Q&A With CAP’s New Senior Vice President for Education, Jesse O’Connell – Center For American Progress – DC Initiative on Racial Equity
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The Center for American Progress welcomes Jesse O’Connell as senior vice president for Education. In this role, he will lead our efforts to advance policies that guarantee all Americans have access to high-quality educational opportunities across the full learning spectrum—including early childhood, K-12, and higher education. In his role, Jesse will work with the teams to develop, build support for, and successfully implement our education policy agenda. This policy agenda helps inform and is informed by meeting our economy, race equity, health, climate, and democracy challenges.

Prior to joining CAP, Jesse served as strategy director for federal policy at Lumina Foundation, leading the foundation’s federal policy efforts to increase attainment of high-quality credentials and promote affordable postsecondary education. Follow Jesse on Twitter @jesseocnl.

Q&A with Jesse

He hasn’t even wrapped his first week with us, but we wanted to take a moment with Jesse to talk about his perspectives coming in and look at the nation’s priorities at this important moment in history.

CAP: What first drew you to education policy?

Jesse: My grandfather was an immigrant and a domestic worker, and my mom was the first person in her family to go to college—so I grew up acutely aware of the opportunity that education can offer. Later, working in a college financial aid office I spoke every day to students and families and heard about the challenges and barriers they faced trying to get to and through college. It left me wi


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