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About Us

Our Team

The CAEL team draws great strength from its varied set of backgrounds and skills. But we hold one very important quality in common: dedicated expertise in forging the connections between learning and work that adult learnersand their communitiesdepend on for social mobility and economic equity.

Rachel Hirsch

Vice President, Public Partnerships

As Vice President of Public Partnerships, Rachel Hirsch coordinates expanding CAEL’s relationship with policymakers by surfacing common goals and initiatives to engage public sector stakeholders with the organization’s vision and mission. She also focuses on directing the work of CAEL’s SNAP Education & Training grant initiative. Hirsch has a history of facilitating and forging partnerships across government, non-profit, and the private sector to achieve common goals, and she also works at building broad support for reform and leads engagement with various state-level and government entities. She has brought attention to these issues through speaking engagements across the country and has authored several publications on numerous topics in the field, from work-based learning to financial aid.

Experienced in public policy, Hirsch most recently served as a Senior Policy Analyst, Postsecondary Education at the National Governors Association (NGA), where she was responsible for programmatic, staff, and budgetary oversight and execution of multiple projects aimed at increasing equitable economic opportunity. She oversaw the final phase of the Policy Academy on Scaling Work-Based Learning, engaging 19 state teams over two years, and launched a related project focused on apprenticeship to support the transportation industry. She also led projects focused on partnerships with community colleges, equity, and higher education for incarcerated students. Before that, Hirsch was a State Network Manager at National Skills Coalition (NSC), where she led the organization’s inaugural policy academy on work-based learning and organized multi-state coalitions to help expand access to and success in education and training programs. 

Hirsch also previously ran a research project at Northwestern University focused on helping underserved high schoolers improve their performance in job interviews, and served as a graduate intern with the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Hirsch received her Master of Public Policy from Georgetown University and earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from Northwestern University. She is on the Steering Committee for NEXTversity and the Southwest DC Community Center Fundraising Committee. 

Links to Related Work :


Areas of Expertise : Hirsch has extensive expertise in work-based learning and apprenticeship, sector partnerships and industry engagement, supportive services for those with barriers to employment, reskilling and upskilling for adults, and education and training for incarcerated students, as well as for those returning from prison. She also has years of experience in project management, stakeholder engagement and facilitation, and coalition building and management.

Board Members

Advisory Council