Alumni Changemaker: Cordell Carter

Alumni Changemaker: Cordell Carter

Effectively impacting leadership and social innovation

To honor our 40 years, we're celebrating our most valuable resource - our alumni - through 40 profiles highlighting their leadership. Alum Cordell Carter, Esq. completed his fellowship at University of Maryland - College Park in 1997.

Cordell embodies the values of education, leadership and service. He is no stranger to education. Having received his BA in Political Science and Economics from The University of Washington, he went on to graduate from Carnegie Mellon University with an MS in Public Policy and Management and then earned his JD from The University of Notre Dame Law School.

His career started with the IBM Corporation where he led technology projects for federal agencies for four years before heading to law school. After providing legal counsel to KFW on behalf of their Climate Protection Fund, he returned to his passion for education as the Director of School Support Services and Special Assistant to the CFO/O for Seattle Public Schools. Here he supported over 800 employees and helped to design a performance management system while offering organizational expertise to the district’s labor team that was negotiating teacher's contracts.

In his next role as Vice President of Public Policy for Business Roundtable, Cordell managed policy for the education workforce, cyber security, immigration, technology, hybrid infrastructure and global information. He not only collaborated with 200 member companies on these policies, but he helped coordinate cyber security legislation which passed with bi-partisan support in the U.S. House of Representatives.

After significantly impacting policy, he went on to become the Vice President of The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Here he made sure that the nation’s largest association of public charter schools continued its growth in a sustainable manner.

“When you see those lights come on in those kids. When they say to themselves ‘I’m a creator. I’m not just a passive consumer. I don’t just use smartphones; I make them.’ That light, that transformational experience; that’s what drives me.”

As the Chief of Staff & Director of Operations for the Office of President, US Programs at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, his ability to collaborate and strategize contributed greatly to the effective internal and external communication of the foundation.

Cordell then went on to become the Founder and CEO of TechTown Foundation, an entrepreneurial learning center where young people could learn by solving problems.  All ages could benefit from engaging in such things as robotics, circuitry, software development (coding), film and performing arts. Here students were encouraged and prepared to take on jobs in the technology field and step confidently into the 21st century workforce. Cordell Carter was honored for this effort by President Barack Obama as a “White House Champions of Change for Computer Science Education”

He now serves as the Executive Director for the Socrates Program at The Aspen Institute. The Socrates Program is focused on cultivating leadership qualities in people who are interested in critical problems that are facing the world. Cordell is also the managing principal for Expectant Advisory, LLC, an equity-focused consulting collaborative focused on helping organizations build cultures where everyone belongs and have equitable opportunities to thrive. Through this organization he is curating two upcoming national events, the Future of Belonging in America Summit on October 17-19th, 2021 and the Festival of the Diaspora in San Juan, Puerto Rico next February 23-26th, 2022.

His leadership extends well beyond his current role, however to board service. He is the inaugural chairman of Representative Democracy coalition whose goal is to work collaboratively with philanthropists and nonprofits to bring greater diversity to both the US House of Representatives and the US Senate staffers. As an Advisory Board Member for Fvlcrum Fund which works to create true wealth in underserved communities by investing in Minority-Owned Businesses. He also recently joined the Advisory Board of Skillstorm which expands opportunity for many by upskilling the labor force with in-demand industry certifications. In June 2021, Cordell was appointed to the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships by President Joe Biden. 

Cordell Carter takes his message around the world leading seminars and workshops and speaking at conferences. He advocates for global education that speaks to innovation, diversity and equity and addresses emerging leaders.


Thank you, Cordell for leading us in ways that will effectively impact our rapidly changing world. Your spirit of generosity and service is a role model for future leaders to emulate. You have fine-tuned the valuable skill of collaboration and utilized its power to bring forward potential across all sectors of society.




Read more Changemaker profiles here!