Moving Toward a Public Policy Agenda

Posted on: January 31, 2015

As Helios Education Foundation works to create opportunities for students in Arizona and Florida to become college- and career- ready and to complete some form of postsecondary education, the role of public policy in informing education reform philanthropy has emerged as a key priority.  In order to develop a strategic and comprehensive public policy agenda informed by reliable research and investment evaluations, last year the Foundation created a new Department of Policy, Research, and Evaluation and set out to identify a Senior Vice President and Chief Policy Officer to lead those efforts.  On January 21st, Charles Hokanson joined Helios Education Foundation in this new role.   

Hokanson is an experienced education policy professional whose career has bridged the worlds of nonprofit, think tank, foundation, and public sector policy development and executive management.  Most recently, as President and CEO of Hokanson Consulting Group LLC, Hokanson provided strategic and public policy advice, especially in the areas of preK-12 education reform and postsecondary education, to a number of nonprofit, foundation, trade association, and government clients, including the U.S. Department of Education and the Maryland and Ohio State Departments of Education.

Hokanson previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education and as President of two leading education reform nonprofits, the Alliance for School Choice (501c3) and Advocates for School Choice (501c4).  He also served as professional staff member/education counsel to now-Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) on the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce, where he was a key staff negotiator on the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and led the Committee’s efforts to reform and re-authorize the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.  Earlier in his career, after serving as the President and Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Hokanson joined the law firm of Steptoe & Johnson LLP before taking on simultaneous research and management positions at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research and Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. 

Charles graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University, earning a BA in History and American Studies and an MA in History, before earning JD and Master of Public Policy degrees at the Harvard Law School and Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Throughout his career, Hokanson has played key advisory and leadership roles in shaping and implementing policies related to complex issues such as standards and assessments, school funding, high-quality teachers, school choice and charter schools, special education, and programs focused on improving the education of children from low-income families and high-need communities.  In recent years, he has consulted on grant funding for the U.S. Department of Education’s $4B Race to the Top initiative and the i3 innovative grant program.

As Senior Vice President and Chief Policy Officer, Hokanson will lead Helios Education Foundation’s Center of Excellence for Policy, Research, and Evaluation and will be instrumental in the development of a public policy agenda around Helios’ three impact areas of Early Grade Success, College and Career Readiness and Postsecondary Completion. 

Category: Foundation Feature

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