Grantmakers for Education Names New Executive Director

FOR RELEASE September 6, 2018

Grantmakers for Education Names Celine Coggins New Executive Director

Portland, OR— The Grantmakers for Education (GFE) board of directors announced today that Celine Coggins, founder and former CEO of Teach Plus, has been selected as the organization’s next executive director. Coggins was selected after a national search for a successor to current executive director Ana Tilton, who will step down next month.

“Celine has a track record of building and growing an organization to engage, connect and energize the field of education,” said Cristina Huezo, who is chairperson of the GFE board of directors and also a director at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. “The board could not be more thrilled that she will be the next leader of Grantmakers for Education.”

Coggins has been an educator for more than two decades. She began her career as a middle school teacher and went on to serve in a number of education policy leadership roles, including assistant to the Massachusetts Commissioner of Education. Coggins earned her Ph.D. from Stanford University, and she currently holds an appointment as a lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

In 2007, Coggins founded Teach Plus, a nonprofit focused on teacher advocacy and empowerment. She left the organization a decade later, having built a network of over 30,000 teachers spanning twelve states. Coggins’ vision and support made it possible for thousands of teachers to become influential in changing the policies that affect their classrooms, from local contracts to state law to the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. Her 2017 book, How to Be Heard: Ten Lessons Teachers Need to Advocate for Their Students and Profession, has become the playbook for successful educator activism.

“I am a deep believer in the exponential impact networks can have by galvanizing collective action,” said Coggins. “At a moment when the federal government is taking a more limited approach to advancing a vision for education excellence and equity, philanthropic leaders have an important role to play in driving a national conversation on adequately funding schools, protecting high-need students and fostering innovation.”

Grantmakers for Education is the nation's largest and most diverse network of education grantmakers dedicated to improving educational outcomes and increasing opportunities for all learners.

Ana Tilton reflected on the importance of the leadership transition. “When I arrived over five years ago, I had the privilege of building upon a strong history of member support and service. The changing times and landscape demanded we focus on preparing its members for the challenges and opportunities ahead. Together we engaged in difficult conversations and collaborated in understanding and addressing issues of equity. I now look forward to working with Celine over the next few months and am confident she will continue to support members in shaping the future of education.”

Grantmakers for Education engaged Koya Leadership Partners, a national executive search firm that specializes in leading searches exclusively for mission driven clients, to conduct the national search for its next executive director.

Gregg Behr, who will take over as Grantmakers for Education board chairperson next month and serves as executive director of the Grable Foundation, added, “As we look to the coming years, we’re eager for Celine to forge ahead—building upon GFE’s commitment to philanthropic practices that improve public education for all learners in America.”

Coggins begins in her new role this week, and will continue to reside in the Boston area with her husband and three daughters. 

For more information, contact: Rebecca Smith, communications manager, Grantmakers for Education,