AERDF Announces Auditi Chakravarty as CEO Starting April 3
A former educator and longtime builder of equity-driven K-12 programs, Chakravarty eager to extend AERDF momentum in next phase
Oakland, CA: The Advanced Education Research and Development Fund (AERDF) today announced that Auditi Chakravarty will assume the role of CEO, starting on April 3, 2023. Chakravarty succeeds founding CEO Stacey Childress, who steered the successful transition from a demonstration program at NewSchools Venture Fund in 2019 to a standalone nonprofit research and development (R&D) organization launched in July 2021.
Chakravarty joins AERDF in the midst of rising national momentum for greater adoption of education R&D as our education systems seek to make gains following the Covid-19 pandemic. A recent $40M allocation to the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and a proposal of $45M in new funds to IES contained within President Biden’s FY2024 budget are signs of increasing attention on this emerging field. Speaking to Chakravarty as a leader for this time, AERDF Board Co-chair and Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Jim Shelton said “Auditi’s deep expertise in leading ambitious education innovation will add an important perspective to the national discussion on how to utilize advanced education R&D, as other sectors have, to imagine and build expeditiously toward optimal learning experiences for our students.”
“Auditi’s leadership in the education innovation field will be pivotal in elevating our ‘inclusive R&D’ model as an engine of innovation serving our priority students,” says Dr. Melina Uncapher, chief of research and development at AERDF and founder of its demonstration program EF+Math.
As a former educator and leader who fiercely embraces academic potential in students of all identities and abilities, Chakravarty has built successful products and services that have reached classrooms across the country. From her time as a high-school English teacher to most recently as Senior Vice President of Learning and Assessment at College Board, Chakravarty knows the impact well-designed instruction and assessment can have in the classroom and on students’ lives.
She has built and launched instructional programs in senior roles at Kaplan and subsequently within College Board’s AP, Springboard, and Pre-AP programs, where her focus was driving AP access and readiness. She holds a BA in English and a master’s degree in education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
As AERDF approaches two years since its launch, Chakravarty is excited by what she sees as the organization’s unique strength – breaking down the silos between the research, education and product development sectors to identify and collectively build toward teaching and learning solutions that improve student well-being and academic outcomes. Chakravarty shared “as legions of advocates work together to shape the future of education R&D, I am excited about a role for AERDF to orchestrate stronger collaboration, efficiency and momentum, driven in part by ongoing learning within our Inclusive R&D programs.”
Chakravarty knows that education R&D, at its core, is about identifying rigorous research-based levers that show us what works for our nation’s students and from that learning, building new products and programs that meet the needs of students and educators. “Auditi has deep experience with and respect for the role of a robust research agenda within an iterative, inclusively-led and rapid cycle R&D environment like we have at AERDF,” said AERDF Board Co-chair and President of the Spencer Foundation Dr. Na’ilah Nasir. “I’m confident her leadership will help serve as a bridge for the too-often siloed communities of researchers, PreK-12 practitioners and product and program developers.”
Chakravarty is eager to step up at this moment of opportunity. Her first priorities are a listening orientation within the AERDF community, focused learning on the biggest opportunities and challenges within AERDF and across the sector, and continuing the commitment to create learning environments for all children to thrive, particularly Black and Latino students and students of all races experiencing poverty, who have been historically and systematically excluded from equal opportunity in education.
“Recruiting a long-term CEO has always been the plan, following what was a successful incubation and launch under the NewSchools umbrella,” said Founding CEO Stacey Childress, who transitioned out of AERDF in December. “I’m thrilled for what Auditi’s leadership means for the organization’s next chapter and I look forward to supporting a smooth transition.”
Chakravarty will join the AERDF team on April 3 and soon begin dialogue with organizational allies and sector leaders whose experience and perspectives are critical to AERDF’s success in the ecosystem. Join AERDF’s Community Garden to stay informed of the organization’s ongoing work and to engage with topics of interest.
About the Advanced Education Research and Development Fund (AERDF): AERDF is a national nonprofit R&D organization launched in 2021 that builds ambitious, inclusive three to five year programs with education practitioners, researchers and developers, aimed at tackling major and persistent teaching and learning challenges that disproportionately affect Black and Latino students and students of all races experiencing poverty in grades Pre-K-12. Each program builds on existing community-driven evidence and expertise as well as learning science to translate fundamental insights into usable knowledge, useful practices, equitable approaches and transformative tools for education practitioners and students. EF+Math was launched successfully by Dr. Melina Uncapher in 2019, and served as a demonstration program that tested the core theory of action that helped launch AERDF, which has since produced two additional programs in 2021 – Assessment for Good and Reading Reimagined. Additional programs are also under consideration, for this year and beyond.