Advisory Board

Note: The individuals below are representing themselves on Students Matter’s advisory board and not representing the organization for which they work.

Ben Austin

Ben Austin is the former Students Matter Policy ben-austin-2Director and former Executive Director of Parent Revolution, a non-profit organization focused on transforming underperforming public schools by empowering parents to advocate for their children through grassroots community organizing, which Ben both founded and led for seven years. At Parent Revolution, Ben invented, passed into law, implemented, and scaled California’s historic parent trigger law, which enables parents to turn around failing schools through community organizing. Ben’s work was the subject of two feature films, the documentary We the Parents and the fictional account Won’t Back Down.

Prior to founding Parent Revolution, Ben helped run the successful teacher organizing campaign to transform Locke High School from the most violent and lowest-performing high school in Los Angeles into a high-performing neighborhood college prep charter school. He served as a Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles under Mayor Richard Riordan from 2000-2001; and was a senior advisor to Rob Reiner and First 5 California from 2002-2006, where he invented and launched LAUP (Los Angeles Universal Preschool). In 2010, Ben was appointed to the California State Board of Education where he cast the vote to approve new statewide Common Core standards. Ben came to the education space through a career in national Democratic politics, during which he worked on five presidential campaigns and served as the host committee communications director for the 2000 Democratic National Convention. He worked in the Clinton White House in a variety of roles, coordinating western state politics for The President and First Lady in the Political Affairs Office, and traveling with The President and First Lady to over a dozen different countries working in the Scheduling and Advance Office.

Maria Casillas

maria_casillas-150x150Ms. Casillas is the former Chief of School Family and Parent/Community Services for Los Angeles Unified School District. She previously spent twenty years as a teacher, principal and district superintendent for the LAUSD. She has also directed non-profits such as Families In Schools and community-based groups to advocate for parents’ rights as a partner with LAUSD.

In addition, she served on the Los Angeles County Board of Education and taught at Cal State University Los Angeles. Ms. Casillas held the position of president of the Los Angeles Annenberg Metropolitan Project (LAAMP). In this position she led an effort to support school reform in 14 districts, including the LAUSD. She holds her master’s degree in Urban Education from Cal State Los Angeles, and she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish and history from the University of Texas, El Paso.

Dr. John Deasy

dr deasyDr. John E. Deasy served as Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District from 2011 to 2014. Dr. Deasy recently joined The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems as superintendent-in-residence. In this role, the 30-year educator provides executive coaching to Center alumni leading urban public school systems as well as facilitating professional development sessions for The Broad Academy.

As superintendent of the second-largest school district in the nation, Dr. Deasy led improvements that yielded historic student achievement and high school graduation rates. He championed a “youth first” agenda, which has been credited with reversing the district’s school-to-prison pipeline and preparing graduating students for college and the workplace. Under his leadership, school suspensions were reduced from 48,000 per year to fewer than 8,000 and graduation rates improved to the highest in the district’s history.

Prior to his leadership of L.A. Unified, Dr. Deasy served as superintendent of Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District in Southern California, and Coventry Public Schools in Rhode Island. In 2001, the Rhode Island School Superintendents’ Association named John Superintendent of the Year.

Becky Morgan


Becky Morgan is President of the Morgan Family Foundation, which works to help individuals and organizations reach their full potential across a number of program areas, including youth programs, education, the environment and preservation, and stewardship of regions and organizations. She is also founder and passionate supporter of Teen Success Inc., a program helping teen mothers complete their education, break the poverty cycle and lead fulfilling lives.

Morgan previously served for nine years as a California State Senator representing Silicon Valley and is the former President and CEO of Joint Venture: Silicon Valley, a leading regional public/private collaborative. A former teacher, Morgan also served in elected office on the Palo Alto Board of Education, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and the Santa Clara County Transit District. Mrs. Morgan has also been a teacher.

Born in Vermont, Mrs. Morgan has a BS from Cornell University and a MBA from Stanford University.  She is married to Jim Morgan, retired Chairman and CEO of Applied Materials.  They have two grown children and five grandchildren. Her leisure time is spent skiing, playing tennis or in her garden.

Bruce Reed

SM_AdvisoryBoard_BruceReed_1.20.16The son of a former Idaho state senator, Bruce Reed has a long record of public service, including serving as an assistant to President Barack Obama and chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden. In that role, Reed focused his work on economic and domestic issues including deficit reduction, the fiscal cliff, entitlement and tax reform, education and gun safety. He previously served as executive director of the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction commission and lead author of its report, The Moment of Truth. From 2013-2015, he served as the first president of The Broad Foundation.

Earlier in his career, Reed was President Clinton’s chief domestic policy advisor from 1996 to 2001, overseeing numerous issues in the Clinton administration, including the Clinton education agenda. He was deputy campaign manager for policy in the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign and previously was chief speechwriter for then-Sen. Al Gore from 1985 to 1989.

Arthur Rock

arthur_rock-150x150Is one of America’s first venture capitalists. He played a key role in launching Fairchild Semiconductor, Teledyne, Intel, Apple, and many other high-tech companies. He is a visionary who saw very early on the future of the computer industry and, in many ways, was a driving force in the emergence of Silicon Valley as a center of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Following an early career on Wall Street in investment banking, Arthur started his first venture capital partnership with Tommy Davis ten years after graduating from Harvard Business School. Between 1961 and 1968, Davis & Rock invested $3 million and returned $100 million to their investors. He has his bachelor of arts from Syracuse University, and his masters in business administration from Harvard Business School.

Ted Schlein

ted schleinTed Schlein joined Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in 1996 and focuses on early-stage technology companies in the enterprise software and infrastructure markets. Ted was the founding CEO of Fortify, a pioneer in the software security market and now an HP company. Before joining KPCB, Ted served as vice president, Enterprise Solutions at Symantec. One of Symantec’s early employees, he played an instrumental role in the company’s growth and dominance as a global software leader.

Ted is the former chairman of the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), a national alliance advocating the role of venture investing in job creation, technology innovation and economic development. He currently serves on the board of overseers of the Engineering School at the University of Pennsylvania and sits on the Board of Trustees at InQTel. Ted holds a B.A. degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania.