The big education news in Washington yesterday was the formal announcement of Gates Foundation Director of Policy and Advocacy Stefanie Sanford’s move to the College Board. Sanford, who has at times funded organizations I’m affiliated with, is one of those people in the education world who is not a household name but really gets things done. Sanford has state and federal policy experience, can move seamlessly among Democrats and Republicans, and understands public policy in a tactile way. She’s an honest-to-God Texan who they love in Massachusetts.
That’s why it’s not an overstatement to say she’s been instrumental not only in much of what the Gates Foundation has been involved with but also much of what’s happened in public policy over the past decade. Laying the groundwork for honest graduation rate reporting and accountability, helping states get their act together on data, Common Core, modernizing state policy – she had a hand in all of it. And, she was able to do it while adhering to the limitations inherent in what funders can and cannot do around public affairs and grant-making. Quite a run.
College Board is lucky to get her and the move is a signal of not only changes to that august organization but of where the action is moving with Common Core now on the near horizon.