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Brooke Astor Fund for New York City Education Advisory Panel

The Advisory Panel assists The New York Community Trust with determining the Fund’s grantmaking criteria, developing a Request for Proposals (RFP), reviewing proposals, and recommending grants to be awarded to the Board of The New York Community Trust.  

Advisory Panel Members

Michael J. Kieffer is Associate Professor of Literacy Education at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University.  He studies the language and literacy development of students from linguistically diverse backgrounds.  A former middle school teacher, he aims to conduct research that can inform instruction and policy to improve the reading outcomes of students in urban schools, especially adolescent English language learners.  His research has included longitudinal studies of the reading and language development of English language learners, experimental and quasi-experimental evaluations of academic vocabulary instruction, and secondary analyses of large longitudinal datasets.  His current research interests include metalinguistic skills involved in vocabulary learning, sources of reading comprehension difficulties, discipline-specific reading comprehension skills, and the role of attention in second-language reading.  He has published 30 peer-reviewed articles, and his research has been supported by grants from the Spencer Foundation, National Academy of Education, American Educational Research Association, and the International Reading Association.  He has received the International Reading Association Dina Feitelson Research Award, NYU Griffiths Research Award, and Spencer Foundation Exemplary Dissertation Award.  He currently serves as Associate Editor of Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal and on the editorial boards of Reading Research Quarterly, Scientific Studies of Reading, Journal of Educational Psychology, American Educational Research Journal, and the Elementary School Journal.  He received his doctorate from Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2009.

Martin Kurzweil is an Academic Fellow at Columbia Law School, where his research and teaching covers administrative law, federalism, and organizational governance in the context of K-12 and higher education.  Prior to joining Columbia Law School, Martin was Senior Executive Director for Research, Accountability, and Data at the New York City Department of Education, where he oversaw school evaluation and internal and external research City public schools.  A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Martin clerked for Judge Pierre Leval of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and has worked as a litigator at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen, and Katz and as a researcher at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  He is the co-author of Equity and Excellence in American Higher Education, which received the 2006 American Educational Research Association Outstanding Book Award.

Vanessa Leung is the Deputy Director of the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families.  Previously, Ms. Leung was CACF’s Education Policy and Program Coordinator. She authored CACF's in-depth report on the status of Asian Pacific American students in the public school system entitled “Hidden in Plain View.”  She has worked alongside other advocates, including the New York Immigration Coalition and Advocates for Children, to call for changes to improve safety in the City’s public schools as well as equitable access for parents, winning the addition of Chancellor’s Regulations on interpretation and translation services in the public schools. In 2008, Ms. Leung helped the Center for Law and Social Policy research immigrant families and their access to early childhood education.  In February 2007, she was named to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s Middle School Taskforce to investigate and develop recommendations to improve the persistently low academic achievement of New York City’s middle school grades. She currently serves as the Public Advocate’s appointment to the Citywide Council on English Language Learners.  Ms. Leung received her Master of Arts degree in developmental psychology at Columbia University’s Teachers College and her Bachelor of Arts from NYU. She also completed the Immigrant Civic Leadership Program of Coro New York Leadership Center.

Catherine E. Snow is the Patricia Albjerg Graham Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  She is an expert on language and literacy development in children, bilingual education, language policy issues in the U.S. and in developing nations, testing policy.  Her research interests include children’s language development as influenced by interaction with adults in home and preschool settings, literacy development as related to language skills and as influenced by home and school factors; and issues related to the acquisition of English oral and literacy skills by language minority children.  Dr. Snow has chaired two national panels, the National Panel of Sciences Committee that prepared the thought-provoking report: "Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children” and the Rand Reading Study Group that authored "Reading for Understanding: Toward an R&D Program in Reading Comprehension."  She has authored and contributed to some of the most respected books about education, such as "Preparing Our Teachers: Opportunities for Better Reading Instruction," and "Starting Out Right: A Guide to Promoting Children's Reading Success."  Dr. Snow received the Morningstar Teaching Award in 2004, a Carnegie Corporation of New York Institute for Statewide Literacy Initiative award in 2002, and the Spencer Senior Scholar Award in 1999.  Dr. Snow has served on numerous boards, including Journal of Educational Psychology, Journal of Child Language, and the International Journal of Bilingualism.  She co-directed the Child Language Data Exchange System for 10 years; she served as president of the American Educational Research Association in 1999-2000.  Dr. Snow earned a master's and a doctoral degree from McGill University in Montreal.

Lucille Swarns served as Regional Superintendent for Region 10 of the New York City Public Schools, overseeing a large number of the City’s schools in Upper Manhattan.  Prior to that appointment, she was a superintendent in the professional development area of the Chancellor's District, which included the City’s most troubled elementary schools.  She taught for many years in Staten Island, including in early childhood, and worked in special education and curriculum implementation in Brooklyn.

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The New York Community Trust is a 501(c)3 public charity.