Libby Schaaf

Libby Schaaf headshot
50th Mayor of Oakland, California (2015-2023)
50th Mayor of Oakland, California (2015-2023)

Libby Schaaf served as Mayor of her hometown Oakland, California from 2015 to 2023. Prior to being mayor, she ran Oakland’s school volunteer program, worked as an attorney, a mayoral and legislative aide, public affairs director at the Port of Oakland, and Council member. As Mayor, Schaaf led bold initiatives to make the city more equitable and resilient and broke records in violence prevention, housing production, and road repair. In 2016, she founded Oakland Promise, recognized by experts as “the most comprehensive cradle-to-career initiative of its kind.” By the end of her mayoral term, Oakland Promise had become its own 501c3 with a $15M annual budget and a $50M endowment raised by Schaaf, allowing it to make a commitment to the next generation of Oakland’s children: that every baby born to low-income parents will receive a $500 college savings account at birth and every low-income public-school graduate will receive $1000 a year while pursuing a 2- or 4-year college degree or trade certificate. She also led The Children's Initiative ballot measure approved by Oakland voters in 2018, which will provide 30 years of funding for universal preschool access and college access and affordability for Oakland's children. She now serves as Interim Executive Director of Emerge California that recruits and trains Democratic women to run for office. She also teaches at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley and she also holds a fellowship with Mayors for a Guaranteed Income. Schaaf holds a B.A. from Rollins College and J.D. from Loyola Law School.

At a time when our nation’s Supreme Court is stripping us of tools to advance access to opportunity for all, Harvard EdRedesign Lab’s mission is more important than ever. I’m excited to work alongside this distinguished class of Senior Fellows to expand the impact of place-based cradle-to-career systems until all children and communities enjoy unlimited educational attainment and economic well-being.

-Libby Schaaf