Skip to Content

The 2013 Recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Citizen Leadership:
Wendy S. Kopp

wendy kopp's headshot

In 1989, Wendy Kopp founded Teach For America to marshal the energy of her generation against educational inequity in the United States. She led its development for more than two decades and today continues to contribute actively as chair of the board.

Today, more than 10,000 Teach For America corps members – top recent college graduates of all academic disciplines – are in the midst of two-year teaching commitments in the nation’s highest-need urban and rural regions, reaching more than 750,000 students. Its almost 30,000 alumni continue working for change from inside and outside the classroom, making Teach For America an unparalleled source of long-term leadership for ensuring that all of our nation’s children have the opportunity to fulfill their true potential.

Kopp is also CEO and co-founder of Teach For All, an international network of organizations that are enlisting their nations’ most promising future leaders in a global movement to ensure educational excellence and equity. Just six years into its development, Teach For All is a growing network of 26 independent organizations around the world, building on the successes of its founding partners, Teach For America and the U.K.'s Teach First.

Kopp has been recognized as one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People and is the recipient of numerous honorary degrees and awards for public service. She is the author of two books: “A Chance to Make History: What Works and What Doesn’t in Providing an Excellent Education for All” (2011) and “One Day, All Children: The Unlikely Triumph of Teach For America and What I Learned Along the Way” (2000). She holds a bachelor's degree from Princeton University, where she participated in the undergraduate program of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. She resides in New York City with her husband Richard Barth and their four children.

“Wendy Kopp has made a profound and enduring commitment to the call for citizen leadership articulated by Thomas Jefferson,” noted Harry Harding, dean of U.Va.’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. “Through her commitment to the ‘big idea’ of Teach For America and her success as a social entrepreneur, she has built an institution that has reached millions of students while growing exponentially the promise of TFA teachers and citizen leaders.”

U.Va. Media Relations: Brevy Cannon