About Us

What is P-20?

The Illinois P-20 Council was established by the legislature in 2009 to foster collaboration among state agencies, education institutions, local schools, community groups, employers, taxpayers, and families, and to collectively identify needed reforms to develop a seamless and sustainable statewide system of quality education and support. The "P" in our name represents Preschool and "20" stands for grade 20, education after college. We meet quarterly as a Council, and more frequently in committees, to develop a framework to improve the alignment of all our education systems, so that a child's path is smooth from early learning to kindergarten, through high school, and on to career education or college.


The mission of the Illinois P-20 Council is to deliberate and make recommendations to the Governor, Illinois General Assembly, and state agencies for developing a seamless and sustainable statewide system of quality education and support, from birth through adulthood, to maximize students’ educational attainment, opportunities for success in the workforce, and contributions to their local communities.


Our goal is to increase the proportion of Illinoisans with high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by the year 2025. Today, only about 41 percent of the state's nearly 7 million working-age adults (25-64 years old) hold at least a two-year degree.

Organizational Chart

Council Members

The Illinois P-20 Council is composed of members appointed by the Governor representing business leaders, local government, university administrators, school boards, unions, nonprofits, teachers, faculty, independent colleges, and parents. Emily Bastedo is the Council Chair. There are also four legislative members. A full list of members is located below. Dr. Purvis is also the Chair of the Joint Education Leadership Committee, composed of eight ex-officio members representing the heads of the State Board of Education, the Board of Higher Education, the Community Colleges Board, the Early Learning Council, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, the Student Assistance Commission, the Illinois Math and Science Academy, and the Illinois Education Research Council.

Tawanna Nickens

​Parkland College

Assistant Dean, Adult Education & Workforce Development
Kourtney Cockrell

​Northwestern University

Director of Student Enrichment Services
Randy Pembrook


Chuck Weaver

​37th District 

Illinois State Senator
Tom Bertrand

​Illinois Association of School Boards

Kimberly Lightford
4th District
Illinois State Senator
Kris MasonDirector
Dea MeyerExecutive Vice President
Judy Mitchell

​Joliet Junior College

Jorge Perez

​Hispanic American Construction Industry Association

Lisa Weitzel

​Illinois Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives

Dr. Carmen AyalaLeadership CommitteeState Superintendent
Dr Brian DurhamLeadership CommitteePresident/Chief Executive Officer
Jeff MaysLeadership Committee Director
Dr. Jose TorresLeadership CommitteePresident
Eric ZarnikowLeadership CommitteeExecutive Director
Kurt HilgendorfMemberGovernment Liaison
Dr. Erika HuntMember
Melissa MitchellMemberExecutive Director
John RicoMemberChief Executive Officer
Kevin RubensteinMemberDirector of Student Services, Technology and Assessment
Jane RussellMemberExecutive Board Member
Audrey SoglinMemberExecutive Director
Robin SteansMemberExecutive Director
Elizabeth SwansonMemberVice President of Strategy and Programs