Erika Donalds Joins Heritage as Visiting Fellow on Education Freedom

Erika Donalds Joins Heritage as Visiting Fellow on Education Freedom

Nov 14, 2023 1 min read

WASHINGTON—The Heritage Foundation today welcomed education choice advocate Erika Donalds to the Center for Education Policy as a visiting fellow. In her new role at Heritage, Donalds will focus on the economics of education choice.

Lindsey Burke, director of Heritage’s Center for Education Policy, praised Donalds’ extensive work to put education freedom into practice:

“Erika has seen firsthand how families thrive when they are given options beyond those assigned to them based on where they live and has played a major role herself in providing more options to families through her own education entrepreneurship. We are thrilled to leverage Erika’s leadership and expertise in this growing sector of education freedom, particularly her work and interest in classical education and the economics of education choice.”

An education entrepreneur who founded OptimaEd and the Optima Foundation, Donalds is a finance professional who is passionate about expanding education freedom and improving accountability and governance in public schools.

On joining Heritage, Donalds said:

“The impact of Heritage’s work on education freedom in our country cannot be overstated. My experiences as a mom, finance executive, school board member, and now education entrepreneur, afford me a unique perspective on the practical implications of education policy. I am honored to join this powerhouse team to continue their excellent work of advancing parental rights and education choice.”

Currently, Donalds serves on the advisory boards for Classical Learning Test, Moms for Liberty, and the Independent Women’s Forum’s Education Freedom Center. Her work to establish a network of classical charter schools delivered the rigor of a classical education to students alongside a focus on forming strong moral character. In addition, she pioneered an immersive learning model through the delivery of classical education with the use of virtual reality technology.

She is a former elected member of the Collier County School Board in Florida who also served on Florida’s 2017–2018 Constitution Revision Commission, the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Education and Workforce Development, and the Florida Gulf Coast University’s Board of Trustees.

Donalds holds a bachelor's degree from Florida State University and a master’s degree in accounting from Florida Atlantic University.

As the nation’s largest, most broadly supported conservative research and educational institution, The Heritage Foundation has been leading the American conservative movement since our founding in 1973. More than 500,000 dues-paying members support our vision to build an America where freedom, prosperity, opportunity, and civil society flourish.

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