NewSchools Summit 2010 Session Overview and Video: Breakout #3: Political Savvy: Guidebook for a New Landscape

August 16, 2010

Session Description:

For many entrepreneurs, a singular focus on achieving excellent results has been a successful–and sufficient–strategy politically. But with increased visibility and scale comes an increased need to confront the politics of this work head-on. What does it mean to be politically savvy on this new landscape? An accomplished panel with expertise from government and coalition building will offer a guidebook to a new political landscape.


  • Dan Katzir, Managing Director, The Broad Foundation (moderator)
  • Steve Barr, Founder, Green Dot Public Schools
  • Jonah Edelman, Chief Executive Officer, Stand for Children
  • Alice Johnson Cain, Education Director, Hope Street Group
  • Andy Rotherham, Co-Founder and Partner, Bellwether Education Partners
  • Joe Williams, Executive Director, Democrats for Education Reform

Part 1: In this video, moderator Dan Katzir asks the audience to write down two numbers: first, what percentage of their time they currently spend on policy and politics, and second, the percentage of their time they think they should be spending on policy and politics. Next, Katzir surveys the room to find out what type of organizations audience members represent. Then, panelists introduce themselves.

Part 2: In this video, Alice Johnson Cain gives an example of the impact that education entrepreneurs have made in shaping federal policy. Next, panelists discuss what motivates politicians to action.

Part 3: In this video, Johnson Cain discusses the importance of building strong relationships with elected leaders in your state. Next, Joe Williams discusses what level of advocacy 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations are allowed.

Part 4: In this video, panelists continue the discussion about what limits nonprofit tax status places on organizations in regards to policy advocacy. Next, Andy Rotherham offers words of caution for organizations considering becoming politically engaged.

Part 5: In this video, moderator Dan Katzir opens the floor to questions from the audience. Kaya Henderson, Deputy Chancellor at DC Public Schools, talks about her challenges with political advocacy while at The New Teacher Project, and Doug McCurry discusses the evolving political strategy of Achievement First and his organization’s involvement with ConnCAN.

Part 6: In this video, education consultant and former NewSchools partner Lauren Dutton asks the panelists what they feel should be the reform movement’s key priorities in setting a policy agenda.

Part 7: In this video, panelists offer their closing remarks.

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