Keynote: Hilary Pennington

Hilary Pennington is the vice president for Education, Creativity, and Free Expression for the Ford Foundation. She leads the foundation’s work on school reform in the United States and higher education around the world, next-generation media policy and journalism, and support for arts and culture. She also oversees the foundation’s regional programming in four offices based in Africa and the Middle East.

Hilary is a national expert on postsecondary education and intergenerational change. Before joining the foundation in 2013, she was an independent consultant whose clients included the Next American University project of the New America Foundation and Arizona State University. She also led the Generations Initiative, a project funded by national foundations to develop effective responses to the dramatic demographic shifts occurring in the United States.

Between 2006 and 2012, Hilary served as director of education, postsecondary success, and special initiatives at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where she guided grant programs across the country and worldwide. Before joining Gates, she was a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and president and CEO of Jobs for the Future, a research and policy development organization she co-founded. In 22 years with JFF, Hilary helped the organization become one of the most influential in the country on issues of education, youth transitions, workforce development, and future work requirements. She also served on President Bill Clinton’s transition team and as co-chair of his administration’s presidential advisory committee on technology.

We are immensely proud that Hilary is a graduate of the Yale School of Management and Yale College. She holds a graduate degree in social anthropology from Oxford University and a master’s degree in theological studies from the Episcopal Divinity School. In 2000, she was a fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.