We are grateful for the continued support and guidance of the extraordinary members of our boards:
Our Global Advisory Board provides us advice on both education and our overall strategy. Our Directors are drawn from 8 countries and from fields as diverse as architecture, education, technology, medicine, and athletics.
Our Educational Advisory Board provides expertise on our overall educational design and on specific aspects of our educational operations.
Global Advisory Board
Benno Schmidt is among the world’s leading innovators in primary, secondary, and tertiary education. He has served as president of Yale University, dean of Columbia University Law School, and C.E.O. and chairman of Edison Schools (now EdisonLearning), a pioneer in the nation’s charter-school movement. More recently, he co-founded Avenues: The World School, in Manhattan.
Benno currently chairs the board of trustees of the City University of New York, the largest urban public university in the world. He also chairs the board of the nonprofit Council for Aid to Education, a group that helps colleges and universities with accountability and academic planning.
Early in his career, Benno clerked for Chief Justice Earl Warren of the United States Supreme Court, and thereafter worked for two years in the U.S. Department of Justice.
Benno recently received national recognition as the recipient of the sixth annual Philip Merrill Award of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (A.C.T.A.) for outstanding contributions to liberal-arts education.
Jean Liu currently serves as president of Didi Chuxing, the world’s largest ride-sharing company. She joined the company in 2014 as C.O.O. and led immense fundraising efforts to facilitate the merger between Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache, creating Didi Chuxing. The fundraising included a $1 billion investment from Apple. She raised $13 billion for Didi Chuxing from investors including Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu and Apple. In Time magazine’s “The 100 Most Influential People” feature, Apple C.E.O, Tim Cook wrote about her, “Jean Liu is a disrupter, and not only through her ambitious effort to change the way people in China commute, travel, and connect with one another. . . . [She] has built a transportation platform that offers convenience and flexibility to tens of millions of commuters.”
Prior to her career at Didi Chuxing, Jean obtained a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Peking University in Beijing, and then received a master’s degree in computer science from Harvard. Following graduation, she joined Goldman Sachs and rose to become one of the youngest managing directors in the bank’s history.
Among her many accolades, Jean has been recognized as one of the “50 Most Powerful Moms” by Working Mother.
Clarissa Farr was high mistress of St Paul’s Girls’ School in London, one of the U.K.’s leading secondary schools, and was previously principal of Queenswood School. She is currently a fellow of Winchester College and a governor of the Royal Ballet School, and was one of the founding members of the board of the African Gifted Foundation. She is a trustee of the British Museum. Clarissa is also a former president of the Boarding Schools Association and chairman of the Girls’ Schools’ Association. She read English literature at university and has taught in six schools: five in the U.K. and one in Hong Kong. She received her B.A. in English literature and M.S. in modern fiction and critical approaches from the University of Exeter.
Dr. Daniel Vasella began his career as a medical doctor and has now become one of the world’s most influential C.E.O.’s. Dan studied medicine at the University of Bern Medical School, where he later became the chief resident. He was named C.E.O. of Sandoz Pharma in 1994 and helped engineer one of the largest mergers in pharmaceutical history, which placed him as C.E.O. of Novartis in 1996. Dan has been named by Time magazine as one of the world’s “100 Most Influential People.”
Kwame Appiah, Ph.D.
Kwame Appiah is a professor of philosophy and law at New York University, where he teaches in New York, Abu Dhabi, and other N.Y.U. global centers. He was educated at schools in Ghana and England, and then studied at Clare College, Cambridge University, where he took both B.A. and Ph.D. degrees in philosophy. His Cambridge dissertation brought together issues in the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind, which led to two books: Assertion and Conditionals (1985, Cambridge University Press) and For Truth in Semantics (1986, Basil Blackwell).
Following Cambridge, Kwame taught at Yale, Cornell, Duke, and Harvard Universities. Prior to joining N.Y.U., from 2002 to 2013, he was a member of the faculty at Princeton University, where he had appointments in the Department of Philosophy and the University Center for Human Values, as well as being associated with the Center for African American Studies, the programs in African studies and translation studies, and the Departments of Comparative Literature and Politics.
