Spencer Board

Stephanie Banchero is Education Senior Program Officer at the Joyce Foundation, which works to ensure all students—especially those who are low-income and minority—are prepared for life success by improving the quality of teachers they encounter in school, enhancing early education policies, and supporting policies that ensure high school students have a seamless transition from high school to college and careers.Before coming to Joyce, Stephanie was the National Education Reporter for the Wall Street Journal, where she covered national and state K-12 education issues. Prior to that, Ms. Banchero served as an education reporter for the Chicago Tribune for thirteen years where covered statewide and national education issues. Previously, Ms. Banchero worked as a reporter at the Charlotte Observer, Philadelphia Inquirer and the Salt Lake Tribune.Her nationally recognized reporting has received first place awards from the National Education Writers Association and the Missouri School of Journalism. She also received the Harry Chapin Media Award and an honorable mention from the Casey Journalism Center on Children and Families. She was awarded a prestigious one-year Knight Fellowship in journalism at Stanford University.

She is the past president of the National Education Writers Association.

Stephanie holds a bachelor’s of arts from the University of Utah in Communications and a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She resides in Chicag

Nikole Hannah-Jones is an award-winning investigative reporter covering racial injustice for the New York Times Magazine. She has spent the last four years investigating the way racial segregation in housing and schools is maintained through official action and policy.

She has written extensively about school resegregation across the country and the disarray of hundreds of school desegregation orders. She has also chronicled the decades-long failure of the federal government to enforce the landmark 1968 Fair Housing Act and wrote one of the most widely read analyses of the racial implications of the controversial Fisher v. University of Texas affirmative action Supreme Court case.

Nikole was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists and was also named to The Root 100. Her reporting has won several national awards, including the George Polk Award, the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service, and the Hechinger Grand Prize for Distinguished Education Reporting, and was a finalist for the National Magazine Award.

Before joining The New York Times, her reporting was also featured in ProPublicaThe Atlantic Magazine, Huffington Post, Essence Magazine, The Week Magazine, Grist, Politico Magazine and on Face the Nation, This American Life, NPR, the Tom Joyner Morning Show, MSNBC, C-SPAN, Democracy Now and radio stations across the country.

Luis A. Huerta is an Associate Professor of Education and Public Policy at Teachers College-Columbia University. He holds a Ph.D. in education policy from the University of California, Berkeley. He teaches courses in policy analysis and implementation, school finance and organizational sociology. His research and scholarship focus on school choice reforms and school finance policy. His research on school choice reforms examines policies that advance both decentralized and market models of schooling—including charter schools, vouchers, tuition tax credits, homeschooling and virtual schools. His research also examines school finance policy and research, with a specific focus on how legal and legislative battles over finance equity in schools and the research which has analyzed the effects of resources on student achievement, have consistently overlooked how resources are used within schools.

Prior to joining the Teachers College faculty in January of 2002, he served as a research associate and coordinator for K-12 education policy research for Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE). He also served as a California public school teacher for six years. He is the author of recent articles on school choice and school finance published in Educational Policy, Journal of Education Finance, Teachers College Record, Peabody Journal of Education, Journal of Education Policy and Phi Delta Kappan. He recently served as co-editor of the journal, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis.


Alex Kotlowitz is the author of Never a City So Real, The Other Side of the River and There Are No Children Here. Kotlowitz is a regular contributor to The New York Times Magazine and Public Radio’s This American Life. His work has also appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune and The Wall Street Journal (where he was a staff writer for ten years,) as well as on PBS and NPR. His play An Unobstructed View (co-authored with Amy Dorn) premiered in Chicago in June of 2005. He teaches writing at Northwestern University. His journalism honors include the George Foster Peabody Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and the George Polk Award.

