Urban institute gets leader

Staff Writer

Cornelia Grumman was named the new director of policy and strategic communications at the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute (UEI). Grumman is a national leader in education policy advocacy and communication and will begin on Nov. 20.

Grumman’s appointment is part of UEI’s plan to improve schooling nationwide. The program, which recently received a $10 million gift from Chicago philanthropists Paula and James Crown, wants its research, training, urban school models and other tools to reach more states and cities across the country. Grumman will engage with policy makers and education leaders nationwide to advance UEI’s mission.

“We want to make the transformative findings from the University of Chicago more visible and helpful for policymakers and practitioners across the country,” said Timothy Knowles, director of the UEI. “Cornelia will help governors, mayors and education leaders nationwide make even better decisions about what works and put it into practice.”

Grumman said she’s eager to be part of UEI’s continued development, and to make sure the program’s ideas are exported broadly across the country.

“Researchers, policymakers, and educators all work under one roof at UEI and the exciting result is that the place is starting to operate as a kind of idea factory,” Grumman said. “Governors, mayors, superintendents and lawmakers who care about urban student success could benefit enormously from UEI research and results.”

Grumman was a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist at the Chicago Tribune before becoming founding executive director of the First Five Years Fund, where she led the organization’s work advocating for stronger federal policies and creating greater public support for quality early childhood education for the nation’s most at-risk children. Those efforts helped result in a nearly $1 billion increase in federal investment in quality early childhood support for at-risk children, including the creation of the national Early Learning Challenge Fund grant competition.

At the Tribune, Grumman served on the editorial board and won the Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for a series of editorials that helped spur reform in Illinois’ criminal justice system. She also earned the Community Media Workshop’s Studs Terkel Award and other journalism honors for her coverage of disadvantaged communities and issues affecting children and families.