Barbara O’Brien Senior Consultant
Barbara O’Brien is the first fellow of Piton Foundation, a foundation dedicated to improving conditions and opportunities for children from low-income families. Barbara is continuing her work to advance a state and national education reform agenda, from preschool to college. She also serves as the Policy Director for the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.
Prior to joining the Piton Foundation, Barbara served four years as Colorado’s 47th Lieutenant Governor, becoming only the fourth woman to hold the position in Colorado’s history. As Lt. Governor, her portfolio included co-chairing the newly created P-20 Education Council, co-chairing the Colorado Space Coalition, chairing the Metro Denver Health and Wellness Commission, serving as spokesperson for the Colorado CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), chairing the advisory committee for the development of a comprehensive early childhood system, overseeing the Head Start State Collaboration Office and the Governor’s Commission on Community Service, and promoting the arts and arts education.
Prior to becoming Lt. Governor, Barbara served 16 years as president of the Colorado Children’s Campaign. She led major policy initiatives that expanded early childhood education, increased funding for schools, created a data-based educator evaluation system, created charter schools, increased access to healthcare for uninsured children, reduced teen smoking, and expanded after-school programs.
Role in the Campaign: As Policy Director, Barbara works to engage policy and advocacy networks in promoting local, state, and federal policy reforms to strengthen, scale, and sustain improved child outcomes and school success for children in low-income families. In particular, this means: creating a birth-to-eight policy agenda that improves quality and expands access to child development and early education programs for children, especially vulnerable children and those from low-income families; building a seamless continuum of education experiences from early childhood to third grade; and addressing the policy barriers to every child having quality teaching in every setting, every day. Barbara is also Co-Chair of the Early Reading and Technology Committee, a partnership of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and ConvergeUS, in promoting the verbal and cognitive development of infants and toddlers from low-income families by engaging their parents and caregivers through multi-platform, innovative technologies in a variety of home and community settings.