David Coleman Appoints Jeremy Singer as President of the College Board
David Coleman Appoints Jeremy Singer as President of the College BoardAbby Jacobs, Senior Director of Communications, the College Board
On January 9, 2019, David Coleman appointed Jeremy Singer as President of the College Board. He will continue to report into David Coleman, who will remain CEO of the College Board. “Jeremy combines remarkable leadership with a relentless drive to increase opportunity and reduce inequality. He has earned the respect and admiration of leaders across the field through the results he has delivered,” said David Coleman. “As President, Jeremy will continue to simplify the path to college and forge new opportunities for students where none exist, increasing access for the millions of students and educators who use our programs.” As President, Jeremy Singer will ensure the effective delivery of the College Board's core programs and manage its relationships with cornerstone partner organizations. The College Board's Board of Trustees recognized Jeremy's contributions and provided their full support and enthusiasm for this appointment.
Jeremy previously served as COO of the College Board since 2013. Before coming to the College Board, Jeremy held leadership positions at McGraw Hill Education, Kaplan Test Prep, and several education-related nonprofit organizations.
All Access sat down with Jeremy to discuss his new role.
All Access: You have a long history with a wide variety of educational organizations. Can you talk about why you decided to work in education?
Jeremy Singer: I knew early on I wanted to use my business skills to serve a mission-driven organization. The summer after I graduated business school, before I started my full-time management consulting job in the fall, I volunteered in the Superintendent’s office of the New York City Department of Education. There were 32 Community School Districts and they wanted to get a better assessment of the range of services each district offered to its schools. So, I spent the summer taking subways all over NYC, visiting all 32 CSDs. I was pretty much hooked from then on.
AA: How did you end up at the College Board?
JS: I did a bunch of volunteer work at first, including seeking out pro-bono projects when I was working in management consulting. In 2001, I had the opportunity to run a small non-profit in the Bay Area, Partners in School Innovation. PSI’s mission is to transform teaching and learning in the lowest-performing public schools so that every student, regardless of background, thrives. It was a great experience, which only ended when I moved back to the East Coast to work at an ed start-up that was eventually sold to McGraw-Hill. I spent the next eight years in various roles at McGraw-Hill and Kaplan. At McGraw-Hill, I led a division in higher education that was producing digital products and services for colleges. At Kaplan, I eventually ran the test preparation division, which included both college and graduate entrance exams. At that point, it looked likely that my career trajectory would involve leading a large for-profit education company.
Then David Coleman called. He made the case that the College Board was the best-positioned organization in the world to improve access and equity. This was based on the strength of its members, the reach of its programs, the talent of its staff and leadership team, and its financial stability. Turns out, he was right on all counts.
AA: What have been the most significant accomplishments during your time at the College Board?
JS: I am most proud of the steps we have taken to clear a path for students to own their future. To me, this means removing barriers—both large and small—that stand in the way of students, particularly underrepresented students, getting to college. One of the big ones was launching Official SAT Practice (OSP) with Khan Academy. Based on my experience at Kaplan, a paid test prep company, I knew there was a way to offer the best test practice in the world for free. By partnering with Khan Academy, we were able to achieve this lofty goal. We also made changes to our programs to reduce barriers in the college-going process. This includes making it easier for low-income students to obtain fee waivers and fee reductions. Now, most students only have to prove they are low-income once to be able to take the SAT, send their scores, apply to college, and apply for financial aid, all for free.
AA: What has been your biggest challenge?
JS: Like many organizations, we relied for a long time on outdated technology that was super fragile and made it hard to innovate on new initiatives. We had to invest in our software and systems, but we didn’t want to pause on new initiatives like the College Board Opportunity Scholarships program we recently announced. This was akin to changing the tires on your car while you are driving 50 MPH. While we are still on that journey, I am proud of what we have accomplished– more than 50,000 students have signed up for the program so far.
AA: Why did The College Board introduce a separate position of President now?
JS: The College Board has experienced significant growth and success in recent years. In 2018, we served 7 million students and 6,000+ member institutions with more than 1,700 staff. We continue to transform how we deliver our services to achieve our mission, including a growing focus on serving states and districts offering the SAT and our other programs online.
Working with our Board of Trustees and other senior leaders, we determined that this is the right time to restructure our leadership, so that I can use my expertise to lead the day-to-day operations and strategy of our programs and services, and continue to support David in his overarching vision.
AA: How will your role change when you become president of the organization?
JS: Currently, I oversee all instructional and assessment programs, including AP and SAT, manage financial strategy, Information Technology, Human Resources. With my new role, these responsibilities won’t change, but I will also now be leading all day-to-day management of programmatic and operational activities, critical external relationships and partnership, and strategic visioning alongside David Coleman and our Board of Trustees.
AA: What are your priorities in your new role?
JS: We are in a great position to really move the needle when it comes to access and equity in education. There are a series of initiatives already underway that will have significant impact at scale, including AP 2019, expanding our SAT School Day offering to more states, districts, and schools; the College Board Opportunity Scholarships program , and more. Over the past several years, we’ve done a tremendous job expanding our reach. Over the coming years, we will work to maximize the effectiveness of our products and programs, expanding our impact and advancing our mission.
AA: How will you leverage technology to accomplish your vision?
JS: Technology will always be central to our success. We are working to leverage new technology so our programs are easier to navigate for students and educators. This includes moving our software to the cloud, building microservices to provide greater flexibility, and shifting to an agile development approach, to name a few initiatives. We are really excited about the progress we’ve made, and will build on those successes to make sure we’re delivering the most efficient and effective programs to students and educators that we possibly can.
AA: You have two kids who are seniors in high school. How has your personal experience navigating the college-going process influenced the way you think about the work we do at the College Board?
JS: It was useful to see firsthand the complexity of the college-going process. It reinforced the need for simplification and the removal of barriers. While the complexity makes it difficult for all students, it is particularly harmful for students with fewer resources, such as first-generation and low-income students. My children struggled with what many students struggle with, choosing which colleges to apply to, how to determine if early decision makes sense, etc. They are privileged to have the support they have, yet it was still complicated and super stressful.