Who We Are

Our People

Kelly James

professional headshot for Kelly James

Kelly provides strategy and capacity support to philanthropists, advocates and state and district education leaders. As an expert in social, emotional and academic development (SEAD), education advocacy and grantmaking effectiveness, she supports a diverse set of partners to build coherent strategies and design for equity. Currently, she supports a set of California funders to invest with impact focused on emerging bilingual learners; leads the Family Math Roadmap Project to build a family math movement; and facilitates equitable design process for districts to integrate SEAD into re-opening plans.

Kelly’s interest in education reform began at an early age. As an undergraduate at the College of Wooster, Kelly focused on adequate supports for Black students with learning differences with an independent study in Cleveland Metropolitan School District. She continued to explore this passion at University of Chicago Law School with a thesis on Managing Adequacy: The No Child Left Behind Act and the Constitutional Right to An Adequate Education.

Kelly’s passion for equal access to high-quality education, particularly for Black, Brown, Indigenous students, students with learning differences and English Learners, has continued throughout her career: as a program officer for the Raikes Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; as an attorney at Karr Tuttle Campbell; as the founding executive director of Chicago SCORES; and through a grassroots grantmaking initiative for the Steans Family Foundation in Chicago.

Kelly lives in Seattle with her husband Dan and children Asher, Nola, Ella and Zuri (and Luca the dog).


Research for Action

Coach, Convene and Build Capacity

Design Equitable Strategy

Invest with impact

Recent clients

Family Math Roadmap Project (Heising-Simon Foundation and Overdeck Family Foundation)

Emerging Bilingual Collaborative (California Community Foundation, James B. McClatchy Foundation, Heising-Simons Foundation, Silver Giving Foundation and Sobrato Family Foundation)

NoVo Foundation

Kelly likes


Our favorite activity—pickleball!