommy Davis ten years after graduating from Harvard Business School. Between 1961 and 1968, Davis & Rock invested $3 million and returned $100 million to their investors. He has his bachelor of arts from Syracuse University, and his masters in business administration from Harvard Business School.