News from Education First: Two of Our Great Leaders Rejoin the Field

Education First hires the most talented and passionate educators and policy advisors in P-20 public education so that we can bring deep, practical expertise to our partners and deliver with quality the premium solutions we promise. It turns out that we also are a pipeline for practitioners who come to us from the field and serve our high-impact clients with strategy, policy and implementation support—and then take their knowledge, skill and capacity for “getting stuff done” back into direct service. In fact, Education First measures its impact in part on the effect our “alumni” are having on students, schools and systems.

So it is with great pride we announce that two of our very best have accepted senior leadership positions outside Education First that will put them directly in service of improving the lives of young people and educators.

Paolo DeMaria, a principal consultant with us for the past six years, is set to become Ohio’s new Superintendent of Public Instruction in June to support the Ohio State Board of Education and oversee all operations of the Ohio Department of Education. The board voted 19-0 to appoint Paolo; while the unanimous vote surprised members of a board that is often divided, it didn’t surprise anyone who knows Paolo. In working with Education First clients such as the Lumina Foundation, Denver Public Schools and the Oregon Community College Association – and with our own staff – Paolo demonstrates a special knack for bringing people to consensus around how to address our toughest challenges in education. He has a genuine commitment to nurturing the talent and skills of everyone he works with.

As Paolo accepted the position, he noted, “I love Ohio and want our children to be the very best they can be. There are so many smart and energetic people working in education as teachers, administrators, policy makers and advocates, and Ohio has what it takes to be the best.” We know that Ohio is getting the very best in Paolo DeMaria and that he will make a serious difference for students and educators.

We are also thrilled to share that Elizabeth Shaw, Education First’s CEO for the past four years, will become CEO of Chicago International Charter School (CICS), a network of 16 charter schools that currently serves nearly 10,000 students (66 percent of whom are African American and 25 percent are Hispanic) in Chicago and Rockford, Illinois. Elizabeth’s decision to work in CICS communities is consistent with the fierce commitment to equity that guided her work as CEO. She developed then accelerated our mission to deliver exceptional ideas, experience-based solutions and results so all students – and particularly low-income students and students of color – are prepared for success in college, career and life. She recruited and led an exceptionally talented and increasingly diverse team, demanded nothing less than excellence for the clients we serve, and generously shared her expertise with education leaders across the country. She also built the infrastructure for a firm that was once an innovative start-up and is now a well-managed, mission-focused reform and support organization.

When she accepted the CICS opportunity, Elizabeth told us, “I feel a powerful call to service that this role will allow me to answer.” This statement defines her entire career – from her work in the classroom in the Rio Grande Valley to serving the students of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana. The students, teachers and administrators of CICS are gaining a passionate and effective champion.

We are also excited to share that Susan Bodary will assume the role of Managing Partner (which replaces the CEO role). Susan will continue to work with clients, and as Education First’s chief executive, she will spend most of her time ensuring every day that we are achieving our mission. As we enter this next phase in Education First’s evolution, Susan will bring skilled leadership to continue the commitment we’ve made to increasing equity in public education through our support to the most effective clients in the nation.

We will miss Elizabeth and Paolo tremendously; they made Education First stronger, smarter and more effective. Please join us in celebrating Paolo’s and Elizabeth’s successes, and welcoming Susan as the firm’s leader.


Jenn, Susan, John and Bill

Back to top