GERARD ROBINSON is the Executive Director of the Center for Advancing Opportunity (CAO), a Washington, D.C.-based research and education initiative created by a partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the Charles Koch Foundation, and Koch Industries. The mission of CAO is to develop evidence-based solutions to the most pressing education, entrepreneurship, and criminal justice issues in fragile communities throughout the United States by working with faculty and students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other postsecondary institutions. To advance ideas in the public marketplace, Robinson co-edited Education for Liberation: The Politics of Promise and Reform Inside and Beyond America’s Prisons (2019) and co-authored a book chapter about U.S. education reform for Oxford University Press (forthcoming). He published or is quoted in Newsweek, The New York Times, The Hill, Gallup News, RealClear Policy, and the HBCU Times Magazine.
Prior to CAO, Robinson worked as a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based public policy think tank committed to expanding liberty, increasing individual opportunity and strengthening free enterprise. His scholarship areas included parental choice, prison education, K-12 policy, and the role of community colleges and HBCUs in adult advancement. Robinson co-edited Education Savings Accounts: The New Frontier in School Choice (2017), and was published or quoted in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, The 74, and CNN Opinion. He remains a fellow at AEI.
Robinson also served as Commissioner of Education for the State of Florida from 2011 to 2012 where he managed several divisions with 3,000 employees. In addition to supporting the education initiatives of Governor Rick Scott, Robinson assisted in the development of a $16 billion education budget, and instituted for the first time in a decade new achievement level scores for grades 3-10 in reading and grades 3-8 in mathematics. He also chaired a task force to improve opportunities for English learners and students with special needs, adopted new competency and skill standards for STEM teacher certification, developed new pre- and post-assessment measures for the voluntary pre-kindergarten program, and approved several new degree programs for Florida’s colleges. Robinson also managed several federal programs, and partnered with the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Council of 100 to strengthen career and college readiness.
Prior to Florida, Robinson served as Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Virginia. In addition to supporting the education initiatives of Governor Bob McDonnell, he provided guidance to 16 public universities, the community college system, five higher education and research centers, the department of education, and state-supported museums. Robinson managed the governor’s Opportunity to Learn agenda in 2010, which produced new laws for traditional public schools, virtual education, charter schools, and college laboratory schools. He directed the Top Jobs for the 21st Century agenda in 2011, which produced the Virginia Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2011 that invested an additional $100 million into postsecondary education to support the conferral of 100,000 additional degrees by 2025.
Before working in Virginia, Robinson was President of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization whose mission was to support parental choice policies that empower low-income and working-class black families. A former legislative aide in the California and Virginia legislatures, he served as a Senior Fellow at the Institute for the Transformation of Learning at Marquette University, and a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Education Policy at The City University of New York. He is a Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow and a board member of G.O.A.L. Scholarship and other organizations.
Robinson has testified before federal and state government officials, consulted to private sector leaders, and spoken to university audiences in the United States as well as at Oxford University in England and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. International education tours also include travel to China, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Gambia, Germany, Haiti, Israel, and Senegal. Robinson earned an Ed.M. from Harvard, a B.A. from Howard, and an A.A. from El Camino Community College. He is married and has three daughters.