Video :: Haslam Names Kevin Huffman Education Commissioner

Thursday, March 03, 2011 | 09:00am

Huffman Spent 11 Years with Teach For America

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam today announced Kevin Huffman, Teach For America’s Executive Vice President of Public Affairs, as Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Education.

Gov. Haslam conducted a nationwide search and consulted many in the education field to find the right candidate to take advantage of state opportunities to transform Tennessee’s education system.

“I put a special effort into finding the right fit for Education Commissioner, and I’m very excited to announce today that Kevin Huffman will become Tennessee’s Commissioner of Education,” Haslam said. “Kevin combines the experience of having been a bilingual first and second-grade teacher to helping oversee a national organization with 1,400 full-time employees and a budget of $212 million.

“With the First to the Top legislation and the Race to the Top awards, we as a state have an opportunity to hold ourselves to a higher standard, and Kevin is the person to make that a reality,” Haslam added.

Founded in 1990, Teach For America recruits top recent college graduates and young professionals to work in high-need classrooms across America and become advocates for education reform. In 2010-11, Teach For America placed more than 8,200 teachers in over 250 districts in 31 states and the District of Columbia.  Nationwide, there are over 20,000 Teach For America alumni working as leaders in education and other fields. 

“Kevin’s leadership has been critical to Teach For America’s growth and impact,” said Wendy Kopp, founder and CEO of Teach For America. “From his time in the corps to today, his contributions have been invaluable, and we look forward to all that he will be able to accomplish for the children of Tennessee.”

In Tennessee, there are over 250 Teach For America corps members reaching 18,000 students in high-need public schools.

Before becoming Executive VP for Public Affairs at Teach for America, Huffman was a Senior VP for Growth Strategy and Development for the organization, growing its operating revenue base from $11 million in 2000 to $114 million in 2008. He is also the first Teach For America alumnus to be named a chief state school officer.

“I’m incredibly inspired about the opportunity in Tennessee right now. We have the best data system in the country and an alignment around a plan with Race to the Top – an alignment that is bipartisan spanning a Democratic and Republican administration,” Huffman said. “My professional focus has always been on expanding opportunities for kids, and I can’t think of a better way to do that than in this role.

He also has experience in educational law having practiced at Hogan & Hartson in Washington, DC. In 2009 he won the Washington Post’s “America’s Next Great Pundit” competition for op-ed writing.

Huffman, 40, has two daughters, and his wife, Amy, and he are currently expecting.