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

Johnson’s research interests include community and economic development, urban poverty and public policy in urban America. 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

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. Prior to that, Joanne was partner and chief operating officer at NewSchools Venture Fund, where she focused on investing in and supporting charter management organizations, human capital solutions providers and academic tools designers. Joanne spent the first 20 years of her career pioneering ways to increase the effectiveness of teaching and learning — as vice president of curriculum research and development, then as CEO — for companies providing technology-based products and services to underserved students in K-12 and higher education. Joanne is an expert-in-residence at Harvard Innovation Labs, a fellow for Georgetown University’s FutureEd and a fellow in the inaugural cohort of the Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship. She holds a degree in biochemistry from Princeton University and lives with her husband in Washington, D.C.