For the Media

The NEA Foundation President and CEO Harriet Sanford to Step Down in 2019 after 13 Years of Transformational Work

National search underway for new leader of the public education charity, founded by educators for educators, and the source of $40 million in grant funding for public school educators during Sanford’s tenure.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 1, 2018) — The NEA Foundation today announced that Harriet Sanford is stepping down on February 28, 2019 from her role as President and CEO following a 13 year tenure during which she oversaw a transformation of the education-focused public charity’s programs and grantmaking.

“It has been the honor of my life to lead the Foundation. Throughout my service, the Foundation’s grantmaking and programs have been rooted in an unwavering commitment to educational justice by supporting public school educators, their schools and districts as they design solutions to solve complex teaching and learning challenges,” Sanford said. “I will remain fully engaged in this vital work until the last hour of my last day and, after that, continue fiercely pursuing my lifelong commitment to work in support of community. Best of all, because of the hard work and dedication of a lot of people, the NEA Foundation is well positioned to thrive both programmatically and financially, long after my departure. This is the close of a chapter, not the book.”

Over the past 13 years, the NEA Foundation invested more than $40 million to provide individual educators, districts, and unions with the support and resources they need to develop educator led and designed solutions that address the specific challenges their students and communities face.

The Foundation’s signature programs (including the Closing the Achievement Gaps Initiative, the Building State Affiliate Capacity InitiativeSTEM grants, and Global Learning Fellowship) improve learning conditions for more than 200,000 students, strengthen state and local union affiliate capacity to advocate and collaborate with district and community leaders, and advance teaching and learning about global competencies and critical STEM fields. (Find more details about the NEA Foundation programs.)

“Harriet’s tireless efforts in the service of public education can be seen most clearly in the Foundation’s role in supporting the growing voice of educators and education support professionals. Under Harriet’s leadership, the NEA Foundation provides opportunities to recognize and value the expertise of education professionals as they advocate for their students, public education, and the teaching profession,” said Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, an educator and chair of the NEA Foundation Board of Directors. “We are profoundly grateful for her service.”

The NEA Foundation Board of Directors has initiated a nationwide search for Harriet’s successor, led by the Isaacson, Miller search firm. Sanford will actively support the Board of Directors in the search and the leadership transition through February 28, 2019. Recommendations, inquiries, nominations, and applications should be directed in confidence to Isaacson, Miller via the search website:

The public statement can be attributed to Harriet Sanford.

About the NEA Foundation

The NEA Foundation is a public charity founded by educators for educators to improve public education for all students. Since our beginning in 1969, 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 believe that when educators unleash their own power, ideas, and voices, communities, schools, and students all benefit. 

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

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