The Advisory Council is a group of policy influencers and subject matter experts who have voluntarily agreed to provide the Campaign for Free College Tuition (CFCT) with wise counsel and advice on how to achieve our mission. While the Council is strictly advisory in nature and its members do not have any financial or fiduciary responsibilities with CFCT, we look forward to linking their individual expertise with those in the public arena seeking our assistance.
Watch Governor Gina Raimondo, Co-Chair of CFCT's Advisory Council, speak with POLITICO in February 2020 about the incredible impact free college tuition has had on her state and her plans to continue supporting the policy.
Gina M. Raimondo, the 75th Governor of Rhode Island and its first woman governor, grew up in Smithfield in a tight-knit Italian-American family, the youngest of Joseph and Josephine Raimondo's three children. Gina's family history and her childhood experiences shaped her core beliefs in hard work, opportunity for all, and the importance of financial security.
After arriving from Italy at age 14, her grandfather learned English studying in the Providence Public Library and later lived with Gina's family. Her father was a World War II Navy veteran from a family of butchers and became the first in his family to attend college thanks to the GI Bill. After working for 26 years at Bulova watch factory in Providence, Joseph lost his job along with hundreds of others when the factory moved overseas, and the Raimondo family lost their sense of financial security.
As a teenager, Gina rode a RIPTA bus to LaSalle Academy in Providence, where she was valedictorian of her graduating class. She went on to graduate with honors from Harvard, where she was recognized as the top economics student in her class. She won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University where she earned a doctorate and met her future husband Andy Moffit. She later graduated from Yale Law School. Gina clerked for US District Judge Kimba Wood and served as founding employee and senior vice president at Village Ventures. Missing Rhode Island and wanting to be closer to her family, Gina co-founded Point Judith Capital, an early stage venture capital firm.
In November 2010, Gina was elected to serve as General Treasurer of Rhode Island, receiving the largest number of votes of any statewide candidate. When Gina took office as General Treasurer, she tackled the state's $7 billion unfunded pension liability. She was sworn into office as Governor in January 2015 and won a second term this past November with the largest victory Rhode Island has seen in more than a generation.
Governor Raimondo knows that investing in Rhode Island’s students from Pre-K to college is investing in the state’s future. During her time in office, she has implemented universal all-day kindergarten and fought to expand Rhode Island’s nationally-recognized, high-quality public pre-K program. She believes that every Rhode Island child--regardless of their race, socioeconomic status or zip code—deserves a strong start.
Gina also believes that all students should have access to the skills they need to get high-wage, high-demand jobs in today’s economy. As Governor, she’s fought for tiered reimbursement to improve access to high quality child care, and launched CS4RI, making Rhode Island the first state in America to offer computer science in every public school. She also led the fight to make a $1 billion investment in school construction so every child has a chance to learn in an environment that’s warm, safe, dry and equipped for the 21st century.
College affordability is one of the Governor’s top priorities, and she’s committed to removing financial barriers that stand between students and their career goals. Thanks to her leadership, PSAT and SAT testing is available for free and during the school day at every public high school in the state. SAT participation has increased by 20% in the years since. In 2017, Gina announced the Rhode Island Promise Scholarship. After it passed the state legislature, Rhode Island became the fourth state in America to offer tuition free community college to every high school graduate.
Governor Blanchard's eight years as Michigan's chief executive were notable for his success in turning around Michigan's finances, working with the private sector to attract business investment and trade from around the world. He won national acclaim for his innovative approaches to economic development, education, crime fighting, environmental protection and helping children and families.
On January 1, 1983, he took over what was described as "the toughest governor's job in America." His state faced a US$1.7 billion deficit, the threat of bankruptcy, record high unemployment of more than 17 percent and the worst credit rating in America. Working with leaders of business, labor, education and local government, the governor put together a strategy for Michigan's future and made the tough decisions necessary to keep it on track. James Blanchard completed his work as Michigan's 45th governor having balanced eight consecutive state budgets, boosted the state's credit rating to AA, established a US$422 million "rainy-day fund" and produced a solvency dividend of more than US$1 billion in savings from reduced borrowing costs. He was reelected 1986 by the largest margin of any governor in Michigan history.
