Lisa Graham Keegan
CEO, Education Breakthrough Network
Lisa Graham Keegan has been a champion of education reform for over 25 years. As a state representative in the mid-1990s, she led officials in Arizona to pass a charter school law that was one of the first of its kind in the country. Keegan also played an integral role in the successful movement to update content and graduation standards for students in Arizona public schools. In 1999, she was recognized as the National Republican Women Educator of the Year and received the first ever Friedman Foundation Award for Leadership in Educational Choice.
Following her time in the state legislature, Keegan continued her public service as Arizona’s Superintendent of Public Instruction from 1995 to 2001. She came to DC to accept the role of CEO for the Education Leaders Council in 2001 and has been a key player in national education policy over the past two decades. As a vice chairman of the political platform committee at the 2008 National Republican Convention, she helped craft the party’s formal stance on education policy issues. Keegan also served as a senior advisor for education policy to John McCain’s presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2008 and has provided her policy expertise to governors Jeb Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Keegan currently serves as the CEO of the Education Breakthrough Network, an online community she founded in 2010 for advocates of school choice. She is also a member of the Century Council board in DC and active member of her church and community in Arizona. Simple Choices, Keegan’s book on students and schools, was published earlier this year.
Founder & Executive Director, Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School
The daughter of a longtime elementary school teacher, Linda Moore has become a powerful education reform advocate for children in Washington, DC and across the country. She founded and currently serves as the Executive Director of Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School in Northeast DC, which has grown from serving 35 students when it opened in 1998 to over 350 today.
Labeled a Tier 1 Performing DC Charter School for 2012 by the DC Public Charter School Board, Elsie Whitlow PCS has been a center for innovative teaching and learning over the course of its fifteen-year existence. The school is built on a bilingual education model that places two teachers in every classroom and ensures that students leave with a strong grasp of not only English but Spanish or French as well. Moore’s school also focuses heavily on developing its students as leaders through a unique curriculum that draws on concepts of citizenship, nonviolence, community service, and social justice.
She currently serves as Chair of the DC Association of Chartered Public Schools and has served education organizations across the country as the Director of Community Education Project for Memphis City Schools and the Director of Minority Leadership Development at the National Community Education Association (NCEA). Moore has also recently led a partnership with three other public charter schools to open a language immersion charter high school in DC for 2014-2015 school year and has testified before Congress on education policy issues.
Walton Family Foundation
The Arkansas-based Walton Family Foundation has provided an unprecedented level of financial support to schools and education organizations across the country over the past decade. Founded and run by the family of billionaire businessman Sam Walton, the foundation supports a wide range of causes but education organizations are its top funding priority and received over $158 million in grants in 2012 alone.
The foundation’s core strategy is “to infuse competitive pressure into America’s K-12 education system by increasing the quantity and quality of school choices available to parents, especially in low-income communities.” To do so, it spreads its education funding across three distinct initiatives: shaping public policy, creating quality schools, and improving existing schools. Charter schools have especially benefitted from the second initiative: to date, the Walton Family Foundation has invested over $300 million in start-up schools and is now the largest single funder of new charters. Additionally, the foundation has funded state charter organizations, local charter networks, national advocacy groups, teacher training programs, and research initiatives.
The Walton Family Foundation focuses its education funding on 16 designated investment sites across the country: Albany, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Harlem (NY), Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Memphis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Newark (NJ), Phoenix, and Washington, D.C. We are proud to honor the foundation for its substantial contribution to education reform and anticipate that it will continue to realize dreams for students for years to come.