Danielle LeSure, Ph.D.

Danielle LeSure is the Director of Policy for the Campaign for Fiscal Equity.

With a passion for policy analysis and education research in urban communities, Danielle LeSure joined the Campaign for Fiscal Equity in Spring 2009. LeSure began her work in education policy at Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy (AYSP) in 2001where she conducted research on alternative teacher certification programs in Georgia and Massachusetts. She later became a research assistant for the Universal Pre-k study at the AYSP’s Applied Research Center. LeSure’s initial experiences in Georgia provided the foundation for her research in urban education issues and the role of political stakeholder groups, such as the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education.

LeSure broadened her research interests and experiences while completing a Ph.D. in Educational Policy at Michigan State University (MSU). She conducted research on No Child Left Behind (NCLB), teacher retention, and urban school district academic performance at MSU’s Education Policy Center (EPC). LeSure’s work at EPC critically grounded her understanding of the political and social dynamics that shape urban education reform in Michigan. She then worked as the direct assistant to former education policy advisor Sue Carnell in Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm’s Administration. She contributed to initiatives on early childhood development, teaching, high school achievement, and family resource centers serving at-risk student populations. This experience led to more opportunities to work with policy at the national level, where she began to link policy analysis to education after being awarded the Politics of Education Association (PEA) Fellowship.

As a PEA fellow, LeSure developed and conducted qualitative research on mayoral involvement at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C. for over a year. This experience led to writing case studies and producing reports on both formal and informal mayoral influence in education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the Broad Foundation. She was awarded a small individual grant from the Broad Foundation to conduct research on the educational and economic impacts of mayoral control.

Through a Congressional Black Caucus Fellowship, she later explored federal efforts in education as a legislative fellow for Congressman Chaka Fattah (PA) for a year. While on the Hill, she developed briefing materials and conducted research for the Congressman’s interests in education and housing. Afterward, LeSure returned to the U.S. Conference of Mayors as an Education Policy Analyst conducting research on mayoral roles in education and developing forums, such as the Mayors’ National Forum on Education, to increase mayors’ awareness of and engagement in their school districts’ efforts through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Additionally, LeSure has worked on grants from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Wal-Mart Foundation at the U.S. Conference of Mayors where she conducted best practice studies on mayoral engagement in addressing the needs of working families and building green economies by collaborating with local workforce investment board directors in urban areas across the nation through the Conference’s Workforce Development Council (WDC).


Publications & Presentations
Edelstein, F., LeSure, D., and Schneer, M. (2008). Mayoral leadership and involvement in education: Case studies of urban high school reform. Washington, D.C.: US Conference of Mayors.

LeSure, D. (2008). Informal mayoral involvement in education. (Doctoral dissertation, Michigan State University, 2008).

Edelstein, F. et al. (2006). Mayoral leadership and involvement in education: An action guide for success. Washington, D.C.: US Conference of Mayors.

LeSure, D. (2004). The core conflicts between special education and general education in an era of implementation burden under No Child Left Behind: Addressing disproportionate minority representation in special education by dropping the ax rather then wielding the scalpel. In S. Peters (Chair), No Child Left Behind – A critical analysis. Symposium conducted at the 4th Annual Second City Conference on Disability Studies and Education at Louisiana Tech University.

LeSure, D. (2004). Minority overrepresentation in special education: Dropping the ax of awareness and wielding the scalpel of excellence. In S. Raudenbush (Chair), Exploring innovations and limitations in learning. Symposium conducted at the 14th Annual Students of Color Rackham Conference at the University of Michigan.