Amy Stuart Wells is a Professor of Sociology and Education and the Director of the Center for Understanding Race and Education (CURE) at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research and writing has focused broadly on issues of race and education and more specifically on educational policies such as school desegregation, school choice, charter schools, and tracking and how they shape and constrain opportunities for students of color. Wells is currently directing two projects funded by the Ford Foundation: One is a study of urban-suburban demographic change and the role that public schools and their boundaries play in those changes titled “Metro Migrations, Racial Segregation and School Boundaries.” From 1999-2006, Wells was the principal investigator of a five-year study of adults who attended racially mixed high schools funded by the Spencer, Joyce and Ford Foundations. She is co-author of a book from this study, Both Sides Now: The Story of Desegregation’s Graduates (2009, UC Press), with Jennifer Jellison Holme, Anita Tijerina Revilla, and Awo Korantemaa Atanda. Wells is the author and editor of numerous other books and articles, including co-editor with Janice Petrovich of Bringing Equity Back: Research for a New Era in Educational Policy Making (2005, Teachers College Press); editor of Where Charter School Policy Fails: The Problems of Accountability and Equity (2002, Teachers College Press); co-author with Robert L. Crain of Stepping over the Color Line: African American Students in White Suburban Schools (Yale University Press, 1997); ); and co-editor with A.H. Halsey, Hugh Lauder, and Phillip Brown of Education: Culture, Economy and Society (Oxford University Press, 1997).

Carla Shedd is Associate Professor of Urban Education and Sociology at The Graduate Center, CUNY. Shedd received her Ph.D. in sociology from Northwestern University.Her research and teaching interests focus on: race/ethnicity; crime/criminal justice; law/inequality; urban education, and urban policy. Shedd’s book, Unequal City: Race, Schools, and Perceptions of Injustice (October 2015Russell Sage), is the winner of the C. Wright Mills Award and the ASA’s Race, Gender, and Class Section’s Distinguished Book Award. Unequal City deeply probes the intersections of race, place, education, and the expansion of the American carceral state using Chicago’s stratified education and residential landscape as its site of investigation. Shedd’s current research focuses on New York City’s juvenile justice system assessing how young people’s linked institutional experiences influence their placement on and movement along the carceral continuum. 



a_lareauAnnette Lareau is the Stanley I. Sheerr Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. Before moving to Penn in 2008, she taught at the University of Maryland and Temple University. With the generous support of the Spencer Foundation, she has done ethnographic research on social class differences in family-school relationships. She is the author of Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life which won a distinguished publication award from the Sociology of Family, Sociology of Childhood, and Sociology of Culture sections of the American Sociological Association. A second edition of Unequal Childhoods, with 100 new pages, was published in 2011; it provides a follow-up of the children into adulthood. In the current project, Annette Lareau is doing research (with Elliot Weininger of SUNY Brockport) on the role that school plays in residential decisions. She has received a residential fellowship from the Russell Sage Foundation. In  2013 and 2014, she will serve as the President of the American Sociological Association.

Frederick M. Hess

An educator, political scientist and author, Frederick M. Hess studies K-12 and higher education issues. His books include The Same Thing Over and Over, Education Unbound, Common Sense School Reform, Revolution at the Margins, Spinning Wheels, and Cage-Busting Leadership (Harvard Education Press, February 2013). He is also the author of the popular Education Week blog, “Rick Hess Straight Up.” Hess’s work has appeared in scholarly and popular outlets such as Teachers College Record, Harvard Education Review, Social Science Quarterly, Urban Affairs Review, American Politics Quarterly, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Phi Delta Kappan, Educational Leadership, U.S. News & World Report, National Affairs, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Atlantic and National Review. He has edited widely cited volumes on education philanthropy, school costs and productivity, the impact of education research, and No Child Left Behind.  Hess serves as executive editor of Education Next, as lead faculty member for the Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program, and on the review boards for the Broad Prize in Urban Education and the Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools. He also serves on the boards of directors of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, 4.0 SCHOOLS, and the American Board for the Certification of Teaching Excellence. A former high school social studies teacher, he has taught at the University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, Rice University and Harvard University. He holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in Government, as well as an M.Ed. in Teaching and Curriculum, from Harvard University.

toppoGreg Toppo Greg Toppo is USA Today’s national K-12 education and demographics reporter. After spending eight years as a private and public school teacher, he switched careers to journalism, working first at the Santa Fe New Mexican and then the Associated Press in both Baltimore and Washington, D.C. In 2002, Toppo became the national K-12 education writer for USA Today. Greg was a 2010 Spencer fellow at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. In 2011, Toppo co-led the team that investigated cheating in the nation’s public schools, most prominently in Washington, D.C. His book on video games and education is under contract with Palgrave Macmillan. Toppo lives near Baltimore with his wife, Julie, and their two daughters.


