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Groundbreaking Education Policy Advocate Recognized for Outstanding Service to Public Education

Groundbreaking Education Policy Advocate Recognized for Outstanding Service to Public Education

Washington, DC (February 4, 2020) – Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, a lifelong educator and researcher, will receive the 2020 First National Bank of Omaha Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education at the NEA Foundation Salute to Excellence in Education Gala to be held in Washington, DC on February 7, 2020.

“Linda Darling-Hammond has had an unwavering commitment to leveling the playing field in public education as one of the nation’s foremost researchers working for lasting systemic change,” said Sara A. Sneed, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “We are honored to celebrate her many remarkable contributions to the public discourse and scholarship about public education. Her groundbreaking work has led to fundamental improvements, not only across the U.S., but around the world.”

Dr. Darling-Hammond began her career as a public school teacher and co-founded both a preschool and a public high school. For more than three decades, her work has helped transform education practice and policy with a focus on developing schools systems to foster equity and access and strengthening the teaching profession. Currently, she serves as the president and CEO of the Learning Policy Institute and the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education Emeritus at Stanford University. At Stanford, she founded the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education and was the faculty sponsor of the Stanford Teacher Education Program, which she helped to redesign. Most recently she was appointed President of the California State Board of Education.

This support for professional development empowers educators to implement project based learning, which is key to student success. The NEA Foundation grants enable educators to collaborate on STEM learning across schools in their district and to build their programs to meet the specific needs of their educators and students.

“I’m honored to be recognized by the NEA Foundation, which has done so much important work on behalf of American public education,” said Darling-Hammond. “Our shared work has been grounded in the conviction that every child has the right to learn and no child should be denied the opportunity based on race, class, language background, immigration status, gender, learning differences or any other factor. Great teachers are at the heart of the learning process, and investments in knowledgeable teachers in the teaching profession are our best promise for ensuring that every child has the opportunity to fulfill their potential and become a contributing member of society. I am proud to have worked on this agenda over the years with the NEA and the NEA Foundation, which has a long track record of supporting research-based, systemic teacher preparation and the ongoing support that equip teachers to do their essential work.”

“First National Bank of Omaha is honored to recognize Dr. Darling-Hammond,” said Jerry J. O’Flanagan, executive vice president of consumer banking. “Her tireless work and dedication over so many years has led to landmark changes that have positively impacted teachers across the globe.”

The outstanding service award pays tribute to those who have significantly increased understanding of public education or have otherwise dedicated themselves to serving educators and students. Past recipients of this prestigious award include Title IX advocate Billie Jean King, Sesame Street Workshop, the NAACP, Nickelodeon, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Global Kids, and the American Indian College Fund.

The award is part of the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala , an annual celebration of the men and women who work in America’s public schools. The gala will also honor 45 public school educators  nominated by their peers for having attained the highest teaching standards, as illustrated by their exemplary instruction, advocacy for the profession, and staunch support of public education. It attracts more than 800 of nation’s leaders in and supporters of public education.

The gala will be livestreamed on Friday, February 7 beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET here


Editor’s Note: Please use our correct name, the NEA Foundation. The “NEA” is never spelled out in our name. It is not the National Education Association Foundation. Many thanks!

About the NEA Foundation

The NEA Foundation is a public charity founded by educators for educators to improve public education for all students. Celebrating our 50th anniversary this year, the Foundation has served as a laboratory of learning, offering funding and other resources to public school educators, their schools, and districts to solve complex teaching and learning challenges. We elevate and share educator solutions to ensure greater reach and impact on student learning. We believe that when educators unleash their own power, ideas, and voices, communities, schools, and students all benefit. Visit for more information. Find us on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to our blog.

First National Bank of Omaha is a subsidiary of First National of Nebraska. First National Nebraska and its affiliates have more than $23 billion in assets and 5,000 employee associates. Primary banking offices are located in Nebraska, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas South Dakota and Texas. Visit for more information.