John B. King Jr. is Strong Future Maryland’s founder and president of the board. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife (a former kindergarten and first-grade teacher) and his two daughters, who attend Montgomery County Public Schools.
King’s family has deep roots in Maryland. His great-grandfather, Charles King, was enslaved just 25 miles from his home in Montgomery County – and the cabin where his ancestors lived still stands. His grandmother, Estelle Livingston Stansberry King, attended the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (then called Princess Anne Academy), where she was among the first Black graduates in 1894.
A remarkable testament to his ancestors’ journey to present day, King served as President Barack Obama’s U.S. Secretary of Education. In tapping him to lead the U.S. Department of Education, President Obama called King “an exceptionally talented educator,” citing his commitment to “preparing every child for success” and his lifelong commitment and passion for education. As a member of President Obama’s cabinet, he led the administration’s efforts to close opportunity gaps for students from pre-K through college.
Deeply dedicated to public education, King serves as President and CEO of The Education Trust - a national education civil rights organization that works to support students of color and those from low-income backgrounds – and is currently Professor of Practice at the University of Maryland College Park’s College of Education. King was also U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education, and before that, was the first Black American and Puerto Rican to serve as New York State Education Commissioner. Secretary King began his career in public education as a high school social studies teacher in Puerto Rico and Boston, Massachusetts, and later as a middle school principal. Secretary King’s life story reflects the transformative power of public education. Both of his parents were career public school educators – his dad was a teacher and administrator and his mother was a teacher and school counselor. Sadly, both of King’s parents passed away by the time he was 12. To this day, he credits New York City public school teachers with saving his life when home was unstable and uncertain.
Secretary King is focused on working toward a more just future for those who have too often been marginalized, underserved and forgotten. He continues to lead on issues of dismantling mass incarceration and providing second chances, combatting hunger and homelessness, advancing environmental and economic justice, preventing gun violence, and other social justice causes. King serves on several boards including Former First Lady Michelle Obama's Reach Higher Initiative, Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence, The Century Foundation, Teach Plus, The Robin Hood Foundation, the National Center for Learning Disabilities Professional Advisory Board, and the National Advisory Council for the Prenatal-to-Three Policy Impact Center at the University of Texas at Austin. He is also a co-chair of the Aspen Institute’s K12 Climate Action Commission.
King holds a Bachelor of Arts in government from Harvard University (where he was elected to the Board in 2019), a J.D. from Yale Law School, as well as a Master of Arts in the teaching of social studies and a doctorate in education from Teachers College at Columbia University.
Follow Secretary King on Twitter at @JohnBKing.