Laura Encalade currently serves as the senior vice president of strategy and innovation for NIET. In this role she supports strategic planning efforts, partnership opportunities and the development of new services and technologies for the organization. Prior to joining NIET in 2019, Laura served as the chief of staff for the Tennessee Department of Education, where she served as a top aide to former Commissioner Dr. Candice McQueen. As chief of staff, Laura also led strategic plan integration and monitoring across the department and supported key initiatives like the creation of the state's Office of School Improvement.
Previously, Laura served as director of policy and research for the Tennessee State Board of Education, leading projects including the state's academic standards review process and the redesign of Tennessee's teacher preparation report card. Laura's focus on state-level education work also included roles as the deputy director of Tennessee's $500 million "Race to the Top" grant and the department's director of educator talent, where she supported district and statewide design and implementation of strategic compensation policies.
Laura began her career as a seventh- and eighth-grade social studies teacher in St. Louis where she was nominated for the Pettus Award of Excellence in 2010. A Memphis native, Laura earned her Bachelor of Arts in political science and economics at the University of Tennessee, a master's in secondary education from the University of Missouri and a master's in public policy from Vanderbilt University.