Welcome Ulcca Joshi Hansen to the Grantmakers for Education Team

Ulcca Joshi Hansen

Ulcca is excited to be joining Grantmakers for Education as their chief program officer. She brings to the role more than twenty years as an educator and advocate working to shift the foundational values and approaches that undergird America’s education system. Ulcca is a first-generation American who began school as an English-language learner; she was the first in her family to complete college and graduate school. Along the way, she lived and studied in other countries, experiencing how different systems approach learning and define achievement. Her own experiences have fueled her desire to interrogate and advocate for an expanded vision of what it means to ensure every child has access to a high-quality education in America.

Ulcca began her career as an elementary school teacher in Newark Public Schools. She then spent two years as a program fellow at the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, where she had her first experience of the power of philanthropy to convene thought leaders, support community-based organizations and influence policy systems. Over the last twenty years she has gained experience across the nonprofit, public and philanthropic sectors, in the U.S. and abroad, leading programs, conducting research and crafting policy. She has worked with educators, students, communities, business and civic leaders to support developmentally-aligned, human-centered learning experiences that unlock the unique potential of individual learners regardless of their background, circumstances, cognitive or physical differences. She is especially committed to bringing a racial justice and equity lens to the expansion of this educational approach, one that has been largely inaccessible to lower-income and BIPOC communities within America’s public education system.

In her most recent roles as chief strategy officer at Boundless and vice president at Education Reimagined, she built partnerships between schools, districts, non-profits and higher education institutions committed to expanding access to relationship-based, relevant and real-world learning experiences in the PreK-12 and postsecondary spaces. As vice president of the Public Education and Business Coalition she expanded the Colorado Teacher Residency to become the first residency-based preparation program in the country to serve both urban and rural districts. She also redesigned the residency curriculum, grounding new teachers in the fields of learning science, human development and human well-being.

Ulcca is also the author of a forthcoming book, The Future of Smart. The book traces the deep roots of America’s dominant approach to education, illuminates why so many reform and innovation efforts over the last three decades have fallen short of our aspirations for children and proposes a path forward.

Ulcca believes that GFE’s role in catalyzing networks of education funders is critical to achieving educational equity in America. This is especially true as the sector considers what it means to authentically shift power dynamics between foundations and those they seek to serve. She is excited to work with Celine and the Grantmakers for Education team to co-design learning experiences that can support GFE members to meet the challenges and opportunities of this moment in American education.

Ulcca holds a B.A. in philosophy and German from Drew University where she was also licensed as an early childhood/elementary teacher with a focus on special education. She earned her Ph.D. in education and philosophy from Oxford University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. She has been recognized nationally for her work in education as a Harry S. Truman Scholar; a British Marshall Scholar; and a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow. Ulcca and her family are based in Denver, Colorado where her two sons attend Denver Public Schools.