About Nina Rees
Nina Rees is the new president and Chief Executive Officer of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. She is the third individual to hold this position since the organization’s inception in 2005, preceded by founding CEO Nelson Smith, who held the position from 2005 to 2010, and Peter Groff, who served from 2010 to 2011. Nina will be formally introduced at the 12th annual National Charter Schools Conference, to take place on June 19-22 in Minneapolis, MN in front of nearly 4,000 attendees.
As head of the NAPCS, Rees will focus on growing the charter movement, with a focus on raising the number of high-quality charter schools, advancing a strong federal policy agenda, serving as the recognized voice for the national movement and leveraging NAPCS’ state-policy expertise in order to have the greatest impact on the rapidly growing national charter school movement.
Rees has over 20 years of experience in Washington, D.C., including serving as the first Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement at the U.S. Department of Education. She oversaw the administration of 28 grant programs, supporting 1,300 projects and was responsible for spearheading innovative federal programs and policies such as school choice, charter schools, alternative routes to teacher certification and school leadership, all of which are still in place today. She also helped coordinate the implementation of several provisions of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Prior to joining the Education Department, Rees served as a domestic-policy adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney.
Rees previously served as senior education analyst at the Heritage Foundation where she authored more than two dozen policy briefs and served as the foundation's chief spokesperson on education. She has appeared on various news outlets, including CNN, C-Span and PBS's NewsHour and her articles have been published in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
Rees currently serves on the board of advisors of the Education Policy and Governance Program at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, the Apple Tree Institute for Education Innovation and the review board for The Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools. She also serves on the board of directors of the Charter School Development Corporation and the Education Industry Association.
Most recently, Rees spent over six years as Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives for Knowledge Universe, a leading global education company with investments in early childhood education, before- and after-school programs and online instruction. Rees oversaw the organization’s public policy and government relations work in Washington, DC.
Born in Iran, Rees and her family immigrated to the United States when she was 14. She lived in Blacksburg, VA and received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Virginia Tech University, and her Master of Arts in International Transactions from George Mason University. She currently lives in McLean, VA with her husband and daughter.
What They are Saying About Nina...
“We’re pleased to have found such a high-caliber individual in Nina to take the reins as leader of the nation’s charter school movement. Nina comes to the National Alliance with tremendous background and experience in the education reform arena. As the first head of the Federal Office for Innovation and Improvement, Nina was responsible for the first time spearheading innovative federal programs that included charter schools, where she created a lasting impact that is still being felt to this day. We know that she will continue to do great things for students in charter schools and their families nationwide.”
Mashea M. Ashton, Newark Charter School Fund
Board Chairman, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
“We are tremendously excited that the National Alliance has selected Nina Rees to serve as its new leader. Nina has committed her career to serving the needs of students and her transition to the Alliance will provide leadership at a critical juncture for the charter movement nationally. We in Illinois are committed to working with Nina on the important work that remains to be done among the states and at the federal level to ensure that high-quality charter schools are a reality for more of our students.”
Andrew Broy, President, Illinois Network of Charter Schools
“I am a huge fan of Nina Rees. Having worked with her closely, I can attest to her leadership skills and her ability to build consensus. More significant, however, is Nina's heartfelt commitment to the educational needs of our children. She is an excellent choice to lead the Alliance at this time.”
Kevin Chavous, Principal, The Chavous Group
Senior Advisor, American Federation for Children
“Nina is a passionate advocate for kids and is committed to the belief that children across the nation deserve a quality public school education. I can testify to Nina's heartfelt belief that failure is not an option and that public education needs to do a better job in order for our next generation of kids to realize the promise of the American dream. As the leader of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, she will be a warrior for ensuring that the charter school movement rises to even greater levels of success.”