In 2010, Kwame was named one of Foreign Policy magazine’s top global thinkers. He currently serves on the boards of Facing History and Ourselves, the New York Public Library, the Public Theater, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Pheroza Godrej is an art historian, environmentalist, and author, having written books on history, travel, and painting, as well as studies of British artists in India. A renowned curator, Pheroza is the director of Cymroza Art Gallery in Mumbai, which she founded in 1971.
Publications which she has co-written or co-edited include Scenic Splendours: India Through the Printed Image; Under the Indian Sun, Bombay to Mumbai: Changing Perspectives; and A Zoroastrian Tapestry: Art, Religion, and Culture.
She is closely associated with the C.S.M.V.S., the Museum Society of Bombay, the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, the National Gallery of Modern Art, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (I.N.T.A.C.H.), and the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (I.C.C.R.).
Global Advisory Board
Renzo Piano is a world-renowned architect and the Chairman and Founding Partner of the Renzo Piano Building Workshop, and he is designing all Whittle School & Studios campuses.
Renzo was born in Genoa, Italy, into a family of builders, and studied at the Politecnico of Milan University. He went on to work for and with prestigious architects, including Franco Albini, Richard Rogers, and Peter Rice. In 1981, the Renzo Piano Building Workshop was established, with 150 staff and with offices in Paris, Genoa, and New York. Renzo has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the Royal Gold Medal at the R.I.B.A. in London; the Kyoto Prize in Kyoto, Japan; the Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO; and the Pritzker Architecture Prize at the White House in Washington. Amongst his many accomplishments are the Whitney Museum in New York, Kansai International Airport in Osaka, Japan, and the Shard in London. In 2004, Renzo founded the Renzo Piano Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of the architectural profession through educational programs and educational activities.
Robert Birgeneau, Ph.D.
Robert Birgeneau received his Ph.D. in physics from Yale University in 1966. He was on the faculty of Yale for one year and then spent one year at the University of Oxford. He joined the technical staff at Bell Laboratories from 1968 to 1975 and then taught physics at MIT. In 1988, he became head of M.I.T.’s Department of Physics and, in 1991, became dean of its School of Science.
In 2000, Bob was named president of the University of Toronto, and from 2004–13, he served as U.C. Berkeley’s chancellor. Currently, he is the university’s Arnold and Barbara Silverman Distinguished Professor of Physics, Materials Science and Engineering, and Public Policy. He is a fellow of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Professor Birgeneau also serves as a co-chair of the Lincoln Project, an initiative of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences that advocates for the importance of public colleges and universities and devises strategies to increase their funding.
Yang Yang currently serves on the International Olympic Committee and is the first female member of the International Skating Union Council. She was appointed executive director of the Chinese National Olympic Committee in 2006 and vice-chair of the Chinese Youth Federation in 2010. In 2014, she became chair of the I.O.C. Evaluation Commission for the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games. She is also global ambassador for Special Olympics.
Prior to her distinguished career in sports administration, Yang became China’s first Winter Olympic champion when she won a gold medal in the women’s 500-meter short-track speed-skating event at the Salt Lake City Winter Games in 2002. She also won gold in 1,000 meters and a silver medal in the 3,000-meter relay. She is one of the most decorated skaters in history, having won 32 international titles in seven years and becoming the first speed skater to win six overall (and consecutive) short-track world championships, from 1997 to 2002. After the 2003 World Championships, Yang Yang took time off from competition, but made a comeback in the 2004–5 season in the lead-up to the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy, where she won the bronze medal in the 1,000-meter event.
Hareb Al Darmaki
Hareb Al Darmaki is the co-founder and chairman of the board of Gulf Capital, a leading alternative asset management company. He has been with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) since 1976, joining as the Director of the Bond & Equity Department. Mr. Al Darmaki is currently the Advisor - Managing Director’s office at ADIA. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Political Science from Bristol University in the United Kingdom, and a Master’s Degree in International Studies from Johns Hopkins University, USA.
Educational Advisory Board
Tom Vander Ark
Tom Vander Ark currently serves as C.E.O. of Getting Smart, a learning design firm that amplifies thought-leadership campaigns, education initiatives, powerful learning experiences, and forward-leaning strategies with schools, school districts, and impact-oriented partners.
