Jeanne Allen has been on the front lines of education policy development and innovation for more than 30 years. She served for five years at the Department of Education during the Reagan Administration, where she was responsible for policy development and implementation in the areas of student financial aid, accreditation, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Following her government service, she served for six at the Heritage Foundation, where she developed the organizations education policy program and also launched Town Hall, one of the earliest online social networks. In 1993, she left Heritage to found the Center for Education Reform, which quickly became one of the most influential organizations in the education field dedicated to developing and promoting innovative reforms in schools throughout the nation. CER was an early advocate for school choice, and played an important role in the creation and development of the charter school movement. Twenty-three years after its founding, CER remains a leader in a wide variety of efforts to innovate and improve education at all levels, and across all learning venues. Jeanne is its CEO.
Jeanne Allen’s success flows from her talents as an entrepreneurial spirit and devotion to innovation. Her entire career has been devoted to education reform, and she is nationally known and admired for her dedication to the nationwide fight to ensure that the bedrock of U.S. schooling is innovation, freedom and flexibility.
As the daughter of an Italian immigrant, Jeanne knows that education can change a life’s trajectory and seeks to ensure that all Americans have an opportunity to experience a world class education. A devoted lifelong learner, Jeanne earned an M.S.Ed Degree in Education Entrepreneurship from the University of Pennsylvania in 2015. It is the nation’s first Master’s degree in this new field, which combines courses in education, business and entrepreneurship, preparing students to create, fund and manage innovations in education. One her projects at the Center that she launched recently was EdReformU, a unique online program which is dedicated to training a new generation of education reform advocates.
Jeanne puts her expertise to use as she counsels a number of entrepreneurial education and technology companies, including CommonLit, Junior Explorer and the Modern States Education Alliance. Major edtech investors and accelerators, including DreamIT, 1776 and GSV Labs, count Jeanne as one of their key mentors and she is a Managing Director at the new StartED Accelerator based at New York University. She also sits on the boards of innovative schools, including the nationally recognized Washington Leadership Academy in Washington, DC and the Challenge Charter School in Chandler, AZ.
Jeanne is also deeply involved in other charitable and civic organizations. She serves on the Leadership Council of the National Italian American Foundation, is a Dame of Malta, and an active member of the John Carroll Society. In addition, Jeanne was awarded the Education Industry Association’s “Friend of Education Award” in 2012, Working Mother’s “Most Powerful Moms in Education,” and the Black Alliance for Educational Options’ Champion Award in 2013.
Jeanne Allen has published hundreds of articles and commentaries in newspapers and journals and as well as on her own blog, Reality Check-In. Her passionate advocacy of innovative reform has made her articles essential reading in outlets like The Huffington Post. Her most recent work, Manifesto: A Movement at Risk (2016), is a thoughtful and provocative description of the current state of educational reform and a meditation on the direction the movement must take. Her book, The School Reform Handbook: How to Improve Your Schools (1995) ignited parent-led efforts for education reform and her 2014 publication, Education Reform: Before it Was Cool documents critical milestones during her work over the past 20 plus years.
When time permits, she enjoys visiting the village of her family’s origin in Campania, Italy, and spends time on the water, especially with her husband Dr. Kevin Strother, an educator, musician and charter boat captain. Her four young adult children are in various stages of school and work; some not surprisingly in the education reform arena.
Additional information can be found at www.jeanneallen.net.