Newsweek credited Governor Blanchard with leading "one of the most dramatic economic turnabouts in the recent history of state government," and national publications such as US News and World Report listed him among the best governors in America, one of the innovators and energizers who made things work in an era of declining federal aid.
Before running for governor, he served four terms in Congress where he distinguished himself for his work to save the Chrysler Corporation, restore America's economic competitiveness, and oversee financial, monetary, trade and energy issues.
Following his serve as Governor, Blanchard was named U.S. ambassador to Canada. During his three-year tenure as ambassador, he managed a broad range of trade, natural resources, environmental and national security issues between the United States and Canada, providing support critical to the passage of both NAFTA and the Open Skies Agreement.
Blanchard is currently the Chair Emeritus, Government Affairs Practice Group, at DLA Piper. In 1997, Governor Blanchard authored Behind the Embassy Door, a book highlighting his experiences as ambassador.
Bill Halter has served as Arkansas’ 14th Lieutenant Governor, advised the President of the United States while serving on the White House staff, provided economic analysis to the United States Congress, led the Social Security Administration, consulted for Fortune 500 companies with McKinsey and Company, served as a Trustee of Stanford University, and served on the Boards of Directors of five public companies in the information technology and life sciences industries. He is currently the Founder and CEO of Scenic Hill Solar, a company that develops solar power plants for commercial and industrial companies and municipal electric and water utilities.
In November 2006, Halter was elected as Lieutenant Governor with 57 percent of the vote. As the state’s second-ranking constitutional officer, he presided over the Arkansas State Senate and served as Governor when the Governor was out of state. Nationally, Lieutenant Governor Halter chaired the Democratic Lieutenant Governors Association (after being elected by his colleagues) and chaired the Southern Region of the National Lieutenant Governors Association.
To help Arkansas develop a skilled and educated work force, Lieutenant Governor Halter led the campaign to establish a state-run lottery in Arkansas with all proceeds dedicated to college scholarships. In its first seven years of operation, this initiative tripled the scholarship funds provided by the state of Arkansas, generated over $700 million of additional scholarship assistance, and produced more than 235,000 higher education scholarships.
Previously, Bill Halter advised businesses in a range of industries as a management consultant with McKinsey and Company. In the public sector, Bill Halter was nominated by the President and unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate as the Deputy Commissioner of Social Security in 1999. As that agency’s Chief Operating Officer, he managed the delivery of more than $500 billion in benefits to over 48 million Americans and initiated Social Security’s delivery of services via the Internet. He later served as Acting Commissioner of Social Security.
Bill Halter joined the White House staff in 1993, working to help trim bureaucratic waste with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in the Executive Office of the President. Previously, he served the U.S. Congress as Chief Economist for the Senate Finance Committee and as an economist for the Joint Economic Committee.
Bill Halter is a Rhodes Scholar, receiving a Master of Philosophy degree in economics from Oxford University. He studied economics and political science as a National Merit Scholar and Harry S. Truman Scholar at Stanford University, earning an A.B. degree with honors and distinction and graduating as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He served as a Trustee of Stanford University for seven years, chairing the Academic Policy Committee and continues to serve on the Advisory Council for Stanford University Libraries.
Robert "Bob" Carr is an adjunct professor in the Graduate School of Political Management at The George Washington University where he teaches courses in legislative affairs and comparative politics. Carr is also Executive in Residence (Olin Business School) at WashU@Brookings where, among other teaching duties, he co-leads the Brookings Legislative Fellows Program (LEGIS).
For eighteen years Carr was a Member of Congress from Michigan. His service included membership on the Appropriations, Armed Services, Judiciary and Natural Resources Committees. He was chair of the Congressional Arts Caucus and was appointed by President Carter to be an Advisor to the SALT II negotiations.
Mr. Carr serves on numerous non-profit boards, writes and guest lecturers at colleges and universities.
Janice M. Brown is currently the Chair of the Board of Trustees and Executive Director Emeritus of the Kalamazoo Promise. She was Superintendent of Kalamazoo Public Schools from July 2000 to August 2007, and prior to that served as Executive Director of Instruction. In addition, she has over 40 years of experience working at all levels of public education. She has been a teacher, consultant, visiting professor, state administrator, principal, and central office administrator.
