The Century Foundation (TCF) today announced that Stefan Lallinger, an education policy expert and school integration and equity leader, will become the new executive director of Next100, TCF’s novel spinoff think tank that is redefining how policy development is done by putting those closest to and most impacted by policy in the driver’s seat of change. Lallinger, currently a senior fellow at TCF and director of the Bridges Collaborative, takes over from Emma Vadehra, who served as Next100’s inaugural executive director.
Lallinger brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the role. For the past two years, he has led TCF’s Bridges Collaborative, a first-of-its-kind nationwide initiative that brings together 50+ school districts, charter schools, and housing organizations serving three million students around the mission of advancing diverse and integrated schools and neighborhoods. (Stefan will continue to direct Bridges’ strategic initiatives and help lead the Collaborative going forward.) Prior to TCF, Lallinger served as Special Assistant to the Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, following nine years as a principal, assistant principal, and teacher at a pre-K through 8th grade public school in post-Katrina New Orleans. The grandson of civil rights icon and lawyer Louis Redding, he holds a doctorate in education leadership from Harvard University.
“At a time when ordinary Americans are losing faith in the machinery of democracy and don’t believe that the policies their elected officials enact truly represent their interests, Next100 is proving that a different type of policy development, one that centers impacted communities and values lived experience, is not only possible, but desperately needed,” said Next100’s incoming executive director Stefan Lallinger. “Thanks to its entrepreneurial and innovative approach to making change, and the continued investment and support provided by TCF, Next100 is disrupting the policy space. I can’t wait to join the team and help elevate the incredible work of Next100’s Policy Entrepreneurs.”
Launched in 2019 by The Century Foundation, Next100 was designed to be intentionally different from traditional think tanks—a research and policy organization made up of those closest to our country’s most pressing policy challenges, who work alongside impacted communities to develop new solutions to meet those challenges. The group works to change who makes policy as well as how policy gets made, believing that equitable, inclusive, and effective public policy requires bringing in individuals who traditionally have been excluded from driving policy change.
Both a think tank and a leadership development program, Next100 identifies, develops, and supports two-year cohorts of full-time, salaried Policy Entrepreneurs (PEs) who bring diversity, proximity to impacted communities, and lived experience to the issues on which they work. The current class of eight PEs are driving change through research, policy development, and advocacy work in the areas of education, climate change, criminal justice, immigration, economic opportunity, national service, and housing and design.
“There is no one better to lead the work of Next100 into its next phase than Stefan,” said Mark Zuckerman, TCF president and former deputy director of the Domestic Policy Council in the Obama administration. “He is an exceptional leader who believes deeply in the importance of policy work rooted in diverse expertise and lived experience. Next100 has become an indispensable part of who we are at TCF, and under Stefan’s leadership, there’s no limit to what this group can accomplish.”
Since its founding, Next100 has shown that a new type of think tank is capable of significant impact and is sorely needed in the policy sector. In just years, Next100 has served as a proof point for a new approach to policy work and talent development, bringing in new individuals and accelerating their ability to make impact through research, policy development, and advocacy. Next100’s work is rooted in and informed by impacted communities, and goes beyond typical think tank “white papers”—from public art murals across Brooklyn to raise awareness of the collateral consequences of having a criminal record, to immigrant-designed policies to address the needs of undocumented families.
Next100 works to both model and share what it has learned in order to spur others within the policy sector—including think tanks, advocacy organizations, and those at all levels of government—to make their own practices more equitable and inclusive. To that end, the organization recently published two comprehensive resources to help policy groups and professionals (1) reconsider outdated hiring practices and build more diverse and inclusive organizations and (2) better engage with directly impacted communities while doing research and policy development.
“By investing in Next100, The Century Foundation demonstrated that a different type of policy work, led by next generation leaders and impacted individuals, is capable of significant impact,” said Emma Vadehra, outgoing executive director of Next100 and former chief of staff for the U.S. Department of Education. “The investment and support provided by TCF has allowed Next100 to flourish into a remarkable organization, and I can’t think of a better person to lead the team into its next phase than Stefan.”
A recent survey from Next100 and GenForward found that young adults in the United States lack trust in and feel disconnected from a government that they view as not diverse, representative, or knowledgeable about their communities, with feelings of disaffection especially high among Black and Latinx young adults. The survey also found that young adults were overwhelmingly more likely to trust government leaders if they came from their communities, an indication that developing a more diverse and inclusive policy sector that works in close collaboration with impacted communities could also strengthen trust in government.
To learn more about Next100’s work, visit https://thenext100.org and follow the organization on Twitter at @TheNext100.