Rachel Leifer

Senior Program Officer

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Rachel Leifer is a Senior Program Officer on the US Program’s K-12 Solutions team. She leads the curriculum body of work, which focuses on expanding equitable access to rigorous, coherent instructional experiences that can help improve academic outcomes for Black, Latino, English learner-designated, and low-income students in middle and high school. Before joining the Foundation in April 2016, she spent six years at The Leona M. & Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, where she led the Education Program’s national K-12 strategy development, grantmaking, and impact assessment efforts, focused improving outcomes in mathematics and literacy, especially for English learner-designated students; related state-based policy and advocacy; and field-building research. She also helped launch Helmsley’s conservation and sustainable development programs in Galapagos, the Gulf of California, and Madagascar. In previous roles, Rachel led the grantmaking program of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, which supported district-university partnerships for teacher professional learning in English Language Arts and American history, and capacity-building for the state’s network of public libraries and rural museums. Rachel began her career as an eighth-grade English Language Arts teacher in the District of Columbia Public Schools, initially as a Teach For America corps member. Originally from San Francisco, she holds master’s degrees in education and journalism from American and Columbia universities, respectively, and a bachelor’s degree from Smith College. She lives in New York with her daughter.