Brown has made state and national presentations for many professional groups, most recently on the economic/educational value of The Kalamazoo Promise. She was named Michigan Superintendent of the Year for her region and received the national Athena Award, the Women of Achievement and the Glass Ceiling Award given to women who have shown outstanding leadership. Her most recent honor was the Crystal Apple Award from Michigan State University. Brown provides leadership at all levels of the community for improved learning for all students and engagement/support from the total community. She currently serves on a number of Boards and committees representing the Promise.
One capstone of her tenure as superintendent for Kalamazoo Public Schools was the preparation and announcement of The Kalamazoo Promise. Brown continues to be the spokesperson for the Kalamazoo Promise as one of its founders and works closely with Kalamazoo Public Schools and many organizations in the greater Kalamazoo region. Brown has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Katie Couric Show, ABC, The Today Show, CNN, Good Morning America and the New York Times.
Carlos Osvaldo Cortez, Ph.D., presently serves as the president of San Diego Continuing Education (SDCE), one of the four divisions of the San Diego Community College District, the seventh largest community college system in the United States. SDCE is the eleventh largest institution in the California Community College system, out of 116 by headcount. In this capacity, he oversees more than 40,000 students annually at seven campuses and over 200 off-site locations. Cortez is also an adjunct faculty at John Hopkins University, New York University, and the University of California, Berkeley. His research interests center on the role of educators and administrators of color in the historical development of American social welfare and education policy. Cortez is also an expert in the area of promoting equity and access in urban education through literacy and policy initiatives.
Cortez’s educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in History and Sociology from Georgetown University; a master’s degree in Race and Gender Politics from New York University; and a Ph.D. in Education Policy and Administration from the University of Southern California.
Cortez lives in San Diego and spends his free time running, hiking, gardening and traveling.
Krissy DeAlejandro is the Executive Director of tnAchieves, a scholarship and mentoring program that supports students as they transition from high school through post-secondary. Launched in 2008, tnAchieves currently serves as the partnering organization for Governor Haslam’s Tennessee Promise. Since inception, tnAchieves has worked with nearly 320,000 students and boasts college retention and graduation rates above both state and national averages. The program is also responsible for annually recruiting, training and retaining more than 7,500 volunteer mentors to work with its students as the overwhelming majority are the first in their families to attend college. As the leader of the largest college access and success nonprofit in the country, Krissy is deeply committed to increasing the number of Tennessee students with a degree.
Prior to her work with tnAchieves, Krissy served as Deputy Chief of Staff to the Knox County Mayor where she focused on workforce development and higher education initiatives.
Raised in a small town in rural Tennessee, Krissy is first in her family to attend college. She received her bachelor’s degree from Sewanee: University of the South. She pursued her master’s degree and doctorate at the University of Tennessee where she also began teaching at age 24.
Dr. Ted M. Kahn is the co-founder, CEO, and creative learning/future careers architect of DesignWorlds for Learning, Inc., and DesignWorlds for College & Careers (DWC = DesignWorldsCollege.com). Together with his wife, Frona Kahn, since 2004, DWC has served over 850 high school, college and graduate student clients and families in their successful exploration, preparation and coaching for college. grad school and post-grad MBA admissions applications. DWC's clients have been primarily children of immigrant parents who did not attend undergraduate college in the U.S., along with many international student applicants living abroad.
Ted has had over 45 years of experience as a pioneer in educational technology, digital media and learning sciences, including both in high tech/ startup companies such as Atari and Digital F/X, as well as advanced R&D at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and as a member of the senior research staff at the Institute for Research on Learning (IRL). He has also been affiliated as either a Senior Fellow/Distinguished Visiting Scholar at UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, Santa Clara University's Center for Science, Technology & Society, the New Media Consortium and Stanford's MediaX project. He has held adjunct faculty positions at UCLA, Santa Clara University, University of San Francisco and Foothill College.
