Policy Leadership Trust

At a Glance

This select group of education leaders lets experience be their guide in developing state and federal policies that help students attain credentials for greater success in the labor market.



Areas of Work
  • Ensuring Equity in Advancement
  • Meeting Employer Needs
  • Preparing for the Future of Work
Experts Involved
In progress
  • AR
  • AZ
  • CT
  • FL
  • RI
  • MI
  • NC
  • NJ
  • NY
  • OH
  • OK
  • OR
  • TX
  • VA
  • WA

In 2015, JFF established The Policy Leadership Trust to marshal evidence, expertise, and insights of postsecondary practitioners to influence the direction of state and federal policy.

Community college leaders and state system officials serving on the Policy Trust identify key considerations for how policy can help more learners and workers attain credentials and skills and succeed in the labor market.

JFF promotes the Policy Trust positions through

  • Strategic outreach to state and federal policy makers and influencers
  • Dialog with the field of postsecondary practitioners and stakeholders
  • Thought leadership in the media


Blog Series

Practitioner Insights for Equitable Recovery

This monthly blog series provides a practitioner’s perspective on what policymakers and postsecondary education leaders should do to address the multiple pandemics facing our nation and to reimagine a better tomorrow. These blogs, covering a range of topics, are all centered around ways to harness and unleash the full potential of the nation’s public community and technical colleges to better serve families, communities, and regional economies.


The Policy Trust recommends that federal and state officials keep the following principles in mind when crafting policy solutions:

No Silver Bullets

No single policy intervention will—on its own—move the needle on student success. Good policy takes a multi-pronged approach.

Context Matters

State context matters when designing policy. What is working in one state may not work in another because of differences in political landscape, priorities, governance, capacity, collaboration, and current and past reforms.

Flow from Practice

Policy should flow from practice, not the inverse. In most instances, it is better to use policy as a tool to accelerate implementation and scaling of proven practices that are already taking hold locally—rather than attempt through policy to ignite reforms that have yet to emerge.

Sense of Ownership

Policy is most likely to be implemented with fidelity when practitioners have informed the policy process and have a sense of ownership. Practitioners should have a seat at table when policy is developed.


Good policy creates incentives and structure to catalyze change within institutions and among systems.

Respects Autonomy

Good policy respects the autonomy of institutions over academic and student affairs.

Does Not Prescribe Rigid Implementation

Good policy does not prescribe rigid implementation.

Includes High Level Directives

High-level directives can be useful at times in steering the direction of reform, deepening commitment, overcoming resistance and creating leverage.


Meet the Trust

Read Full Bios

Notable Former Members

Scott Ralls (former co-chair), president, Wake Tech Community College; Reynaldo Garcia (former co-chair), president emeritus, Texas Association of Community Colleges; Tristan Denley, deputy commissioner of academic affairs and innovation, Louisiana Board of Regents; Maria Hesse (retired), vice provost for academic partnerships, Arizona State University; Jon Kerr (retired), director, basic education for adults, Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges; Ken Klucznick, vice president for academic affairs, Connecticut State Colleges and Universities; Sharon Morrissey, senior vice chancellor for academic and workforce programs, Virginia Community College System; Lawrence Nespoli (retired), president, New Jersey Council of County Colleges; Mary Rittling (retired), president, Davidson County Community College; Monty Sullivan, president, Louisiana Community and Technical College System; Karen Stout, president and CEO, Achieving the Dream; and Tonjua Williams, president, St. Petersburg College.