Nicole Allen, Director of Open Education
Nicole Allen is the Director of Open Education for SPARC. In this role she leads SPARC’s work to advance openness and equity in education, which includes a robust state and federal policy program, a broad librarian community of practice, and a leadership program for open education professionals.
Nicole was inspired by the idea of open education as an undergraduate student, and has dedicated her decade-and-a-half career to advancing the vision of a world where everyone, everywhere has access to knowledge. Now an internationally-recognized advocate and leading voice in the movement for open education, she has been widely cited in the media and has given hundreds of talks and trainings in more than two dozen countries.
Nicole’s career began in 2006 at the Student Public Interest Research Groups, where she worked with students across the United States to organize grassroots campaigns on higher education affordability and related issues. Throughout her seven year tenure, Nicole was successful in passing state and federal legislation to reform anti-consumer practices by the textbook publishing industry and authored two seminal reports on digital textbooks and the impact of costs on students.
Nicole joined SPARC in 2013 to develop and launch a program on open education. Under her leadership, SPARC’s open education program has been a driving force behind numerous state and federal policy achievements, which include securing $47 million in appropriations for a pilot grant program and establishing an open licensing policy at the Department of Education. Nicole was also instrumental in organizing opposition to the Cengage/McGraw-Hill merger. Starting in 2020, Nicole also led the steering committee of the Open Education Conference, the open education field’s largest annual event. She has continued to oversee administrative aspects of the conference following its transition to community leadership in 2022.
Nicole graduated from the University of Puget Sound in 2006 with a Bachelors of Arts in Philosophy. She is almost always on the go, but is most frequently found between her home in Providence, RI and Washington, DC.