John Wood

Founder, Room to Read

John Wood is the founder of Room to Read, an organization that believes World Change Starts with Educated Children.® Room to Read envisions a world in which all children can pursue a quality education that enables them to reach their full potential and contribute to their communities and the world. At age 35, John left his position as Director of Business Development for Microsoft’s Greater China region to found Room to Read. The business acumen honed there, combined with his passion and an unparalleled track record at changing the world, makes John a unique and inspiring leader and social entrepreneur.

John’s award-winning memoir, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur’s Odyssey to Educate the World’s Children (Harper Collins, 2006), tells how he raised millions from a “standing start” to develop one of the fastest-growing nonprofits in history. The book was described by Publishers’ Weekly in a starred review as “an infectiously inspiring read.” Translated into 20 languages, it is popular with entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and educators alike, and was selected by Amazon.com as one of the Top Ten Business Narratives of 2006 and voted a Top Ten Nonfiction title of 2006 by Hudson Booksellers. The book was also featured during John’s appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show and the resulting “Oprah’s Book Drive” with Room to Read raised over $3 million from viewers. John’s follow up book, Creating Room to Read: A Story of Hope in the Battle for Global Literacy (Viking Penguin, 2013), tells the story of how the organization successfully tackled the next steps of scaling beyond his wildest dreams while maintaining integrity and raising money in a collapsing economy.

John has been named by Goldman Sachs as one of the world’s 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs, has been a three-time speaker at the Clinton Global Initiative and is a five-time winner of Fast Company Magazine’s Social Capitalist Award. He has been honored by Time Magazine’s “Asian Heroes” Award, selected as a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum, is a Lifetime Achievement Honoree of the Tribeca Film Festival’s Disruptive Innovation Awards, and is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute. He was selected by Barron’s as one of the “25 Best Givers” in 2009 and 2010, ranking 11th and 9th on the list, respectively. In 2014, John won the World’s Children’s Honorary Award Laureate through the World’s Children’s Prize, the annual educational program for the rights of the child and democracy—often called the Children’s Nobel Prize. In recognition of his passion to open libraries for the most under-served populations, he was described by the San Francisco Chronicle as “the Andrew Carnegie of the developing world.” John holds a master’s degree in business administration from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Colorado, and has four honorary doctorates including from McGill University and the University of San Francisco. He also serves on the advisory board of the Clinton Global Initiative and New Story. John is a frequent lecturer at Harvard Business School and at NYU’s Wagner School of Public Policy.

OUR SPEAKERS

Anant Agarwal

CEO, EdX

H.E. Dr. Ahmed AI Eissa

Minister of Education, Saudi Arabia

Richard Baraniuk

Founder and Director, OpenStax

Cherie Blair CBE, QC

Chancellor, Asian University for Women; Founder, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women

Stanley Buchesky

Partner and Founder, EdTech Fund

Dr Charles Chen Yidan

Founder, the Yidan Prize

Ms. Vicky COLBERT

Founder, Fundacion Escuela Nueva

Ryan Craig

Co-Founder, Managing Director, University Ventures

Yves Daccord

Director-General, International Committee of the Red Cross

Carol Dweck

Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology, Stanford University

Michael Gold

Editor, The Economist Intelligence Unit

Matt Greenfield

Managing Partner, Rethink Education

Lord Jim Knight

Chief Education and External Officer Tes Global Ltd

Martin Lau

President, Tencent Holdings

Clive Lee

Chief Executive Officer, Yidan Prize Foundation

Peter Lewis

Presenter of “Money Talk”, RTHK Radio 3

Li Yuan

Columnist, The Wall Street Journal

John McDermott

Public Policy Editor, The Economist

Sandeep Murthy

Partner, Lightbox

Ellen Pinchuk

Deputy CEO, Mikhailov & Partners; former correspondent for Bloomberg News TV and bureau-chief for CTV Canada in Moscow

Alex Rappaport

Co-Founder & CEO, Flocabulary

Prof Fernando M. Reimers

Professor of the Practice in International Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Bruce Rodrigues

Deputy Minister Responsible for Early Years and Child Care Deputy Minister, Ministry of Education

Dr. Jaime SAAVEDRA

Global Director, Education, World Bank Group

Koichi Saito

Founder & General Partner, KK Fund

Anthony Salcito

VP of Worldwide Education, Microsoft

Jonathan Schor

CEO, CodeMonkey

Jan Smejkal

Head of China and APAC, Startup Grind

Miho Taguma

Senior Policy Analyst/ Project Manager of the OECD Education and Skills 2030, Early Childhood and School Division, Directorate for Education and Skills, OECD

Dr. Qian Tang

Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO