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National Geographic Society Names Dr. Vicki Phillips Chief Education Officer: Nationally recognized educator and strategist to lead National Geographic Society’s ambitious education agenda

The National Geographic Society today announced the appointment of nationally recognized educator Dr. Vicki Phillips to the new role of chief education officer, effective Jan. 21, 2019. In this capacity, Phillips will lead the Society’s ambitious education agenda in the United States and internationally, which includes student experiences, classroom resources and professional development opportunities for educators.

“There has never been a more urgent time to ensure that we are developing the next generation of planetary stewards, and with Vicki’s deep experience and understanding of how to drive impact, we are confident that we will move closer to the Society’s goal of achieving a planet in balance,” said Tracy R. Wolstencroft, president and CEO of the National Geographic Society. “I look forward to working closely with her and building upon her lifelong career devoted to improving educational outcomes for students and to innovations that accelerate the engagement, networking and professional learning of teachers and education leaders.”

Driven by a fierce determination to help all students realize their dreams, over the past three decades, Phillips has worked in national and global education at all levels — from neighborhood schools to the federal government. She has tirelessly championed students’ rights to a high-quality education — as a teacher, state-level policymaker, nonprofit leader, superintendent of a large urban district, chief state school officer and director of education for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Previously, she was superintendent of the School District of Lancaster in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and of Portland Public Schools in Portland, Oregon, where, during her tenure, both districts posted achievement gains at every level. Previously, Phillips was Pennsylvania’s secretary of education and chief state school officer under the leadership of Gov. Ed Rendell. Prior to that, she served at the state level in Kentucky, helping design and lead the implementation of unprecedented statewide changes required by the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990. Phillips began her career as a middle school and high school teacher.

“In addition to experiencing it in my own life, for decades, I’ve witnessed the tremendous power education holds to transform lives, families and communities,” said Phillips. “That same power can be harnessed to create generations of planetary stewards committed to keeping our planet in balance. I’m inspired by National Geographic’s commitment to education and to helping young people become globally engaged citizens who live in the world responsibly. National Geographic’s strong legacy in education, robust science, unmatched storytelling and capacity building makes it uniquely poised to drive change at scale.”

Phillips earned her Doctor of Education in international leadership, educational leadership and management from the University of Lincoln in the United Kingdom; a Master of Arts in school psychology from Western Kentucky University; and a Bachelor of Science in elementary education and special education, K-8, K-12, from Western Kentucky University. She was awarded an honorary doctorate in human letters from Misericordia University in Pennsylvania, an honorary doctorate in education from the University of Lincoln and an honorary doctorate in public service from Western Kentucky University.


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About National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. Since 1888, National Geographic has pushed the boundaries of exploration, investing in bold people and transformative ideas, providing more than 15,000 grants for work across all seven continents, reaching 3 million students each year through education offerings, and engaging audiences around the globe through signature experiences, stories and content. To learn more, visit or follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.