In an earlier post, I referred to ConnCan, the organization that was the inspiration for 50CAN and lots of state CANS. I said it was founded by hedge fund managers. Leonie Haimson then wrote in and corrected me, saying it was founded by Jonathan Sackler. Now comes Jonathan Pelto of Connecticut to set us both straight. He says we are both right. Here is the story of the origin of ConnCAN:



Jonathan Pelto writes:



Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, Inc. (ConnCAN) was formed in 2004 by Jonathan Sackler, who served as the founding chair. However, the role of ConnCAN’s Board Chairman was then transferred to Brian Olson, the co-founder of Viking Global Investors. Viking Global Investors is a hedge fund which currently manages over $10 billion. In addition to being a long-time member of ConnCAN, Olsen presently serves on the Leadership Council of the Newschools Venture Fund.
Following Olson’s tenure as the Chairman of ConnCAN, the position was given to Will Heins, the former Senior Vice President of Greenwich Capital Markets.
Of the twelve present members of ConnCAN’s Board of Directors, at least nine are or were “hedge fund managers,” including Art Reimers, a former partner and managing director of Goldman Sachs.
Three months after Sackler and his allies formed ConnCAN, they also incorporated Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Advocacy, Inc. (ConnAD), which was originally designed to be the lobbying and public relations arm of ConnCAN. The number two spot at ConnAD went to Alexander Troy, who lists his occupation as “private investor.” Troy worked for the hedge fund, Perry Partners during the 1990s and eventually created his own hedge fund company called Troy Capital in 2003.
The primary players behind ConnCAN and ConnAD were also the individuals who financed the creation of Achievement First Inc. in 2003. Achievement First Inc. is the charter school management chain with schools in New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
Achievement First Inc. was founded by Stefan Pryor and Dacia Toll. Pryor now serves as Commissioner of Education under Connecticut’s Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy and Dacia Toll is Achievement First’s CEO. Achievement First, Inc. collects significantly more public funds from Connecticut taxpayers than any other charter school or charter management company.
Achievement First’s incorporation papers were signed by Greenwich businessman William Berkley (who remains the Chairman of its Board of Directors) and Jonathan Sackler. Achievement First’s initial Board of Directors also included Alexander Troy.
Today, ConnCAN’s Board Chair, Will Heins serves on the Board of Achievement First’s Elm City College Preparatory School, ConnCAN Board member Andy Boas serves as the Board Chair of Achievement First’s Bridgeport Academy and Alexander Troy serves on the Board of Achievement First’s Amistad Academy.
ConnCAN, ConnAD and a successor group called A Better Connecticut were the leading funders in the record breaking $6 million lobbying and PR campaign to support Governor Malloy’s “education reform” initiative in 2012.
Sackler also is the individual who formed 50CAN and ConnCAN’s Chief Operating Office, Marc Porter Magee, became 50CAN’s President. 50CAN’s Board now includes Sackler, Dacia Toll (Achievement First) and Richard Barth (Kipp Charter Schools and spouse of Wendy Kopp), as well as others.