Statement by Kati Haycock, President of The Education Trust, On The Announcement of the Intent to Nominate Russlynn Ali as Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights


Washington, DC (February 4, 2009) – I could not be more delighted by today’s announcement of the intent to nominate Russlynn Ali as the assistant secretary for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education. With this appointment, the Obama administration is sending a clear signal that they are focused like a laser on the achievement and opportunity gaps in America’s schools—gaps that we must close if our nation is ever to live up to the ideals upon which it was founded.

Russlynn’s commitment to educational equity and to the students too-often dismissed by others is unparalleled. Her intellectual leadership and steely determination will serve President Obama and the children of this country well.

Over the past eight years, she has built The Education Trust-West into one of the most respected advocacy and research groups in California—indeed, in the nation. While her colleagues on both coasts will miss her day-to-day presence, she has developed and led a team that is strong, able, and committed to continuing the important work of closing the gaps that separate low-income students and students of color from other young people.

Linda Murray, former superintendent of the San Jose Unified School District and a longtime advocate and change leader in California, has agreed to serve as acting director of The Education Trust–West while we undertake a search for Russlynn’s permanent replacement. Under Linda’s leadership, Ed Trust–West will remain a driving force behind efforts to ensure that California’s schools work well for all of the state’s students.


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Karla Fernandez

Communications Manager

Karla Fernandez (she/her/hers) joins Ed Trust–West as a Communications Manager with over 11 years of experience advancing social impact initiatives.

Karla started her career as a teacher at Chicago Public Schools and UIC College Prep. After teaching, Karla joined United Friends of the Children to support LA County’s youth in foster care as a college counselor. Through Leadership for Educational Equity, Karla also served as a Policy Advisor Fellow for the office of a Los Angeles Unified School Board Member. She solidified her interests in policy analysis and quantitative research during her time with the Price Center for Social Innovation, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, and the USC Presidential Working Group on Sustainability. Before joining The Education Trust–West, Karla was the Associate Director for the Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) Collaborative, a network of nonprofits advocating for communities in SELA.

Karla holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, a Master of Public Policy from the USC Price School of Public Policy, and a Graduate Certificate in Policy Advocacy from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Karla is based out of southern California and is passionate about using data analysis, communications, and digital strategies for policy advocacy and social justice efforts.