Russlynn Ali

Co-Founder & CEO
Connect with Russlynn Ali

Russlynn Ali has been a leading advocate for educational equity for more than two decades. As Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Department of Education during President Obama’s first term, Ali spearheaded the federal government’s renewed engagement with equity issues in schools across the nation. Previously, Ali was a founding Executive Director of Education Trust-West; and Vice President of the Education Trust.

Ali is Managing Director of the Education Fund at Emerson Collective and CEO and co-founder—with Laurene Powell Jobs—of XQ Institute. XQ is committed to transforming public high schools to close achievement and opportunity gaps, and to making schools the center of community revitalization. For Ali, education is America’s central civil rights issue today.

In 2015, XQ launched with an open call to the nation to design the high school of the future. Within a few months, XQ had rallied tens of thousands of people from all 50 states around the idea of innovative, student-centered high schools that prepare all young people for tomorrow’s world. XQ helps communities rethink their high schools by supporting locally-driven redesign and by open-sourcing everything XQ does and everything the XQ schools are learning to inspire redesign across the country.

Because of her commitment to research-driven innovation, Ali points to the latest neuroscience on adolescent learning, which proves that high school is not too late for struggling students to fulfill their promise as learners. She also knows that the high schools of the future must be grounded in the best of what’s known about effective, equitable learning environments.

Ali began her career as a classroom teacher. She’s now an attorney and advocate who believes that what’s needed today is a powerful movement to bring American education into the 21st century.

Emerson Collective

XQ works in direct collaboration with Emerson Collective, which is dedicated to removing barriers to opportunity so people can live to their full potential. Established and led by Laurene Powell Jobs, Emerson’s work focuses on education, immigration reform, the environment, and other social justice initiatives. XQ is an independent affiliate of Emerson Collective.

Read, Watch, Discuss

High School Redesign
High School Redesign: How to Apply the XQ School Design Principles
Want to change high school? Use XQ's suite of materials to explore what high schools can be—and should be—for American students.
High School Redesign
Why Should We #ReThinkHighSchool? | Why XQ
At a time when the world is getting faster, more uncertain, and more complex we believe public schools have a critical role to play. By ensuring that no matter who you are or where you come from, you are prepared.


Knowledge Modules

No matter where you are today & what you want to achieve, going to college is the best way to help ensure a bright future.

XQ Design Principles

These six principles, updated in fall 2019 to reflect lessons learned since our launch in 2015, are fundamental to every XQ school.

XQ Learner Goals

The next generation must learn to adapt to a changing world. The five XQ learner goals aim to develop students who are deeply engaged in their own learning and fully prepared for all that the future has to offer.