The academic side of the project is directed by Stephanie Cellini, Professor of Public Policy and Economics in the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at George Washington University. Prof. Cellini has published extensively on federal student aid and accountability policy, with a specific focus on the for-profit sector. She worked to develop accountability policy with the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor in 2019 and routinely serves as an expert in higher education litigation.

Professor Cellini conceived the project with Student Defense President Aaron Ament and Jordan Matsudaira, in his former capacity as Associate Professor at Columbia University Teachers College. Matsudaira also served as the Chief Economist of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. A steering committee of leading higher education economists and policy scholars includes Judith Scott-Clayton, Associate Professor of Economics and Education policy at Columbia University and a nationally regarded expert in financial aid policy and Lesley J. Turner, Associate Professor of Economics at Vanderbilt University and former fellow with the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

These scholars and others will work closely with attorneys at Student Defense, directed by its Vice President for Policy, Alex Elson. Student Defense is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-partisan organization, created in late 2017, by former Obama Administration officials. The organization works to advance students’ rights to educational opportunity and ensure that higher education provides a launching point for economic mobility.