Education Department Announces James Cole Jr. to Assume the Duties of Deputy Secretary

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Education Department Announces James Cole Jr. to Assume the Duties of Deputy Secretary

January 28, 2016

Acting U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. announced today that James Cole Jr., who is currently serving as General Counsel to the Department, will assume the duties of Deputy Secretary.

"James is an extraordinary leader whose talents as a leader and manager, and whose commitment to educational achievement, access and opportunity for all students, make him the perfect person to take on this vitally important role. I am thrilled to continue working with James as we strive to ensure that every student is prepared and supported to succeed in college, careers and life," said King.

"I am excited to be part of the team at the Department because education has had a profound influence on my life, and continues to have a profound influence on the lives of millions of children and adults, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds," said Cole

In his new role, Cole will manage the Department's operations and lead its work on the President's My Brother's Keeper Task Force. Cole will continue to be General Counsel, serving as the chief legal officer for the Department and as legal advisor to King.

Cole, who was confirmed by the Senate as the Department's General Counsel in December 2014, was the first in his family to graduate from college. He credits a high school English teacher with inspiring and convincing him to pursue higher education. Cole went on to receive his Bachelor of Science degree in finance with honors from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and his J.D. from the University of Chicago, where he served as a comment editor of the University of Chicago Law School Roundtable.

Cole has held several previous positions focusing on educational achievement, access, and opportunity for all students. He has served on the board of directors of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and board of trustees of Prep for Prep, a New York City-based youth leadership development program that identifies and prepares students of color for the rigors of independent day and boarding schools. In addition, he has mentored high school and college students since graduating from Dunbar Vocational High School, located on Chicago's South Side.

Prior to his work at the Department, Cole served as the deputy general counsel of the U.S. Department of Transportation. In this role he advised the secretary, deputy secretary, and general counsel on legal, policy, and program matters relating to DOTs 10 operating administrations, including the Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Highway Administration, and Federal Railroad Administration.

Previously, Cole worked at the law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz in New York City, where, in 2004, he became a partner in the corporate department. He has advised a broad range of public and private companies in a variety of industries in the United States and around the world.

Prior to joining Wachtell, Lipton, Cole clerked for the Honorable Stephanie K. Seymour of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.