Derrell Bradford to speak at ACE Commencement ceremony

Author: Theo Helm

Graduation cap and tassel

Derrell Bradford, the president of 50CAN, a national nonprofit that advocates for high-quality education for all children regardless of their address, will serve as the keynote speaker at the 2021 Commencement Ceremony of the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) on Saturday (July 10).

“We are honored that Derrell has accepted our invitation and will celebrate our ACE graduates with us,” said John Staud, the executive director of ACE. “He has worked tirelessly to ensure that children from historically marginalized communities have the same kind of access to quality educational opportunities that their more affluent peers already enjoy.”

50CAN works to open more opportunities for children by supporting community leaders and advocates as they design and drive evidenced-based policy changes on the local level. In his role as president, Bradford oversees 50CAN’s national network of local executive directors and fellows and its policy initiatives. He has also worked with ACE’s Program for Educational Access to recruit and train advocates for data-driven, parent-centered education reform.

Bradford previously served as the executive director at Better Education for Kids (B4K) in New Jersey. At B4K, Bradford worked to secure passage of the tenure reform legislation TEACH NJ. B4K’s advocacy also led to electoral victories for reform-minded candidates across the state. Prior to B4K, Bradford spent nine years with New Jersey’s Excellent Education for Everyone as director of communications and then executive director. While there he also served on the state’s Educator Effectiveness Task Force.

Bradford frequently contributes to education debates in print, digital, radio and TV media. He is a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network and serves on several boards, including Success Academy Charter Schools, Yes Every Kid and the PIE Network. He was the founding board chair of EdBuild and is a senior visiting fellow at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and a member of the AEI Leadership Network. He is also a former board member of St. Anthony High School in Jersey City. A native of Baltimore, Bradford attended the St. Paul’s School for Boys and the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a bachelor’s degree in English.

ACE commencement exercises are set for 4 p.m. in the Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center. Notre Dame will bestow 130 graduate degrees upon the next generation of Catholic school teachers and leaders who completed periods of formation and service in two nationally recognized programs.

Eighty-four ACE Teaching Fellows graduates will receive Master of Education degrees as the culmination of two years of academic study combined with teaching in Catholic K-12 schools in underserved areas around the country. Forty-six graduates from ACE’s Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program will receive Master of Arts degrees in educational leadership, concluding 25 months of formation that prepared them to be principals and other leaders in Catholic education.