Chair: Accreditation Work Group

photo of Stephanie Smith Lee

Stephanie Smith Lee has served as the Chair of the Think College National Coordinating Center's Accreditation Workgroup since its inception in 2011. She is uniquely qualified for the position as a result of both her professional and personal experience.

Stephanie has over thirty years of public policy experience including serving in senior staff positions in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Since her daughter, Laura, was born with Down syndrome in 1982, she has led many successful disability advocacy efforts at the local, state, and Federal levels. As the Director of the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) in the US Department of Education, Ms. Lee was responsible for the implementation of IDEA, the federal special education law.

She later directed a 10-year project that developed inclusive postsecondary programs and led the successful effort to amend the Higher Education Act to allow federal financial aid and authorize model programs for students with intellectual disability. She continues to lead that effort as Co-chair of the Inclusive Higher Education Committee, serves as Senior Policy Advisor for the National Down Syndrome Congress, along with her responsibilities as the chair of the National Coordinating Center Accreditation Workgroup.