NEW YORK – Chancellor Carmen Fariña today announced the appointment of Iris Chen as Executive Director of The Fund for Public Schools, a key role in which Chen will secure investments for critical education initiatives and facilitate invaluable partnerships with businesses, foundations, nonprofits and New Yorkers at-large to support the city’s public schools and students.
As Executive Director, Chen will focus on the Chancellor’s priorities and critical initiatives across the system, to help ensure all of the city’s students have access to a rigorous and enriching education. Under Chen’s leadership, The Fund will promote the City’s historic expansion of high-quality pre-K, the Common Core Learning Standards, college and career readiness, and increased access to libraries, the arts, and robust afterschool programs. She will also lead fundraising efforts to support innovative teaching and learning practices, including the incorporation of technology in the classroom, as well as greatly enhanced professional development of teachers and school leaders.
Chen, a former teacher who has deep roots in education and nonprofit leadership, comes to the Fund from Beyond Z, a nonprofit start-up that is cultivating the next generation of American leaders, with particular attention to young people from low-income communities. Previously, she served as President and CEO of the “I Have a Dream” Foundation, a national organization working to expand underrepresented students’ access to higher education. Chen started her career as a fourth- and fifth-grade teacher at P.S. 307 in Brooklyn.
“Today, we welcome a true education leader to The Fund for Public Schools. With her vast experience, Iris will be able to secure investments and partnerships for innovative programs that are crucial for our students,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “Perhaps most importantly, Iris’s roots as an educator and her focus on communication and collaboration will allow her to work effectively with educators and families. Iris will always have an ear to the ground, and she’ll use her role at the Fund for Public Schools to deliver investments and programs that empower our students.”
“I deeply believe in the power of partnerships and broad public engagement to transform students’ educational opportunities and experiences, and I’m thrilled to join The Fund for Public Schools to advance this important work,” said Iris Chen, Executive Director of The Fund for Public Schools. “I’m excited to work closely with the Chancellor and our communities across the five boroughs to identify and support initiatives that will bring us closer to our shared vision – meeting the needs of every child in our public schools and ensuring they have every opportunity to fulfill their potential.”
“Iris is a passionate educator and understands the needs of our students, families, and teachers firsthand, and I am confident that with her at the helm, The Fund will utilize its relationships with businesses, non-profits, foundations and the entire New York City community to support our students,” said Senior Advisor to the Mayor and Director of the Office of Strategic Partnerships, Gabrielle Fialkoff. “We look forward to our continued collaboration with The Fund for Public Schools, to advance our collective goal of making sure that every student in New York City thrives.”
As part of her work at the “I Have a Dream” Foundation, Chen developed new partnerships and initiatives to support aspiring college students from underrepresented communities. Previously, Chen was Executive Director of Teach for America – New York, where she led a major expansion of the organization’s teacher corps in New York City, launched a new school leadership initiative, and significantly increased engagement with individual New Yorkers and the private sector. Chen has also served as Vice President and National Program Director of Teach for America, and taught at P.S. 307 in Brooklyn from 1990-1993. She received an undergraduate degree from Yale University as well as a JD and MBA from Harvard University.