Denise Forte is the interim CEO at The Education Trust. With more than two decades of experience in the federal legislative and executive branches advancing progressive education and family policy, Denise brings strategic leadership to the organization’s efforts to engage policymakers and diverse coalitions of advocates in demanding and securing equity-advancing policy change at the national and state levels. She also will lead Ed Trust’s legislative efforts and, as a member of the Senior Leadership Team, coordinate an organization-wide advocacy agenda and strategy.
Prior to Ed Trust, Denise was a senior fellow and director of public affairs for The Century Foundation, a progressive think tank. She also spent 20 years in progressively senior congressional staff roles, most recently as the staff director for the House Committee on Education and the Workforce (Minority), providing strategic advice and counsel to the Ranking Member, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), managing and directing the legislative and policy agenda for Committee Democrats and as Education Policy Director for Chairman George Miller. Denise also served in the Obama administration at the U.S. Department of Education, where she held the positions of Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary in the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, providing direction and management of the office that oversees policy and budget development for the agency. Forte also has worked in the nonprofit leadership development space as the vice president for policy leadership at Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE), an organization supporting current and former teachers in public leadership.
In each of these roles, Denise has worked to promote and advance policies that prioritize educational equity for those children who are historically underserved. Denise enjoys her role as a policy leader and welcomes the opportunity to mentor young and diverse professionals who wish to enter into public service.
Denise has a B.S. in Computer Science from Duke University, and a M.A. in Women’s Studies from the George Washington University. She resides in Washington, D.C. with her family.
Favorite Sports Team
Duke Blue Devils basketball
What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work?
Listening to Broadway show tunes, gardening and biking
What drew you to education?
We know what works to improve educational achievement for underserved students, but our leaders often lack the political will to make it happen. I wanted to participate in developing the strategies that builds that political will on behalf of children.
Why are you passionate about working at Ed Trust?
Ed Trust is mission driven: we believe Black, Brown, low-income, disabled, limited English proficient, and immigrant kids matter and a quality education is their best opportunity to thrive. I am thrilled to be a part of that work with my colleagues.