John B. King Jr.
MA ’96, EdD ’08, Columbia University; JD ’07, Yale University
Former U.S. secretary of education and New York State commissioner of education, John King is president of The Education Trust, a national nonprofit working to close opportunity gaps that disproportionately affect students of color and low-income students.
By the time he was 12, both his parents had died. He credits New York City public school teachers with saving his life—providing him with engaging educational experiences and hope.
Dedicated to the power of education, King began his career as a social studies teacher in Puerto Rico and Boston, and then as a principal in Boston. He led a school network in New York City and became the first African American and Puerto Rican to lead the New York State Education Department. He joined the U.S. Department of Education in the Obama administration, rising to become the nation’s 10th education secretary.
King sits on the boards of The Century Foundation, the Robin Hood Foundation, the American Museum of Natural History, and Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative.
At Harvard College, he was president of the Phillips Brooks House Association, taught civics and conflict resolution in Boston public schools, and ran the Mission Hill Summer Program.
“I would be honored to give back to the institution that has had such a meaningful impact on my wife and me. Through classroom experiences, service learning opportunities, and campus life, Harvard can prepare a next generation of diverse graduates who can help the nation meet persistent as well as new challenges.”
King and his wife, Melissa EdD ’07, have two daughters.