New Meridian’s Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, Ashley Eden, will join the 2022 National Voices Fellowship organized by The 50-State Campaign for Achievement Now (50CAN). 50CAN is an education advocacy organization that links local leaders from across the country in a collaborative network with a unified goal of building a better education system for America’s children.
This fellowship program began in 2019 with the hope of strengthening leadership and public profiles of the next generation of commentators, correspondents, and analysts across the education sector. Out of hundreds of applicants, only 10 leaders in education were selected for this year’s cohort. Each fellow brings a unique skill set to the table with a diverse set of backgrounds and experiences, as they all come from varying urban, rural, and suburban communities to fully reflect today’s student population.
Since the cohort will be meeting throughout the year, it’s a great opportunity to have deeper conversations with people who come from different backgrounds and experiences. Some of the fellows are students, some are parent advocate leaders, and some are communications experts. Each person comes to the fellowship with different experiences and will approach the big questions about education policy from a different lens than myself, which is exciting.
Empowering New Education Leaders
In the wake of the pandemic, this year’s National Voices Fellowship will consist of a mixture of virtual engagements and in-person meetings. The cohort will participate in a variety of group discussions; mentorship opportunities catered to each fellow’s unique strengths; and training from some of the industry’s most prolific communicators, policymakers, journalists, and influencers.
“I’m very excited that this year will have components of both virtual and in-person training,” Eden said. “When you’re in a group setting discussing the history of education policy, where we came from, and where we want to go, it’s nice to be in-person while having those vulnerable and honest conversations.”
Along with Eden, the other members of the 2022 National Voices Fellowship include: Cooper Conway, a student at Boise State University Honors College; Cj Edwards of Undone Unbound Restored; Jared Francis of DREAM Charter High School; Aditi Goel of P16 Partners; Daiana Lambrecht of Rocketship Public Schools; Dayson Pasion, currently serving in the Office of North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper; Travis Pillow of the Foundation for Excellence in Education; Kate Wisniewski of The Miles Foundation; and Cristina Worrel of Oakmont Education.
Eden’s History in Education Policy
Prior to joining New Meridian, Eden worked in the U.S. Senate where she spent years working on—often writing—provisions in some of the most important education bills passed in the last decade.
After leaving Capitol Hill, Eden joined the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) and took on the task of writing the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan, one of the first in the nation to be approved by the U.S. Department of Education. It was there that she was first introduced to the 50CAN network while watching Amanda Aragon, a former leader at the NMPED, build New Mexico Kids CAN from the ground up. Eden also served as Chief of Staff and Deputy Secretary of School Transformation at the NMPED before joining New Meridian in 2019.
Eden’s experience in the assessment industry allows her to step up and lead cohort conversations about student data in assessment. “Everyone comes from a different area of expertise,” she said. “One area of my expertise is assessment systems. What are the different sources of data from assessment? How can that data be used? How might that look in the future? I also hope to talk in-depth to the group about how assessments impact their communities.”
Throughout her many roles, the mission to improve the quality of public education for all students remains at the forefront for Eden. “Education is really the great equalizer,” she said. “By ensuring that every student has access to a quality education, we can change the trajectory of lives.”