Policy Leadership Trust

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.



Areas of Work
  • Ensuring Equity in Advancement
  • Meeting Employer Needs
  • Preparing for the Future of Work
Experts Involved
In progress
  • AR
  • AZ
  • CA
  • CT
  • FL
  • HI
  • MI
  • NC
  • NJ
  • NY
  • OH
  • OR
  • TX
  • VA
  • WA
  • WI

JFF established The Policy Leadership Trust for Student Success in 2015 to promote postsecondary policies that are informed by the perspectives and experiences of practitioners implementing evidence based reforms.

Through the Trust, JFF is deliberately culling institutional knowledge and evidence to develop policy positions for how colleges and communities can help more students attain credentials and succeed in the labor market.

The Trust currently comprises two dozen institutional and systems leaders drawn mostly from JFF's Postsecondary State Network.

Our Work

JFF works with the Policy Leadership Trust to develop state and federal policy recommendations and advocates for adoption of these recommendations 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

Policy Design Principles

Trust members developed policy design principles on three high impact policy issues, College Promise, Better Connecting Postsecondary Education to Career and Dual Enrollment.

Trust members brought their experiences from leading state systems and institutions to help informed these practitioner informed recommendations for state policy.

State Policy Framework

PLT Framework

The Trust has crafted a framework for how state policy can catalyze systems change, improve student success, and build a postsecondary-trained workforce. The framework emphasizes the role of state policymakers in creating the conditions, incentives, and structures needed to foster clear pathways to credentials and careers for students and to ensure their financial stability to achieve their goals. This suggests that, first and foremost, policymakers should focus on policy issues related to metrics, money, and systems integration, rather than on prescribing specific academic and student affair practices.

Eight Design Principles for Good Policy

These eight design principles exemplify what practitioners on the Trust believe makes for good policy. The principles underlie the policy approaches recommended by the Trust in the state policy framework. For good policy, keep in mind:

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.

Meet the Trust

PLT Scott Ralls

Scott Ralls, Co-Chair

President, Wake Tech Community College

PLT Marcia Ballinger

Marcia Ballinger, Co-Chair

President, Lorain County Community College

PLT Julie Alexander

Julie Alexander

Vice Provost, Miami Dade College

PLT Michael Baston

Michael Baston

President, Rockland Community College

PLT Tristan Denley

Tristan Denley

Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, University System of Georgia

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Aaron Fichtner

President, New Jersey Council of County Colleges

PLT Leigh Goodson

Leigh Goodson

President and CEO, Tulsa Community College

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Michael Hansen

President, Michigan Community College Association

PLT David Harrison

David Harrison

President, Columbus State Community College

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Jennifer Haygood

Executive Vice President, North Carolina Community College System

PLT Jack Hershey

Jack Hershey

President, Ohio Association of Community College

PLT Maria Hesse

Maria Hesse

Vice Provost for Academic Partnerships, Arizona State University

PLT Jon Kerr

Jon Kerr

Director, Basic Education for Adults, Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges

PLT Kenneth Klucznik

Kenneth Klucznik

Transfer and Articulation, Connecticut State Colleges and Universities

PLT Michael Leach

Michael Leach

Executive Director, Arkansas Center for Student Success

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Russell Lowery-Hart

President, Amarillo College

PLT Sharon Morrissey

Sharon Morrissey

Vice Chancellor for Academic Services & Research, Virginia Community College System
"Good policy is strategic, evidence based, and integrated."

Dr. Camille Preus

Camille Preus

Executive Director, Oregon Community College Association

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Madeline Pumariega

Executive Vice President and Provost Vice President of Academic Affairs, Tallahassee Community College

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Yves Salomon Fernandez

President, Greenfield Community College

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Carli Schiffner

Deputy Executive Director of Education, WA State Board for Community and Technical Colleges

PLT Karen Stout

Karen Stout

President and CEO, Achieving the Dream

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Monty Sullivan

President, Louisiana Community and Technical College System

PLT Randall VanWagoner

Randall VanWagoner

President, Mohawk Valley Community College

PLT Tonjua Williams

Tonjua Williams

President, St. Petersburg College

Members Emeritus

  • Lisa Chapman, Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer, North Carolina Community College System
  • Tamara Clunis, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Amarillo College
  • Johanna Duncan-Poitier, Senior Vice Chancellor, State University of New York
  • Reynaldo Garcia, President Emeritus, Texas Association of Community Colleges
  • Maria Harper-Marinick, Chancellor, Maricopa Community Colleges
  • Lawrence Nespoli, (retired) President, New Jersey Council of County Colleges
  • Richard Rhodes, President, Austin Community Colleges
  • Mary Rittling (retired) President, Davidson County Community College
  • Debra Stuart, (retired) Vice Chancellor for Educational Partnerships, Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education
  • Jan Yoshiwara, Executive Director, Washington State Board of Community & Technical Colleges