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StudentsFirst Board of Directors

Connie Chung Connie Chung

Connie Chung started her television journalism career in 1969 at a local station in her hometown, Washington, D.C. She worked for all the major networks, starting in 1971 with CBS News, covering politics and world news for the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. In 1993, she became the first woman to co-anchor the network's national flagship news broadcast, the CBS Evening News. She has covered conventions and elections since 1972, anchored several prime-time network magazine programs and conducted a series of exclusive interviews: PRC leader Li Peng on the five-year anniversary of Tiananmen Square; the first and only interview with Joseph Hazelwood, captain of the Exxon Valdez; the first interview with Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson after he announced he was HIV positive; and Congressman Gary Condit (D-CA) concerning the disappearance of his intern Chandra Levy. Watch Connie's video.

You know we can get something done here and we can put America back on top, when it comes to education. Do this, do this for your children, do this for our children and do this for America.

Bill Cosby Bill Cosby

One of America’s most beloved comedians of all time, Bill Cosby has captivated generations of fans with his comedy routines, iconic albums and best selling books such as Fatherhood. His comedy transcends age, gender and cultural barriers. Cosby broke television’s racial barrier with I Spy, becoming the first African American to costar on a television series while winning three consecutive Emmys. He created and produced the Emmy-winning cartoon Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, which began airing in the 1970s and was made into a film in 2004. The former Navy serviceman’s illustrious list of accomplishments includes creating and producing the Emmy award winning Little Bill, which is based on his bestselling book series. Perhaps Cosby’s greatest contribution to American entertainment and culture is The Cosby Show, about a close-knit, upper class black family. The Cosby Show dominated the number one spot for years, earning nearly unanimous critical praise.

Cosby has received the Kennedy Center Honors, the Presidential Medal of Freedom (America’s highest civilian honor), the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor and the Marian Anderson Award. Watch Bill's video.

The Reverend Dr. Floyd H. Flake

The Reverend Dr. Floyd H. Flake is the pastor of the Greater Allen A. M. E. Cathedral in Jamaica, New York with more than twenty thousand members.  Dr. Flake was elected to the United States Congress in 1986, and retired in 1997. While continuing his responsibilities as pastor of Allen, he served as a member of the Banking Finance, and the Small Business Committees.  He also chaired the Oversight, Investigation and Resolution of Failed Financial Institutions Committee. Until June 30, 2008 he served as president of Wilberforce University in Xenia, Ohio. 

Joel I. Klein Joel I. Klein

January 2011, Joel I. Klein became CEO of the Education Division and Executive Vice President, Office of the Chairman, at News Corporation, where he also serves on the Board of Directors.

Prior to that, Mr. Klein was Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education where he oversaw a system of over 1,600 schools with 1.1 million students, 136,000 employees and a $22 billion budget. He launched Children First in 2002, a comprehensive reform strategy that has brought coherence and capacity to the system and resulted in significant increases in student performance. He served as Deputy White House Counsel to President Clinton from 1993-1995, after 20 years of public and private legal work in Washington, D.C. Watch Joel's video.

Roland S. Martin Roland S. Martin

Roland S. Martin is a nationally syndicated, award-winning journalist and columnist. Currently, Martin is a political analyst for CNN, the host of “Washington Watch with Roland Martin” on TV One Cable Network and senior analyst for the Tom Joyner Morning Show. Martin is the author of “Listening to the Spirit Within: 50 Perspectives on Faith,” “Speak, Brother! A Black Man’s View of America,” and “The First: President Barack Obama’s Road to the White House as originally reported by Roland S. Martin.”

Named by Ebony Magazine as one of the 150 Most Influential African Americans in the United States for three consecutive years, Martin has won an NAACP Image Award, Peabody Award for outstanding 2008 election coverage, and the President’s Award by the National Association of Black Journalists in 2008 for his work in multiple media platforms. Watch Roland's video.

