CEF Staff

Sarah Abernathy

Sarah Abernathy

Executive Director

Sarah Abernathy joined ACG Advocacy in 2016 and serves primarily as Executive Director of CEF. She has close to 30 years of experience working on education and budget issues in both Congress and in the Administration, including at the Department of Education, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Department of Health and Human Services.

For the previous 18 years Ms. Abernathy worked on the Democratic staff of the House Budget Committee, most recently serving as Senior Policy Coordinator focusing on budget issues relating to education, social services, and job training as well as environmental issues. She helped lead and manage the staff to develop goals and policy, including budget legislation. As the education staffer, she was responsible for collaborating with a range of stakeholders including the Administration, the advocacy community, the Congressional Budget Office, and Members to Congress to create and analyze budget options and craft strategies for their successful adoption. She developed special expertise in student financial aid policy, appropriations analysis, and budget process. Before her stint with the Budget Committee she spent 6 years as a legislative assistant for two Democratic House members.

From 1994-1998 Ms. Abernathy worked at the U.S. Department of Education in the Planning and Evaluation Service where she focused on rehabilitation services and adult and vocational education issues. She also wrote a report on improving low-performing schools and staffed the Under Secretary’s waiver request board. During that time, she was detailed to the Office of Management and Budget’s education branch where she supervised policy and budgets for special education and vocational rehabilitation. She was also detailed to the Health and Human Services’ regional office in San Francisco where she worked on child care and Head Start programs.

Ms. Abernathy graduated from Williams College and also earned a Master’s in Public Affairs from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs.

Sheryl Cohen

Sheryl Cohen

Senior Advisor

Sheryl V. Cohen joined the ACG Advocacy in 2008. She is a veteran Senate staffer with nearly two decades of management, strategic planning, political, communications and fundraising experience. She has an extensive and diverse universe of contacts with members of the Senate and House and their staffs, as well as throughout the field of politics and campaigns.

Ms. Cohen served as Chief of Staff to United States Senator Christopher J. Dodd from 1999 to 2008, with the exception of the time she spent from January 2007-January 2008 managing his presidential campaign effort. During her tenure as Chief of Staff, her responsibilities included the Senator’s Chairmanship of the Committee on Banking with its broad jurisdiction over financial institutions, as well as his involvement in education, health, and other important issues before the Senate. She managed a staff of seventy-five and was responsible for the development and strategic execution of all policy, communications, and office management. She oversaw a budget of nearly six million dollars, all hiring and staff management, and the integration of competing Washington, Connecticut, and political responsibilities.

As Campaign Manager of the Dodd for President Campaign, she recruited a staff of over one hundred and thirty, built strategic ground operations in multiple states, created and managed departments in research, communications, policy, technology, political, field, fundraising and administration. The campaign raised nearly sixteen million dollars from a diverse national network ranging from leadership in the fields of business, finance and technology to extensive grassroots on-line support.

From 1995 – 1999 Ms. Cohen served as Senator Dodd’s Political Director during his tenure as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee (1995-1996) and as the Finance Director for his 1998 six million dollar reelection campaign.

Ms. Cohen also served as the Finance Director for Senator Joe Lieberman’s successful 1994 Senate campaign and prior to that was his liaison on women’s and children’s issues and grassroots organizing in the state of Connecticut.

She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut and attended the Georgetown University Graduate School of Foreign Service.

Max Seltzer

Max Seltzer

Senior Associate

Max Seltzer joined the ACG Advocacy team in September of 2019 and currently serves as a Senior Legislative Aide. He focuses primarily on ACG’s Transportation and Infrastructure practice, but remains highly involved in issues related to education, rural development, technology, and telecommunications. Mr. Seltzer also serves as an Associate for Committee for Education Funding (CEF), the oldest and largest coalition of education associations in existence.

Most recently, Mr. Seltzer was a Government Affairs & Strategic Communications Intern at the Glover Park Group where he attended and reported on congressional hearings, prepared and assisted with fly-in’s, and analyzed social media engagement for various clients. Mr. Seltzer has also worked as a Press Intern for in the US Senate as well as a policy intern for a 2016 Senatorial election campaign.

Originally from Scarsdale, New York, Mr. Seltzer graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and minors in Entrepreneurship, Digital Studies, and Environmental Studies. During his tenure at Wisconsin, Mr. Seltzer was the President of the Alexander Hamilton Society, Co-Founder and Managing Editor & Chief for the Wisconsin International Review (The WIRe), and worked as an Apple Genius and Dell Product Professional for the University’s Department of Information Technology. 

Mr. Seltzer currently serves on the board of the Young Professionals in Transportation — Washington DC Chapter — and is an avid member of the aviation policy community.



Social Media Toolkit to let Congress know why education funding matters to you

CEF Events

CEF Gala – September 21, 2022
Reception and awards banquet at InterContinental -The Wharf

Videos, presentations, and photos from past briefings and CEF Galas

Charts, Funding Tables, and Other Resources

Find an expert, view federal budget info, and browse charts and graphics.

CEF Budget Book

Access CEF’s analyses of the President’s budget request from 2011 to the present.