Secretary- Designate Christopher N. Ruszkowski Biography
Christopher N. Ruszkowski was appointed New Mexico’s Education Secretary by Governor Susana Martinez in Summer 2017. Upon assuming the role, he traveled the entire state celebrating successes happening within New Mexico’s schools and classrooms as part of the New Mexico-True Straight-A Express tour. He spent time listening to students, families, teachers, principals, superintendents, and community leaders and has incorporated their input into the New Mexico Public Education Department’s (PED) priorities.
During his first six months, the PED has strengthened the state’s charter sector, brought in $45 million in federal grant funds, proposed a significant Pre-K programming expansion, quadrupled the number of families informed and engaged about their students’ early literacy, and unveiled a $50 million support package for the state’s historically struggling schools.
Mr. Ruszkowski first joined the PED in April 2016 as Deputy Secretary of Policy & Program. In this role he oversaw the state’s academic priorities, policy agenda, and research agenda. In 2016-2017, Mr. Ruszkowski co-led the New Mexico-Rising Tour, which resulted in the development of the NM State Plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which has been widely recognized as the best state plan in the country. The plan has reduced testing time, added ten instructional days, and will continue to grow statewide Teacher-Leader and Student-Leader networks. It will also increase the rigor of the state’s School Grading system, increase engagement with families, continue investment in Advanced Placement and Dual-Credit access, and create the state’s first-ever educator preparation program report cards.
Previously, Mr. Ruszkowski served for nearly six years as Chief Talent Officer and Associate Secretary at the Delaware Department of Education under Governor Jack Markell. During that tenure he built the Teacher & Leader Effectiveness Unit and co-led the implementation of the state’s plan for Race to the Top, President Barack Obama’s signature education initiative.
Mr. Ruszkowski is the product of K-12 public schools, and began his education career as a middle school social studies teacher and basketball coach at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Miami, Florida. He then worked for a variety of district, non-profit, and charter schools, supporting and training novice teachers at Teach For America Summer Institutes, working within Miami-Dade County Public Schools and the Louisiana Recovery School District with The New Teacher Project, and serving within the San Francisco Unified School District as a Fellow with Education Pioneers. Mr. Ruszkowski is a member of Chiefs for Change, a bipartisan network of diverse state and district education systems leaders, and was a member of the inaugural cohort of Future Chiefs.
Born in Chicago, “CR” is a first-generation American whose father arrived in the U.S. in 1950. Raised Greek Orthodox, his mother was also born and raised in Chicago and has been a flight attendant for 45 years. He attended the University of Minnesota on an Evans Scholarship where he earned a B.A. in Political Science and ultimately represented the state of Minnesota as a Finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship. Mr. Ruszkowski also studied politics and government at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, where he wrote his senior thesis on the country’s democratization efforts. He holds an M.A. in Educational Policy, Organizational, and Leadership Studies (POLS) from Stanford University.
To contact the Secretary-Designate, please see Staff page.
All media inquiries should be directed to Lida Alikhani, PIO.