The Public Policy Institute of California announced Wednesday the election of Gary Hart, former state senator and California secretary of education, as chair of its Board of Directors.

He succeeds John Bryson, retired chairman and CEO of Edison International, who resigned from the PPIC board after he was confirmed last month as U.S. secretary of commerce.

Hart has a distinguished record of public service and deep experience in California public policy. He served as education secretary for Gov. Gray Davis and in the California Legislature for 20 years, representing Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. He was chair of the Senate Education Committee for 12 years and wrote important education legislation concerning school finance, class-size reduction and charter schools.

In 1995, Hart founded the California State University Institute for Education Reform, a policy center focusing on elementary and secondary school issues.

In 2001, he established the Program in America and California Explorations, an academic honors program for students at John F. Kennedy High School, a large and ethnically diverse high school in the Sacramento City Unified School District.

Hart has been a member of PPIC’s Board of Directors since 2003. Before that, he served as a senior education policy adviser to PPIC. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and a master’s degree in teaching from Harvard University.

Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO, expressed appreciation for Bryson’s contributions to PPIC as he welcomed the new board chair.

“We are grateful for John Bryson’s service to PPIC and wish him well as he takes on this challenging new position on President (Barack) Obama’s economic team,” he said. “PPIC is fortunate to have as a successor a Californian with an extensive record of leadership. Gary Hart has a strong knowledge of public policy and is dedicated to shaping a better future for all Californians.”

In addition to Baldassare and Hart, the current board members are Ruben Barrales, president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce; María Blanco, vice president of civic engagement at the California Community Foundation; Brigitte Bren, CEO of International Strategic Planning Inc.; Robert Hertzberg, partner at Mayer Brown LLP; Walter Hewlett, director of the Center for Computer Assisted Research in the Humanities; Donna Lucas, CEO of Lucas Public Affairs; David Mas Masumoto, author and farmer; Steven Merksamer, senior partner at Neilsen, Merksamer, Parrinello, Gross & Leoni LLP; Kim Polese, chairman of ClearStreet Inc.; and Thomas Sutton, retired chairman and CEO of the Pacific Life Insurance Company.

— Andrew Hattori represents the Public Policy Institute of California.