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Policy Leadership Trust

May 7, 2018

At a Glance

This select group of education leaders lets experience be their guide in developing state and federal policies that help students attain credentials for greater success in the labor market.

In 2015, JFF established The Policy Leadership Trust to marshal evidence, expertise, and insights of postsecondary practitioners to influence the direction of state and federal policy.

Community college leaders and state system officials serving on the Policy Trust identify key considerations for how policy can help more learners and workers attain credentials and skills and succeed in the labor market.

JFF promotes the Policy Trust positions through

  • Strategic outreach to state and federal policy makers and influencers
  • Dialog with the field of postsecondary practitioners and stakeholders
  • Thought leadership in the media


When Policy Meets Practice, which began June 21st, 2021, is a JFF podcast hosted by longtime higher education journalist Paul Fain. When Policy Meets Practice features conversations with community college leaders who are members of JFF’s Policy Leadership Trust about the policy approaches that produce results for workers, learners, and employers, and those that are falling short.

When Policy Meets Practice Podcast Series

Episode 1: JFF Examines Policy’s Impact on Community Colleges in New Podcast Series

Episode 2: A $109 Billion Question: How to Make Free Community College Worth the Investment

Episode 3: The Ongoing Debate: Should Federal Aid Cover Short-Term Credentials

Episode 4: Beyond Statements of Support: Reforming Education and Employment for Improved Racial Equity

Episode 5: Adult-Ready Colleges: What Must Change in Policy to Seed Success

Episode 6: Money Matters: How to Fix Policies That Discourage Colleges From Focusing on Equitable Student Success

Episode 7: Reimagining Transfer: What Must Change in Policy to Improve Transfer Student Outcomes

Episode 8: Dual Enrollment Means College For All — Almost

Episode 9: College and Career Preparation: A ‘Both/And’ Approach for Today’s Youth

Episode 10: What it Takes to Guide Students and Jobseekers to High-Value Careers

Blog Series: Practitioner Insights for Equitable Recovery

This monthly blog series provides a practitioner’s perspective on what policymakers and postsecondary education leaders should do to address the multiple pandemics facing our nation and to reimagine a better tomorrow. These blogs, covering a range of topics, are all centered around ways to harness and unleash the full potential of the nation’s public community and technical colleges to better serve families, communities, and regional economies.

Part 1: Five Reasons Why Community Colleges Are Key to Our COVID-19 Recovery

Part 2: Five Commitments Every Community College Must Make to Meet the Moment

Part 3: Five Steps Congress Should Take Now to Strengthen the U.S. Workforce

Part 4: Five Ways States Can Put Americans Back to Work and Transform Higher Education

Part 5: Five Ways Policymakers Can Ensure Quality and Equitable Outcomes for Short-term Training

Part 6: Five Things Policymakers Need to Know About Today’s Students


The Policy Trust recommends that federal and state officials keep the following principles in mind when crafting policy solutions:

No Silver Bullets

No single policy intervention will—on its own—move the needle on student success. Good policy takes a multi-pronged approach.

Context Matters

State context matters when designing policy. What is working in one state may not work in another because of differences in political landscape, priorities, governance, capacity, collaboration, and current and past reforms.

Flow from Practice

Policy should flow from practice, not the inverse. In most instances, it is better to use policy as a tool to accelerate implementation and scaling of proven practices that are already taking hold locally—rather than attempt through policy to ignite reforms that have yet to emerge.

Sense of Ownership

Policy is most likely to be implemented with fidelity when practitioners have informed the policy process and have a sense of ownership. Practitioners should have a seat at table when policy is developed.


Good policy creates incentives and structure to catalyze change within institutions and among systems.

Respects Autonomy

Good policy respects the autonomy of institutions over academic and student affairs.

Does Not Prescribe Rigid Implementation

Good policy does not prescribe rigid implementation.

Includes High Level Directives

High-level directives can be useful at times in steering the direction of reform, deepening commitment, overcoming resistance and creating leverage.



Modernizing Career Navigation in the United States

To help all students and jobseekers better navigate the rapidly changing job market and make informed choices about their educational and career paths, the United States must make systemic reforms and strategic investments in career…

September 15, 2022

How Career and Technical Education Can Provide Today’s Youth With Pathways to College and Career Success

High-quality career and technical education (CTE) programs represent an effective way to provide young adults with an educational experience that prepares them for both college and career success. But not all CTE programs provide accessible…

January 7, 2022

Realizing the Potential for Rapid Reskilling

Short-term postsecondary credentialing programs represent an effective way for workers and learners of all backgrounds to build the skills they need to enter rewarding careers and achieve financial security in today’s rapidly changing economy. But…

July 27, 2021

Policy Commitments and Design Principles for Equity and Advancement

Jobs for the Future (JFF) presents these practitioner informed policy design principles for College Promise, Career-Connected Postsecondary programs, and Dual Enrollment to advise state and federal policymakers on what works to increase college and career…

October 24, 2019

State Policy Paper Series: Strengthening Pathways toward Postsecondary Success

The emphasis in the papers on metrics, money, and systems integration reflects the collective vision of JFF’s Policy Leadership Trust for Student Success on the appropriate role of policy in catalyzing change among systems and…

September 17, 2018

Meet The Trust

Kenneth Adams

President, LaGuardia Community College

Marcia Ballinger, Co-Chair

President, Lorain County Community College

Michael Baston, Co-Chair

President, Cuyahoga Community College

Mordecai Ian Brownlee

President, Community College of Aurora

Tammi Chun

Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, University of Hawaii Community Colleges

Marielena DeSanctis

President, Community College of Denver

Morna K. Foy

President, Wisconsin Technical College System

Leigh Goodson

President and CEO, Tulsa Community College

Anne Kress

President, Northern Virginia Community College

Russell Lowery-Hart

President, Amarillo College

Cynthia Olivo

Assistant Superintendent/Vice President, Student Services, Pasadena City College

Avis Proctor

President, William Rainey Harper College

Madeline Pumariega

President, Miami Dade College

Janet Spriggs

President, Forsyth Technical Community College

Ajita Talwalker Menon

President and CEO, Calbright College

Randall VanWagoner

President, Mohawk Valley Community College

Kris Williams

Chancellor, Kentucky Community and Technical College System

Notable Former Members

Scott Ralls (former co-chair), president, Wake Tech Community College; Reynaldo Garcia (former co-chair), president emeritus, Texas Association of Community Colleges; Tristan Denley, deputy commissioner of academic affairs and innovation, Louisiana Board of Regents; Maria Hesse (retired), vice provost for academic partnerships, Arizona State University; Jon Kerr (retired), director, basic education for adults, Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges; Ken Klucznick, vice president for academic affairs, Connecticut State Colleges and Universities; Sharon Morrissey, senior vice chancellor for academic and workforce programs, Virginia Community College System; Lawrence Nespoli (retired), president, New Jersey Council of County Colleges; Mary Rittling (retired), president, Davidson County Community College; Monty Sullivan, president, Louisiana Community and Technical College System; Karen Stout, president and CEO, Achieving the Dream; and Tonjua Williams, president, St. Petersburg College.

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