Press Releases

Learning Forward Executive Director Stephanie Hirsh to Retire

Aug 10, 2018

LearningForward logoFor Learning Forward:
Tracy Crow

Learning Forward Executive Director Stephanie Hirsh to Retire


Dallas, TX – August 10, 2018


Learning Forward announced today that Executive Director Stephanie Hirsh will retire on June 30, 2019. Hirsh has served as executive director since 2007.


Learning Forward is a nonprofit, international membership association of educators committed to its vision of excellent teaching and learning every day in K-12 education. Stephanie Hirsh has been a driving force as Learning Forward pursues its mission to build the capacity of leaders to establish and sustain highly effective professional learning.


“Under Stephanie Hirsh’s leadership, Learning Forward has expanded its influence among education stakeholders, from practitioners to thought leaders to policymakers,” said Alan Ingram, Learning Forward president. “Because of the strategic direction that Stephanie and her leadership team have established, we are better equipped than ever before to continue to serve educators,” said Ingram.


Hirsh joined the then-National Staff Development Council (NSDC) in 1988. Hirsh has contributed to every aspect of the organization during her tenure, including facilitating the first class of the Learning Forward Academy, coordinating the annual conference, and authoring several books. She helped the organization to secure millions of dollars of philanthropic support from several foundations to support practitioners and advance the field of effective professional learning. Hirsh began her career in education as a social studies teacher and then became an administrator in the Richardson (Texas) Independent School District. In 1996 she was elected to the Richardson school board and served for three terms.


Through the course of Hirsh’s leadership as executive director, Learning Forward’s significant milestones include:


  • The most recent revision of the Standards for Professional Learning, now adopted or adapted in more than 35 states. The standards describe the characteristics of and conditions for professional learning that leads to improved educator practices and better student outcomes. The standards were developed in conjunction with more than 40 partner associations and organizations; schools and school systems use the standards to plan, implement, and evaluate educator learning.
  • The development of a rigorous definition of professional learning included in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The definition outlines professional learning that is sustained, intensive, collaborative, job embedded, data driven, and classroom focused. Learning Forward’s advocacy achievements also elevated educator voices in demanding and securing full funding for Title II-A of ESSA, the primary federal source of funding for professional learning in the U.S.
  • The establishment of several educator networks and communities of practice that address longstanding adult and student learning challenges. Learning Forward’s networks coordinate solving problems of practice among educators serving at the state, school district, and school level, with Learning Forward facilitating a continuous improvement process informed by research and practice.
  • The evolution of the organization’s focus to ensure Learning Forward is positioned to serve all students and all educators, including a recent shift to promote the intersection of hiqh-quality instructional materials and professional learning. The alignment of Learning Forward’s work to research and best practice ensures the organization can facilitate equity of access to effective teaching and learning to even the most vulnerable student populations.


Over the last decade, Learning Forward has experienced significant growth in its consulting services division offering direct support to school systems and states. At its core, Learning Forward remains a membership association with a range of benefits from publications to learning programs and conferences and relies on its members to serve as champions for learning in their spheres of influence.


“As a lifelong learner, my greatest lessons have come from our members. I talk to educators daily who help me understand the urgency of Learning Forward’s mission and who inspire me to seek the most effective pathways for supporting the work they do with students,” said Hirsh.


“When I embraced the role of executive director in 2007, I thought it would take about 10 years to accomplish the things I wanted to and I’m proud of our achievements. It’s time for someone else to have the opportunity to lead this amazing organization,” continued Hirsh. “My passion to advance the causes most important to me hasn’t diminished. I’m excited to find balance among family, community, and education. I will continue to be a champion for individuals and initiatives that advance professional learning in meaningful ways.”


Hirsh has been married to her husband Mike for more than 40 years. They have a son, Brian, and a daughter, Leslie, who is an assistant principal in the Dallas area. “I’m really looking forward to spending more time with my family, including my beautiful granddaughter and one more we will welcome in September,” said Hirsh.


Learning Forward has retained the services of McIntyre Executive Search to lead the nationwide search for a new executive director. Contact Coral Owdom at McIntyre Executive Search with inquiries or comments ( or 614-318-8000).



About Learning Forward

Learning Forward is a nonprofit, international membership association of learning educators committed to one vision in K–12 education: Excellent teaching and learning every day. To realize that vision Learning Forward pursues its mission to build the capacity of leaders to establish and sustain highly effective professional learning. Information about membership, services, and products is available from