Alicia N. Garcia is the director of the Midwest Comprehensive Center, a $21 million technical assistance center funded by the U.S. Department of Education, and a principal policy analyst at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). She has more than 11 years’ experience in education law and policy.
In her role as Midwest Comprehensive Center director, she manages a core staff of 26 to build the capacity of state education agencies in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin to design, sustain, and implement reforms that support student success. Projects carried out by the center focus on several federal priority areas, including supporting teacher and leader effectiveness, implementing college- and career-ready standards and assessments, and turning around low-performing schools.
Garcia also serves as co-director of the State Support Network, a $10-million technical assistance contract funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The network is focused on supporting implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act in all states by providing a variety of technical assistance opportunities to state education agencies and school districts. These activities include communities of practice, peer-to-peer exchanges, and individualized technical assistance focused on topics identified through needs-sensing efforts with states and districts.
Garcia was previously the project director for a five-year technical assistance and evaluation project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation designed to identify best practices for scaling up three interventions in place at 35 institutes of higher education. In this role, she managed staff teams, monitored the $5 million budget, and oversaw the quality assurance process. Garcia was also formerly deputy director for the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest, a $38 million research center funded by the Institute of Education Sciences. In addition, she previously served as an alliance liaison for the REL Southwest Texas Hispanic STEM Research Alliance and as Minnesota state manager for the Midwest Comprehensive Center. Garcia also works on other projects requiring education policy expertise.
Prior to joining AIR, Garcia was a practicing attorney in the field of education law. She earned a master’s degree in cultural and educational policy studies from Loyola University Chicago and a juris doctor degree from The University of Texas School of Law and is a certified project management professional.