• • Rural Opportunities Consortium of Idaho •

About ROCI

ROCI (Rural Opportunities Consortium of Idaho) brings together some of the nation’s best thinkers to conduct research on the challenges of rural education, such as hiring leaders and teachers, migration, economic development, and post-secondary success. Our goal is to inform the national body of work on rural education and explore its implications for increasing educational attainment and economic competitiveness of Idahoans and other Americans who live and work in rural communities. ROCI is an initiative of the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation, a private family foundation based in Boise, Idaho.

ROCI Advisory Group



Paul Hill is a research professor at the University of Washington Bothell and former director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education, which studies alternative governance and finance systems for public K-12 education. His most recent books areLearning as We Go: Why School Choice is Worth the Wait (Hoover Institution Press, 2010) and Strife and Progress: Portfolio Strategies for Managing Urban Schools (Brookings, 2012). His book, Fixing Urban Schools (Brookings, 1998) is a primer for city leaders and foundations on strategies for transforming failing public school systems. Dr. Hill is also the author, with Lawrence Pierce and James Guthrie, of Reinventing Public Education: How Contracting Can Transform America’s Schools (University of Chicago Press, 1997). He was the 2007 recipient of the Thomas B. Fordham Prize for Distinguished Scholarship. Dr. Hill is the chair of the ROCI task force.


Jamie MacMillan is president of the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation and a leader in local and statewide philanthropy in Idaho. She served as the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation’s community grants coordinator and as a member and Treasurer of the Foundation’s board of directors for over 10 years before being named executive director in December 2008.  She has been active in the non-profit community as a past member of the Boise Art Museum (BAM), as a board member for the Special Olympics World Winter Games, and currently serves on the Bogus Basin Recreation Board and the Bishop Kelly Foundation Board. Jamie was named president of the Albertson family foundation in 2014. Jamie is a Boise native, wife, and mother of four. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the College of Idaho and brings her personal, professional, and educational experience, her entrepreneurial spirit, and a passion for improving education in Idaho to her leadership role at the Foundation.


Andy Smarick is a Partner in Bellwether’s Policy and Thought Leadership practice, joining the organization in 2012. Andy is the author of The Urban School System of the Future, which argues for replacing traditional urban school districts with a true “system of schools.” He served as New Jersey’s Deputy Commissioner of Education where he helped lead initiatives including the state’s successful ESEA waiver and Race to the Top 3 applications, the launching of a new teacher evaluation system, and an overhaul of the department’s charter school authorizing. Andy served as Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education and at The White House Domestic Policy Council and has worked for Congress and the Maryland state legislature. He earned a bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude and with honors, and a master’s degree in public management from the University of Maryland. Andy lives in Maryland with his wife and three kids.

ROCI Task Force Members


Bryan C. Hassel is co-director of Public Impact. He is a recognized expert on education technology, charter schools, education entrepreneurship, and teacher and leader policy. Dr. Hassel received his Ph.D. in public policy from Harvard University and his master’s degree in politics from Oxford University, which he attended as a Rhodes Scholar. He earned his B.A. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which he attended as a Morehead Scholar. He is a senior research affiliate with the Center on Reinventing Public Education, and a nonresident senior fellow with Education Sector. Dr. Hassel is author of several studies on uses of education technology including “A Better Blend: A Vision for Boosting Student Outcomes with Digital Learning” and “Teachers in the Age of Digital Instruction.”

Edward Kissam is an applied researcher who has worked on policy, program planning and evaluation issues in adult education, community radio and immigrant settlement in the rural United States for more than 30 years. He is the author of Working Poor: Farmworkers in the United States (Temple University Press, 1995). From 2003-2007 he led a USAID-funded longitudinal survey of community-based accelerated learning for primary school students in 10 rural provinces in Afghanistan and provided technical assistance to the Ministry of Education. Mr. Kissam currently serves as a trustee of the Werner-Kohnstamm Family Fund which supports initiatives contributing to the well-being of immigrants in California and nationally.

Paul A. Lewin is an assistant professor in the department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology at the University of Idaho. He does research in rural economic development and assists extension and communities across Idaho through programming and analysis in community economics. Before joining the University of Idaho, Dr. Lewin worked in community and economic development across Latin America and subsequently as an economist in both government and private sector positions in Europe and the United States. His research program includes entrepreneurship, migration, community economic resilience and dynamic changes of community and small regional economies. He is fluent in English and Spanish.

Kay McClenney consults with community colleges, state systems, national and state organizations, and foundations.  She was the founding director and senior associate of the Center for Community College Student Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin and previously served for 10 years as vice president and chief operating officer of the Education Commission of the States. Ms. McClenny has also served as a community college educator, during which time she was a faculty member, program director, system administrator, and interim CEO. She has authored numerous publications on education issues, strategic planning, accountability, student success and leadership.

Daniel Player is assistant professor at the University of Virginia. He was formerly the director of Partners for Leadership in Education and a senior researcher at Mathematica Policy Research. An economist, Dr. Player focuses on the education workforce, particularly the links among policy, funding, performance incentives and the quality of teachers and principals. He has also studied the economics of rural areas and farmers’ adoption of new methods.

Brad Mitchell is a senior director at Battelle for Kids, where he focuses on building and leveraging philanthropy to fund innovative education reform, especially around rural collaboratives that can serve as learning laboratories and pilot improvement initiatives. Previously, he led the Ohio Appalachian Collaborative, a partnership between Battelle for Kids and 21 school districts in southeast Ohio dedicated to developing a comprehensive approach for transformational change in rural education.  Prior to joining Battelle for Kids, Dr. Mitchell served as the Ohio State University/Battelle Director of STEM Partnerships, where he was charged with identifying, launching, and supporting public and private partnerships that advanced STEM education. From 1984 to 2004, Brad was a professor in the School of Educational Policy and Leadership in the College of Education at The Ohio State University.

Andrew J. Rotherham is a co-founder and partner at Bellwether Education, a national nonprofit organization working to support educational innovation and improve educational outcomes for low-income students. Rotherham leads Bellwether’s thought leadership and policy analysis work. He is also the executive editor of RealClearEducation, part of the RealClearPolitics family of news and analysis websites, writes the blog Eduwonk.com, and is the co-publisher of “Education Insider” a federal policy analysis tool produced by Whiteboard Advisors. Rotherham previously served at The White House as Special Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy during the Clinton administration and is a former member of the Virginia Board of Education. Rotherham is the author or co-author of more than 250 published articles, book chapters, papers, and op-eds about education policy and politics and is the author or editor of four books on educational policy.

Marguerite Roza is the director of the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University and senior research affiliate at the Center on Reinventing Public Education. Dr. Roza’s research traces the effects of fiscal policies at the federal, state and district levels for their implications on resources at school and classroom levels. Her calculations of dollar implications and cost equivalent trade-offs have prompted changes in education finance policy at all levels in the education system. She has led projects including the Finance and Productivity Initiative at CRPE and the Schools in Crisis Rapid Response Paper Series. More recently she served as senior economic advisor to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Her work has been published by Education Sector, the Brookings Institution, Public Budgeting and Finance, Education Next and the Peabody Journal of Education. Dr. Roza is author of the highly regarded education finance book, Educational Economics: Where Do School Funds Go? (Urban Institute Press, 2010).

Terry Ryan is the president of the Idaho Charter School Network. Previously, he served as the vice president for Ohio Programs and Policy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Mr. Ryan began his career in education as a teacher in Poland and worked with the Polish Ministry of Education and the Foundation for Education for Democracy in the mid-1990s. He was awarded the Paterson International Fellowship from the University of Denver in 1994 and was a research director for the UK-based 21st Century Learning Initiative. Ryan was a 2008 New Schools Venture Fund/Aspen Institute Fellow and is a research fellow with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Ryan holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Eastern Illinois University and a master’s degree in political economy from the University of Denver’s Graduate School of International Studies.