Chris Minnich head shotChris Minnich was appointed Executive Director of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) in December 2012. Since then, he has helped states raise the bar on standards, assessments, and accountability; transform educator preparation program; design new approaches to teaching and learning; create a meaningful Career Readiness Initiative for states; and implement and sustain promising reforms across the country. Chris first joined our team in 2008. He facilitated the state-led effort to develop college- and career-ready standards and was the Senior Membership Director, serving as the lead contact for all 58 of our members.

Chris has an extensive background in assessment and accountability, working to improve assessments for educators in both the public and private sectors since 2003.


Kristen Carr head shotKirsten Carr is the Senior Program Director of Student Expectations at CCSSO. In this role, she leads our accountability work with states, supporting them in developing and implementing next-generation accountability systems. She also supports states as they transition to new assessments aligned to college- and career-ready standards. Prior to joining our team, Kirsten practiced corporate law in New York City. She specialized in private equity and advising emerging growth companies, as well as working on general corporate matters. She also previously worked on education policy in Senator Edward Kennedy’s office and spent several years working on education reform initiatives at the Boston Plan for Excellence.

Kirsten has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Middlebury College and a J.D. from Duke University School of Law.


Paul FerrariPaul Ferrari is the Senior Director of Teacher Workforce at CCSSO. In this role, he  works to support states in ensuring that every student has access to great teachers. Paul oversees a number of programmatic areas focusing on educator preparation initiatives, educator support and evaluation, educator professional development, and overseeing the nation’s oldest and most prestigious educator recognition program: The National Teacher of the Year Program. Paul joined our team in 2007, and in that time he has directed national and state efforts in communicating about the value of college- and career-ready standards and next generation assessments, developed an online and social media strategy for the organization, led the redesign of the our corporate website, and developed and implemented our strategic communications plan. Paul has worked at a number of professional theatres as an actor, company manager, marketer, and after-school project administrator.

Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Criticism from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.


Melissa Johnston head shotMelissa Johnston is the Deputy Executive Director at CCSSO. Melissa joined our team in 2003 and assumed her current role as Deputy Executive Director in January 2013. Melissa oversees the implementation of our strategic plan and the direction and leadership of programmatic initiative areas. Additionally, she manages our information systems and technology, meeting services, and strategic partnerships. Melissa previously worked for Reading Is Fundamental and the Public Education Network in grants management, program development, and technical assistance capacities. She also worked with the national professional development program at the National Association of School Psychologists.

Melissa holds a bachelor’s degree in American studies and black world studies from Miami University and a master’s degree in social service administration, with a concentration in policy analysis and nonprofit management, from the University of Chicago.


Carissa MillerCarissa Moffat Miller joined CCSSO in 2013 as the Deputy Executive Director. In her role, she directs the activities of the membership services, leadership academy, advocacy, communications, data and information services, and the collaboratives teams. Carissa oversees the development, support, and implementation of programs and services designed to support our primary member groups (chiefs, deputies, federal liaisons, communications directors and public information officers) and ensures all membership events and services are aligned with state priorities. Prior to joining our team, Carissa was the deputy superintendent of the 21st Century Classroom Division for the Idaho State Department of Education.

Carissa holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a master’s degree in sociology from the University of Wyoming and a doctoral degree in education from the University of Idaho. 


Scott NortonScott Norton is the Deputy Executive Director of Programs. In his role, he directs and oversees the development and execution of our programmatic areas. Scott works to make sure all programs are designed to ensure strategic planning goals are met, core values are reinforced, and programmatic activities help to maximize organizational impact. Additionally, he oversees staff that supports programmatic connections to budgets/contracts, innovation, and activities related to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Prior to joining our team, Scott was the assistant superintendent in the Office of Standards, Assessments, and Accountability for the Louisiana Department of Education.

Scott holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Tennessee Technological University, a master’s degree in education administration, a master’s degree of public administration and a doctoral degree in educational administration and supervision from Louisiana State University.


Carrie Phillips head shotCarrie Phillips is the Senior Program Director of Student Transitions. In her role, Carrie leads teams that help states manage transitions into K-12, provide multiple pathways within K-12, ensure that students are career-ready, and promote seamless transitions to post-secondary education. Prior to joining our team, Carrie was a fellow on Capitol Hill for former Senator Chris Dodd. She began her career in education as a fourth and fifth grade classroom teacher in the Chicago Public Schools.

Carrie holds a bachelor’s degree in social policy and a master’s degree in education from Northwestern University.


Monica Taylor is the Senior Program Director of School Leadership and Continuous Monica TaylorImprovement. In her role, she is responsible for identifying, developing, and implementing school leadership strategies designed to elevate and prioritize the roles of school leaders in advancing continuous improvement in all schools. Through a variety of initiatives, networks, and projects, Monica works with state education agency officials to strategically center school leadership and continuous improvement at the core of change in educational systems. Prior to joining our team, Monica worked as program manager of educational services for Goodwill Industries, project director at the Maryland State Department of Education, and as a former public school administrator in the Washington metropolitan area.

Monica holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Norfolk State University, a master’s degree in educational administration from Regent University, and post-graduate certificates in school leadership from Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania.