Sonja Brookins Santelises
Vice President of K-12 Policy and Practice
Sonja has left The Education Trust for her next adventure. Though she is no longer at Ed Trust, we maintain this bio page as a record of the wonderful work she contributed while with us.
Sonja provides strategic direction for the organization’s K-12 research, practice, and policy work, which includes developing and implementing strategies to ensure that Ed Trust’s K-12 efforts effectively focus national attention on inequities in public education and the actions necessary to close gaps in both opportunity and achievement.
Before joining The Education Trust, Sonja was the chief academic officer for Baltimore City Public Schools, where she focused on setting academic priorities for City Schools to raise achievement of students across all schools. Sonja came to City Schools from Boston, where she was the assistant superintendent for pilot schools, a network of 23 schools with broad autonomy and a track record of successfully meeting students’ needs and improving the achievement of low-income students and students of color in particular. Prior to the pilot schools post, Sonja was assistant superintendent for teaching and learning/professional development in Boston. Before joining Boston Public Schools, Sonja lectured on urban education for two years at Harvard University and spent six years as a senior associate with Focus on Results Inc., where she worked with five major urban districts, coaching superintendents and training school leaders. Prior to that, Sonja served as executive director of the New York City Algebra Project, the local site of the acclaimed national math reform program, also present in City Schools.
Sonja began her career in education as director of professional development and teacher placement with Teach for America, New York, followed by a stint at a year-round school in Brooklyn, where she was a founder, teacher, and curriculum specialist. She holds a bachelor of arts degree from Brown University, a master of arts in education administration from Columbia University, and a doctor of education in administration, planning, and social policy from Harvard.
What are people most surprised to learn about you?
As CAO in Baltimore City Schools, I once dropped off my children to school on a day when schools were closed for teacher professional development.
Why are you passionate about working at Ed Trust?
People died so that I would have the education and access I have had … The least I can do is work for others to have the same.