Janice Jackson joined the National Equity Project in August 2013. Prior to her current role she was the Executive Director of the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education. She worked previously at Harvard University, where she provided support for its program for Urban Superintendents Program and other leadership development initiatives such as the Wallace-funded leadership project for states and urban districts. Jackson has been a faculty member and researcher at two universities, working in areas ranging from teaching and teacher education to leadership development. She has deep experience in supporting and running schools and school systems, including having served in the leadership cadre of three major urban school systems and as a consultant to many others. And she has worked in the policy arena at the federal level, as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the US Department of Education. Jackson has also worked as a board member or consultant with a wide variety of major education organizations that support professional development; academic, social and emotional learning for students; and the pursuit of more equity.

Jeffrey R. Henig is a professor of political science and education at Teachers College and a professor of political science at Columbia University. Henig has worked with the Spencer Fellowship as a mentor and advisor since its inception in 2007.

Henig’s scholarly interests revolve around the boundary between private action and public action in addressing social problems, including privatization, race and urban politics, the politics of urban education reform, and school choice.

He holds a B.A. from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Northwestern University in Illinois.

He is the author or coauthor of nine books, including The Color of School Reform: Race, Politics and the Challenge of Urban Education (Princeton, 1999) and Building Civic Capacity: The Politics of Reforming Urban Schools (Kansas, 2001), both of which were named–in 1999 and 2001, respectively–the best book written on urban politics by the Urban Politics Section of the American Political Science Association. Spin Cycle: How Research Gets Used in Policy Debates. The Case of Charter Schools (Russell Sage, 2008) focuses on the controversy surrounding the charter school study by the American Federation of Teachers and its implications for understanding politics, politicization, and the use of research to inform public discourse; it won the American Educational Research Association’s (AERA) Outstanding Book Award, 2010. Most recently, he is co-editor and contributor to Between Public and Private: Politics, Governance, and the New Portfolio Models for Urban School Reform (Harvard Education Press, 2010).

Liz WillenLiz Willen is editor of The Hechinger Report. She is a former senior writer focused on higher education at Bloomberg Markets magazine. Willen spent the bulk of her career covering the New York City public school system for Newsday. She has won numerous prizes for education coverage and shared the 2005 George Polk Award for health reporting with two Bloomberg colleagues. Willen is a graduate of Tufts University and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, and an active New York City public school parent.


Nancy SolomonNancy Solomon is a former Spencer Fellow and the managing editor of New Jersey Public Radio, which is owned and operated by WNYC, the largest public radio station in the nation. She has produced some 200 features for National Public Radio as well as two hour-long radio documentaries. She won a 2005 Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism for a story that examined the collapse of New Jersey’s state child welfare agency and a 2009 Peabody Award for an examination of the achievement gap in a suburban New Jersey school. Solomon lives in South Orange, N.J. with her teen-age son and their mutt.

LemannNicholas Lemann is Professor of Journalism and Dean Emeritus at Columbia Journalism School. Lemann worked at the Washington Monthly, Texas Monthly, The Washington Post, The Atlantic Monthly, and at The New Yorker, as staff writer and then Washington correspondent before becoming dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University from 2003 to 2013. Lemann continues to contribute to The New Yorker as a staff writer. He has published five books, most recently “Redemption: The Last Battle of the Civil War” (2006); “The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy” (1999), which helped lead to a major reform of the SAT; and “The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America” (1991), which won several book prizes. He has written widely for such publications as The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The New Republic, and Slate; worked in documentary television with Blackside, Inc., “FRONTLINE,” the Discovery Channel, and the BBC; and lectured at many universities.

Lemann serves on the boards of directors of the Authors Guild, the National Academy of Sciences’ Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, and the Academy of Political Science, and is a member of the New York Institute for the Humanities. He was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in April, 2010.

