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Susan Bodary to Retire from Education First, Become “Partner Emeritus” 

headshot of Susan Bodary

After a fifteen-year storied career as a partner and owner at Education First, one of the nation’s top education firms, Susan Bodary, will retire at the end of June. Bodary will become Education First’s inaugural Partner Emeritus 

Bodary’s retirement has been long planned and was announced internally a year ago, allowing for thoughtful succession planning to be conducted well in advance. Other partners in the firm include Ila Deshmukh Towery (Boston), Bill Horwath (Houston), Kelly James (Seattle), Rashidah Lopez Morgan (Charlotte), John Luczak (Chicago), Bill Porter (Portland), and Jenn Vranek (Seattle).  

“I am proud to have spent so much of my career at Education First, with the incredible, talented and vibrant Ed Firsters who made my daily work a joy. This is the best education consulting team in the country. Together we have built an amazing firm culture, a place of growth committed to inclusion, excellence and building leaders for the future. Education First is stronger than ever and in the hands of incredibly skilled leaders.”  

Susan joined Education First in 2009, after serving as Education and Workforce Advisor to Ohio Governor Bob Taft, establishing a regional STEM collective impact organization and serving as a founder of the Dayton Regional STEM School. Since that time, she has led projects such as the Tennessee Race to the Top strategy which earned the state half a billion dollars, resulting in significant academic gains for Tennessee students, and Ohio’s $200 million winning Race to the Top field engagement and proposal development; strategic plans and initiatives for organizations as diverse as Battelle, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CCA, Texas 2036, Cleveland Browns Foundation, College Futures Foundation, Colorado Succeeds, DQC, ExcelinEd, Gill Foundation, Greater Texas Foundation, IHEP, Kresge Foundation, Learn to Earn Dayton, NMSI, Ohio Business Roundtable, Ohio Excels, PIE Network, Tennessee SCORE, Walton Family Foundation; and, has worked with governors, postsecondary chancellors and education commissioners in twenty-five states. From 2016–2019 Susan was the firm’s managing partner, shepherding the organization through a time significant of growth. 

“Education First would not have had the impact we’ve had supporting school system and state leaders without Susan’s integrity, determination and deep sense of purpose and commitment to our mission. I am immensely grateful for our time together and will miss working with her daily.”
Jenn Vranek, Founding Partner, Education First 

Starting in July, Bodary plans to spend more time with her family, in her painting studio and much less time on the road. She is also dedicated to finding the right way to contribute to students, educators and young professionals in her beloved home state of Ohio.  

Susan knows there is so much more work to be done in education. “My greatest wish for our country is that we find a way to come together, abandon the political fights, treat everyone with respect—regardless of zip code, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, gender identify or religion—and double down on supporting all our students, engaging them in meaningful and relevant learning experiences, and showing up for them as if they were our very own. They are. They have the future in their hands. It is our job to help get them ready or get out of the way.”  

About Education First 

Education First is a national, mission-driven strategy and policy organization with deep expertise in education improvement. We help system leaders, advocates, funders and policymakers think bigger and work smarter to create the conditions that drive equity, coherence and excellence for all students. Our mission is to deliver exceptional ideas, experience-based solutions and results so all students—and particularly Black, Indigenous and other students of color and students living in low-income communities—are prepared for success in college, career and life. 

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