Policy Perspectives in Expanded Learning: Lessons Learned at the Local Level and Implications for Federal Policy

Policy Perspectives in Expanded Learning: Lessons Learned at the Local Level and Implications for Federal Policy
Policy Perspectives in Expanded Learning: Lessons Learned at the Local Level and Implications for Federal Policy


Momentum is growing across the country to use expanded learning opportunities as an important strategy to support student success. Expanded learning organizations are increasingly seen as key players alongside the traditional K-12 system to help students develop the knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors needed for success. As communities across the country continue to embrace collaborative efforts to support students’ holistic development, state and federal policy can play a key role in supporting such efforts.

This forum highlighted policy priority issues informed by best practices at the local level related to the value of intermediary organizations, quality and accountability, and school and community partnerships as these three areas are critical for influencing expanded learning and driving school change and youth outcomes. This event was co-sponsored by the American Youth Policy Forum and the Collaborative for Building After-School Systems (CBASS), a coalition of organizations representing cities and regions .


Presenter Biographies

Laura Hansen serves as the Director for Information Management and Decision Support for Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS).  She is responsible for establishing and supporting a strategic vision related to the utilization of data for information and decision making by both the school district and community/city partners. Data governance and professional learning around the use of data are also focus areas of her office, as well as overseeing the district’s Data Quality and Integrity Office. The consolidation of data from disparate systems and the sharing of data across agencies and organizations that serve MNPS students and families are key strategies she champions in her efforts to improve outcomes for Nashville’s children and youth through a collective impact approach.

Prior to taking on this position, Laura spent two and a half years as part of the Mayor’s Office, tasked with managing projects in support of the Mayor’s Education agenda and serving as Coordinator for Nashville’s Child and Youth Master Plan, after facilitating the plans development by a 55 member taskforce made up of leaders from agencies and organizations throughout Nashville

Laura spent 6 years at Metro Nashville Public Schools prior to joining the Mayor’s Office, in various roles related to professional development, project management, quality management and continuous improvement.

Laura serves on the Operating Board for Alignment Nashville, the Board of Directors for the Exchange Club Family Center, and a number of city leadership councils including those focused on the Child and Youth Master Plan, the Nashville AfterZone Alliance, and Healthy Nashville initiatives.  She also chairs the MNPS Technology and Data Transformational Leadership Group, and the Nashville Promise Neighborhood Data Workgroup.   She has a bachelor’s degree from Tennessee State University in Interdisciplinary Studies with concentrations in psychology and organizational leadership.  She is a proud Air Force veteran, and has 3 grown children and one grandchild with her husband of 27 years.


Jennifer Peck was a founding staff member of the Partnership in 2001 and became its executive director in 2003.  Since that time, she has developed and implemented initiatives to finance and build after-school and summer-learning programs, and increase access to school meals and nutrition education programs in the Bay Area’s lowest-income communities.  Under her leadership, the Partnership has brought more than $70 million in public funding to schools and their community partners, enabling thousands of low-income children to participate in these programs.

Jennifer has built the Partnership into an influential policy-development and advocacy organization that has improved the effectiveness of public funding for youth programs in low-income communities across California.

In December 2010, Jennifer was appointed Transition Team Director and Policy Advisor for Tom Torlakson, the newly-elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction. In this role, Jennifer oversaw the transition planning process and helped ensure that the superintendent’s goals were articulated through policy and organizational development at the California Department of Education. Jennifer continues to serve as an advisor to the Superintendent on Expanded Learning and Community School issues.

In 2006, as California prepared to launch Proposition 49’s substantial new investment in after school programs, Jennifer led the development and advocacy for state legislation that dramatically reformed the initiative and prioritized funding for schools in the lowest-income communities. For this work, then-State Senator Tom Torlakson named Jennifer “Woman of the Year” in 2008.

Jennifer created the California Afterschool Advocacy Alliance, the state Legislative Task Force on Summer Enrichment, and she leads a coalition of California organizations advocating for new federal policies to improve the effectiveness of after-school and summer-learning programs.

Prior to joining the Partnership, Jennifer spent eight years as an appointee of President Bill Clinton at the U.S. Department of Education, where she supported implementation of numerous initiatives including student loan reform, School-to-Work, and 21st Century Community Learning Centers.  Jennifer has a B.A. in Sociology and Women’s Studies from Colgate University.

Jennifer serves on the boards of the West Contra Costa Public Education Fund and the Californian’s Dedicated to Education Foundation which supports high priority initiatives of the California Department of Education. She is married to John Gioia, and they are parents to Christopher, 20, and Emilia, 8.


Christina Russell is a Managing Director at Policy Studies Associates, Inc., a Washington-based firm that conducts research and evaluation in education and youth development, specializing in the assessment of strategies to improve student learning in the elementary and secondary grades and to enhance the effectiveness of out-of-school time programs for children and youth.

Ms. Russell has extensive experience designing and conducting analyses of both quantitative and qualitative data collected through surveys, site visits, observations, interviews, and extractions from administrative databases.  She is very familiar with research and practice in the fields of education and youth development, especially related to the role of out-of-school time programs and community-based partnerships in promoting positive social and educational outcomes for youth.

Ms. Russell currently directs several PSA evaluations of out-of-school time initiatives, including the evaluations of the Out-of-School Time initiative for the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development, and of the national demonstration of ExpandED for The After School Corporation.  In addition, Ms. Russell has served as an advisor to nonprofit and other organizations in their development of data collection, evaluation, and measurement systems, including the New Hampshire 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, the District of Columbia Public Schools Office of Out-of-School Time Programs, and After-School All-Stars.  She has been a member of working groups focused on afterschool measurement convened by the National Center on Time and Learning, The Wallace Foundation, and the New York State Afterschool Network.


Recommended Resources

Click here to view the Power Point Presentation from this forum (PDF)»

Click here to download the Forum Brief for this event (PDF)»

Presenter Information

Laura Hansen


Information Management and Decision Support

Metro Nashville Public Schools

2301 10th Ave South

Nashville, TN  37204



Jennifer Peck

Executive Director

Partnership for Children and Youth

1611 Telegraph Avenue, Ste 404

Oakland CA 94612



Christina Russell

Managing Director

Policy Studies Associates

1718 Connecticut Avenue, NW Suite 400

Washington, DC 20009




The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization based in Washington, DC, provides learning opportunities for policy leaders, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels. AYPF events and publications are made possible by contributions from philanthropic foundations. For a complete list, click here.