Alliance for Quality Education Announces New Executive Director

Jasmine Gripper to lead Statewide Education Advocacy Organization Beginning in 2020

ALBANY, N.Y. — Statewide education advocacy organization the Alliance for Quality Education announced today that Jasmine Gripper will be taking on the role of executive director in January 2020. Gripper will be taking over from Billy Easton, who is stepping down after leading the organization since 2005.

Gripper currently serves as legislative director of AQE, and will be assuming this leadership role at AQE as the organization marks its 20th year of parent, family and student organizing and  advocacy. Under Gripper’s leadership, AQE will continue to deepen its commitment to education justice and racial justice, working to ensure that all children and families have access to high quality public schools in every neighborhood. Through grassroots organizing and leadership development AQE will continue to empower Black, Brown and low income families to shift education policy in order to create the schools New York’s children need and deserve. 

“The future has so much in store for AQE with Jasmine Gripper at the helm, and with all the parents, educators and students that make this work possible. Together we will continue to empower Black, Brown and low income families to build the schools New York’s children need and deserve. Many thanks to Billy Easton for his years of service to AQE and his commitment to the fight for educational justice.” says Natasha Capers, co-vice board chair of AQE & Director for the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice. 

“With Billy Easton’s leadership, the Alliance for Quality Education has established itself as a leader in the state, bringing the voices of parents and students to the forefront to demand that every child has an excellent education no matter their race or zip code. I know that Jasmine Gripper is a visionary leader who has the ability to maintain the culture of the organization to achieve success.  She is strategic and her leadership style demands high expectations not only from those who work with her, but also those with the power to create the necessary changes to meet the goals of the organization,” says Rosemary Rivera, board chair and Co-Executive Director Citizen Action of New York. 

“This is an exciting moment for AQE as we prepare for the changing of the guard. I wish to give my deepest appreciation to Billy Easton for his many years of leadership in building AQE into a formidable organization and I am very excited to welcome Jasmine Gripper into her new role as Executive Director where I am certain she will provide the leadership and vision we need as we enter a new decade,” says Chevion Weaks Lopez, board vice chair. 

“We are so excited to welcome Jasmine Gripper as the new director of AQE. With Billy Easton’s direction, AQE established itself as a leader in the fight for educational and racial justice in New York State, and we can count on Jasmine to carry that leadership forward. I am looking forward to seeing the great things that AQE will accomplish with Jasmine driving its vision for all children and families to have access to high quality public schools in every neighborhood,” says Jonathan Westin, board member and Executive Director New York Communities for Change. 

“We are thrilled that Jasmine Gripper, who has been a fearless warrior for educational equity across New York  for many years, will be the next leader of AQE. Jasmine has been an incredible partner with our members for a very long time, and she fights with tenacity every day for a more just New York, where all children can receive an excellent public education. We also honor the decades of leadership of Billy Easton, who has been a visionary leader for this vital institution for so many years. The work of Billy and his team has ensured that the critical needs of our public schools remains at the center of the debate in New York, and we thank him for his exemplary service,” says Javier H. Valdes, board member, and Co-Executive Director, Make the Road New York. 

Gripper started out as a classroom teacher, beginning what she envisioned as a long teaching career in South Korea, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates before returning to Brooklyn to teach first grade. Realizing that education policies are often decided by those with little to no classroom experience, she left teaching and turned to organizing in order to affect genuine change and address the growing opportunity gap. After a stint with the Obama re-election campaign, she found AQE as a perfect meld of her love of education and talent for organizing. Gripper joined AQE in 2013 as a temporary statewide organizer, and rose quickly to managing the organization’s legislative advocacy strategy as Legislative Director. In 2016 she was named as one of City and State’s 40 under 40 rising stars. Jasmine Gripper was born and raised in Queens. She is a proud graduate of the New York City public school system and CUNY’s Hunter College.

Billy Easton has served as Executive Director of AQE since 2005. A former neighborhood, union and tenants’ organizer, Easton’s expertise in everything from policy development and advocacy to campaigns and communications has helped build the organization into the leading statewide community-based advocacy group on public education. During his 14 years with AQE, Billy has led the organization to expand its organizing capacity and spearhead local and statewide campaigns on equitable school funding, reforms to Codes of Conduct and school climate, school governance, revenues to fund schools, and opposition to privatization, among other areas. 

“It has been a pleasure and an honor to serve as Executive Director of AQE these past 14 years. We have had many important victories statewide and in local communities around the state and it has only been possible because of the tremendous engagement and leadership of parents, families, youth and community members from throughout the state. I would like to thank our Board of Directors, our member organizations and the tens of thousands of parents, educators and community members who have engaged in our work over the years. I am very proud to pass the torch to Jasmine Gripper who is a dynamic leader with a passion for educational justice and is equipped to take AQE to new heights,” said Billy Easton, Executive Director, AQE.