Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona Announces Chris Soto Will Join the Agency in the New Role of Director of Innovation and Partnerships
(HARTFORD) – Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona is pleased to announce that Chris Soto, former state representative and most recently Director of Legislative Affairs for Governor Ned Lamont, is joining the State Department of Education (CSDE) to fill a newly created role dedicated to innovation and partnerships with regard to College and Career Readiness (CCR). The position of Director of Innovation and Partnerships was created as part of an agency redesign to focus on working directly with various constituent groups such as parents and families, educational stakeholders and community partners. It will involve strategic coordination with the state’s colleges and businesses, and the targeted development of inter-district partnerships and shared services to ensure that all of Connecticut’s students will have greater opportunities for postsecondary success.
“Chris has been an incredible contribution to my administration in our first year. He has been an active and engaging ally on key issues, and his understanding and experience in the legislature have been invaluable,” said Governor Lamont. “I know that Chris will do a great job helping chart a path for our youth in his new role.”
“We know the needs of our students are evolving and so we too must evolve as an agency to ensure we are best designed to meet those needs,” said Commissioner Cardona. “In addition to prioritizing a strong academic core, our K-12 public education system must also offer college and career pathways tailored to the demands of the 21st Century economy. We are excited to welcome Chris who brings with him the necessary tools and skillset to carry out this critical work.”
“My passion has and will always be to help young people realize their full potential through post-secondary success. It has been an honor to work for Governor Lamont and I look forward to continuing my work with Commissioner Cardona to advance the state’s broader goals on the development of college and career pathways,” said Soto. “This is an exciting opportunity to leverage my experience in community-based work, higher education, and state government to engage key stakeholders and build a successful ecosystem that prepares Connecticut students for the postsecondary opportunities that await them.”
In alignment with Governor Lamont’s overall vision for better coordination and communication between partners and stakeholders on Connecticut’s workforce development initiatives, Commissioner Cardona’s redesign of CSDE acknowledges that the K-12 public education system must be responsive to meet the current and future needs of the state’s employers. As the Director of Innovation and Partnerships, Soto’s responsibilities will concentrate on high touch strategic engagement with fellow governmental agencies, institutions of higher education, students and families, school districts, and business and industry from across the state in order to identify a set of mutual goals and create shared practices related to offering more pathways to rewarding careers and postsecondary success.
Soto will work directly with stakeholders to expand existing career pathways and create new ones that will engage students in areas such as advanced manufacturing, engineering, information technology, health sciences, finance and education.
An alumnus of the Coast Guard Academy, Soto is the founder and former director of Higher Edge, a New London-based organization that provides supports, resources and guidance to low-income and first-generation students through successful enrollment, retention, and graduation from college. Soto brings his policy experience as a state legislator from 2017 to 2019 and as a member of Governor Lamont’s senior staff. His background has given him first-hand knowledge of the overall collective vision for a new approach to CCR and will be essential to guiding CSDE’s coordination with the agency’s external partnerships to fulfill the mission of lucrative postsecondary outcomes for all of Connecticut’s 530,000 students.
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