2018 Education Legislative Forum
Hosted by the Education Task Force
April 9, 2018

On April 9th, the WGR Education Taskforce held its second annual Education Legislative Forum. Made possible with general support from the McKeon Group and host site American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, former Education and Workforce Chair Howard “Buck” McKeon kicked off the event with opening remarks discussing the changes in Washington since he joined Congress in 1992 and the impact of the divisions of the country on Congress’ ability to accomplish policy goals. His remarks segued well into the first panel of authorizers, representing both parties from the House Education and the Workforce and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committees. The panelists discussed progress on specific bills, such as the PROSPER Act in the House, and the possibility of the Senate taking up bipartisan legislation from the House, such as the reauthorization of the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. It was a lively discussion showing both where parties diverge on issues but also where Chambers diverge on tackling a specific bill. The day closed out with a panel representing funders from Congress – the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor-Health and Human Services-Education and the Senate Budget Committee. They discussed the recently passed Fiscal Year 2018 omnibus bill, the outlook for Fiscal Year 2019, and potential disagreements over funding in the coming year. The overall event was a great success with over 60 speakers and participants.

Whisk(e)y Tasting
Hosted by the Education Task Force
March 15, 2018

The members of WGR and their friends expanded their knowledge and their palettes at the first Whisk(e)y Tasting event. Hosted by the Education Taskforce, WGR members gathered on Capitol Hill for a lively evening learning about the various whiskey varietals. This event provided attendees the opportunity to try new things, learn their likes and dislikes, and be ready to confidently place a drink order or stir up a cocktail the next time whiskey is on the menu. Women Empowerment Network members Winning Connections and Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America made this event possible by sponsoring the location and spirits, respectively. Attendees were able to taste Slane (Irish whiskey), Balvenie DoubleWood 12 year (Scotch), Old Forester 100 Proof (Bourbon), and Woodford Reserve Rye. The whole program was brought together by whiskey expert Don Morton, the founder of local cocktail company Shrub District, whose products can be found at both bars and retailers. Don provided an entertaining and educational talk taking attendees through the tasting of the four spirits and also sponsored the event by providing a rocks glass for each attendee to take home. Don was able to field a variety of questions from the 40 attendees including how bourbon became a debate between Sens. McConnell and Schumer and how to order a whiskey cocktail to impress your guest. The evening concluded with attendees getting to try one of Shrub District’s cocktail products with their whiskey of choice.

ESSA Implementation and the Politics of Equity
Hosted by the Education Task Force
March 13, 2018

On March 13th, WGR's Education Task Force hosted its second in a series of conversations focused on equity in education, this time with a robust discussion on the implementation of No Child Left Behind's reboot, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This discussion, moderated by the Task Force's own Victoria Fosdal, featured panelists Susie Saavedra, Senior Director, Policy & Legislative Affairs at National Urban League, Chad Aldeman, Principal at Bellwether Education Partners, and Jessah Walker, Senior Federal Relations Associate at Council of Chief State School Officers, and explored where states are meeting and falling short of meeting the law's provisions to advance equity for all students. The panelists made clear that not all states and districts are created equal, with some doing a much better job than others of finding innovative ways to close equity gaps and hold themselves accountable for going above and beyond compliance of the law. 2018 will be a critical year as many of the state plans go into effect, giving us all an opportunity to see for the first time if ESSA will in fact move the needle towards creating a more equitable education system for all.

Understanding the Importance of Equity in Education
Hosted by the Education Task Force
November 2 ,2017

On November 2nd, WGR’s Education Task Force hosted an engaging discussion on understanding the importance of equity in education, with featured panelists Tiffany Jones, Director of Higher Education Policy at the Education Trust, Khadish Franklin, Associate Director of the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, Tiffany Miller, Vice President of Government Relations at Communities in Schools, and Nicky McKinney, Director of Policy Development and Federal Government Relations at the Alliance for Excellent Education. Moderated by WGR member India Heckstall, the panel emphasized the need for policymakers to acknowledge the differences between equity and equality, and to create policies that provide real educational opportunity for all students. This includes continuing to disaggregate student-level data and remaining vigilant about providing all students with the resources they need to succeed from pre-K through college.
Many thanks to the panelists for the insightful conversation and to ETS for hosting the event.

