Carolyn Welch

UPP Senior Advisor


“As a parent of two gifted children whose gifted education program was cut from their public school, I understand on a personal level how the absence of sufficiently challenging educational opportunities negatively impacts high-ability students and their families. Through my work, I also see the power than an appropriate educational fit has to transform students’ lives, whether they are special needs, gifted, or both. The Untapped Potential Project’s ability to draw attention to the needs of students who have often been overlooked and bring organizations together to effect policy change is what is needed to fundamentally improve education for children with unique abilities, especially those who are economically and socially disadvantaged.”

Carolyn E. Welch, J.D., is an attorney whose practice involves educational advocacy work for students with various needs and abilities, their families and the schools they attend and policy advocacy work at the state and national level.

Carolyn’s law practice includes representing low-income special education students in Chicago Public Schools through Chicago’s Legal Assistance Foundation Education Law Pro Bono Panel.  Additionally, she is a Board Member of pilotED Schools, which is a unique, identity-based Charter School.  Carolyn’s work for students in underserved communities focuses on children on both ends of the learning spectrum.

Carolyn’s policy advocacy work has been focused on advancing the needs of gifted children through initiatives at the state and regional level in Illinois through various organizations and at the national level through the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC).  Positions include serving as an officer and trustee of the Midwest Center for the Gifted, advisor and former Advocacy Committee Co-Chair of the Illinois Association for Gifted Children (IAGC), and member of the Parent Editorial Content Advisory Board of NAGC.

Through her advocacy work with IAGC, Carolyn has testified before the Illinois State Board of Education and at Congressional hearings in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois and met with representatives in Washington, DC on behalf of gifted children and the families, educators and schools that support them as a thought leader in relation to the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

As a parent, Carolyn served as the President of the Family & School Association at Science & Arts Academy and as the Vice President of the Parent Teacher Club (Illinois School District 31).  Carolyn has also been involved in the community as a youth sports coach, Science Olympiad coach and Sunday school teacher.

Carolyn received her J.D. in 2002 from the Georgetown University Law Center.