©2018-2019 by Democrats for Education Reform CT.

About Us

DFER CT is an organization that supports elected Democrats and candidates who are champions of public education. Education progressives, we’re building a pipeline of Democratic leaders who will improve our education system so that it better serves students and families.


As part of realizing the American Dream, we advance policies and practices based on democratic values, with a goal of: increasing equity, protecting civil rights and the social safety net, and promoting great educational opportunities for all. In 2018, DFER State Director Amy Dowell served on the Platform Committee for the State Democratic Party's Convention.


DFER CT is the state chapter of a national political organization.

Each year, we build out our policy agenda in partnership with legislators who are champions of public education, looking at what's needed to improve schools for parents and students. Our legislative goals are established based on the following guiding principles:

  • All children have the right to attend public schools free of bias or violence, schools that meet their individual needs, promote their talents, and provide them the opportunity to succeed in school and in life.


  • Progressives, who fight for social safety net issues and the protection of civil rights, must make improving public education a key priority and moral imperative.


  • Conversations about how to improve public schools should be centered around the needs of students and families.


  • Schools and educators must have the resources to offer excellent academic opportunities and to address the needs of our most vulnerable students.

In 2019, we are committed to building educational equity and opportunity in our public schools through the following legislative priorities:

  1. Resource equity.

  2. Recruitment and retention of educators of color.

  3. Building pathways for students from school to career.


Political and Legislative History

Our political efforts are building a bench of CT leaders who are invested in improving public education.

  • In 2016, we supported six close General Assembly candidates, resulting in four wins, one by only 54 votes.

  • We also applied political pressure for leaders to abandon legislation that would have removed student achievement from teacher evaluations.

  • In 2018, we conducted polling in State Senate Districts and the Governor’s race 

  • We used that data to make 25,000 call contacts, send 33,000 texts, and invest in digital ads reaching over 200,000 people

  • Of the six competitive Senate contests we played in, five saw wins. And three of those six races were Democratic pick-ups!

Our sister organization, Education Reform Now, develops and promotes policy ideas to serve all public school students, especially students from low-income families and students of color.

  • In 2016, we opposed a proposed bill that would have decoupled teacher evaluations from student achievement. 

  • In 2017, we launched a bipartisan advocacy campaign, Fix the Formula CT, focused on equitable funding. 

  • In 2018, we collaborated with the Malloy administration to finalize RFPs for charter applications in 2019 and 2020.

  • We also protected $7M in charter funds that had been secured in 2017.

  • Lastly, we successfully combated unfair disciplinary legislation that would have marginalized vulnerable students, particularly students of color and students with disabilities.


CT's 2019 Education Champions

These Democratic leaders embody progressive values and have been champions for Connecticut students. We work closely with these elected officials to make changes that benefit students and families, and that are aligned with the principles of the Democratic party.

"In education, frequently we talk about distributing opportunity, as if that's enough. It isn't. We need to distribute success."


Governor Dannel Malloy

Former Governor, CT

Member, DFER Advisory Board


CT Chapter Staff


Amy Selib Dowell has been the DFER State Director in Connecticut since 2015. After nearly two decades of political work, she has served campaigns in New York City and State, in Connecticut, and on the National level, as well as non-profit organizations.

During her years as a campaign operative, Amy served as Finance Director for the successful Andrew Cuomo 2010 gubernatorial campaign from 2007 through 2009, and remained an advisor to the campaign and the Governor. She was also the lead political and fundraising consultant to the New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli from 2009 until 2012 and worked with Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) and the non-profit Alliance for Justice. In 2013, she led fundraising efforts for NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer’s competitive primary race.

Amy served as Finance Director to former New York State Governor David A. Paterson during his successful run for Lieutenant Governor in 2006 and Deputy Finance Director for Democratic Nominee Fernando Ferrer’s mayoral campaign in 2005. Prior to her time in New York, Amy was the Manager of the Frontline/Red to Blue incumbent protection program in its inception year at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Washington, DC.

Additionally, Amy was the Development Director for StudentsFirst in New York and Connecticut, the national education reform advocacy organization in 2012 and 2013.

Amy is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin- Madison, was born and raised in Connecticut and lives there with her husband and two school aged children, Bea and Sam. 

State Director

Amy Dowell


Prior to joining DFER CT in September 2018, Nicki was the Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, where she led their communications, development, and project management efforts. Nicki became involved in education policy efforts while earning her law degree at the University of Connecticut. 


A native of Connecticut, Nicki is committed to narrowing the state's achievement gap, one of the widest in the nation, so that every child has the opportunity to pursue the American Dream. She currently lives in Woodbridge with her husband, her son (the cutest baby on earth, and she's not even biased!), and her dog.

Deputy State Director

Nicki Golos

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