Maureen A. McLaughlin, Senior Advisor to the Secretary and Director of International Affairs—Biography

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Maureen McLaughlin is a senior advisor to the secretary of education and director of international affairs at the U.S. Department of Education. In this position, she has led and coordinated the Department’s international activities and engagement since August 2010. She also spearheaded the development of its first international strategy, which is designed to simultaneously strengthen U.S. education and advance U.S. international priorities. The key objectives of the strategy are to increase the global competencies of U.S. students, learn from other countries to improve U.S. teaching and learning, and engage in active education diplomacy.

Prior to joining the Department in 2010, McLaughlin worked for eight years at the World Bank as lead education specialist and education sector manager. In those positions, she worked with ministers of education and finance, and other senior officials in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Turkey to provide strategic direction and technical leadership for improving education from preschool through tertiary education. McLaughlin led, managed, and built up the Bank's regional education team, and led the Bank’s education work for Turkey and Uzbekistan. She also initiated an annual conference on education for government officials in the region, bringing together international expertise and regional experience to create a collaborative learning opportunity.

Immediately before joining the World Bank, McLaughlin was a Public Policy Fellow in the New Zealand Ian Axford program run by Fulbright New Zealand. She worked in the Ministry of Education, examining tertiary education reforms that began in New Zealand in the mid-1980s, as well as identifying an opportunity gap in college access and suggesting ways to close it.

Between 1988 and 2002, McLaughlin held several senior positions at the U.S. Department of Education, including acting assistant secretary for postsecondary education at the beginning of two new administrations (1993 and 2001), deputy assistant secretary for policy, planning and innovation (1993–2002), and director of the postsecondary education division in the Planning and Evaluation Service (1988–1993). In these positions, she was a leader in shaping and implementing many of the Department’s policy initiatives, including student loan default reduction efforts, creation of direct student loans and income contingent repayment, creation of GEAR-UP, and reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

McLaughlin joined the Senior Executive Service in 1990, and was awarded the highest awards for government service, the Distinguished Presidential Rank Award (1998) and the Meritorious Presidential Rank Award (1996). From 1979 to 1988, she was principal, associate and assistant analyst at the U.S. Congressional Budget Office, working on postsecondary education, employment and training, public service employment, and welfare reform.

McLaughlin holds a Master of Public Policy from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Arts from Boston College, majoring in economics and graduating summa cum laude and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

McLaughlin has a lifelong connection to education through her parents, a college professor and a retired teacher. She lives in Arlington, Va., with her husband and their two daughters, who both attended Arlington Public Schools. Active in local affairs, McLaughlin chaired Arlington’s Fiscal Affairs Advisory Committee in the early 1990s and served on the Commission on Arlington’s Future (1988).

Last Modified: 01/19/2017