Team Member

Denise Forte

Message Denise Forte

Denise Forte

President and CEO

Denise Forte (pronounced “fort”) is the President and CEO at The Education Trust, a national advocacy organization often described as “the most important truth teller” in American public education.

As one of the country’s leading voices on education equity, Denise is a fierce advocate for employing evidence-based strategies to create high achieving learning environments that turn barriers and gaps into bridges and pipelines for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds.

Denise joined Ed Trust in 2019 as Senior Vice President for Partnerships and Engagement, guiding the organization’s expansion by developing robust working relationships with legislators, education advocates, traditional and emerging civil rights groups, parents, students, and the business community.

Her lifetime of public service includes 20 years in senior congressional staff roles on Capitol Hill, and a stint in the executive branch, serving in the Obama administration as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary in the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development in the Department of Education.

Prior to Ed Trust, Denise was a Senior Fellow and Director of Public Affairs for The Century Foundation, a progressive think tank. She also has served as the Vice President for Policy Leadership at Leadership for Educational Equity, a nonprofit organization supporting current and former teachers in public leadership.

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 lives with her family in Washington, D.C.

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.

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