Executive Director Transition Announcement

Education Systems Center at NIU (EdSystems) today announces that Founder and Executive Director Jonathan Furr will be transitioning from his role as of June 2023 after nearly eleven years of building and leading the organization. Jon will be pursuing new professional opportunities, which he will share in the coming weeks.

Jon founded EdSystems in 2012 as a mission-driven policy development and program implementation center based within Northern Illinois University’s Division of Outreach, Engagement, and Regional Development. During his tenure, Jon has positioned EdSystems as a highly visible and impactful driver of Illinois policy relating to college and career pathways, college and career readiness, and integrated education and workforce data systems. He led a multi-year process to develop and enact the Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness (PWR) Act, which applies a student-centered and competency-based approach to support Illinois students in preparing for postsecondary education and careers. Since the PWR Act’s 2016 passage, Jon and his EdSystems colleagues have spearheaded its implementation, including scaling robust college and career pathway models, building a new statewide system for transitional instruction courses that reduce college remediation needs, and delivering deep support for leading regions to align education and workforce delivery systems. He has driven innovation through work-based learning, competency-based education, state- and community-level data systems, the launch and growth of the Illinois Education and Career Success Network, and more. 

The EdSystems team is grateful for Jon’s innovative vision, equity-centered approach, thoughtful collaboration, and strong leadership over the last decade, and we wish him well with his future endeavors. 

EdSystems is well-positioned to continue to thrive and serve as a unique catalyst for launching and scaling important education and workforce policies and programs in Illinois. State Policy & Strategy Director Emily Rusca and Pathways Director Juan Jose Gonzalez have been elevated to managing directors to co-lead EdSystems through the transition and support the incoming leadership. Emily joined the EdSystems team in 2015 and leads the team’s State policy portfolio by facilitating interagency and statewide structures, cultivating and managing relationships with State agency partners and fellow policy organizations, exploring national best practices and representing Illinois in cross-state learning opportunities, and collaborating with team members to identify where implementation and innovation work across Illinois can inform new opportunities for effective policy. Juan Jose joined EdSystems in 2019 with over a decade of policy experience and prior leadership steering large governmental agencies around K12 education, youth services, and college access. He is currently leading our work around implementing the PWR Act, College and Career Pathways Endorsements framework, and developing sector-specific pathways in school districts and communities throughout the state. In addition, Emily and Juan Jose will partner closely with Edith Njuguna, Director of the Illinois Education and Career Success Network, who joined EdSystems in 2015, to continue to ensure EdSystems’ state policy efforts are informed by and linked with community collaborations from across Illinois. 

The search for EdSystems’ next executive director is now underway. The next leader will have a unique opportunity to shape the next decade of impact and strengthen pathways to opportunity for hundreds of thousands of learners across an array of education and workforce systems. Learn more and begin the application process at edsystemsniu.org/careers, and we ask that our partners share this opportunity broadly through their networks.

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