Education Task Force Lunch Series with Congresswoman Susan Davis (CA-53)
Hosted by the Education Task Force
July 27, 2017

The Education Task Force was honored to welcome Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-CA-53) for an intimate conversation about what motivates her to serve as a leader on the Armed Services and Education and Workforce Committees. The Congresswoman spoke passionately about bipartisan efforts to increase access to high-quality apprenticeship programs so that more Americans can “learn and earn” at the same time. She also provided participants with key advice on how to best present data in a compelling way, and underscored the importance of doing more listening than shouting when trying to get things done. Lastly—she highlighted her optimism about the progress women have made in underrepresented fields, and urged all women to continue using their voices to address small biases when they happen in order to make lasting change.

The task force was grateful for our sponsor, Washington Partners, LLC, for allowing us all to engage in such a thoughtful conversation.   

Education Task Force 2017 Legislative Forum
Hosted by the Education Task Force
June 19, 2017

On June 19, the Education Taskforce held our first Legislative Forum to address the pipeline of education issues in front of Congress from both the policy and funding sides. Joined by education committee staff from both chambers and parties, as well as some appropriations staff, attendees heard about the priorities of the education authorizers as well as received some behind the scenes details about how the majority and minority staffs interact with one another. With over 60 people in attendance, it was a great networking opportunity for those working in education government relations as well.




Advocating for Education in a Trump Administration
Hosted by the Education Task Force
December 13, 2016

On December 13, the Women in Government Relations (WGR) Education Task Force hosted a panel discussion on how education organizations are approaching engagement with President-elect Trump’s upcoming administration and what to look out for in education in 2017. The panel of policy experts and educate advocates shared their perspectives on the outcome of the 2016 General Election, President-elect Trump’s education priorities, and the approaches their organizations are taking to influence K-12 and higher education policy with the new administration. Moderated by Sheryl Cohen of the Committee for Education Funding, the panel featured Jessah Walker of the Council of Chief State School Officers, David Baime of the American Association of Community Colleges, Jennifer Scully of the American Federation of Teachers and Monica Almond of the Alliance for Excellent Education.

20-to-1 with Representative Bradley Byrne (R-AL-1)

Hosted by the Education Task Force
September 22,2016
On September 22, the WGR Education Task Force held their Congressional Breakfast Series 20-to-1 event with Representative Bradley Byrne (R-AL-1), member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee and Co-Chair of the Congressional Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Caucus. Participants had the opportunity to meet and chat one on one with Representative Byrne at this intimate breakfast event. Representative Byrne shared his goals for strengthening higher education including the need for less complexity in student aid, transparency in lending, and education for student borrowers. He also described the work of the House Opportunity Caucus working to increase education and workforce opportunity through interagency poverty relief efforts based on some of the tenets introduced in the New York Times bestseller Our Kids by Robert Putnam. Attendees had the opportunity to ask questions and enjoyed a rich discussion of policy levers that could be used to improve our nation’s education system.

Crisis Communications Essentials for Education Advocates
Hosted by the Education Task Force
May 20, 2016

Members of the Education Task Force gathered May 20th for a breakfast workshop on crisis communications best practices.  Karen Doyne of Burson-Marsteller and Alyssa Aalmo of Apollo Education Group shared tips on when and how to engage stakeholders and how to ensure government affairs has a role in the response strategy.  Key take-always included the importance of being prepared with crisis simulations, pre-approved content and trained spokespeople.  And always beware the false dawn of premature recovery!

The Four A's of HEA: Affordability, Access, Accountability and Accreditation
Hosted by the Education Task Force
April 6, 2016

More than 30 education pro’s gathered on April 6 to hear from lead staff on the House and Senate education committees to discuss the inside scoop of the potential reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. Speakers included:

  • Amy Jones, Director of Education and Human Services Policy, House Education and the Workforce Committee (Majority)
  • Rayna Reid, Education Policy Counsel, House Education and the Workforce Committee (Minority)
  • Lauren Davies, Education Policy Adviser, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (Majority)
  • Aissa Canchola, Policy Adviser, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (Minority)

After providing background about their role on the committee and what led them there, speakers discussed their bosses’ priorities for reauthorizing HEA and anticipated priorities for the remainder of the 114th Congress. They also discussed areas of common agreement among education committee members and sticking that could hold up the process. They acknowledged that while both committees in each chamber have already made a call for stakeholder feedback, they continue to hold meetings and hear from members of the higher education committee. It’s important to note that they are particularly interested in hearing recommendations for how to pay for some of the programs and evidence-based strategies of what works (particularly related to improving completion).

