M. René Islas
Chief External Relations Officer
M. René Islas oversees Leading Educators’ partnership, development, thought leadership, and communications efforts as Chief External Relations Officer. Under his leadership, the organization aims to expand supports to school districts for ensuring excellent teaching regardless of classroom or zip code.
Previously, he served as the Executive Director of the National Association for Gifted Children where he led efforts to increase public awareness, change policies, and improve educator practice in support of advanced learners. Prior to joining NAGC, René served as Sr. Vice President of Learning Forward, an international non-profit education association focused on effective professional learning. He launched the Center for Results under a “social enterprise” business model to support leaders in education in developing systems to improve teacher effectiveness and implement quality practice in educator professional learning. Revenue from the Center’s work contributed to more than 25 percent of the association’s annual operating budget.
René has more than a decade of experience leading education reform through practical and policy work at the federal, state, and local levels. He developed the Pathway to Achievement, a highly successful school improvement framework that is currently being implemented in elementary and secondary schools across the United States. As Senior Vice President of B&D Consulting, an international law and consulting firm, René launched the K-12 Education Practice. He was recognized at the firm for innovation in client service after developing a new profitable business line of direct consulting to school systems.
René is a recognized expert in education public policy, working in the public and private sectors. His government experience includes service as a Special Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Education and Chief of Staff to the Assistant Secretary of Education where managed the overall operations, policy development, and administration of programs within the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. René played a pivotal role in the creation of the Teacher Incentive Fund and the School Improvement Grant programs that became priorities across the Bush and Obama administrations.
He holds a M.B.A. from Western Governors University, a certificate of achievement from Villanova University, and a B.A. in political science and sociology from Whittier College.