Program Profiles
Hanseul Kang

Hanseul Kang, State Superintendent of Education
Current Title
Superintendent
Current Organization
Office of the State Superintendent, District of Columbia
Education
J.D., Harvard Law School
B.S., Georgetown University, International Politics

Residency Information


Resident Functional Area
General Management/Strategy
Resident Organization
Tennessee Department of Education
Resident Title
Chief of Staff

Pre-Program Information


Previous Functional Area
General Management/Strategy
Previous Organization
Tennessee Department of Education

The Broad Residency 2012-2014


Although my time as a teacher in New Mexico feels more and more distant each year, the stories of my students and the work that we were able to accomplish together continue to serve as the foundation of my ongoing dedication to working in education. I saw how much more my students were capable of than had previously been expected of them, even by themselves in some cases. I also left acutely aware of the many, many ways in which the broader system failed my students.

Hanseul Kang began her career in education as a way to pay forward the educational opportunities she’d been fortunate to have growing up outside of Albany, N.Y. From a young age, Hanseul had a keen interest in world affairs. “I was determined to be the Secretary General of the UN. That evolved, but I had a really passionate commitment to foreign policy and international law.”

Her dream was to study foreign service at Georgetown University, attend law school and pursue a career in international law. She worked hard and got into Georgetown, but in her senior year of college she began reflecting on her life, as so often happens around graduation. “I was thinking about how lucky I felt, having grown up in a family without a ton of money, but still having gone to really good public schools. I thought about how unfair it was that other students didn’t have the same opportunities.” It was in that mood that she attended a Teach for America information session with a roommate.

The program’s philosophy and mission resonated with Hanseul, who thought two years spent teaching before going to law school would be a good way to help more students achieve their dreams as she had. She taught in a public school in Thoreau, N.M., a rural town located among the Eastern Navajo nation. “When I was facing 150-180 high school juniors and seniors every day, their lives and the work I was doing with them began to feel more real and important than international law, which started to feel extremely abstract.”Supt Kang at Playtime

She did go to law school, earning a J.D. from Harvard Law School as a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Graduate Scholar. But her experience in New Mexico had left a lasting impression, so after graduating she worked for Teach for America as a managing director in their Washington, D.C., office. From there she became chief of staff for the Tennessee commissioner of education.

Tennessee was the first state to be awarded a federal Race to the Top grant in 2010, benefiting schools across the state. Unfortunately, the grant would end in 2015, so Hanseul was tasked with finding ways to continue supporting the many resources the grant enabled. She and her team established protocols to increase effectiveness at all levels and improve the department’s ability to deliver high-quality education to all students.

Efficient bureaucracy is rarely celebrated, but the work in Tennessee showed that it can have a real impact on student outcomes. In 2011, the same year Hanseul and her team began chipping away at systemic inefficiencies, Tennessee ranked in the mid-forties on the NAEP for 4th- and 8th-grade math. By 2013 the state had moved up to the thirties in math.

Despite the successes, Hanseul says, “I feel like I had the same sort of network or professional support that I had at other points in my career. A current Broad resident working in Tennessee suggested the Broad Residency program as a way to gain professional support.”

Hanseul Kang at STEM fair with participating student

For Hanseul, “Some of the education content I was more familiar with, but the leadership development and skill building has been incredibly helpful.”

A year after completing her associate residency, Hanseul was appointed state superintendent of education for the District of Columbia. Her experience in the classroom and managing state-level education policies prepared her to lead a complex urban district serving many disparate needs. The Office of the State Superintendent of Education covers much more than the 83,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grades. It coordinates subsidized child care and pre-K3 and 4 classrooms and adult education. We also do work around charter-school financing and help charter schools secure facilities. That is not always the case in most state education agencies.

No stranger to challenge, Hanseul arrived in DC ready to roll up her sleeves and get to work. “I’m excited to be here and work hard and see results for our students.”

Current Title
Superintendent
Current Organization
Office of the State Superintendent, District of Columbia
Education
J.D., Harvard Law School
B.S., Georgetown University, International Politics

Residency Information


Resident Functional Area
General Management/Strategy
Resident Organization
Tennessee Department of Education
Resident Title
Chief of Staff

Pre-Program Information


Previous Functional Area
General Management/Strategy
Previous Organization
Tennessee Department of Education