Secretary Cardona Statement on Confirmation of Education Department Officials Brown, Rodriguez and Graham

Archived Information

Secretary Cardona Statement on Confirmation of Education Department Officials Brown, Rodriguez and Graham

October 6, 2021

Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona issued the following statement on the Senate confirmations of Lisa Brown, Roberto Rodríguez, and Gwen Graham:

“With these confirmations the Biden Administration and the American people gain three more dedicated and distinguished public service professionals. Together, they will help to advance the Department’s legal and policy efforts and ensure effective collaboration with the federal, state, and local officials who represent our shared constituents.

  • As General Counsel, Lisa Brown brings a passion for justice, a wise legal mind, and a thorough command of education issues to the Department’s work of ensuring equal access to a quality education for all students. 
  • Roberto Rodríguez, in the role of Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development, will turn skills honed over a notable career to ensuring that this agency’s actions are grounded in evidence, in the experience of educators, and in equitable approaches that meet the needs of students.
  • And surely no one is better equipped for the role of Assistant Secretary for Legislation and Congressional Affairs than Gwen Graham, herself a former member of Congress and a civic and public education leader with a remarkable record of service and impact.

“All of them recognize the life-changing power of a great education, and I am delighted to welcome these outstanding individuals to the agency. I know they will work tirelessly in the best interests of the nation’s students, families, educators, and communities.”

About Lisa Brown

Lisa Brown is currently Vice President & General Counsel of Georgetown University, where she provides legal counsel to the University’s President, Board of Directors, and senior academic and administrative officers; serves in the President’s Cabinet; and mentors first generation college students and students interested in law and social justice. Brown also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Center for Law and Social Policy, DC Theatre Lab and SMYAL (Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders).

Brown has spent extensive time in public service. She served in the Administration of President Obama, first as Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary in the White House, and then as Acting Chief Performance Officer at the Office of Management and Budget. She previously had served as Co-Director of Agency Review for the Obama-Biden Transition Project. During the Administration of President Clinton, Brown began as a career lawyer in the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice and then became Counsel to Vice President Gore, where she also served as a member of the Executive Board of the President’s Committee for Employment of People with Disabilities. Between the two administrations, Brown was Executive Director of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy. Before entering the government, Brown was a partner at the Washington law firm of Shea & Gardner. Brown clerked for the Honorable John C. Godbold on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Montgomery, Ala.

Brown graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University with a degree in political economy, and earned her law degree from the University of Chicago Law School, where she graduated with honors and served as Editor-in-Chief of the University of Chicago Legal Forum.

About Roberto Rodríguez

Roberto Rodríguez has dedicated his career in government and in the non-profit sector to advancing education equity, access, and excellence. He is nationally recognized for his leadership in early childhood, K-12 and postsecondary education policy, and for building multi-sector partnerships with educators, policymakers, school leaders and communities to better respond to the needs of diverse learners. He is devoted to the principle that all students deserve a complete and competitive education that prepares them for college, careers, and full participation in our democracy.

Most recently, Rodríguez served as President and CEO of Teach Plus where he built an equity-driven teacher leadership movement that engaged thousands of teachers to shape public policy and instructional practice to deliver greater opportunity for students. Teach Plus works across 12 states to grow and support its teachers as leaders and change agents in influencing education policy, systems, and schools.

Rodríguez led efforts at the White House to shape and implement President Obama’s education agenda, serving on the Domestic Policy Council as Deputy Assistant to the President for the duration of the Obama Administration. His efforts led to an increase of tens of thousands of additional children enrolled in preschool and child care; new partnerships to better personalize and redesign the high school experience to meet individual needs of students; creation of a new, national focus on excellence in STEM education; and an expansion of the Pell Grant to boost participation in higher education. Under his leadership, support for higher academic standards, enhanced teacher development and advancement, and deeper investment in America’s schools ultimately led to the enactment by the U.S. Congress of the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015.

Prior to his service in the White House, Rodríguez spent eight years as Senior Education Advisor and later Chief Counsel to the late U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), former Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. In this role, he led successful bipartisan efforts that resulted in the enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, and the Head Start Act of 2007. Rodríguez began his professional career in Washington, D.C., at Unidos US, where he directed research and policy analysis of federal and state education issues.

A Michigan native, Rodríguez holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor and a Master of Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

About Gwen Graham

Gwen Graham, who honed her commitment to public service as a leader in Florida's local public schools, is a respected former member of Congress with a reputation for fairness, compassion, and problem-solving. Graham served as the Congressional representative from Florida’s 2nd District during the 114th Congress and was known as one of the House's most bipartisan members. She is an attorney and prior to her service in Congress, focused her practice on public education as Chief of Labor and Employee Relations for the Leon County School District. She was involved in every aspect of the educational process and was recognized for her integrity and fairness. The Florida Education Association and the Leon Classroom Teachers Association were the first organizations to endorse her Congressional candidacy. She also served as a board member of the statewide Florida Educational Negotiators. Graham is a proud product of public K-12 education, as are her children, and she served as PTA President and School Advisory Council Chair while they were young. She has worked on a number of presidential campaigns, and in 2004 served as John Kerry’s surrogate coordinator in Florida. She currently serves as a board director of the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida, the Florida State Parks Foundation, and as Vice Chair of the City of Tallahassee Independent Ethics Board.