Alaska schools chief Roger Sampson, who was tapped last week as the new president of the Education Commission of the States, is vowing to transform the 50-state organization from an information clearinghouse into a group that works to implement successful education policies across the country.
Mr. Sampson, 53, who will start his new job as president of the Denver-based ECS on Sept. 1, said he wants to expand the nonprofit organization’s mission—that of developing policy and gathering data—by getting “in the trenches.”
“We need to be very proactive and very progressive in what the needs of the states are,” said Mr. Sampson, who was appointed Alaska’s Commissioner of Education and Early Development in 2003 and will step down Aug. 17.
The ECS is an education information clearinghouse founded in 1965 that represents governors, state schools chiefs, state legislators, and other state education policy leaders.
Mr. Sampson takes the helm of an organization that has struggled to define its mission, a task made more difficult by leadership and staff turnover and financial troubles. (“ECS Resignations Raise Questions of Fiscal Health,” May 10, 2006.)
Long Search Over
The group currently has an annual budget of about $7.4 million, but ran over budget in 2005 by about $300,000, according to its 2005 annual report, the latest available on its Web site. In 2006, several top officials at the ECS, including the president, stepped down.
Mr. Sampson’s selection came after a nearly yearlong search for a president to replace Piedad F. Robertson, who left in September 2006. Roderick G.W. Chu has served as president while the ECS searched for a permanent leader.
Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, the chairwoman of the ECS, said in a statement announcing Mr. Sampson’s hiring that he is “uniquely suited to lead ECS with a new focus, invigorated purpose, and fresh start.”
In Alaska, the state board of education and early development is looking for a new commissioner; applications for that post are due July 10. Though appointed by the board, the commissioner must also be approved by the governor.
A version of this article appeared in the June 20, 2007 edition of Education Week as Newly Named Head of ECS Pledges Transformation of Group’s Mission