What's Next for ESSA: Implementation of the Education Law

Hosted by the Education Task Force
February 23, 2016

February 23, 2016, the Women in Government Relations Education Task force hosted a luncheon briefing, “What’s Next for ESSA: Implementation of the Education Law.” The purpose of the briefing was to inform and engage participants in a discussion about what it will take to effectively implement the newly enacted Every Student Success Act (ESSA). The event featured an esteemed panel of education experts including Emma Vadehra, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Department of Education, Jessah Walker, Senior Federal Relations Associate at the Council of Chief State School Officers and Kimberly Richey, Senior Counsel at the National School Boards Association. Moderated by Washington Partner’s Ellin Nolan, the panel explored the regulatory process for implementation and how it will affect states and local communities.

Education Task Force Brown Bag Lunch featuring Ed Week Editor-in-Chief
Hosted by the Education Task Force
September 18, 2015

On September 18, 2015, the WGR Education Task Force held a brown bag lunch conversation with Virginia B. Edwards, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Education Week. The discussion focused on current trends in education policy as well as the changing shape of print and digital journalism. Virginia shared key themes in education that Education Week is exploring this year, her insights in the midst of a polarizing political landscape, and her observations of the shift from print to online news. Following the discussion, participants talked about planning upcoming education policy events for the Task Force.


The Common Core & Your Child: Understanding the New Academic Goals in Math and English
Hosted by the Education Task Force
March 26, 2015

Looking to provide information to WGR members who are parents of children in public schools - members from across WGR’s interest areas joined the Education Task Force on Thursday, March 26 for “Common Core & Your Child." Participants heard from National PTA Deputy Executive Director of Government Affairs and Communications Beth Rorick on a range of issues dealing with the new academic goals, from the kind of content included in the math and English standards to the current political dynamics that have frequently led to misinformation and confusion.  In addition, representatives from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Mathematical Association of America were on hand to field questions regarding the new assessments as well as the value of the current shifts in mathematical teaching that have taken place in states that have adopted the Common Core.

Education as a Campaign Issue: A Real Look at the Impact of Education in Elections
Hosted by the Education Task Force
November 14, 2014

While the dust is still settling from the results of 2014 mid-term election, the Education Task Force gathered a diverse panel on November 14th to discuss what role education played as individuals went to the polls. Moderated by Education Week’s Lauren Camera, panelists included: Carrie Pugh (Associate Director, Campaigns & Elections, National Education Association), Safiya Jafari Simmons (Principal and Chief Strategist, SJS Consulting LLC), and Ann McCord (President, McCord & Company). Attendees and panelists engaged in a frank and honest conversation about how voters have traditionally viewed education at the ballot box, the impact of a low voter turnout, and what lays ahead heading into the 114th Congress and the 2016 Presidential cycle.

Education Task Force Quarterly Meeting
Hosted by the Education Task Force
October 23, 2014

The Education Task Force held its quarterly meeting on Thursday, October 23rd. Our guest speaker was Colleen Bell who is the legislative counsel for Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO). She talked about her boss’s interest in sexual violence in the military and college campuses and the development of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act. After a lively question and answer session, the task force also discussed future events, including a recap of the November elections and a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act early in 2015.



Oktoberfest Beer Tasting & History of Brewing in DC
Hosted by the Education Task Force
October 14, 2014

The Education Task Force held a networking event, “Oktoberfest Beer Tasting & History of Brewing in DC” on October 14th. Thirty-eight attendees packed the private room at Gordon Biersch to sample several beers and learned about the history of brewing in DC. The tasting and discussion was led by Garrett Peck, author of Capital Beer: A Heady History of Brewing in Washington, D.C. WGR members from all sectors and other beer lovers enjoyed the opportunity to network and learn more about Washington’s brewing history and the resurgence of breweries in the city. Mr. Peck also had copies of his book for sale and many attendees walked away the perfect gift this holiday season!