Audience in Lecture






Founder & Chief Executive Officer


Ascend Learning


Steven F. Wilson is founder and chief executive officer of Ascend Learning, a college preparatory charter school management organization that enrolls 5,000 students in twelve schools in central Brooklyn. Ascend has posted since 2015 some of the largest gains in math and English of large networks in New York City and has reversed the achievement gap on the state's Common Core exams.

A senior fellow at Education Sector in Washington, DC, Steven was formerly the executive vice president for product development at Edison Schools and a senior fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. His book, Learning on the Job: When Business Takes on Public Schools, examined the first decade of private management of public schools and was awarded the Virginia and Warren Stone Prize.

Steven founded and served as chief executive officer of Advantage Schools, an urban charter school management company which enrolled 10,000 students and was funded by leading venture capitalists, including Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers.

Prior to founding Advantage, Steven was special assistant and director of strategic planning for Massachusetts Governor William Weld. He advised the governor on education policy during the passage and implementation of the state’s 1993 comprehensive education reform act and the development of the MCAS, and he developed the governor’s blueprint for reorganizing Massachusetts state government.

Steven is the former executive director of the Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research. His first book, Reinventing the Schools: A Radical Plan for Boston, led to the establishment of the Massachusetts charter school law, which he drafted, and the charter sector in Boston, considered today to be among the strongest in the country. Wilson is the board president of Building Excellent Schools and a graduate of Harvard University.