Todd currently lives in New Rochelle, NY, with his best friend (and wife), Caroline, and their two great kids, Isabel and Grayson.
Todd Kern | Founder and Partner
As Founder and Partner, Todd gets to play in most parts of 2Rev. He’s a systems-oriented generalist with 25 years’ experience in varied roles across the U.S. education industry – including at the federal, state and local levels; in government, academia, for-profit and not-for-profit settings; and in strategic, analytical, advocacy and operational roles. Todd started 2Rev to integrate and leverage this diverse set of perspectives to attempt new ways of addressing the complex problems that keep us from building the solutions kids and families need.
Todd previously held senior leadership roles with New Leaders for New Schools – first as Executive Director of the NYC program, then as Chief Knowledge Officer. Before that, he worked at KnowledgeQuest Ventures, a mission-driven boutique investment bank and strategy consulting firm serving the emerging education industry. Todd’s past experience also includes representing the legislative priorities of state education commissioners before Congress, lobbying for increased federal investments in education and working in the Chicago ed reform movement of the mid-90s. Todd has taught education policy at Teachers College, Columbia University and co-directed the Education Policy Fellowship Program.
Todd completed his graduate work in public policy at the University of Chicago, earned undergraduate degrees in political science and psychology from Miami University (OH), and graduated from a public high school in Ohio. He is currently participating in the Pahara-Aspen Education Fellows Program. Todd was recently elected to serve a 5-year term as a member of the school board in New Rochelle, NY.
What inspired you to start an organization focused on designing the Future of Learning?
In fairness, that’s not exactly how it played out. Instead, it was a mix of mid-career professional soul-searching and a desire to apply an “integrative design” approach to some of the knottiest problems in education. Over the first couple of years, our work slowly evolved into our current Future of Learning thesis – that is, what we think is more likely than traditional models and systems to prepare young people for success in the complex future that awaits them. Plus, design thinking makes it possible to tunnel into old problems in new and different ways. As an organization, I think our willingness to take our time (and resist the temptation to yell at the market with a bull horn in those early years) created the space for us to figure out what we believed and were most passionate about working on. Like most good entrepreneurs, we’re also making some of it up as we go, but it has been – and remains – an awful lot of fun.
Why does culture of innovation matter...and does 2Rev have it?
Some people believe that technical solutions will fix what’s broken with today’s current learning models and systems. These fixes are definitely important, but in many ways that’s the easy part. Managing change is the hard part. A willingness to think differently, to try new approaches, to confront fears and risk failure. We’re convinced that we’re not going to find the new, better solutions we need without diving in, experimenting and learning quickly. Culture of innovation is how you can tell whether an organization enables or constrains the risk-taking needed to innovate. 2Rev definitely has this kind of culture...at least today, but we have to fight to protect it. Education is notoriously risk averse and there are a thousand forces pushing to constrain innovation, so you have to make it a priority each and every day. Having great people helps, and 2Rev is really lucky to have attracted and retained such an amazing array of thinkers, leaders and tinkerers. It’s part of our secret sauce.