May 3 2021

The Acceleration Imperative: Focusing on Student Learning

Grantmakers for Education


May 3, 2021

Resource: Framework for School Reopening and Student Success.

Virtual - Join us for the first session in a series on Education Post-COVID: Learning to Move Forward. The intersecting health, social and economic pandemics of 2020-2021 have disrupted American education and elevated critical issues into public awareness. With billions of recovery dollars about to make their way into the education system we have a moment to reflect on the lessons of past educational improvement efforts, and ​ensure funders are equipped to best support their partners rebuilding our education system in ways that are more equitable, just and humane.

The opening session in our series, The Acceleration Imperative: Focusing on Student Learning, will focus on how funders can support their district partners in planning for education recovery, and using federal dollars wisely to that end. As instructional leaders develop plans to address the enormous challenges faced by students, families, teachers and staff over the past year, how can we balance meeting social, emotional and mental health needs while not losing sight of the need to accelerate learning outcomes for students? This session will take up issues of school culture, curriculum and assessment, and strategies like intensive tutoring that have emerged as important instructional supports during the pandemic.

Stay tuned for more sessions in the series. Session two, Equity and Sustainability: Budgeting to Build Schools Back Better, will take place May 18 at 1:00 p.m. ET.

This event is intended for members and other education grantmakers. There is no cost to attend this Grantmakers for Education program.



Mary Alice Heuschel
Deputy Director, K-12 Education
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Dr. Mary Alice Heuschel, deputy director of K-12 Education in the United States Program, oversees the work for strategy, planning and management, and leads the strategic planning and operations, portfolio development, measurement, evaluation, and knowledge management.

Before joining the foundation, Mary Alice was chief of staff for Washington Governor Jay Inslee, and served eight years as superintendent of the Renton School District, a richly diverse district serving 14,000 students and their families. Prior to her superintendent leadership, Mary Alice was the deputy state superintendent in the Washington Department of Education. Her career in education included positions as principal, assessment specialist, and twelve years in the classroom as a teacher in regular and special education in various states, in Europe with the U.S. Department of Defense, and three years at West Point Military Academy.

Mary Alice holds a B.A. from Boston University, a M.S. in special education from Northwestern University, and a doctorate in educational leadership from Seattle Pacific University.


Michael J. Petrilli
Thomas B. Fordham Institute

Mike Petrilli is president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, executive editor of Education Next, and a Distinguished Senior Fellow for Education Commission of the States. An award-winning writer, he is the author of The Diverse Schools Dilemma, editor of Education for Upward Mobility, and co-editor of How to Educate an American. Petrilli has published opinion pieces in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg View, and Slate, and appears frequently on television and radio. Petrilli helped to create the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement, the Policy Innovators in Education Network, and, long, long ago, Young Education Professionals. He serves on the advisory boards of the Association of American Educators, MDRC, and National Association of Charter School Authorizers. He lives with his family in Bethesda, Maryland.


Brian J. Pick
Doctoral Candidate, Education Leadership
Harvard Graduate School of Education
Former Chief of Teaching and Learning, DC Public Schools

Brian is a doctoral candidate (Ed.L.D.) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He previously served as the chief of teaching and learning for DC Public Schools. As a member of the Chancellor’s management team, Brian ensured all students had access to high-quality curriculum, engaging instruction, and memorable learning experiences. Serving the district for ten years, Brian led the development of the DCPS Teaching and Learning Framework, drafted DC’s successful Race to the Top Application, and oversaw the implementation of the district’s academic work. Brian was the 2012 recipient of the national Curriculum Leadership Award from the Council of Great City Schools and the 2016 EPIC Change Maker Award from Education Pioneers. Prior to joining DC Public Schools, Brian worked as a teacher, an education consultant, and an education policy analyst.

Brian is a proud alumnus of both Teach for America and Education Pioneers.  He currently serves on the boards of Student Achievement Partners and the Achievement Network (ANet). Brian graduated from Princeton University with a bachelor’s degree in public and international affairs. He also studied at the University of Cape Town, completed his teacher credentialing work at San Jose State University, and holds a master’s degree in education policy from the University of California, Berkeley. 


Gene Pinkard
Assistant Director, Practice and Leadership
Aspen Institute Education & Society Program

Gene Pinkard serves as Assistant Director, Practice and Leadership. A longtime educator and leader, he leads the Aspen Education urban district networks, supporting superintendents, chief academic officers, and other leaders as they deepen their learning and refine their improvement strategies. Gene was most recently the Chief of School Design and Continuous Improvement at DC Public Schools, where he led school improvement, innovation, and strategic planning. Previously, Gene focused on equity initiatives and pedagogy in his roles as a principal supervisor for middle schools, and as principal in traditional public and charter schools. Gene currently serves as an adjunct at the American University Graduate School of Education, on the board of Honored, and on the Community Action board of Children’s National Medical Center. See photo under sponsors.


Celine Coggins
Executive Director
Grantmakers for Education

Celine Coggins has been an educator for more than two decades, with a track record as an innovator, leader and connector. Her work has always been deeply connected to teachers and disadvantaged schools. In 2007, she founded Teach Plus where she spent the next decade as CEO and grew the organization to over 30,000 teachers. Celine was recognized at the White House for her organization’s impact on public education.

A nationally-recognized expert on teacher leadership, education policy standards and accountability, and union politics, Celine has addressed audiences nationwide. She appears regularly in the media and has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Atlantic, among others. She is the author of three books, most recently How to Be Heard: Ten Lessons Teachers Need to Advocate for Their Students and Profession. Celine earned her Ph.D. in education policy analysis at Stanford University and is a lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.


Ulcca Joshi Hansen
Chief Program Officer
Grantmakers for Education

Ulcca has been an educator for over 20 years, working to transform education to enable all students to achieve their unique potential.

An English language learner who is first in her family to graduate from college, Ulcca is committed to an expanded view of education’s purpose and ensuring every child has access to a high-quality education. She believes in systemic change to support approaches that reflect the science of human development and learning and is dedicated to bringing the voices of diverse learners and communities to these conversations.

Ulcca began her career as an elementary teacher and has led nonprofit programs, conducted research, engaged in advocacy and shaped policy across the PK-25 continuum. She understands the power of philanthropy and believes that catalyzing the wisdom of collective networks is the best path to impact. Her book, The Future of Smart, will be released in Fall 2021. Ulcca earned a Ph.D. from Oxford University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.


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