Paige Ponder


Paige Ponder was appointed to the Chicago Board of Education by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and began serving on July 27, 2022.

Paige is an innovator and change-maker experienced in designing and scaling impactful programs and organizations and building strong partnerships based on trust and shared goals. Deeply committed to inclusive employment, developing and promoting diverse talent, and connecting those from historically marginalized communities to opportunity, Paige collaborates with a wide range of stakeholders and practitioners who are working to eliminate racial disparities and income inequality by developing equitable education, training, hiring, and talent development practices across institutions and employers. 

Paige currently serves as Senior Advisor to the Pritzker Tech Talent Labs at Discovery Partners Institute (DPI), part of the University of Illinois System. DPI’s vision is to make Chicago and Illinois the most equitable technology hub in the country and to bring dramatically more women and people of color into high-growth, highly paid, recession-proof careers in tech.

As CEO of One Million Degrees (OMD) from 2012-2021, Paige scaled a nonprofit organization that accelerates low-income community college students’ progress on career pathways to economic mobility. She led the organization through a period of dramatic growth, increasing the number of scholars served by 10x, building partnerships with 10 regional community colleges, and quintupling the budget and staff size. In 2016, OMD partnered with the University of Chicago Inclusive Economy Lab to conduct a randomized controlled trial of the model, which has shown a significant impact on improving enrollment, retention, and graduation among OMD Scholars compared to a control group.

Prior to entering higher education, Paige designed and led initiatives at Chicago Public Schools to systematically drive up the number of freshmen on track to graduate by developing early warning indicators and disseminating promising practices for high schools to better support freshmen during this “make or break” year.

Paige served on the Illinois Community College Board from 2018 to 2022. She is a member of the Steering Committee for the Consortium on School Research at the University of Chicago and a 2019 Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow. Paige graduated from Princeton University with a degree from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. She earned an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. She lives in Andersonville with her husband, their three teenage boys, and Wally and George, the dogs.

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