M. René Islas

Executive Director


M. René Islas is the executive director of the National Association for Gifted Children. Prior to joining NAGC, René served as Sr. Vice President of Learning Forward, an international non-profit education association. He launched the Center for Results under a social enterprise business model to support leaders in education in developing systems to improve teacher effectiveness and implement quality practice in educator professional learning. Revenue from the Center’s work contributed to more than 25 percent of the association’s annual operating budget.

René has extensive experience leading education reform through practical and policy work at the federal, state, and local levels. He developed the Pathway to Achievement, a highly successful school improvement framework that is currently being implemented in elementary and secondary schools across the United States.

As Senior Vice President of B&D Consulting, an international law and consulting firm, René launched the K-12 Education Practice. He was recognized at the firm for innovation in client service after developing a new profitable business line of direct consulting to school systems.

René is a recognized expert in education public policy, working in the public and private sectors. His government experience includes service as a Special Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Education and Chief of Staff to the Assistant Secretary of Education where managed the overall operations, policy development, and administration of programs within the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.

René played a pivotal role in the creation of the Teacher Incentive Fund and the School Improvement Grant programs that became priorities across the Bush and Obama administrations. He has experience representing the U.S. Department of Education on issues of teacher quality and working with coalitions of state government education agencies to address teacher supply and demand. René advised and supported the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans.

Among his writings, René authored the foreword of Paul Kimmelman’s Leadership Triangle, a book published by Corwin Press on the new leadership needed in elementary and secondary education, and co-authored “Overview of the U.S. Department of Education” for the Encyclopedia of Education.

Contact René via email.