Former Providence mayor named CEO of Democrats for Education Reform
DFER announced today that Jorge Elorza will be Shavar Jeffries’ successor and CEO of its affiliate non-partisan think-tank Education Reform Now
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Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), a national political organization that supports elected Democrats and candidates for office who seek to expand policies and practices that increase educational equity for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds, has announced today that former Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza was appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the political advocacy organization and its affiliate non-partisan think-tank Education Reform Now.
Son of Guatemalan immigrants, Elorza served eight years as Providence mayor, undertaking bold actions to advance social and racial justice agenda. In January, Shavar Jeffries, former president of Democrats for Education Reform, announced he was stepping down from the organization to transition as the CEO of KIPP Public Charter Schools.
Elorza is a first-generation college student who attended the Community College of Rhode Island before earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Rhode Island and a law degree from Harvard Law School.
Elorza’s work included taking the unprecedented step to engage the state Department of Education to turn around the city's chronically underperforming school system, creating Providence Eat, Play, Learn Initiative to expand out-of-school enrichment, and launching a nationally recognized African American Ambassador Group to bring Black leaders into the center of policymaking.
“As Mayor, I saw all too well the critical need for bold leadership to transform public education so that it serves all students—particularly those historically marginalized,” said Elorza. “DFER has been at the forefront of the fight against the status quo in public education for more than a decade, and I am honored to serve this organization at a time of both incredible urgency and possibility for our nation’s students.”
As mayor, Elorza invested $400 million into repairing school buildings and supported the expansion of high-quality public charter schools.
“What I admire most about Jorge is his unwavering commitment to put the interest of students above adult politics,” said DFER Interim CEO Shakira Petit. “There is a tremendous opportunity right now for leaders to utilize historic investments in education to advance the innovative approaches that we know work for students. As DFER grows our collective impact, Jorge brings the political acumen, vast leadership experience, and vision to help our organization—and Democratic education champions across the country—meet this moment and bring about real change for all students.”
He is also the co-founder of the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University School of Law, where he previously served as a law professor.
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