The Postsecondary National Policy Institute (PNPI) serves as the leading source of professional development for current and prospective federal policymakers working on higher education issues. PNPI’s professional development briefings and seminars provide participants with an opportunity to consider a full range of higher education topics, while engaging in constructive dialogue with postsecondary leaders, researchers and their colleagues. PNPI is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Lumina Foundation. PNPI’s Summer Scholar Program receives additional funding through our CrowdRise campaign and from individual donors including Terrell Halaska, David Dunn and HCM Strategists.
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MaryEllen McGuire (email@example.com) is the President of the Postsecondary National Policy Institute (PNPI). Prior to creating and launching PNPI, MaryEllen served on the White House Domestic Policy Council as President Obama’s Senior Advisor for Education. In this capacity she focused her efforts on developing and advancing the president’s higher education agenda. Apart from her work with the administration, MaryEllen previously served as the Senior Education Policy advisor to Senator Chris Dodd on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and Majority Staff Director of the Senate Subcommittee on Children and Families. Before her time with Senator Dodd, she worked on education and social policy issues for then-Senator Joe Biden, was the Assistant Director of Research to former First Lady Hillary Clinton, worked for the Connecticut General Assembly, and served as a Connecticut public school teacher. She also served as the Director of New America’s Education Program from 2008-2009 and launched PNPI at New America in 2012 where it remained through the summer of 2015. In 2002, MaryEllen received her doctorate in politics and education from Teacher’s College, Columbia University. In 2016, MaryEllen was awarded a Distinguished Alumni Award from Teacher’s College for her contributions to federal higher education policy.
Dr. Steven Edwards is an award-winning administrator, speaker, trainer and professor and the creator of the ED methods and products that have transformed schools throughout the nation. A leader nationally recognized by USA Today for his innovative approach to education, Dr. Edwards successfully implemented numerous programs to improve student performance during his sixteen-year tenure as a school administrator. Dr. Edwards also has been instrumental in helping countless school districts tailor similar programs with positive, far-reaching results. In addition, Dr. Edwards is an internationally recognized keynote speaker, facilitator and trainer regularly featured as a content expert on television and radio with appearances on CNN on topics such as 21st Century teaching and learning, school climate and educational reform for a globalized world. He has worked in 49 states and 42 countries. Dr. Edwards has worked locally, nationally and internationally with both for-profit and non-profit organizations, such as schools, corporations, municipalities and countries. Clients include The United Nations and World Bank. In addition, he has served as an advisor to the White House on education issues. As a planner he has assisted groups and individuals in identifying and achieving individual and organizational goals. Throughout his thirty-five year professional career, Dr. Edwards has published numerous articles on school reform and leadership, and has co-authored five books, which address school reform initiatives and leadership development. He has also served as a professor of educational leadership for both the University of Connecticut and the George Washington University teaching prospective administrators in the Graduate School of Education.
Currently Dr. Edwards serves as a visiting lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University in the United Kingdom. In addition, Dr. Steven Edwards has served as the Vice President for the Children, Communities, and Youth Division of the National Crime Prevention Council in Washington, D.C., where he oversaw initiatives that focus on delivering a crime prevention message to America’s youth and youth around the world. His efforts in this area involved working with schools, youth service agencies, community leaders and policy makers across the country and internationally. Currently, Dr. Edwards also serves as a member of several national and international boards.
Max Espinoza is a senior program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Prior to joining Gates, he was Senior Vice President of Education Programs and Policy at Scholarship America. In this capacity Max served on Scholarship America’s executive team, advancing the organizational mission, acting as Scholarship America’s lead spokesperson on education issues, and providing strategy and operational management of the organization’s education programs, including Dollars for Scholars, Collegiate Partners and the Dream Award. Previously, Max spent more than a decade with the California State Legislature in key leadership roles advising elected officials in the shaping of policy and fiscal priorities and served as chief advisor on higher education to Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez and members of the Assembly Democratic Caucus. In these roles he advanced equity in postsecondary education access, protected and expanded the state’s financial aid programs and shepherded other important policy changes including the enactment of “The Working Families Student Fee Transparency and Accountability Act.”
Earlier in his career Max served as an executive leader at the California Student Aid Commission where he managed over $1 billion in state and federal financial aid programs and served as President of the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project (CLYLP), a community based nonprofit whose mission is to enhance and build the leadership potential of California’s Chicano/Latino youth.
Max holds a BA from the University of California, Los Angeles. A first-generation college student and former scholarship recipient, he has been a passionate advocate for students throughout his career and has dedicated himself to ensuring postsecondary education equity and opportunity as a means of combatting socioeconomic inequity.
Terrell Halaska is the founding partner of HCM Strategists. An expert at strategy development and relationship building, Terrell leads the firm’s support of several education clients and provides strategic guidance to HCM’s health team. A graduate of the University of California, San Diego with a bachelor’s degree in political science, Terrell began to focus on policy during her master’s studies at the Monterey Institution of International Studies. She put her education to work on Capitol Hill as a press secretary to Rep. Scott Klug and on the state level as the media manager for the National Governor’s Association and director of the state of Wisconsin’s Washington, D.C. office.After the confirmation of former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Terrell joined his senior management team as deputy chief of staff. She oversaw policy development on a number of issues within the department – including stem cell research and international and domestic HIV/AIDS initiatives – and built a reputation as a consensus builder willing to consider fresh ideas to address vexing bioethical and health policy problems.
Terrell soon moved from HHS to the White House, where she advised the President, domestic policy advisor and other senior staff as special assistant to the President for domestic policy. In that role, she developed and advanced Administration policies on family and children’s issues – including early childhood education, welfare reform, housing, and homelessness. In 2005, she was confirmed by the Senate as assistant secretary of education for legislation and congressional affairs, serving as the department’s top negotiator with Congress on several key initiatives. Terrell credits her work on the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief for demonstrating to her the power and effectiveness of innovative policies when stakeholders commit to advancing change. In helping senior Administration officials develop HIV/AIDS policies, Terrell witnessed an open-mindedness to creative solutions and an unwavering commitment to the overarching principle of helping others. The result was increased HIV testing, counseling and treatment that has averted deaths and improved the quality of lives for individuals with HIV/AIDS around the world. These experiences underlie Terrell’s work at HCM, where she remains grounded in the belief that sound policy can catalyze change and prides herself on the firm’s continued focus on improving people’s lives. Married to David Dunn, Terrell splits her time between Washington, D.C. and Austin, Texas, where David also shapes education policy as head of the state charter school association.