Teena Olszewski

Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer

Teena Olszewski is Vice President and Chief of Staff at Education Forward Arizona. The span of her career includes the start-up, effective delivery, and evolution of programs and initiatives in government, education, and nonprofit environments.

Olszewski served as the Executive Director of Arizona GEAR UP at Northern Arizona University (NAU) from 2002 to 2020. A state-federal grant initiative entrusted to NAU by each of four Governors since 2000, Teena led four multi-year GEAR UP grants to fruition during her 18-year tenure, resulting in high school graduation and college-going rates for students far-exceeding state rates. In addition, more than 12,000 students from 67 schools in 26 low-income communities benefited from Arizona GEAR UP services, while thousands more prospered from the work of partnering organizations similarly committed to educational excellence and postsecondary success.

Since her retirement from NAU and Arizona GEAR UP in 2020, Olszewski has consulted with the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) on strategic education initiatives, bringing increased capacity to expand benefits and services to association members.

Nationally, Olszewski was a founding leader and served as Executive Committee co-chair of NCCEP’s College and Career Readiness Evaluation Consortium was a member of the GEAR UP Advisory Commission and was recognized in 2014 as Professional of the Year. In addition, she served as a Nonfederal Negotiator for the U.S. Department of Education Rulemaking Committee, Discretionary Grants Team, following Congress’ last reauthorization of the Higher Education Opportunity Act.

Locally, Teena was instrumental in supporting and advising several state college access programs and initiatives in Arizona, including service on the Advisory Council and the Public Engagement Task Force for College Success Arizona and Expect More Arizona, respectively (now Education Forward Arizona), the Arizona College Access Network, College Depot, and the Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education, where she served as Commissioner for two terms. Olszewski was also a Representative for more than a decade on a collaborative fund managed by the Arizona Community Foundation that, in part, aided the state with documenting required match on federal grants.

Teena’s calling into equitable college access for students from low-income backgrounds was preceded by a 20-year career in justice administration. She headed victims’ rights services under attorneys general Grant Woods and Janet Napolitano, directed law-related education in K-12 schools for the Arizona Bar Foundation, managed special projects for the Administrative Director and Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court, and provided professional staff support to the Court’s Foster Care Review Boards in several counties across Arizona.

Olszewski holds a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University and a Bachelor’s degree in Administration of Justice from Indiana University.