Denise Forte is director of public affairs and senior fellow at The Century Foundation, focused on issues related to K-12 and higher education, including efforts to increase the diversity, quality, and accountability of schools. Based in Washington, D.C., she works closely with TCF’s senior leadership to increase the organization’s presence and policy impact with lawmakers.


Denise Forte was previously the Staff Director for the House Committee on Education and the Workforce (Minority), providing strategic advice and counsel to the Ranking Member, Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), and management direction for 22 staff. She returned to the Committee where she worked for over ten years, rising to the position of Education Policy Director for then-Chairman George Miller (D-CA) and providing direction for the legislative agenda on education, children and youth issues. Denise started her policy career on Capitol Hill in 1994 in the Office of Congressman Scott when she received a congressional fellowship from the Women’s Research and Education Institute.


Prior to her return to the Committee in the 114th Congress, she was the Vice President for Policy Leadership at Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE), a leadership development organization supporting current and former teachers in public leadership. Denise also served in the Obama Administration at the U.S. Department of Education from 2011-2013 where she held the positions of Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary in the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, providing direction and management of the office that oversees policy and budget development for the agency.


Denise has been recognized by national advocacy groups for her leadership on education and family policy and has consistently delivered bipartisan achievements on significant reauthorizations including the Elementary and Secondary Elementary Act, juvenile justice, child nutrition and national service. Throughout her career, Denise has also served as a mentor to young professionals who wish to enter into public service. Denise received her B.S. in Computer Science from Duke University in 1986, and a M.A. in Women’s Studies from the George Washington University in 1996. She resides in Washington, D.C. with her family.