Our Mission

The SoLD Alliance aims to make the science of learning and development a deeply understood, widely held, and actionable key driver of equity and excellence in education systems—to ensure that all young people, no matter who or where they are, benefit from effective, high-quality, continuously improving learning environments that are designed to unleash and realize everyone's potential for success in school and in life. 

Using insights from the science of learning and development, the SoLD Alliance intends to serve as a resource to connect and support leaders in research, practice, and policy to transform America’s education systems and achieve equity and excellence. 


Who We Are

The SoLD Alliance is a growing partnership of leaders and organizations who believe that the science of learning and development presents powerful lessons to transform education systems and help each young person achieve their full potential. Our leadership represents leading education organizations from research, practice, policy, and youth development.


Brigid Ahern


President and Chief Executive Officer, Turnaround for Children

Brigid Ahern is President and CEO of Turnaround for Children, a nonprofit that translates the science of learning and development into tools, practices and systems for educators to help all students thrive, particularly children who have been impacted by adversity.  From 2014-2018, as Chief External Affairs Officer, Brigid oversaw Turnaround’s communications, development, executive, policy and systemic impact departments and served on the organization’s leadership team.


Linda Darling-Hammond


President & CEO, Learning Policy Institute

Linda Darling-Hammond, President and CEO of the Learning Policy Institute, is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education Emeritus at Stanford University, where she founded the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education and served as the faculty sponsor of the Stanford Teacher Education Program, which she helped to redesign. She was recently appointed as the president of the California State Board of Education. Darling-Hammond has consulted widely with federal, state and local officials and educators on strategies for improving education policies and practices.


Bethany Little


Principal, EducationCounsel

Bethany Little is a Principal at EducationCounsel, where she supports foundations, districts, states, institutions of higher education, education associations, and other nonprofits in driving systems change to improve equity and education from early childhood through higher education. Little has spent twenty years working in government and non-profit organizations, including the White House Domestic Policy Council, the U.S. Department of Education, and as Chief Education Counsel to the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, as well as with the Children’s Defense Fund, the Alliance for Excellent Education, and America Achieves.  

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Scott Palmer


Partner, EducationCounsel

Scott Palmer is co-founder and managing partner of EducationCounsel, a mission-based organization that works with leading nonprofits, foundations, and policymakers to identify and advance systemic changes that can dramatically improve education equity and outcomes. Palmer provides policy, legal, strategy, and advocacy leadership and support on a wide-range of education and civil rights issues – at both the national and state/local levels.  Palmer previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the US Department of Education and as a policy and legal advisor in the Clinton White House where he worked on education and civil rights issues as part of the President’s Initiative on Race.

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Todd Rose


Co-Founder & President, Populace

Faculty Director, Mind, Brain, and Education Program, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Todd Rose is the director of the Mind, Brain, & Education Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he also leads the Laboratory for the Science of the Individual. His work is focused at the intersection of the science of individuality and the practice of personalization in education. He is also the co-founder of The Center for Individual Opportunity, a nonprofit organization that promotes the principles of individuality in work, school, and society. Todd is the author of The End of Average and Dark Horse.


Pamela Cantor, M.D.


Founder and Senior Science Advisor, Turnaround for Children

Pamela Cantor, M.D., is the founder and senior science advisor of Turnaround for Children, a nonprofit organization that connects the dots between poverty, stress and academic performance in order to catalyze healthy student development and academic achievement. Dr. Cantor practiced child psychiatry for nearly two decades, specializing in trauma. She started Turnaround to help schools understand the impact of adversity on learning and to put children on a healthier developmental trajectory so they can be successful in school and in life.


Merita Irby

Co-Founder & Executive Vice President, The Forum for Youth Investment

Merita is a chief architect of both the Forum and its signature initiative, Ready by 21®. Having founded the Forum with Karen Pittman in 1998, she is managing partner of Big Picture Approach Training & Consulting and a coach to state and local partnerships.  Merita works with leaders in school districts, governmental departments, community collaboratives and non-governmental organizations nationwide.

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David Osher


Vice President and Institute Fellow, American Institutes for Research

David Osher is vice president and Institute Fellow at the American Institutes for Research. Dr. Osher is an expert on violence prevention, school safety, supportive school discipline, conditions for learning and school climate, social and emotional learning, youth development, cultural competence, family engagement, collaboration, mental health services, and implementation science. He has led impact and qualitative evaluations of initiatives and programs, systematic reviews, and expert panels, as well as projects that have developed surveys, and supported schools, districts, and states to promote conditions for learning, including school safety, and to address disciplinary disparities.


Karen Pittman 


Co-Founder, President and CEO, The Forum For Youth Investment

Karen Pittman has made a career of starting organizations and initiatives that promote youth development – including the Forum for Youth Investment, which she co-founded with Merita Irby in 1998. A sociologist and recognized leader in youth development, Karen started her career at the Urban Institute, conducting studies on social services for children and families. She later moved to the Children’s Defense Fund, launching its adolescent pregnancy prevention initiatives and helping to create its adolescent policy agenda.

Our History

Members of the SoLD Alliance began working together in 2016 based on a shared hypothesis that the science of learning and development could provide critical insights and solutions to the persistent inequity and underperformance in our education system.

Since then, we have engaged and convened leading scientists and education experts in a number of fields—including neuroscience, epigenetics, learning science, social and emotional learning, early childhood development, the science of adversity, and human development—to build knowledge, drawn from the emerging lessons from the science of learning and development which have the greatest import for education research, practice, and policy.

In the process, we learned that the science tells a positive and powerful – though often misunderstood – story about how young people develop, how they become learners, and how their environments can nourish or hinder the expression of their fullest potential. These findings have significant and actionable implications for our education and related youth-serving systems.

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