Ted earned his A.B. degree (with honors) in Computer Science, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in psychology, all from the University of California, Berkeley. He has has served as consultant/advisor to the National Science Foundation and the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine and has a longstanding involvement and interests in informal and recreational learning in museums and other non-profit organizations, including being a co-founding board member of the award winning Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose. Ted has also been an early developer and advocate for free online Open Education Resources (OER) in both K-12 and college/lifelong learning.
With 30 years of experience in higher education and the nonprofit sector, Dr. Meghan Hughes became the fifth president of the Community College of Rhode Island on Feb. 1, 2016. CCRI is the largest community college in New England with four main campuses. The college serves more than 22,000 students annually and boasts more than 68,000 alumni.
In her first three years as president, Hughes has led the implementation of a strategic plan focused on student success. She is committed to providing Rhode Islanders with an outstanding community college education that leads to strong learning outcomes, successful degree attainment and robust labor market outcomes. Hughes has placed closing equity performance gaps at the center of her work. Last year the college marked its highest graduation rate in 18 years and is laser focused on attaining meaningful retention, completion, transfer and employment gains.
Hughes is an Aspen Institute Fellow for Community College Excellence. She was presented with the “Trailblazer in Education” award in 2018 at the Realizing Inspiration & Sustaining Excellence Women’s Leadership Conference. Hughes was recognized by the Latino Public Radio Foundation with its Foundation Builder Award in 2016 and by the Rhode Island Foundation with its Community Leader award in 2015. In 2014, U.S. Rep. David Cicilline named Hughes an Outstanding Woman of the Year.
Hughes serves on the boards of the Rhode Island Foundation, Greater Providence Chamber and Year Up Rhode Island. In addition, she is a member of Congressman Cicilline’s Women’s Advisory Council, the Rhode Island Commodores, the Governor’s Commission on Higher Education and Employability and the Governor’s Skills Cabinet.
Hughes graduated magna cum laude from Yale University and holds a doctorate from New York University.
Bob holds doctoral degrees in Psychology and English. He teaches advanced writing at the University of California, Santa, Barbara. For 12 years, he was the president of UC-AFT, a union representing over 5,000 faculty. He is the author of 12 books, including Educating Inequality: Beyond the Political Myths of Higher Education and the Job Market and Why Public Higher Education Should Be Free: How to Decrease Cost and Increase Quality at American Universities. He was an early advocate for free public higher education.
Ashley Johnson is the Executive Director of the Detroit College Access Network (DCAN). DCAN is a network of cross-sector leaders and organizations – bigger than any one program or initiative – working together to ensure all Detroit students have the opportunity to attend and complete college. Prior to DCAN, Ashley served as the Director of Collective Impact at Excellent Schools Detroit (ESD) a coalition of philanthropy, educators, and community-based organizations working together to ensure that every Detroit student is in an excellent school.
Ashley earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Mississippi where she was also a four-year scholarship student-athlete. Ashley earned a PhD from Michigan State University in K-12 Education Administration with a specialization in Urban Education.
Prior to her work at DCAN, Ashley was a secondary science teacher, teacher coach, curriculum specialist, and instructional leader. Ashley is the first person in her family to attend college and truly believes in the power of higher education as a mechanism for economic mobility and vehicle for community empowerment and improvement. For these reasons, Ashley has dedicated her career to her passion for education and helping others complete college and achieve their educational dreams.
Robert Shapiro is the founder and chairman of Sonecon, LLC, a firm in Washington D.C. that provides analysis and advice to U.S. and foreign government officials, business executives, and leaders of non-governmental organizations on economic and security-related policy matters. He also is a Senior Fellow of the Georgetown University Center for Business and Public Policy, a board director of the Medici Venture Fund, and an advisory board member of Cote Capital, Gilead Sciences, the Campaign for Free College Tuition, and Civil Rights Defenders.
