City Club of Chicago: Arne Duncan
May 3, 2017
Arne Duncan is a Managing Partner at Emerson Collective, an organization dedicated to removing barriers to opportunity so people can live to their full potential. Through partnerships with local business leaders, community organizers, and nonprofit groups, Duncan aims to create job and life opportunities for disconnected youth between the ages of 17 and 24.
Before joining Emerson Collective, Duncan served as the U.S. Secretary of Education from 2009 through 2015. As Secretary, Duncan helped to secure congressional support for President Obama’s investments in education, including the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s $100 billion to fund 325,000 teaching jobs, increases in Pell grants, reform efforts such as Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation, and interventions in low-performing schools. Additionally, he helped secure $10 billion to avoid teacher layoffs; the elimination of student loan subsidies to banks; and a $500 million national competition for early learning programs.
Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Duncan served as the Chief Executive Officer of Chicago Public Schools from 2001 to 2008. As CEO, Duncan won praise for uniting the city’s stakeholders behind an education agenda that included opening 100 new schools; expanding after-school, summer learning, early childhood, and college access programs; dramatically boosting the caliber of teachers; and building public-private partnerships around a variety of education initiatives. Duncan is credited with significantly raising student performance on national and state tests, increasing graduation rates and the numbers of students taking Advanced Placement courses, and boosting the total number of scholarships secured by CPS students.
Duncan graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1987, majoring in sociology. At Harvard he served as co-captain of the basketball team and was named a first team Academic All-American.
A Chicago native, Duncan lives in Hyde Park with his wife, Karen, and their two children.