Innovation: Online Tutoring, Customized Instruction

Jepson School of Leadership Studies, Emerging Thought Leader: Passion for Innovation and Education Reform Drives Washington-based Attorney, http://news.richmond.edu/jepson/features/wallerstein.html  

Ben Wallerstein is a managing director at Dutko Worldwide, LLC, a Washington-based global public policy management firm with offices around the world. As an attorney with deep and broad interests in American public education, Wallerstein has built a consulting practice that focuses on helping education entrepreneurs bring innovations to bear on improving education through the public policy process.

His work takes him from Capitol Hill to state capitols, from major urban school districts to boardrooms, where he collaborates with elected officials, philanthropists and investors to advance educational programs and policy initiatives.

The injustice of a foundering educational system, racial segregation, disparity and failures in public education are topics Wallerstein has been passionate about since high school and has addressed through professional pursuits and academic study.

He graduated cum laude from the University of Richmond in 1999 as a leadership studies major. He served as president of the Jepson Student Government Association and as a mentor with the Carver Promise, which matches college-age mentors with at-risk elementary school children. His senior thesis, which leadership studies professor Gill Robinson Hickman still uses in her classes as an example of an exemplary project, tackled challenges within the troubled Richmond Public Schools.

After graduating from Jepson, Wallerstein worked for former Xerox CEO David Kearns, with whom he worked with education entrepreneurs and businesses leaders and began to develop his understanding of both the private-sector and public policymaking process. Through his work with Kearns, Wallerstein developed a passion for the role of private sector innovation in improving American public education, and had the opportunity to work with key institutions involved in reforming American education, including Harvard University, the Ford Foundation, Edison Schools and the New American Schools Development Corporation.

In 2000, he entered law school at Georgetown University. There he served as an editor of the Georgetown Law Journal and served in the Law Center’s juvenile justice clinic, where he defended indigent juvenile offenders. He had spent a previous summer there, during his Jepson School internship. Wallerstein earned his J.D., cum laude, in 2004, and is a member of the bar in the District of Columbia, Connecticut and New York.

While attending law school, he also worked full-time at a start-up policy and advocacy consulting firm. The firm was founded by Kearns’ former Chief-of-Staff, Craig Patee; former White House Political Director Ron Kaufman; and now-Senator Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska). At this firm, Wallerstein began to focus his efforts on working with social and business entrepreneurs to incite change in education. The firm is now part of Dutko Worldwide, LLC.

As a managing director at Dutko, Wallerstein leads the firm’s education strategy and advises companies, nonprofits and charitable donors to structure public-private partnerships and to implement innovative state and federal advocacy and marketing strategies. Under Wallerstein’s direction, Dutko’s education practice has done both good and well, leading successful advocacy efforts to create a virtual school, create online tutoring programs to provide customized instruction to students, enact legislation to promote early childhood reading and to strengthen assessment practices, as well as expand special education opportunities offered to students in struggling districts.

Wallerstein also has executed extensive work in corporate philanthropy, advising a wide range of institutions on their charitable giving strategy to maximize impact. One such client, a major national retail corporation, donates millions of dollars each week largely to education programs. He helps ensure that their investments result in providing desired benefits to schools, teachers and students across the country.

He is earning a reputation as a thought leader in the world of education policy, and is often invited to speak at and advise various industry and political groups, drawing on his deep understanding of education policy, politics, business and financial markets.

Within his community, he and his wife, Sarah, actively support a number of organizations, including their local neighborhood association, the Corcoran Center for the Arts, and the Meridian International Center, where they were married in 2005. Wallerstein also sits on the board of the American Institute for Foreign Study Foundation, one of the nation’s most respected cultural exchange organizations, where he is working to expand study abroad opportunities to reach a more economically diverse student population in the United States and overseas.

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