Well-Respected Education Leader Ginger Ostro Will Take the Helm at Advance Illinois

Posted on December 01, 2015

December 1, 2015: Advance Illinois announced that, after a national search, respected education funding and policy expert Ginger Ostro will lead the bipartisan, non-profit education policy organization as it continues in its efforts to ensure that children across Illinois have the support they need to succeed.

Ostro takes the helm of Advance Illinois as the state implements new standards and assessments, rethinks how best to prepare and develop teachers and principals, considers how best to put new data to work to support instruction, and wrestles with an outdated school funding formula that earns Illinois the dubious honor of having the most inequitable funding system in the country.

Ellen Alberding, Advance Illinois board member and president of the Joyce Foundation, led the search. “We are delighted to have someone of Ginger’s caliber at the helm. She not only understands policy, but she also knows education finance and has a deep understanding of the state policy-making process,” Alberding said.

John Edwardson, retired CEO and chair of CDW and Advance Illinois board chair welcomed Ostro, noting, “Ginger is smart, experienced, and a dedicated public servant who will help lead Advance Illinois as it starts its next chapter.”

Edwardson thanked Robin Steans for her years of service as Founding Executive Director. “Robin took the idea of Advance Illinois—to be an objective voice for a healthy public education system—from concept to fruition. She built a well-respected, effective organization that has become a leading voice for education policy. We are grateful to her for all she has done.”

Over the course of the past 20 years, Ostro’s work has spanned early childhood education, higher education, education funding, child welfare, and juvenile justice policy. Most recently, she served as Chief Financial Officer at Chicago Public Schools. She graduated from the University of Chicago before going on to earn a Master’s in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

“The coming months and years will be critical for Illinois’ students, and Advance Illinois will play a key role in forging solutions and shaping policy to help all our students succeed,” Ostro said. “There’s never been a more exciting or challenging time to work in education in Illinois, and I’m looking forward to leading the effort for an organization that is a proven authority on education policy, relying on research and best practices about what works for students.”

“Ginger represents the best in public service,” added former Governor Jim Edgar, Advance Illinois board member and founding co-chair. “She is whip-smart, politically savvy, and always focused on the work at hand. With her background, she could work anywhere, but she has chosen to use her skills to help our students and our state. We are lucky to have her on board.”

“There is little doubt that Ginger will be a fierce, knowledgeable advocate for school funding reform,” says Advance Illinois board and search committee member Juan Salgado, president of Instituto del Progreso Latino and 2015 recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship.

Ostro officially will begin her new position on January 4, 2016.