Chris Soto accepts job with state Department of Education

New London — Chris Soto, the former state representative in New London and most recently the director of legislative affairs for Gov. Ned Lamont, has accepted a job as the director of innovation and partnerships with the state Department of Education.

The news was announced Thursday by Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona, who said the position is “dedicated to innovation and partnerships with regard to College and Career Readiness,” and created as part of an agency redesign to focus on working directly with various constituent groups, such as parents and families, educational stakeholders and community partners.

The position will involve strategic coordination with the state’s colleges and businesses, and the targeted development of inter-district partnerships and shared services to ensure that all of Connecticut’s students will have greater opportunities for postsecondary success.

“We know the needs of our students are evolving and so we too must evolve as an agency to ensure we are best designed to meet those needs,” Cardona said in a statement. “In addition to prioritizing a strong academic core, our K-12 public education system must also offer college and career pathways tailored to the demands of the 21st Century economy. We are excited to welcome Chris who brings with him the necessary tools and skillset to carry out this critical work.”

Soto is the founder and former executive director of Higher Edge, a New London-based nonprofit that guides low-income and first-generation students into and through college. Soto said his passion “has and will always be to help young people realize their full potential through post-secondary success.”

“It has been an honor to work for Governor Lamont and I look forward to continuing my work with Commissioner Cardona to advance the state’s broader goals on the development of college and career pathways,” Soto said in a statement.

“This is an exciting opportunity to leverage my experience in community-based work, higher education, and state government to engage key stakeholders and build a successful ecosystem that prepares Connecticut students for the postsecondary opportunities that await them,” he said.

Gov. Ned Lamont, in a statement, thanked Soto for his service and wished him well in the new position.

“He has been an active and engaging ally on key issues, and his understanding and experience in the legislature have been invaluable,” Lamont said. “I know that Chris will do a great job helping chart a path for our youth in his new role.”

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