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Newsom Names Federal Fellow to Lead State’s Cradle-to-Career Initiative

Mary Ann Bates, the first director of the Office of Cradle-to-Career Data, is currently a senior fellow in the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced the first director for the state’s Cradle-to-Career Data System, which will link a variety of state services to “close opportunity gaps and improve outcomes for all students throughout the state.”

Mary Ann Bates.jpg
Mary Ann Bates
Mary Ann Bates, the first director of the Office of Cradle-to-Career Data, is a senior fellow in the White House Office of Management and Budget and previously served as executive director of the North America Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She launched and co-chaired the J-PAL State and Local Innovation Initiative, which brings state and local governments and academic researchers together to design studies and analyze data on how to reduce poverty and advance opportunity.

“Thanks to the dedicated efforts of our public leaders, community partners and data experts, California is now poised to launch a transformative system that will enable us to both learn more about how – and do more – to serve students and families in an equitable way,” Newsom said in a statement. “Mary Ann has spent her entire career laser-focused on closing the equity gap and is the perfect choice to lead this effort.”

The Cradle-to-Career system is the outgrowth of an 18-month planning process involving government leaders, community members and data experts. Newsom’s statement called Cradle-to-Career “an important component of the governor’s California Comeback Plan.”

The program includes public online dashboards and other tools that will provide transparency into students’ education and workforce entry, along with information on how policies and programs can better serve more students and families.

“The system will also expand and scale a one-stop resource — — for students to receive free, individually tailored support for career planning, financial aid and college applications,” Newsom’s statement said.

Newsom signed AB 132 in July, creating the California Cradle-to-Career Data System within the Government Operations Agency. The system is overseen by a governing board and follows processes that allow public representation.

“This is a huge step forward in establishing the leadership so the work can begin in earnest to build a data system for all Californians,” said Amy Fong, chair of the governing board for the Office of Cradle-to-Career Data. “The board selected Mary Ann as the best candidate to bring the Cradle-to-Career system to reality. High-quality, connected data is the cornerstone of informed, effective and equitable decision-making. Mary Ann is a collaborative leader and will ensure data are seen in the context needed to shape policy and advance educational equity, and I’m excited to work with her.”

“I am thrilled to see California’s progress in the development of the Cradle-to-Career Data System,” said Jennifer Bell-Ellwanger, president and CEO of Data Quality Campaign. “California’s approach aligns with the best practices DQC has identified working with a variety of states to break down silos and get people the information they need to help students succeed. We look forward to working with Mary Ann to ensure that California is making data work for students.”

More information about the data system can be found at and
Dennis Noone is Executive Editor of Industry Insider. He is a career journalist, having worked at small-town newspapers and major metropolitan dailies including USA Today in Washington, D.C.