Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Announces New Executive Director Harold O. Levy

LANSDOWNE, VA – The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is pleased to announce that Harold O. Levy has been named Executive Director. Levy will lead the Foundation’s efforts to advance the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need.   Levy is a highly seasoned executive with strong leadership experience in the education sector, including serving as the New York City Schools Chancellor.

The Board of Directors expressed its excitement for Levy leading the Foundation’s activities into a broader dimension of national outreach and accessibility of scholarships. The Board described Levy as a passionate and innovative leader who will take to new levels the Foundation’s mission of supporting high-potential students with financial need to excel.

Levy stated, “Every time a gifted child is unable to realize his or her full potential because the family lacks the means for support, a little bit of the American dream dies.  The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, as one of the largest private scholarship foundations in the country, has the ability to change that calculus for many of the students who lack adequate resources.  The Foundation’s mission is particularly meaningful to me as I was the beneficiary of precisely this kind of scholarship.”

While serving as the New York City Schools Chancellor during 2000-2002, Levy began the much-emulated Teaching Fellows Program and initiated a math initiative that resulted in the largest one-year gain in standardized test scores at that time. He also started a number of small, innovative schools, including New York’s first new specialized high schools for gifted students in 35 years. He led the school system during the 9/11 attacks, and in the aftermath secured transitional space and resources for all displaced schools until they could be returned to service.

In addition to his education experience, Levy has a distinguished career in financial services and law, previously serving as Director of Global Compliance and Associate General Counsel of Citigroup. He also served as Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Kaplan, Inc. where he started Kaplan University’s online School of Education. Most recently, he has managed early stage capital investments in the education sector.

In 2010, U.S. Education Secretary Arnie Duncan appointed Levy to the Committee on Measures of Student Success. Levy serves on several corporate and philanthropic boards.

Levy is a graduate of the Bronx High School of Science, the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the Cornell Law School. While at Cornell, he held a Telluride Association Scholarship and won the John F. Kennedy Award, which is to given to one graduating senior. He subsequently was awarded a Lincoln Exchange Scholarship to Oxford University, where he graduated with a First Class honors degree in politics, philosophy and economics. Levy has received honorary doctorate degrees from Baruch, Bard and St. Francis Colleges.

Levy replaces Dr. Matthew Quinn who has served as acting executive director for the last year, and also served as the founding executive director from 2000 to 2009 before retiring.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is a private, independent foundation dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. Founded in 2000 by the estate of Jack Kent Cooke, the Foundation has awarded $125 million in scholarships to 1,800 students, and $79 million in grants to organizations that support our mission. www.jkcf.org