Skip to main content

Deanna Niebuhr

Director of Policy

Deanna is an educator and school administrator, practitioner, community organizer, and policy advocate. Her focus is on supports for students and families that go beyond health and human services to the importance of school culture and relationship and community building inside the school itself. Deanna has supported community school development in a variety of ways. She has provided coaching and direct technical assistance to schools, districts, practitioners and community partners and worked with legislators and policymakers to develop supportive-state level policies that advanced community school development for over fifteen years.

Early in her career, Deanna was a teacher and the education director at a group home and nonpublic school for adolescent girls who were wards of the court. This team took a comprehensive, developmental approach that rested on community building and an early version of restorative justice. This experience motivates her interest in getting upstream to facilitate both culture and systems change through policy, practice and capacity building – and fully realizing what it means to be student-centered and asset-based.

Deanna worked with the Alameda County Department of Social Services as the policy analyst for the Child Welfare Division, where she participated in the early efforts at both the local and state level to change the focus, approach, and assumptions behind this field of work in order to focus on leveraging family strengthens and better provide support early. For over fifteen years, she supported and coached districts, local government agencies, and potential partners in cross-sector approaches to supporting students and their families. She also leveraged this on the ground experience to work on systems and policy change at the state level, in areas including: school meals, nutrition education, family engagement, social emotional learning, school climate, mental health services, and Medi-Cal funding programs through partnerships such as for mental health or through school-based health centers and directly through the two school-based programs – Medi-Cal Administrative Activities (MAA) and the LEA Billing Option. In 2021-22, she supported the California Department of Education to design and launch the CA Community Schools Partnership Program – grant application and technical assistance system, as a special consultant through the CDE Foundation.

She holds a BA in Psychology from UC Berkeley, and a Masters of Public Policy from the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley.