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John M. Bridgeland

Strategy & Fundraising

Former Director White House Domestic Policy Council

John Bridgeland is Founder and CEO of Civic, a social enterprise firm in Washington, D.C. He is also Vice Chairman of the Service Year Alliance, an initiative to create a civilian national service counterpart to military service in the United States; Vice Chairman of Malaria No More; Co-Convenor of the Grad Nation campaign; Co-Chair of the Future of Work Initiative; and Co-Founder of the High Seas Initiative. He is also author of the book, Heart of the Nation: Volunteering and America’s Civic Spirit, with a foreword by General Stanley McChrystal.

In 2019, Bridgeland developed America’s New Business Plan with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to unleash a nation of entrepreneurs. Bridgeland is also Co-Chair of the Aspen Initiative on the Future of Work with Bruce Reed, Senator Mark Warner, and Governor Mitch Daniels to upgrade America’s engine of opportunity. Bridgeland co-authored with former OMB Director Peter Orszag, Can Government Play Moneyball? for The Atlantic; and co-authored the book, Moneyball for Government, with Melody Barnes.

In 2018, Bridgeland served as Co-Chair of Policy and a Commissioner of the National Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Development at the Aspen Institute. In 2017, Bridgeland co-founded the High Seas Initiative and was Executive Producer of the National Geographic film, Sea of Hope, featuring oceanographer Sylvia Earle and efforts to bring the national park idea to the ocean. In 2017, Bridgeland gave a TED talk on universal national service at TEDx Pennsylvania Avenue. In 2015, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association awarded Bridgeland its highest honor for “outstanding career achievements and contributions to society,” presented to Bridgeland by Wimbledon Champion Stan Smith.

In 2010, President Obama appointed Bridgeland to the White House Council for Community Solutions. Bridgeland previously served as Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council in the first term of President George W. Bush, and Assistant to the President and first Director of the USA Freedom Corps, where he coordinated policy on international, national, community, and faith-based service in the aftermath of 9/11.

Bridgeland was also the Founding CEO and is Vice Chairman of Malaria No More and Senior Advisor to the United Nations Special Envoy for Malaria, which together are mobilizing the public and private sectors to end malaria deaths in Africa. He co-led the White House Summit on Malaria, which launched Malaria No More.

His work on the high school dropout crisis helped bring national attention to the issue, with the TIME cover story “Dropout Nation,” two Oprah Winfrey shows and a David Broder column prompted by his report, The Silent Epidemic. Over the last 10 years, he has been a co-convener of the GradNation campaign and co-authored the annual report, Building a Grad Nation, which launched and implements a “Civic Marshall Plan” to meet the national goal of a 90 percent high school graduation rate by the Class of 2020. High school graduation rates have risen from 71 percent in 2001 to over 85 percent by 2018, with nearly 4 million more students graduating rather than dropping out.

Bridgeland also was a co-convener of ServiceNation, a Presidential forum with Senators John McCain and Barack Obama on September 11, 2008, and a national summit that showcased a comprehensive plan to increase community, national, and international service opportunities. The plan generated a TIME cover story and was included in the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act led by Senator Orrin Hatch, which was signed into law within the first 100 days of the Obama Administration. For his work in promoting the national service agenda, Bridgeland was named NonProfit Times Executive of the Year.

Bridgeland is an experienced public speaker and has appeared on the PBS NewsHour, CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Fox News, Cavuto Fox Business, BBC, National Public Radio, American Public Media’s Market Place, among others. Bridgeland also was a Teaching Fellow at the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where he offered a seminar on Presidential Decision Making. He is currently a Senior Fellow at the Miller Center for Public Affairs at the University of Virginia.

Bridgeland began his professional career by practicing law in the New York and Paris, France offices of Davis Polk & Wardwell. He also served as Chief of Staff and Counsel to former U.S. Congressman Rob Portman, where he drafted or played a leading role in developing 9 bills that were signed into law.

Bridgeland graduated with honors in government from Harvard University, where he wrote his senior honors thesis under James Q. Wilson and played on the Harvard Varsity Tennis Team; studied at the College of Europe and Université Libre de Bruxelles as a Rotary International Fellow; and received his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was a Hardy C. Dillard Teaching Fellow, won the American Jurisprudence Prize, served on the National Moot Court Team, and continues to serve on the Public Service Advisory Committee.

Bridgeland received an honorary degree from the College of William and Mary in 2016. He also has honorary degrees from Averett University, Saint Anselm College, Ripon College, and Hamline University, where he delivered commencement addresses. He also delivered the commencement address at the College of William and Mary, Thomas Jefferson Program for Public Policy; Johns Hopkins University, Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences; and Westwood College.