Tom graduated from the Colorado School of Mines, where he was awarded the Distinguished Achievement Medal. He received his M.B.A. in finance from the University of Denver and continues his education online. In addition to his role at Getting Smart, Tom is a partner in Learn Capital, an education venture-capital firm investing in ed-tech startups. He is also a director for 4.0 Schools, Bloomboard, Charter Board Partners, Digital Learning Institute, eduInnovation, and Imagination Foundation. Previously, he served as the first executive director of education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as a public-school superintendent in Washington State. Tom has spoken at a variety of prestigious national and international conferences, including SXSWEdu, iNACOL’s Blended & Online Learning Symposium, and A.S.U./G.S.V., and has published numerous white papers and books in the field of education.
Todd Rose, Ph.D.
Todd Rose is the director of the Mind, Brain, & Education Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he also leads the Laboratory for the Science of the Individual. His work is focused at the intersection of the science of individuality and the practice of personalization in education. He is also the co-founder of the Center for Individual Opportunity (C.I.O.), a nonprofit organization that promotes the principles of individuality in work, school, and society.
Todd was born and raised in northern Utah. After dropping out of high school, he obtained his G.E.D. and started attending night classes at a local college. He eventually received his doctorate in human development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Todd wrote The End of Average, in which he argues that no one is “average” and promotes design paradigms that accommodate individual differences rather than statistical averages. Todd’s research endeavors have become widely renowned, and his talks have been featured at SXSW, TedX, Google, the Aspen Ideas Festival, and Apple.
Pavel Luksha, Ph.D.
Pavel Luksha is a professor of practice at the Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO and manages educational programs for leaders in innovation, future education, and R&D. Pavel earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees in economics from the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. He is fluent in English and can speak French and German.
Pavel is a global thinker, change catalyst, and facilitator working with systemic social innovations in education, business, social entrepreneurship, culture, and urban development. In addition to teaching, Pavel is the founder of Global Education Futures and a co-founder of the Living Cities movement in Russia. Pavel has published over 40 scientific and analytical publications in international books, journals, and conference proceedings. He is the author of Global Education Futures Agenda, a visionary book on the transformative role of education technologies, and the Atlas of Emerging Jobs, one of the most detailed global compendiums of new and emerging jobs—both of which have catalyzed systemic innovations in the Russian education system and across emerging economies.
Melina Uncapher, Ph.D.
Melina is a neuroscientist with 15 years of experience at the forefront of learning and memory research. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology at the University of California San Francisco and Director of the Education Program at Neuroscape, which uses educational neuroscience to investigate how students learn in the classroom. She partners with educators throughout the country to design, implement, and assess education innovations that are grounded in the science of learning.
Melina also leads a multi-university Science of Learning network, funded by National Science Foundation. This research program partners faculty at Stanford, UC Berkeley, and UCSF to investigate how executive function/cognitive control contributes to academic achievement in middle childhood. Additionally, Melina co-founded and is CEO of a science-for-good nonprofit, the Institute for Applied Neuroscience, that arms educators and students with practical tools based on the science of learning
Cindy Mi is the Founder and CEO of VIPKID, an education technology company that connects students (aged 4-12) in China with the world's best teachers for real-time online English immersion learning.
Cindy considers herself a teacher first; she is passionate about the power of education to transform and empower students, parents and teachers. Prior to founding VIPKID, she was a classroom teacher and a co-founder of ABC English, a tutoring company, where she led business development and campus expansion across China. Cindy believes that all students are unique, and that the world is within their reach when connected with great teachers capable of personalizing learning and sparking curiosity.
In 2017, VIPKID and Jack Ma Foundation launched an English-language education initiative for schools in rural China with the goal of reaching 200 schools in rural China in two years. Cindy spearheaded the partnership with the Jack Ma Foundation and actively oversees the program as it reaches more and more students in rural China. She serves on the advisory boards of the CKGSB Alumni Association and as an advisor to Teach for China.
Cindy earned her MBA from CKGSB, China’s leading private business school, and studied at Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management as part of an MBA exchange program.