CBIA and the Connecticut Council for Education Reform today announced a strategic affiliation, a move that enhances the existing education and workforce initiatives of both organizations.

Both groups will work together to close Connecticut's achievement gap while meeting the workforce needs of the state's businesses.

"Closing Connecticut's achievement gap and improving public education for all students is essential for the economic and civic well-being of Connecticut," said CBIA President & CEO Joe Brennan.

"We look forward to working with CCER to drive progress in this critical area."

"Born out of a gubernatorial commission on the achievement gap, CCER has always represented business in working to improve public education in Connecticut," said Steve Simmons, chairman of CCER's Board of Directors.

"CBIA has been a strong partner since CCER's inception, and the combination will strengthen our efforts on behalf of Connecticut's students and businesses."

The combined organization will operate as CBIA's Education & Workforce Partnership.

It will leverage CBIA's statewide presence and public profile to raise policymakers' and stakeholders' awareness of challenges facing employers and future job-seekers.

Since 2011, CCER has worked to narrow the achievement gap and raise academic outcomes for all students in Connecticut.

CCER's public policy experience and expertise in pre K-12 education will enhance the business community's ability to effect positive change in education and workforce policy issues.

CCER Executive Director Jeffrey Villar has worked in public education in Connecticut for 25 years, serving as a teacher, principal, and superintendent.

His depth of experience brings an important real-world dimension to CCER's policy work. He will serve as vice president, education policy for the partnership.

"I think this affiliation is an education policy game changer," Villar said. "Collectively, CCER and CBIA will be a powerful voice in education policy.

"I am thrilled to partner with the talented team at CBIA and look forward to working with them to meet the challenge of ensuring every child in Connecticut has the opportunity of obtaining a world-class education."

Andrea Comer, formerly executive director of the CBIA Education & Workforce Partnership, will now serve as the partnership's vice president, workforce strategies.

"The affiliation of our organizations presents a unique opportunity to address the education inequities that hinder our efforts to build a robust, diverse talent pipeline," Comer said.

"I'm excited to work with Jeffrey and the CCER team to promote policies and programs that address these disparities and improve outcomes for all our children."

Established as the CBIA Education Foundation in 1983, the CBIA Education & Workforce Partnership works with member businesses and other groups statewide to strengthen the talent pipeline and encourage economic growth.

A former elected Hartford Board of Education and State Board of Education member, Comer spent the past two decades working to improve the lives of children and strengthen communities.

Prior to joining CBIA in 2015, she served as chief development officer for an education management organization, where she oversaw communications, outreach, and fundraising.

The affiliation will allow each group to continue working toward their respective goals, with the help, support, and expertise from the other.

The boards of CCER and CBIA agreed to the affiliation at their respective board meetings in March and April. CCER will relocate from New Haven to CBIA's Hartford offices.

CCER's board will continue to meet within the structure of CBIA, as will the board of CBIA's Education & Workforce Partnership.


The CBIA Education & Workforce Partnership works with member businesses and other groups statewide to strengthen the talent pipeline and encourage economic growth in order to support the development of a skilled, knowledgeable workforce in Connecticut. For more information, please contact Meaghan MacDonald (860.244.1957).