Matt Gandal

Founder and President

Matt Gandal founded Education Strategy Group in 2012 to support states, national organizations, and foundations committed to dramatically improving the capacity and performance of the U.S. education system. He brings over 20 years of experience leading policy development, advocacy and implementation work in both the K-12 and higher education sectors.

Gandal previously served as a senior advisor to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan where he led a new division responsible for providing policy and implementation support to states. Gandal worked with state schools chiefs, governors, district leaders and other key stakeholders to identify and address their most pressing implementation and capacity challenges. He also served as a member of the Secretary’s Advisory Team that met regularly with the Secretary to take stock of progress and establish priorities for the Department of Education.

Before joining the Department of Education, Gandal was executive vice president of Achieve, the national organization formed by governors and business leaders to help states raise educational standards. He helped found the organization and was responsible for overseeing its major initiatives, including the American Diploma Project which helped 35 states advance college and career readiness policies; the Common Core State Standards Initiative which resulted in 45 states adopting rigorous academic standards; and National Education Summits that brought together governors, CEOs and education leaders from across the country to commit to ambitious reforms.

Before joining Achieve, Gandal was assistant director for educational issues at the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). He helped AFT launch a variety of programs and publications designed to support standards-based reform efforts in states and school districts. He was the author and chief architect of Making Standards Matter, an annual AFT report evaluating the quality of the academic standards, assessments and accountability policies in the 50 states. He also authored a series of reports that compared student standards and achievement in the United States with those of other industrialized nations. Gandal also held a leadership position with the Educational Excellence Network, an education policy think tank founded by Checker Finn.

Gandal, a graduate of the Maryland public school system, earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.

Why are you in this work?

I was lucky to have had access to high quality public schools when I grew up, schools with high standards, engaged and effective teachers and a diverse student body. But many in this country aren’t as fortunate. I decided to dedicate myself to improving our nation’s education system—from the early grades all the way through college—because I have seen the difference it can make in people’s lives and I understand how important it is to the health of our communities and our democracy.

Why ESG?

I started this firm because I saw how much good could be done by talented people who are passionate about improving our education system and have deep experience doing it at scale. The challenges are substantial, but the solutions are within reach and achievable. ESG provides a space for leaders across the K-12, postsecondary, and workforce sectors to collaborate, advance ambitious agendas and achieve greater impact.

Connect with Matt

Make contact by email, or follow Matt on LinkedIn and Twitter.