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
  • RI
  • 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 Marcia Ballinger

Marcia Ballinger, Co-Chair

President, Lorain County Community College

PLT Michael Baston

Michael Baston, Co-Chair

President, Rockland Community College

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Jackie Elliot

President, Central Arizona College

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

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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."

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Cynthia Olivo

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

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

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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

  • Scott Ralls (former Co-Chair), President, Wake Tech Community College
  • Reynaldo Garcia (former Co-Chair), President Emeritus, Texas Association of Community Colleges
  • Tristan Denley, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, University System of Georgia
  • Maria Hesse, Vice Provost for Academic Partnerships, Arizona State University
  • Jon Kerr, Director, Basic Education for Adults, Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges
  • Ken Klucznick, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Connecticut State Colleges and Universities
  • Lawrence Nespoli, (retired) President, New Jersey Council of County Colleges
  • Mary Rittling (retired) President, Davidson County Community College
  • Karen Stout, President & CEO, Achieving the Dream