After 18 Years GreatSchools Founder Bill Jackson Steps Down, Matthew Nelson Selected to Succeed Jackson

Jackson built leading education nonprofit used by millions of parents nationwide

San Francisco Bay Area, June, 20, 2016GreatSchools announced today that founder and CEO, Bill Jackson, will step down in July. Matthew Nelson, currently serving as chief operating officer, has been appointed president of GreatSchools.

Jackson launched GreatSchools in 1998 as an online guide to schools in the Bay Area of California, and has built the organization into the nation’s preeminent resource for information about preK-12 schools and education for parents in all fifty states. now reaches half of American families with school-age children each year.

Education reformers, policymakers, and community leaders have praised Jackson’s innovative and thoughtful approach to empowering parents with information.   

Michael Petrilli, president of the Fordham Institute, recently wrote that GreatSchools is, “One of the most impressive creations of the reform era.” He went on to add that GreatSchools, “has arguably done more than any other organization to bring sunlight to the education system and nudge parents towards schools of quality — and to choose those schools on the basis of trustworthy, unspun information.”

Jackson will continue to serve on the board of directors and as senior advisor.

“The desire of parents everywhere to support their child’s education has never been greater.  I am  proud to have helped GreatSchools emerge as a key resource  for parents across the nation, helping them make the best possible decisions along the way,” Jackson said.  “As I look ahead to tackle new challenges, I feel lucky and grateful that my friend Matthew Nelson, who has been by my side for the last six years, has agreed to lead our organization forward through the next phase of our important mission.”  

Nelson joined GreatSchools in 2010, and has served as the organization’s chief operating officer and member of its management committee. Nelson was a successful entrepreneur for six years as a founding member of Wired Digital and co-founder of Organic, an interactive communications and marketing agency, where he helped develop first generation websites for brands like Levi’s, Nike and Saturn.  Nelson moved from the for-profit world to the nonprofit sector in 2000. In 2008 he joined Aspire Public Schools, a charter management organization operating high quality public schools in underserved communities throughout California, and now Tennessee.

“Matthew has been instrumental in leading GreatSchools for the past six years,” said Ann Fuell, GreatSchools board chair. “His background in digital media, nonprofit management and education uniquely positions him to work with our funders and partners to build on the strong foundation that Bill created.”

With richer school quality data available, and accountability for student success moving more to states and communities, GreatSchools is perfectly poised to provide the information and insights parents and community leaders need to make good decisions about schools.

“I am honored to be selected as GreatSchool’s new president, and I am grateful to Bill for his friendship and years of visionary service and leadership” said Nelson today.  “For nearly two decades, GreatSchools has been leading the way in helping parents achieve their dreams and hopes for their children’s education. The importance of our work as a national leader helping parents find the best-fit schools for their children and shining a light on access to opportunities for all of our children will only grow over time.”



GreatSchools is the leading nonprofit providing high-quality information that supports parents pursuing a great education for their child, schools striving for excellence, and communities working to diminish inequities in education. We are the only national organization that collects and analyzes data from all 51 state departments of education and the federal government to provide analysis, insights, and school quality ratings for parents, partners, researchers, and policymakers. Over 49 million users visit GreatSchools’ award-winning website annually to learn about schools in their area, explore research insights, and access thousands of free, evidence-based parenting resources to support their child’s learning and well-being.

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