National Charter Schools Hall of Fame

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is proud to welcome the following distinguished inductees into the National Charter Schools Hall of Fame, which was established to recognize individuals and organizations for their contributions in the following areas:

  • Pioneering efforts in the development and growth of charter school
  • Commitment and contributions to charter schools and education
  • Innovative ideas and successful implementation of those ideas
  • Inspiration to others in the charter school movement

Congratulations to the 2015 Hall of Fame Inductees!


Senator Mary Landrieu

Mary Landrieu started her career in public service in 1979, when she was elected to serve as a member of the Louisiana State Legislature. For eight years, she championed causes related to women and children and education reform. In 1987, she was elected State Treasurer, and served with distinction for two terms. Strong fiscal management, pension reform, and the creation of the first ever municipal investment fund, now valued at over $2 billion, are some of her many accomplishments.

After a vigorous but unsuccessful race for Governor of Louisiana, she was elected to the United States Senate in the fall of 1996, and became the first women from Louisiana elected to serve a full term in the United States Senate. As a member of the Armed Services Committee, the Appropriations Committee, and Chairman of the Small Business Committee, and as Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, she made her mark in a number of important areas. Most notable of her legislative accomplishments were the passage of the landmark Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, the Israel American Energy Alliance, the RESTORE Act, the single largest one term environmental investment in the Gulf Coast in the history of the nation, and the Small Business Job Act of 2010.

Deborah McGriff

Deborah M. McGriff is a Managing Partner with NewSchools Venture Fund where she focuses on closing the demographic gap between students, executive leaders and governing boards.

Through leadership positions at NewSchools Venture Fund and EdisonLearning, she expanded access to innovative, high-quality charter schools for low-income and working class students in 16 of the nation’s largest cities in a dozen states and the District of Columbia.

Her advocacy and governance expertise were tapped as Board Chair of Beyond12, Board Chair and executive committee member of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, founder and Vice Chair of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, President of the Education Industry Association, member of Harvard Kennedy School of Government Program on Education Policy and Governance Advisory Board, and member of numerous charter school boards, including a charter management organization in the National Charter Schools Hall of Fame.

Deborah’s impact in the education reform movement was recognized in 2013 at The Center for Education Reform: “Before It Was Cool Conference” and by her selection as a Pahara-Aspen Fellow.

She began her career in 1970 as a teacher in Community School District 13 of the New York City Public Schools. She was the first female Assistant Superintendent in Cambridge, MA and the first female Deputy Superintendent in Milwaukee, WI. In 1991, Dr. McGriff became the first female General Superintendent of the 200,000-student Detroit Public Schools where she successfully opened 25 choice and empowered schools. Crain’s Detroit Business named her 1992 Newsmaker of the Year.

Nelson Smith Nelson Smith is Senior Advisor to the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. From 2004 to 2011 he was President and CEO and then Senior Advisor to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Previously, he served as Vice President for Policy and Governance at New American Schools; as Executive Director of the District of Columbia Public Charter School Board; and as Vice President for Education and Workforce Development at the New York City Partnership. From 1985 to 1992, at the U.S. Department of Education, he oversaw programs devoted to improving education through research-based methods. He was an Adjunct Lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education from 2011 to 2014. Mr. Smith was given a Career Achievement Award from New Schools Venture Fund in 2010, recognizing his quarter-century of leadership in education reform. A graduate of Georgetown University, he lives in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

Hall of Fame Inductees 2007-2014







  • Norman Atkins
  • James Goenner
  • John King



  • Howard Fuller
  • Sonia Gutierrez
  • Ted Kolderie
  • John Walton