In an email to colleagues today, Joanne Weiss, the chief of staff to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, announced she's officially passing the baton to Emma Vadehra, a former education department staffer who spent the last two years at Uncommon Schools.
Weiss' departure is significant, and continues the exodus of top staffers who have left the department during the Obama administration's second term. She was instrumental in shaping and executing the very popular Race to the Top program, and then ascended to the chief-of-staff role where she served as a close adviser to Duncan through other important initiatives such as No Child Left Behind Act waivers. (The Huffington Post noted her looming departure last month.)
Here's the goodbye note Weiss penned to her colleagues today:
I wanted to let you know that, after 4+ amazing years, I am leaving the U.S. Department of Education. It has been the opportunity of a lifetime to lead the Race to the Top work early in the Obama Administration and to serve as chief of staff to this phenomenal Secretary for the past three years. I could not be more proud of the work our team has done under Arne's incredible leadership. I am passing the chief-of-staff baton to a wonderful colleague, Emma Vadehra, who returns to the Department after spending the last two years at Uncommon Schools. Emma's combination of legislative, policy, and on-the-ground experience—coupled with her keen intelligence and incredible listening and learning disposition—will make her a wonderful partner to Arne and the ED team going forward. My last day at the Department will be July 19; Emma starts on Monday, July 8, giving us two solid weeks of transition time.