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Sara Mead

By Elizabeth Cryan Photography with permission from Donnell-Kay Foundation at Rocky Mountain Prep school

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Sara Mead
Policy and Thought Leadership

Background: As a partner with Bellwether Education Partners, Sara Mead directs the organization’s early childhood work and leads teams analyzing policies and advising clients on a variety of early childhood, elementary, and secondary education issues. Her areas of expertise include preschool, Head Start, charter schools, and teacher quality across the P-12 continuum. Since joining Bellwether in 2010, Sara has provided strategic advising support to foundations, advocacy organizations, and early childhood operators. Her work has been featured in media outlets including The Washington Post, The New York Times, Slate, and USA Today, and she is a regular contributor to U.S. News & World Report’s Knowledge Bank vertical. Before joining Bellwether, Sara directed the New America Foundation’s Early Education Initiative. She has also worked for Education Sector, the Progressive Policy Institute, and the U.S. Department of Education. From 2010-2017, Sara served on the District of Columbia Public Charter School Board, which authorizes charter schools in Washington, D.C. Sara currently serves on the board of the National Association for Charter School Authorizers (NACSA). She holds a bachelor’s degree in public policy from Vanderbilt University.

Experience at Bellwether: policy research and analysis, long- and short- form writing, strategic advising, foundation advising

Client segments served: foundations, early childhood providers, advocacy organizations, intermediary organizations, charter school authorizers

Sample clients: Stranahan Foundation, New Orleans Early Education Network, Sesame Workshop, National Association of Charter School Authorizers, Teach For America, Walton Family Foundation

Why I do this work: As the daughter, granddaughter, and sister of public school educators, I grew up with a deep appreciation for the importance of public education and the opportunities it has provided to me and my loved ones. Through my work at Bellwether I seek to extend these same opportunities to our nation’s neediest youngsters — particularly in the early years that are such a crucial time in children's cognitive, emotional, social, and physical development. 

Recent Media

Emily Workman
Lisa Guernsey
Sara Mead

Early childhood experts and advocates have long called for increasing the education and training of U.S. early childhood workers, and over the past two decades, policymakers have gradually increased credentialing requirements for teachers in Head Start and state-funded pre-K programs. The 2015 report from the National Academies Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation essentially endorsed that trend, recommending that states and other organizations build a system that requires and enables all lead educators in early childhood settings to hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree with specialized knowledge and competencies in early childhood education. In 2017 New America and Bellwether Education Partners brought together experts to discuss the group of educators who are poised to achieve this: lead pre-K educators who are teaching three- and four-year-olds in publicly funded classrooms within early learning centers and elementary schools.