Jonathan Furr to Join Strada as its First Chief Data Ecosystem Officer

Innovative leader brings an extensive track record of navigating through challenges to create effective education-to-employment data systems
March 20, 2023

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INDIANAPOLIS — Strada Education Network, a nonprofit social impact organization dedicated to helping people achieve their career and life goals through education or training after high school, today announced that Jonathan Furr will join Strada as its first chief data ecosystem officer and senior vice president.

Furr is a nationally recognized authority in career pathways, college and career readiness policy, and longitudinal data systems. He has helped author multiple comprehensive laws that have shaped the Illinois public education system and also has authored and managed several grant proposals that have resulted in more than $100 million in federal funding for state system development. He has built a reputation for being a creative problem solver and public policy change agent able to envision, structure, and execute solutions to large-scale challenges.

As Strada’s chief data ecosystem officer, Furr will lead initiatives focused on ensuring that learners, educators, policymakers, employers, economic development leaders, and others have access to the data and insights they need to make informed choices about postsecondary education and training programs. He will start in June and will split his time between Strada’s headquarters in Indianapolis and its regional hub in Washington, D.C.

“Data will play a central role in our mission to create equitable pathways to opportunity for more people, and Jon brings an impressive track record of influencing policies and creating systems that lead to a more effective education-to-employment data ecosystem,” Strada President and CEO Stephen Moret said. “He was highly recommended to us by several trusted colleagues as someone who brings a unique understanding of the legal, policy, and technical challenges of this work, while also having the patience, diplomacy, and persistence to develop and secure support for solutions to complex data problems. I am delighted that Jon will join our executive team and look forward to working with him on this important and exciting new field of work for Strada.” 

As the founder and executive director of Northern Illinois University’s Education Systems Center, a mission-driven policy development and program implementation center, Furr led a multi-year process to develop and enact Illinois’ Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Act, which utilizes a student-centered and competency-based approach to support students as they prepare for postsecondary education programs and careers. Furr and his colleagues have spearheaded the act’s implementation since its passage in 2016, including scaling robust college and career pathway models, building a new statewide system for transitional instruction courses to reduce remediation needs, providing the regional support and guidance to align education and workforce delivery systems, and driving innovation through competency-based education and other innovative practices.

Additionally, Furr developed the critical legal and governance structures for the Illinois Longitudinal Data System, including the authorizing legislation, the governance and data-sharing agreements, and the federal grant proposals that funded its initial development. The system is seen as an example of the power data holds to identify where education systems are working for the benefit of learners and where they’re falling short, which can help direct attention toward policies that improve academic and career success. As an example, the system helped identify that too many Illinois high school graduates were enrolling in community college remedial courses, which led to a multi-year, multi-pronged policy focus that yielded significant reductions in remedial placements.

Furr also led the Education Systems Center and Northern Illinois University in the development of multiple regional data collaboratives, including initiatives focused on secondary and postsecondary programs in the Rockford, Illinois, region, and an emerging early childhood data collaborative in Chicago.

Furr also served recently as a consultant to the Education Design Lab to devise and launch an innovative national data collaborative capturing information on community college nondegree credential program participation and outcomes in partnership with Credential Engine, Brighthive, the National Student Clearinghouse, Georgetown University, and others.

“I am thrilled to join Strada Education Network because it has the vision, strategies, and resources to ensure that quality data, and a culture of data, can become a foundational part of the U.S. postsecondary education and workforce training ecosystem,” Furr said. “Throughout my career, I have solved tough, complex challenges in the public and social sectors. This position combines my professional passions for creating the legal and governance structures for integrated data systems and aligning them with education and workforce systems to support college and career pathways. Working with Strada’s leadership, we will help our education systems become an engine of opportunity for more people.”

Furr also is involved with several education- and career-focused nonprofit organizations and committees, including as a member of the board of directors for the Work-Based Learning Alliance, which helps high schoolers access free work-based learning experiences to connect them with industries and develop in-demand skills, and as chairman of the board for Liberia Career Pathways, a public-private education initiative designed to support college and career readiness for students in Liberia.

He previously has worked as a partner in the public policy and education practice of the international law firm Holland & Knight, LLP, and served as the general counsel for the Illinois State Board of Education as well as the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Furr holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture and history from Washington University in St. Louis, and a juris doctorate and master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Michigan.

About Strada Education Network

Strada Education Network is a national nonprofit dedicated to helping people take advantage of education and training after high school that helps them secure a good job, do meaningful work, contribute to their communities, and lead a fulfilling life. Strada helps students succeed beyond completion of a certificate or degree through its research, charitable grants, and social impact investments, as well as through the work of Strada-supported nonprofit organizations CAEL, Education at Work, InsideTrack, and Roadtrip Nation, which directly serve learners and workers. Learn more at