Russlynn Ali

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Biographical Information

"Russlynn Ali was appointed assistant secretary for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education by President Barack Obama. As assistant secretary, Ali is U.S. Secretary of Education Duncan’s primary adviser on civil rights and is responsible for enforcing U.S. civil rights laws as they pertain to education—ensuring the nation’s schools, colleges and universities receiving federal funding do not engage in discriminatory conduct. Prior to joining the department, Ali served as vice president of the Education Trust in Washington, D.C., and as the founding executive director of the Education Trust—West in Oakland, Calif., since 2001. Where she advocated for public school students in California focusing on achievement and opportunity gaps separating low-income African-American and Latino students from their peers; worked with school districts to improve curriculum and instructional quality at high-poverty and high-minority public schools; and designed, field-tested and implemented comprehensive audit tools that examined inequities in schools and districts.

"Previously, Ali was a teacher, served as the liaison for the president of the Children’s Defense Fund, as assistant director of policy and research at the Broad Foundation, and as chief of staff to the president of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Board of Education. She has also taught at the University of Southern California Law Center and the University of California at Davis.

"In the legal field, Ali was an attorney at Bird, Marella, Boxer and Wolpert, deputy co-director and counsel at the Advancement Project at English, Munger & Rice, and an attorney at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, all in Los Angeles. Ali is a member of the California State Bar. Ali received her J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law. She received her bachelor’s degree in law and society from the American University. - See more at:" [1]

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  1. Student Matters Advisory Board, organizational web page, accessed March 25, 2014.