Tom Vander Ark
CEO + Partner


Tom Vander Ark is an advocate for innovations in learning. As CEO of Getting Smart, he advises school districts and networks, education foundations and funders and impact organizations on the path forward. A prolific writer and speaker, Tom is author of Better Together, Getting Smart, Smart Cities, and Smart Parents. He has published thousands of articles, co-authored more than 50 books and white papers. He writes regularly on, Education Week, Forbes, and LinkedIn. 

Previously, Tom served as the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He also served as a public school superintendent in Washington state and has extensive private sector experience. Tom co-founded the first education venture fund, Learn Capital.

Tom is a board member for Education Board Partners, Director for 4.0 Schools, Digital Learning Institute, Latinx Education Collaborative, and eduInnovation and Advisor for One Stone, Teton Science Schools and Whittle School & Studios.

Tom received the Distinguished Achievement Medal and graduated from the Colorado School of Mines. He earned an M.B.A. in finance from the University of Denver, and continues his education online.

Books (authored or contributed)

Speaking Engagements

Tom is available for all types of speaking and moderating engagements such as keynotes, panel discussions, round tables and workshop sessions. From learning to leadership, we can customize a speech to fit the needs of your event and audience. Tom regularly speaks on the following:

  • Future of Work: Civic and organizational implications of life with smart machines and what graduates need to know and be able to do to thrive in the automation economy.
  • Future of Learning: New learning models, personalized and project-based learning, lifelong learning, and education technology.
  • Scaling Innovation: Impact investing, public-private partnerships, and working in networks.
  • Good Work: Finding and doing mission-driven work, nonprofit leadership, philanthropy, and community leadership.

To see more information on Tom, his speaking topics, and video examples – visit

To book Tom for a speaking engagement please contact Allison at or 206-992-4592.