Matt Haney
( fellow 2013-2014)

The count came in. It was greater than 100,000 votes, and Matt Haney was jumping for joy. On Nov. 6, 2012, Matt became the youngest commissioner on the San Francisco Board of Education, and one of the only members of an urban school board in California under age 35. In addition to his work on the Board of Education, Matt was recently the executive director of the University of California Student Association (UCSA) — the representative body for the over 250,000 students in the University of California system statewide. Community, opportunity and empowerment are at the core of Matt’s passions and pursuits. Those three elements have, in large part, inspired his academic pursuits as well as his work in public service.

Matt is the product of California public schools, and holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley. Shortly after graduating in 2005, he served as a legislative aide for state Senator Joe Simitian (D-11). Matt then left his home state to study abroad, earning a Master’s in Law in International Human Rights from the National University Ireland (Galway) where he was a Senator George Mitchell Scholar studying transitional justice. Then came the 2008 presidential campaign of then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). Matt was drawn to the optimistic, community-driven message of the campaign, and trekked through Iowa, California, Texas and New Mexico as a field organizer and youth-vote director.

“After the campaign in 2008, there was a very important moment for me,” he said. It was the staff Inaugural Ball. The newly sworn-in president who ran on a campaign of “hope and change” told the crowded room to take the dedication, energy and passion they had brought to the campaign back to their own communities and bring about the very change he and they had campaigned for.

Matt took the call to heart. Rather than try to claim a coveted spot within the administration, he went back home to California and founded Citizen Hope, to catalyze change through community service, social networking and political activism. He went on to earn a law degree from Stanford Law School, and a Master’s degree from Stanford’s School of Education.

At the UC Student Association, Matt was deeply immersed in the principles of community organizing, and helped lead the California student movement during a difficult time for public higher education.

He ran for the Board of Education in 2012 because he believes that, with San Francisco’s diversity, resources, and community of innovation, its schools could lead the movement for a 21st century high-quality education for every student.

Less than a year into his four-year term as a school board member, Matt said he came across a call for applications to the fellows program posted on Facebook — a serendipitous encounter. “I knew immediately that it was the right thing for me. With its focus on empathy, collaboration and action — design thinking was speaking my language.’’

School principals have gone through training at the, and IDEO has been working with officials to transform the city’s school meal programs. Despite these collaborations and his two Stanford degrees, the fellowship marks Matt’s first time training at the He will dedicate his time as a fellow to designing an educational experience around students’ voices, needs, experiences and interests to improve overall retention and engagement. Because when one student disengages due to a lack of agency in their own educational experience, says Matt, “we all lose out."

Follow Matt Haney on Twitter at @matthaneysf, on Facebook and at

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Related Links

"Gov. Brown's misguided private prison plan" Van Jones and Matt Haney, The San Francisco Chronicle

Matt Haney jumping for joy over school board results Ivan V. Natividad, The San Francisco Bay Guardian Online

The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD)

Rookie San Francisco Board of Education member Matt Haney prepares to face daunting tasks Andrea Koskey, The San Francisco Examiner

"Mixologi x Matt Haney for School Board" Mixologi