John White is a member of the Board of Directors of Chiefs for Change and is chief in residence. In this role, he provides coaching, advising, and thought partnership to fellow members of our network and participants in our Future Chiefs leadership development program.  

The longest serving state education chief in the nation, White was Louisiana state superintendent of education from 2012 to 2020. Under his leadership, the state launched Louisiana Believes, a plan to ensure every child is on track to a college degree or a professional career. Throughout the course of his tenure, White worked to unify the state’s fragmented early childhood system, to modernize curriculum, to professionalize the preparation of educators, to provide pathways to prosperity for all high school graduates, and to provide families with expansive school options irrespective of their financial means.

Louisiana Believes includes nationally recognized initiatives such as Early Childhood Networks, Louisiana Teacher Leaders, ELA Curriculum Guidebooks, Believe and Prepare teacher residencies, Jump Start career education, the state’s Innovative Assessment Pilot, and the Louisiana FAFSA initiative. White and his team also led the post-Katrina renovation and unification of schools in New Orleans and the creation of the Baton Rouge Achievement Zone.

When White stepped down, Louisiana was a better educated state than at any point in its history. Louisiana’s Class of 2018 included 5,000 more graduates than did the class of 2012. Five thousand more students in that class earned the state’s TOPS scholarship, and 5,000 more enrolled in college after graduating high school. In that time, the number of Louisiana students earning Advanced Placement early college credits increased by 167 percent, and the state led the nation in the percentage of high school seniors completing an application for higher education financial aid.

Moreover, in 2019, Louisiana students ranked first in the nation for improvement in eighth grade mathematics on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP). Over the decade spanning White’s tenure, Louisiana’s academic growth outpaced the nation, ranking in the top 10 among states for improvement on every NAEP test.

Prior to being named state superintendent, White was superintendent of the Louisiana Recovery School District. He previously served under Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein as deputy chancellor for the New York City Department of Education and served as executive director of Teach For America—Chicago and Teach For America—New Jersey. He began his career as an English teacher at William L. Dickinson High School in Jersey City, N.J.

White’s writings on education have been published in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Education Next, the Daily Beast, The Hill, and the Brookings Institution’s Evidence Speaks. He testified in Congress on the No Child Left Behind Act, the Every Student Succeeds Act, the Higher Education Act, and early childhood care and education.

White holds a bachelor’s in English with distinction from the University of Virginia and a master’s in public administration from New York University. He is co-founder and chairman of Propel America and an academic visitor to the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.