And the only way we are going to be able to have the right jobs in the future and have the right folks in those jobs, is if we educate them today. We can’t wait for somebody else to do it. We can’t push this can down the road. We all have to step up and do our part. And that’s why today everyone must put students first.

Michelle Rhee Michelle Rhee

Michelle began her career as a Teach for America corps member in Baltimore. Through her own trial and error in the classroom, she gained a tremendous respect for the hard work that teachers do every day. In 1997, Michelle founded and led The New Teacher Project, which recruits and trains teachers to work in urban schools. More recently, from 2007 to 2010, Michelle served as chancellor of District of Columbia Public Schools. Under her stewardship, D.C. schools experienced increases in student achievement, a rise in graduation rates and an upswing — for the first time in decades — in enrollment. Watch Michelle's video.

Jalen Rose Jalen Rose

Jalen Rose is an ESPN/ABC analyst/announcer and former 13-year NBA star. A native of Detroit, MI and graduate of the University of Michigan, he was part of the legendary "Fab Five" at the University of Michigan, the only team in Final Four history to ever start five freshmen. They led the Wolverines to back to back NCAA Championship game appearances. In 1994, Jalen was drafted in the first round by the Denver Nuggets. During his career as an athlete, Jalen received the "Most Improved Player" and "Player of the Week" awards in 2000 and "Eastern Conference Player of the Week" accolades in 2005. As a member of the Indiana Pacers, his team appeared in three straight eastern conference finals including a trip to the NBA Finals in 2000. Watch Jalen's video.

Shortly after retiring from basketball, Jalen signed with ESPN/ABC as an analyst and has since appeared on the network's flagship shows SportsCenter, Mike and Mike in the Morning, First Take, SportsNation and Outside the Lines, as well as the basketball related shows Coast to Coast, NBA Countdown and NBA Tonight. This marks Jalen's sixth season as an ESPN analyst. In 2000, Jalen established the Jalen Rose Foundation/Charitable Fund to support underserved youth through the development of unique programs and the distribution of grants, delivering over $1.2 million in charitable donations since the foundation's inception. He is the recipient of the Spirit of Detroit Award in recognition of his exceptional achievement and leadership.

Jalen's most substantial outreach initiative to date is the establishment of the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy (JRLA). The Academy opened its doors in September 2011 and is an open enrollment public charter high school on the Northwest side of Detroit, focused on leadership and project-based experiences within the career context of sports & entertainment. This high school will ensure students receive extensive college exposure and course opportunities through a partnership with the University of Detroit Mercy.

Joseph W. Saunders Joseph W. Saunders

Joseph W. Saunders is the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Visa, Inc. Elected to the role in May 2007, Mr. Saunders led the company during its transformation from a private association of banks into a public company that, in 2008, completed what was then the largest initial public offering in U.S. history. He built on Visa’s history of innovation by diversifying its business and expanding its product offerings. Mr. Saunders retired from Visa in March 2013. Prior to this role, Mr. Saunders was President and Chief Executive Officer of Providian Financial Corporation and as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Fleet Credit Card Services at FleetBoston Financial Corporation.

A Chicago native, Mr. Saunders holds both a B.S. in business administration and an MBA from the University of Denver, and remains active in alumni activities. He also works to expand educational opportunity and standards, both domestically and globally, and serves as Chairman of the Board for Teach For All.

Blair Taylor

Blair Hamilton Taylor is Chief Community Officer for Starbucks Coffee Company. He has a long commitment of working to improve education in America. Taylor is a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policies for The Nation’s Report Card, a series of federal assessments that measure the progress of U.S. students in various subjects. Taylor is also on the board of Board of Trustees for Amherst College Previously, Mr. Taylor was the President and CEO of the Los Angeles Urban League, a position he held from 2005-12. The League is an affiliate of one of the nation's leading civil rights organizations with offices in more than 100 cities. With a staff of over 300 and a budget in excess of $25 million, the 88-year-old Los Angeles Urban League is one of America's largest civil rights entities. Read more about Blair.