Michelle Rhee

Founder and CEO of StudentsFirst

Michelle Rhee is the founder and CEO of StudentsFirst, a bipartisan grassroots movement to improve America’s schools.

Michelle is from Toledo, Ohio. She graduated from Cornell University in 1992, and went on to join Teach for America. She subsequently spent three years as a teacher at Harlem Park Elementary in Baltimore, Md. Through trial and error in the classroom, she gained a tremendous respect for the hard work that teachers do every day and realized the incredibly powerful and positive role teachers can have in helping kids grow.

Michelle went on to earn her Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, after which she launched The New Teacher Project. The nonprofit seeks to bring great teachers to all classrooms in America. As Chief Executive Officer and President, Michelle partnered with school districts, state education agencies, other nonprofits and unions to transform the way schools and other organizations recruit, select and train highly qualified teachers.

In 2007, Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty appointed Michelle to be the city’s schools chancellor. Under her leadership, the district and the teachers union approved a groundbreaking contract that dramatically reformed how D.C. schools operate. Michelle also streamlined the system’s central office, freeing up more resources to go to classrooms. Students in D.C. experienced academic success and growth under Michelle’s leadership. Graduation rates rose, as did enrollment – something that had not occurred in 40 years.

In December 2010, Michelle launched StudentsFirst, which is a national bipartisan grassroots organization aimed at making sure all kids have access to great teachers and great schools. The organization promotes policies in our schools that put the interests of children ahead of any others. In its first year, StudentsFirst helped change over 50 education policies in half a dozen states impacting the education of millions of students. StudentsFirst is based in Sacramento.