Sara Wolforth, J.D., MS, is a policy principal at the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and serves as a project lead for the Illinois Wellness Initiatives Inventory and Analysis project with the Region 9 Comprehensive Center (R9CC). Ms. Wolforth leads AIR’s Whole Child Learning and Development practice hub, which houses research, evaluation, and technical assistance work related to whole child approaches in K–12 educational settings.
Ms. Wolforth currently serves as deputy director of the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments (NCSSLE), funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Supportive Schools. The Center offers information and technical assistance to states, districts, schools, institutions of higher learning, and communities focused on improving school climate and conditions for learning. Previously, Ms. Wolforth served as the co-director of the State Support Network and director of the Midwest Comprehensive Center. In addition, she led needs-sensing, outreach, and dissemination efforts for the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest.
Ms. Wolforth contributed to several publications, including a toolkit on how states and districts can integrate social and emotional learning into a multi-tiered system of supports framework; a policy brief series on how expanded learning partnerships can support the whole child in the COVID-19 context; and a book chapter on funding strategies for making schools more safe, equitable, and engaging. Sara's extensive facilitation experience includes supporting state-level task forces on competency-based education, educator effectiveness, literacy, regional support systems, civic education, and accountability.
In her research, policy, and technical assistance work, Sara benefits from her experience as an educator, having taught in Chicago at the upper elementary and high school levels. Before entering the field of education, she was a practicing attorney. She earned a master’s degree in elementary teaching from Northwestern University and a juris doctor degree from Washington University in St. Louis.