John Simmons

John Simmons, President of Strategic Learning Initiatives

is the president of SLI. For over forty years, he has worked in the fields of education and high performance systems in the United States and abroad.

Johns’ current focus includes scaling a successful research-based model of whole school improvement to accelerate and transform student and adult learning. The systemic model rapidly improves student achievement by bringing together the best proven strategies and tools from education and corporate experience and at a low cost per school. The policy implications of school reform are the subject of “Chicago School Reform: Lessons and Opportunities,” (2 volumes) commissioned by The Chicago Community Trust. In May, 2010, he was the lead witness for the Hearing on Turnaround Schools, House Education and Labor Committee, Washington, D.C.

John has worked with more than 60 public schools and has consulted with the CEO of the Chicago Public Schools. He has worked the Illinois State Board of Education with high schools outside Chicago and with charter schools in Los Angeles He helped establish a national research collaborative for looking at student work and helped design the Chicago Academy for School Leadership, established by the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association and the Board of Education. His latest book, Breaking Through: Transforming Urban School Districts was published by Teachers College Press 2006.

Simmons’ career began at Harvard University where he was Lecturer in Economics and Director, the Harvard Project on North Africa. He then joined the World Bank’s Policy Planning Division where he revised the Bank’s investment policies in education, and designed loans to finance improvements in African and Asian countries. Since leaving the Bank, he has worked as a management consultant using high performance systems and continuous quality improvement strategies in the public and private sectors and started a nonprofit. He has written or edited six books and more than 75 articles on education, management and economic development.

John's other publications include: Working Together: Employee Participation in Action, with William Mares (New York: Knopf, 1983), Better Schools: Lessons from International Reform, with others, (New York: Praeger, 1983), The Education Dilemma: Lessons for the Developing Countries in the 1980s, (Pergamon, 1979), and Transforming Russian Enterprises with John Logue and Sergey Plekhanov (Greenwood, 1995). See

For fifteen years, Simmons worked in Russia and Kazakhstan to privatize and restructure firms, funded by the firms and the World Bank. He has also been a faculty member at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, Princeton, and the University of Massachusetts (Amherst). Simmons received a bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard University where he graduated magna cum laude and a doctorate in economics from Oxford University.

In 1994, the American Society for Training and Development honored him with its award for “Outstanding Achievement in Employee Involvement.” The Erikson Institute gave him a honorary degree for his work in school reform in 2003. John and Adele have three children.