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
  • CT
  • FL
  • MA
  • MI
  • NC
  • NJ
  • NY
  • OH
  • OK
  • OR
  • TX
  • VA
  • WA

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


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.


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

Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, 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