Distinguished Senior Scholars

Education Commission of the States is honored to have four education policy veterans serving as Distinguished Senior Fellows. The fellows, with expertise ranging from preschool to postsecondary and beyond, serve as advisors to the organization and to member states.

James H. Johnson Jr.
Distinguished Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship and Director, Urban Investment Strategies Center, Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at UNC–Chapel Hill

Jim Johnson examines the growing inequality in American society, particularly as it affects disadvantaged youth; entrepreneurial approaches to poverty alleviation, job creation and community development; interethnic minority conflict in advanced industrial societies; and business demography and workforce diversity issues. He is co-author of “The Economic Impact of the African American Population on the State of North Carolina,” among other publications.

Michael Petrilli
President, Thomas B. Fordham Institute

Michael Petrilli is president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and executive editor of Education Next. He is the author of “The Diverse Schools Dilemma” and editor of “Education for Upward Mobility.” Petrilli helped to create the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement and the Policy Innovators in Education Network.

JoAnne Weiss. DSF headshot.Joanne Weiss
President, Weiss Associates

Joanne Weiss is an independent consultant to organizations on education programs, technologies and policy. She focuses on driving systems-level change in education through high-impact policymaking, grantmaking and implementation. From 2009-13, she served in the Obama Administration as chief of staff to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and as director of the federal Race to the Top program.

Carey M. Wright
Former state superintendent of education, Mississippi

Carey Wright is one of the longest-serving state education chiefs of the 21st century. Her tenure in Mississippi was longer and marked by more student gains than any state superintendent of education since the Education Reform Act of 1982 established the Mississippi State Board of Education. She serves on the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for NAEP.