Philanthropy Today: Advancing Equity in Education



About the Speakers

Liz SimonsInterviewer
Liz Simons
Heising-Simons Foundation

Liz Simons is chair of the Board of the Heising-Simons Foundation. A former teacher, she worked in Spanish-bilingual and English as a Second Language (ESL) classrooms, and subsequently founded Stretch to Kindergarten, a spring-summer early childhood education program. Simons currently serves on the advisory council for Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, and on the advisory board of the Stanford Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society, as well as on several boards including The Marshall Project, The Foundation for a Just Society, Math for America, Smart Justice California and the Learning Policy Institute. She volunteers at The Beat Within (a magazine by and for incarcerated youth) and as a storyteller in a transitional kindergarten class. She and her husband Mark Heising are signatories of the Giving Pledge.

Dr. Linda Darling-HammondPanelist
Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond
President and CEO
Learning Policy Institute
Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education Emeritus
Stanford University

Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education Emeritus at Stanford University and President and CEO of the Learning Policy Institute. She has conducted extensive research on issues of educator supply, demand, and quality. Among her award-winning publications in this area are What Matters Most: Teaching for America’s Future (1996); Teaching as the Learning Profession (1999); and Preparing Teachers for a Changing World: What Teachers Should Learn and be Able to Do (2005). She was executive director of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future and director of RAND Corporation’s education program. Darling-Hammond began her career as a public school teacher.

Bob HughesPanelist
Bob Hughes
Director of K-12 Education in the United States Program
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Bob Hughes is director of K-12 Education in the United States Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation where he oversees its work to ensure that it prepares all students for success in college and career. Before joining the foundation, Hughes was president of New Visions for Public Schools, a New York City school network of 70 district schools serving approximately 45,000 students. During his tenure, New Visions created 99 district and seven charter public schools, provided mentoring services to hundreds of new principals, developed school-based certification programs for teachers and principals, secondary curricula now accessed by thousands of teachers, and data management tools to streamline school operations and track student progress toward graduation and college. Hughes has also led or been involved in individual and class action litigation in special education and state school finance. He started his career providing legal representation to homeless parents and students in the New York City public school system and worked extensively with community organizers around education issues. Prior board affiliations include the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Advocates for Children of New York, Fund For Teachers, and Projects in Education, the nonprofit publisher of Education Week.

Dr. Na’ilah Suad NasirPanelist
Dr. Na’ilah Suad Nasir
Spencer Foundation

Dr. Na'ilah Suad Nasir is the sixth president of the Spencer Foundation which invests in education research that cultivates learning and transforms lives. She held a faculty appointment at the University of California, Berkeley from 2008–2019, where she also served as Vice-Chancellor of Equity and Inclusion. Nasir earned her PhD in Education Psychology at UCLA and was a member of the faculty in the School of Education at Stanford University. Her work focuses on issues of race, culture, learning, and identity. She is the author of Racialized Identities: Race and Achievement for African-American Youth (2012) and has published numerous scholarly articles. Nasir is a member of the National Academy of Education and a fellow of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).