Rafael Heller is a principal policy analyst for Jobs for the Future's Building Educational Pathways for Youth group, working specifically on the Students at the Center initiative. In this role, Dr. Heller performs research and policy analysis and delivers technical assistance to help policymakers and practitioners identify, implement, and expand student-centered approaches to learning that improve learning outcomes for students. Working on projects funded by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Dr. Heller has managed the development of a strong research and evidence base to inform policymakers about the knowledge, skills, and competencies that are most essential for students in the 21st century, and how policymakers, in their role, can create the conditions that enable students to achieve those competencies.
Prior to joining JFF, he was an independent consultant, serving as a writer, editor, and counsel to various education advocacy groups, foundations, and other organizations, such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Southern Regional Education Board, the American Youth Policy Forum, College Summit, the Library of Congress, and others. Prior to running his own business, Dr. Heller was a senior policy associate at the Alliance for Excellent Education, directing the Alliance’s many activities focused on improving adolescent literacy instruction in the nation’s schools. A specialist in secondary and postsecondary writing instruction, his 25-plus year career includes positions as an editor at the Association of American Colleges and Universities and as a writing professor and English department chair at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador.
Dr. Heller holds a bachelor's in English from Oberlin College, a master's in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a Ph.D. in English and education from the University of Michigan.