GorenPaul Goren currently serves as Special Advisor to Chicago Public Schools and Senior Advisor to the Urban Education Institute.

Goren is the immediate past Lewis-Sebring director of the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research at the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute. Prior to joining UEI, Goren served as senior vice president of The Spencer Foundation from 2001-2010 and as executive director of the Spencer Forum focusing on the dissemination of research to the policy and practice communities. Previously, Goren was the director of Child and Youth Development at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. A former middle-school teacher, Goren worked as executive director (assistant superintendent) for Policy and Strategic Services in the Minneapolis Public Schools from 1995-98 and as a policy analyst and educational researcher in the San Diego City Schools in the mid-1980s. He worked in and subsequently directed the education policy studies division of the National Governors’ Association (NGA) in Washington, DC between 1991 and 1995.

Goren has written on professional development and public engagement for the NGA, served as chief accountability officer in the Minneapolis Schools where he helped develop capacity for data driven-decision making, and led the Spencer Foundation’s efforts to disseminate studies and findings to multiple audiences. Along with numerous presentations at philanthropic, practitioner, policy, and research forums, he served on the National Academy of Science task force on How People Learn. His writing includes commentaries for the National Society for the Study of Education yearbook on Developing the Teacher Workforce, and for Education Week on the relationship of foundations and philanthropy to school districts. Goren received the Ian Axford (New Zealand) Fellowship in public policy through NZ Fulbright to study Maori education policy.

Goren serves on the board of TERC, a science and mathematics curriculum developer, and is on the executive committee of the Board of Y.O.U., a social service and support agency for students in the Evanston, IL public schools. He also serves on the Boards of the Donors Forum of Illinois and the national Grantmakers for Education organization.

Goren holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University, a master of public affairs degree from the LBJ School at the University of Texas, and a B.A. from Williams College.

Pedro Noguera is a professor in the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University, the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education and the co-Director of the Institute for the Study of Globalization and Education in Metropolitan Settings (IGEMS).

An urban sociologist, Noguera’s scholarship and research focuses on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic conditions in the urban environment. Noguera has served as an advisor and engaged in collaborative research with several large urban school districts throughout the United States. He has also done research on issues related to education and economic and social development in the Caribbean, Latin America and several other countries throughout the world. From 2000 – 2003 Noguera served as the Judith K. Dimon Professor of Communities and Schools at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. From 1990 – 2000 he was a Professor in Social and Cultural Studies at the Graduate School of Education and the Director of the Institute for the Study of Social Change at the University of California, Berkeley.

Pedro Noguera has published over one hundred and fifty research articles, monographs and research reports on topics such as urban school reform, conditions that promote student achievement, youth violence, the potential impact of school choice and vouchers on urban public schools, and race and ethnic relations in American society. His work has appeared in several major research journals and many are available online at inmotionmagazine.com. He is the author of The Imperatives of Power: Political Change and the Social Basis of Regime Support in Grenada (Peter Lang Publishers, 1997), City Schools and the American Dream (Teachers College Press 2003 – winner of Foreward Magazine Gold Award), he is the co-editor of Beyond Resistance: Youth Activism and Community Change, (with Shawn Ginwright and Julio Camarota – Routledge 2006) and his most recent book is Unfinished Business: Closing the Achievement Gap in Our Nation’s Schools (with Jean Yonemura Wing – Josey Bass, 2006).

Peg TyrePeg Tyre is the author of two bestselling books on education, The Trouble With Boys and The Good School. She began her research for The Good School after being awarded a Spencer Fellowship in 2009-2010. She co-taught the “covering education” course with Barbara Kantrowitz at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism in 2010-2011.

A lifelong journalist, she has covered education and social trends for fifteen years and mostly recently, her work has been published in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Salon and Time.com. For seven years, she was a feature writer at Newsweek. She began her career covering crime, organized crime and domestic terrorism for a newspaper and later, worked as an on-air correspondent for CNN.

She currently serves as director of strategy for the Edwin Gould Foundation, which focuses on getting low-income students to and through college. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, novelist and television writer Peter Blauner. They have two sons.