The Secretary of Education
Council Member: Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education
Council Designee: Russlynn H. Ali, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education
Russlynn Ali is the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. As Assistant Secretary, Ms. Ali is Secretary Duncan’s primary adviser on civil rights and 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 related to race, sex, disability or age. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces five major civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance.
Until her appointment to the Department of Education, Ms. Ali had been a Vice President of the Education Trust in Washington, D.C., and the founding Executive Director of the Education Trust-West in Oakland, Calif., since 2001.
Ms. Ali was a teacher, served as the Liaison for the President of the Children’s Defense Fund and as Assistant Director of Policy and Research at the Broad Foundation, for which she was also on loan 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, Ms. Ali was a contract attorney at Bird, Marella, Boxer and Wolpert, Deputy Co-Director and of counsel at the Advancement Project and English, Munger & Rice, and an attorney at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, all in Los Angeles.
Ms. Ali received her J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law and her BA in law and society from American University. She also attended Spelman College.