Influential person: David Harris

Education reformer

David Harris found his professional calling in a rather prosaic way. An attorney recruited by Bart Peterson to help with his mayoral campaign, he was asked which election issue he’d like to focus on: education or crime. He picked education.

Peterson “asked me to write a paper on charter schools, and for whatever reason, I got incredibly passionate about it,” Harris recalled.

He spent five years as the mayor’s charter schools director, and in 2006, he and Peterson started The Mind Trust, which has developed 29 schools and 12 education not-for-profits. He’s now a partner with The City Fund, which helps build innovative public schools around the country.

“When I started [with Peterson], we had zero kids in anything but a traditional school,” Harris said. “Now, at least within the IPS geography, more than half the kids are in an autonomous, nonprofit-governed public school, which in almost every case is a charter school.”

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