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Ted Dintersmith  

Executive Producer of "Most Likely to Succeed", Advocate for Innovation in Education, Former Venture Capitalist

Ted Dintersmith is one of America's leaders in innovation, entrepreneurship, and education.

Ted's professional experience includes two decades in venture capital, including being ranked by Business 2.0 as the top-performing U.S. venture capitalist for 1995-1999. He served on the Board of the National Venture Capital Association, chairing its Public Policy Committee. From 1981 to 1987, he ran a business at Analog Devices that helped enable the digital revolution. In the public sector, he was a staff analyst in 1976-78 for the U.S. House of Representatives, and was appointed in 2012 by President Obama to represent the U.S. at the United Nations General Assembly. Ted earned a Ph.D. in Engineering from Stanford University and a B.A. from the College of William and Mary, with High Honors in Physics and English.

Ted has become one of America's leading advocates for education policies that foster creativity, innovation, motivation, and purpose. He knows what skills are valuable in a world of innovation, and how we can transform our schools to prepare kids for their futures. His contributions span film, books, philanthropy, and the hard work of going all across America. He's funded and executive produced acclaimed education documentaries, including Most Likely To Succeed, (Sundance, AFI, and Tribeca). With co-author Tony Wagner, he wrote Most Likely To Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era. During the 2015/16 school year, he went to all fifty U.S. states, meeting with governors, legislators, educators, parents, and students, and encouraging communities to work collectively to re-imagine school and its purpose. Learn more about his work from his website or by following him on Twitter @dintersmith.

Ted speaks frequently at major events and conferences, delivering a vision of what our schools could - and need to - be. Drawing on inspiring examples garnered during his fifty-state tour, he can articulate the conditions required to let our students, teachers, and schools race forward. Recent keynotes include state superintendent meetings in Virginia and North Dakota, the annual meeting of the Coalition for Access (several hundred top college admissions officers), the annual Jobs for America's Graduates conference, and a plenary session of the Finnish parliament. In addition to his keynotes, Ted is often asked to also screen his film and lead a post-film discussion.

Speech Topics


What School Could Be

During the 2016 school year, Ted Dintersmith took an unprecedented education road trip that spanned some 1,000 meetings, and covered all fifty states. He observed remarkable examples of learning at its best -- teachers in ordinary circumstances doing extraordinary things. In this talk, Dintersmith describes the four key characteristics of PEAK learning experiences (purpose, essential skillsets and mindsets, agency, and deep knowledge), as well as policies that enable schools to develop these principles at scale.

What Every Businessperson Needs To Know About Education

Former venture capitalist and entrepreneur Ted Dintersmith knows innovation, and what skillsets and mindsets will be needed for the jobs of the future. In this talk, he connects the dots between workforce readiness and an education system that, in theory, prepares students for career but, in practice, impairs their life prospects. Any businessperson -- whether their focus is on workforce readiness, their own children or grandchildren, or the stability of our democracy -- will find this talk of immense interest.

What Every Parent Needs To Know About School

Parents face hard choices when it comes to school and their children. Do we push our kids to excel in the current system, or encourage them to find their own path forward? They are generally at odds, and the choices parents make have lifetime consequences for their child. Innovation expert (and parent of two) Ted Dintersmith has immersed himself in schools. In this talk, he shares insights into learning environments, parental priorities, and a child’s life prospects.

Transforming School

The Urgency and the Possibility

Without profound change in traditional education, most of our current students will be at risk in a world defined by innovation. It doesn’t have to be this way. Dintersmith draws on his trip to all fifty states during the 2015/2016 school year to highlight conditions that lead to exceptional student learning. He goes onto identify change models that enable a school, district, or even a state to effectively transform classrooms at scale.

Workshop Option: The speaker takes the audience through several exercises that bring insight into the purpose of school, and ways to effect change through agile, low-risk “hacks” (small innovations).

Why The Letters STEM Desperately Need The Letters A and CTE?

Many schools have been forced to eliminate art from the student experience; others still offer art, but as a stand-alone class. In this talk and workshop, Dintersmith shows the essential importance of

Art and creativity in developing science and math proficiency, STEM skills in pursuing the arts, and The role of hands-on learning (or CTE) for every student.

Workshop Option: The speaker takes the audience through several exercises that highlight the power of integrating these disciplines, and the missed opportunity when they are isolated or ignored.

The Art and Importance of Being Bold?

This talk, designed for student groups, will change the lives of any young adult who takes the talk seriously. Dintersmith provides compelling examples of what young adults can accomplish if they retain a sense of audacity and “bold” in pursuing their goals.

Workshop Option: The speaker works with students to help them clarify important goals in their lives, and brainstorm about how “bold” can help them achieve these objectives.

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