Mike Feinberg, Co-Founder, KIPP
“Nina is a very talented and committed leader for the national charter school movement. She will bring to the National Alliance tenacity, focus and strong leadership skills that will be of great benefit to the organization and the movement. She also knows how to work in a bipartisan manner. But her most important attribute is her absolute commitment to advancing the educational achievement of all kids, but particularly those who are the most disadvantaged by the current educational systems and educational practices in this country.”
Howard Fuller, Marquette University, Chair of the Board, Black Alliance for Educational Options
Founding Chair of the Board, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
“Nina’s grasp of and approach to public policy solutions and how charter schools fit into the larger picture positions her well to lead the National Alliance. I appreciate Nina’s intelligence and analysis of education policy challenges and accompanying solutions relevant to our work. I’ve always enjoyed engaging Nina and getting her perspective on solutions to public education and she has a good sense of the role that charter schools can play in improving our public school system.”
Jim Griffin, Executive Director, Colorado League of Charter Schools
“As the public charter school movement enters its next phase, I cannot think of anyone better to lead that effort than Nina Rees. Nina believes first and foremost in the importance of giving families access to high-quality choices and equally in the need for all schools to perform at a very high level. The National Alliance is poised to take the charter school movement to an even greater level with Nina at the helm.”
Kevin Hall, Chief Executive Officer, Charter School Growth Fund
“From the early years that Nina became a part of the senior staff at the Department of Education, it was clear that she was not the usual political appointee. She visited Friendship and brought by some of the most distinguished members of the Education Reform movement. Jeb Bush and members of the Florida legislature come to mind. After she left political life, she did not change; she is a genuine human being interested in the success of our movement.”
Donald Hense, Founder and Chairman, Friendship Public Charter School
“Nina Rees has demonstrated a deep belief in the proposition that all children can learn throughout her career as a think tank analyst, adviser to presidential candidates, at the Department of Education, and in the private sector. Moreover, she knows how to build alliances across the political spectrum -- a key quality at a time of severe polarization in the public sphere. Smart, innovative and gutsy, Nina Rees is the perfect choice to lead the Alliance in tackling the transcendent civil rights issue of our time: ensuring a quality education for all children.”
Charles Kamasaki, Executive Vice President, National Council of La Raza
"As co-founder of Thurgood Marshall Academy, it brings me great pleasure to know that Nina Rees will lead the charter school movement into its next phase. After knowing Nina for a decade, I can attest to the fact that she operates with the belief that every child can succeed at the highest levels and that we need to act now to unlock their potential. She operates with values that are consistent with Justice Thurgood Marshall's belief that all children should have access to a quality education. Our public charter schools will surely benefit from Nina serving in this important leadership role."
Joshua Kern, Executive Director Emeritus, Thurgood Marshall Academy
Managing Member, TenSquare
“During her time as head of the Office for Innovation and Improvement at the U.S. Department of Education, Nina served as a tireless champion and advocate for public school students. She strongly believes that all children can succeed at the highest levels and will be unafraid to challenge the status quo by championing innovative solutions that give them the opportunity to fulfill their potential. She is a great choice to serve as the new head of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.”
Wendy Kopp, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Teach For America
"As I understand the values of the Alliance, I can say unequivocally, Nina Rees's professional career exemplifies each and every value. Nina is the right person at this time in the Alliance's growth. Her depth of knowledge about crafting, promoting and successfully advocating for policies that best serve charter schools is extensive. Her graceful demeanor and intelligence has just the right feel to be the face of this organization. Most importantly, her long-held belief that every child deserves a quality education is in perfect harmony with the mission of the Alliance.”
Dede McClure, Board Member, Elsie Whitlow Stokes Public Charter School
“Nina has it all—passion, smarts, experience across sectors, and a deep commitment to improving education. I can’t wait to work with her in this pivotal role.”
Ted Mitchell, Chief Executive Officer, NewSchools Venture Fund
“I am excited that the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools has had to foresight to select Nina Rees as its new leader. During our time together at the U.S. Department of Education, Nina spearheaded and implemented innovative new programs that have created quality public education options for thousands of students. Her impact there is still being felt today. As she enters this new chapter as leader of the national charter school movement, she will make it her mission to ensure that the many thousands of students who lack access to quality public schools are able to receive a lifeline to a better education.”
