DFER Names Former Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza as CEO

Press Releases

April 3, 2023

April 3, 2023

Contact: Victoria Fosdal

DFER Names Former Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza as CEO

NEW YORK, N.Y. (April 3, 2023) — Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) announced today that former Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza has been appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the political advocacy organization and its affiliate non-partisan think-tank Education Reform Now.

During his two terms as the Democratic mayor of Rhode Island’s largest city, Elorza undertook bold actions to advance a social and racial justice agenda. This included taking the unprecedented step to engage the state Department of Education to turn around the city’s chronically underperforming school system, creating the city’s Eat, Play, Learn Initiative to expand out-of-school enrichment, and launching a nationally recognized African American Ambassador Group to bring Black leaders into the center of policymaking. Notably, he invested $400 million into repairing school buildings, and supported the expansion of high-quality public charter schools.

“As Mayor, I saw all too well the critical need for bold leadership to transform public education so that it serves all students—particularly those historically marginalized,” said Elorza. “DFER has been at the forefront of the fight against the status quo in public education for more than a decade, and I am honored to serve this organization at a time of both incredible urgency and possibility for our nation’s students.”

A leader in and outside City Hall, Elorza was elected by his peers to serve as Trustee for the United States Conference of Mayors, and was an Aspen Institute Rodell Fellow, a member of the New Deal Leaders network, and a member of the inaugural Bloomberg/Harvard City Leadership class.

“What I admire most about Jorge is his unwavering commitment to put the interest of students above adult politics,” said DFER Interim CEO Shakira Petit. “There is a tremendous opportunity right now for leaders to utilize historic investments in education to advance the innovative approaches that we know work for students. As DFER grows our collective impact, Jorge brings the political acumen, vast leadership experience, and vision to help our organization—and Democratic education champions across the country—meet this moment and bring about real change for all students.”

Elorza was born and raised in Providence and is the proud son of Guatemalan immigrants. A first-generation college student, he attended the Community College of Rhode Island before earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Rhode Island, and a law degree from Harvard Law School. Elorza is co-founder of the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University School of Law, where he previously served as a law professor.