Julie Kowal joined BEST NC as Vice President of Policy and Research in July of 2014. Julie is a North Carolina native and a K16 product of North Carolina public schools. She is a nationally-recognized education policy expert on a wide range of public education issues, including teacher and leader effectiveness, school innovations and dramatic school improvement. She came to BEST NC from the North Carolina Campaign for Achievement Now, an education policy and advocacy nonprofit, where she served as founding Executive Director. Prior to founding CarolinaCAN, Julie was a member of the leadership team at education policy and management consulting firm Public Impact, where she led project teams on many of the most promising education transformation efforts in the nation. An alumna of AmeriCorps NCCC and Public Allies DC, Julie earned her bachelor’s degree with honors from the University of North Carolina at Asheville and her law degree with honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.