Rod Paige, Former United States Secretary of Education
“I couldn’t be more thrilled with the National Alliance’s selection of Nina Rees to serve as its new leader. Throughout her career, Nina has been a warrior for doing what’s right for children. She is unafraid to challenge the way things are, and yet she will work hard to bring individuals of all stripes together to help the charter school movement soar. The Michigan charter school movement, as well as the national effort, will be even more effective with Nina leading the National Alliance.”
Dan Quisenberry, President, Michigan Association of Public School Academies
“I am pleased that the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools has made such a strong selection in Nina Rees to lead the national charter school movement. She will work tirelessly to ensure that the charter school movement positively impacts our system of public education. Nina keenly understands the role that authorizers play in ensuring that charter schools that open are of the highest quality and she will be a valued partner for us. I am confident that Nina will lead the movement to even greater heights.”
Greg Richmond, Chief Executive Officer, National Association of Charter School Authorizers
"Nina Rees will bring vision and stature to her new responsibilities as CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. She has been an articulate and effective advocate for major reform of American K-12 education throughout her career. I have known Nina since I served in Congress and chaired the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families. She has always been committed to giving the neediest schoolchildren more and better educational options and is a true champion of school choice. Nina understands the unique challenges facing charter schools, from attracting the most passionate and talented educators, to locating and financing suitable facilities. Her selection as the Alliance's CEO is great news for the charter school movement as it continues to grow nationwide into the most significant education reform initiative in our lifetimes."
Frank Riggs, President and CEO, Charter Schools Development Corporation
Former Member, U.S. House of Representatives
“The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools has hit a home run in selecting Nina Rees as its next President and CEO. I’ve known and worked with Nina for years, and can attest to her deep dedication to excellent education for all children. Nina is a leader of the first rank, with a record of success in both the public and private sectors. She’s a strategic thinker, a respected policymaker, and an activist who knows how to make things happen. This is excellent news for the Alliance and the charter movement – and for all the kids across our country who need high-quality education options.”
Nelson Smith, Founding President and CEO, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
"Congratulations to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools in selecting a well-regarded leader in Nina Rees to lead the nation's charter school movement. Nina's long-standing work in helping implement policies aimed at closing the achievement gap for low-income students and students of color are making a difference for countless numbers of students. Nina recognizes that at its roots, there continues to be a lack of accountability in our public school system, and as the head of the National Alliance, she is the perfect choice to ensure that federal and state policymakers continue to act with a sense of urgency to address this problem."
Margaret Spellings, Former United States Secretary of Education
"I couldn't be more pleased that Nina Rees has become the new CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Over her many years of working to support charter schools and other education reform efforts, Nina has earned the confidence of charter school leaders and supporters from across the nation. She also brings to the Alliance a unique personal background and set of professional experiences which poise her to represent our movement very well and take the organization to unprecedented levels of impact in Washington and throughout the United States."
Jed Wallace, CEO, California Charter Schools Association
Board of Directors, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
"Nina has worked closely and tirelessly with activists and policymakers on both sides of the aisle to fight for principles like accountability, equity, and choice – principles which are the cornerstone of the very charter school movement that she will now lead. She is the right leader at the right time to effectively guide this movement to the next level."
Joe Williams, Executive Director, Democrats for Education Reform
“After working closely with Nina on education for more than a decade, I can attest that she is an outstanding person to lead the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Nina believes as I do that charter schools are our most promising path to the genuine reform of our nation’s public school system. Nina brings to the charter school movement a strong voice for high student achievement at every level, as well as a belief that the status quo in too many American schools is unacceptable.”
Caprice Young, Vice President, Laura and John Arnold Foundation
Former Board Chair, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools