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Jennifer O’Neal Schiess

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Jennifer O’Neal Schiess
Senior Partner & Policy and Evaluation Practice Leader
Policy and Evaluation

Background: Jennifer O’Neal Schiess is a senior partner & Policy and Evaluation practice leader at Bellwether. Since 2014, she has worked with a range of clients, including national and state advocacy organizations, nonprofits, policy think tanks, and foundations. She advises clients on state and national education policy, covering a range of topics. Jennifer has led work on personalized learning, school finance, school transportation, rural education, and governance.

Prior to joining Bellwether, Jenn served in a nonpartisan role as a senior adviser to the Texas Legislature on the state’s public education budget and school finance. In that role, she engaged deeply on the fiscal and policy implications of all education-related legislation moving through the legislative process. During her 10-year tenure, she provided advising and analysis on major legislation related to school finance; standards, assessment, and accountability; charter schools; educator compensation, pension, and benefits; and other topics. 

Before her time in Texas, she worked in university and governmental relations for Vanderbilt University, and taught English in the Metro Nashville Public Schools for several years. Jenn holds a master’s in public policy from Duke University and a master’s in education from Vanderbilt University. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her family, including two public school students.

Why I do this work: I was the beneficiary of a high-quality public education that supported me well in meeting my goals for life beyond high school. That is not true for every student or every community. While I don’t believe that a world-class public education system for every student is the silver bullet solution to our national challenges, I also don’t believe we solve those challenges without it. My motivation in this work centers on my commitment to striving for equity in educational opportunity, resources, and outcomes.

Experience at Bellwether: Strategic Planning; Analysis; New Organization Design and Launch; Business Plan Development; Performance Metrics; Policy Research and Analysis; Writing; Research; Project Management; District Schools; Foundations; Think Tanks; Advocacy Organizations

Client segments served: Early Childhood; K-12 Schools; Postsecondary/Higher Education; School Districts; State Education Agencies; Government; Foundations and Grantees; Nonprofit Organizations; Policy Organizations; Advocacy Groups

Sample clients: Texas Education Agency, Arkansas Department of Education, Tennessee SCORE, GeorgiaCAN, Ready Colorado, Greater LA Education Foundation, Heising-Simons Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Tennessee Education Recovery and Innovation Commission

Recent Media

Indira Dammu
Alex Spurrier
Bonnie O’Keefe
Jennifer O’Neal Schiess

Banner image for Splitting the Bill education finance inequity series

Education finance sets the foundation for what is possible in every school in the country. Education finance equity is critical to leveling the playing field for underserved students in under-resourced schools. But in too many states, the education funding system remains inequitable, inadequate, and opaque to all but a few. How can advocates make these systems work more effectively in order to provide the necessary resources for all students?

Bellwether Education Partners’ series Splitting the Bill: Understanding Education Finance Equity gives advocates a crash course in the fundamentals of education finance and in key questions to ask in their states and communities.