Yet for all her tenacity as a reformer, Ms. Grasmick could also turn on the charm. She had an uncanny ability to connect with others and enlist them in her causes. A gifted consensus-builder, she relied on a statewide network of allies whose support allowed her to stand her ground against opponents. They included local school boards, district superintendants, teachers unions, parents groups and influential lawmakers. Her deep roots among all the significant players involved in shaping education policy gave her what amounted to her own independent political base on which to stake out positions. She had an infectious enthusiasm and a politician's touch for persuading people to see things her way, but her ability to win friends was in large part also a result of her own remarkable openness to others' views and her willingness to explore new ideas and new ways of doing things.