Dr. Shapiro has advised, among others, Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, Vice President Albert Gore, Jr., British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary David Miliband, Secretary of State and Senator Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Timothy Geithner, and other senior members of the Clinton, Obama and Trump administrations and members of the U.S. Congress. Sonecon also has advised Defense Secretaries Chuck Hegel and Ashton Carter, Homeland Security Secretaries Jah Johnson and Kirstjen Nielsen, and senior officials at DARPA, the Department of Energy, and the Applied Physics Laboratory. In addition to public officials, Dr. Shapiro and Sonecon have provided analysis and advice to senior executives at major companies including AT&T, Exelon, Exxon-Mobil, Gilead Sciences, Google, Nasdaq, Nordstjernan of Sweden, and Fujitsu of Japan. Dr. Shapiro and Sonecon also have advised many non-governmental organizations on a pro bono basis, including the International Monetary Fund, the Brookings Institution, the Center for American Progress, NDN, No Labels and the Progressive Policy Institute.
Before founding Sonecon, Dr. Shapiro was the U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs from 1997 to 2001. Prior to that, he was a co-founder and the Vice President of the Progressive Policy Institute and, before that, the Legislative Director and Economic Counsel to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. He also served as the principal economic advisor to Bill Clinton in his 1991-1992 presidential campaign, as senior economic adviser to Hillary Clinton in her 2015-2016 campaign, and as economic-policy adviser to the campaigns of Barack Obama, John Kerry and Albert Gore, Jr. Dr. Shapiro has been a Fellow of the National Bureau of Economic Research, Harvard University, the Brookings Institution, and the Fujitsu Institute. He holds a Ph.D. and M.A. from Harvard University, a M.Sc. from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and an A.B. from the University of Chicago.
Elaine C. Kamarck is a Senior Fellow in the Governance Studies program as well as the Director of the Center for Effective Public Management at the Brookings Institution. She is an expert on American electoral politics and government innovation and reform in the United States, OECD nations, and developing countries.
Kamarck is the author of “Primary Politics: Everything You Need to Know about How America Nominates Its Presidential Candidates” and “Why Presidents Fail and How They Can Succeed Again.” She is also the author of “How Change Happens—or Doesn’t: The Politics of US Public Policy” and “The End of Government-As We Know It: Making Public Policy Work.”
Kamarck is also a Lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She started at the Kennedy School in 1997 after a career in politics and government. She served in the White House from 1993 to 1997, where she created and managed the Clinton Administration's National Performance Review, also known as the “reinventing government initiative.”
Kamarck received her Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Berkeley.
Paul Weinstein Jr. is the Director of the MA in Public Management program at Johns Hopkins University. Mr. Weinstein has taught at Johns Hopkins University since 2003, and his areas of research include fiscal policy, higher education, transportation, and government management. Weinstein has also lectured at Columbia University and Georgetown University. He is a co-author of the textbook, The Art of Policy Making, currently in its second edition.
A veteran of two Presidential Administrations, Weinstein was the senior advisor to the Simpson-Bowles Commission, which was created by President Obama to address the nation’s mid-and long-term fiscal challenges. President Clinton appointed Weinstein as Special Assistant to the President and served as chief of staff of the White House Domestic Policy Council. Later he became senior advisor for policy planning to Vice President Gore. Before joining the Clinton administration, Weinstein served as a legislative aide to former Representative C. Thomas McMillen (D-MD) and then-Senator Albert Gore Jr. (D-TN).
Weinstein currently sits on the board of the Progressive Policy Institute, where he was senior fellow and then chief operating officer between 2001 and 2008. He is also senior policy adviser to the Promontory Interfinancial Network, a leading fintech based in Arlington, Virginia. Weinstein received his Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and his Masters from Columbia University.
Sarah supports the research and analytical capacity of the policy team in her role as a senior policy analyst at Education Commission of the States. Sarah has extensive experience in student financial aid programs, and is frequently called upon as an expert in state financial aid policy and practice. A recipient of state aid herself, Sarah believes that state policy leaders have a key role to play in ensuring affordable postsecondary opportunities for students from all backgrounds.
Our goal is to make higher education a possibility for every American, without regard to their financial circumstances.
We have a lot to do and not much time to do it, so your support is critical for our campaign to succeed. It’s with your investment that we can fundamentally reform how higher education is financed in this country, opening the doors to a more equitable society.
If you agree with our goal, our plan, and the urgency of the problem, we ask that you give what you can to help us write the next chapter in our nation’s history of continuously expanding access to universal, free education.