Overview

Benjamin Riley is the founder and executive director of Deans for Impact. Prior to founding Deans for Impact, Ben conducted research on the New Zealand education system, worked as the policy director for a national education nonprofit, and served as deputy attorney general for the State of California. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington and J.D. from the Yale Law School.

The nexus that binds our members and organization is a broad commitment to employing scientific inquiry to tackle hard problems in education and educator preparation.

When/why did you start working in education?

My entry into the professional education community began at the California Department of Justice, where I worked on major education-policy lawsuits. After years of defending sometimes-dubious policies, I made a transition into education policy and advocacy. Education appears to run in the Riley family blood: my mother was a public school teacher, librarian, and counselor; my father was professor; and my grandmother a public school psychologist.


Why were you excited to join Deans for Impact?

Deans for Impact started in part to investigate the answers to a series of questions: What would it take to transform our nation’s educator-preparation system? Who are the leaders in the field who want to undertake that hard work? Are they willing to work together in pursuit of a collective vision? It’s an honor for me to be part of an organization dedicated to stewarding the hard work led by our member deans.


Why do Deans for Impact’s guiding principles ring true for you?

The nexus that binds our members and organization is a broad commitment to employing scientific inquiry to tackle hard problems in education and educator preparation. I am convinced this will not only lead to better measurable outcomes but also to greater professional satisfaction for practitioners at all levels in our education system.


Who was your favorite teacher and why?

I’m loathe to pick just one of course, but no teacher stretched my thinking more than Mr. Dave Pevovar, my high school physics and computer science teacher. Among other things, Pevo was fond of crafting example physics problems that involved catapulting cats off of rooftops.


What’s your favorite food truck and why?

Down the road from the Deans for Impact headquarters there is a food truck that sells fried jambalaya on a stick. Read that sentence again, and let it sink in.


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