Zakiya Ellis


Dr. Zakiya Smith Ellis is a Principal at Education Counsel, where she helps clients navigate the current education policy climate to develop solutions that improve equity and outcomes for students. Before joining Education Counsel, Zakiya held the role of chief policy advisor to Governor Phil Murphy (D-NJ) and previously served as New Jersey’s Secretary of Higher Education. Twice named one of Forbes’ top 30 under 30 in education earlier in her career, Dr. Ellis is a respected public policy leader with deep expertise in federal and state higher education policy. Dr. Ellis has demonstrated success in leading diverse teams to achieve dynamic results leading to tangible improvements in college affordability, enhanced institutional capacity, and more equitable student outcomes. She has led policy development and program implementation at the White House, the U.S. Department of Education, the Lumina Foundation, in addition to her most recent work developing and implementing state policy.

Earlier in her career, Zakiya worked directly with students in various capacities across the K-12 system, and her goal is to always bring those insights to her current work.