Emma Vadehra – Next100

Emma Vadehra


Education + Early Years
National Service
Changing the Game


New York, New York

Emma Vadehra is the founder and former executive director of Next100, a startup think tank for a new generation of policy leaders, and she was a senior fellow at The Century Foundation.

She has spent her career focused on building a fairer, more equitable education system, and has a passion for developing and supporting diverse teams in pursuit of progressive policy change.

Emma was chief of staff for the U.S. Department of Education during the Obama administration, serving under both Secretary John B. King, Jr. and Secretary Arne Duncan. As chief of staff, she worked closely with the White House and across the department to develop, execute, and oversee the administration’s pre-K-through-college education agenda, and oversaw hiring, development, and retention of a diverse, high-performing political appointee team. From 2009 to 2011, she served as deputy assistant secretary for planning, evaluation, and policy development at the Department of Education, overseeing K–12 education policy development.

Prior to serving at the department, she served as senior education counsel for former senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), focusing on K–12 education, student loans, and national service policy. She also served as chief of staff at Uncommon Schools, a charter school management organization that builds and manages high-performing urban charter schools serving low-income students.

Emma serves on the boards of Blue Engine and Govern For America, on the Federal Advisory Committee of Results for America, and is a non-resident senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. She has a JD from Yale Law School and a bachelor’s degree from Brown University.

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