The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has named educator John Palfrey as its next president, effective September 1.
Palfrey, who has served as head of school at Phillips Academy Andover in Massachusetts since 2012, has extensive experience spanning the education, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors. Under his leadership, Andover became the only school of its kind with an entirely need-blind admissions policy, doubled the number of faculty members of color, and diversified its student body. Palfrey also oversaw the creation of the Tang Institute, which seeks to reform and democratize excellent teaching and learning.
Before taking the helm at Andover, Palfrey served as the Henry N. Ess III Professor of Law and vice dean for library and information resources at Harvard Law School, where he expanded the library's reach and services and found innovative ways to use digital technologies to enhance the school's scholarship and teaching. From 2002 to 2008, he served as executive director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. He also was the founding chair of the Digital Public Library of America, which leverages technology to help ensure that knowledge and information are broadly accessible to all for free.
Since 2014, Palfrey has chaired the board of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and he also serves as chair at LRNG, a nonprofit organization working to close the equity gap by transforming how young people access and experience learning and connect to the world of work.
Palfrey will succeed Julia Stasch, who joined the Chicago-based foundation in 2001, served as its vice president for U.S. programs for thirteen years, and was appointed president in 2015 after serving as interim president. During her tenure, Stasch freed up resources by focusing the foundation on fewer programs and launched a series of "big bets" as well as the 100&Change competition. After she steps down from her position, Stasch will serve as board chair for Lever for Change, a new MacArthur-supported nonprofit that will bring philanthropists and organizations with vetted, high-impact solutions together to address some of the world's most pressing challenges.
"I am honored to lead the MacArthur Foundation during such a critical time, when challenges facing people and our planet can seem insurmountable, but the tools of social change are evolving to be even more powerful," said Palfrey. "I am an optimist, who believes that creativity, rigor, and selective disruption can make outsized social impact possible. I look forward to working with MacArthur's talented and dedicated board, staff, and grantees in Chicago, across the nation, and around the world."