Jonathan “Jon” Furr is the Founder and Executive Director of Education Systems Center (EdSystems), a mission-driven policy development and program implementation center based within Northern Illinois University’s Division of Outreach, Engagement, and Regional Development. Jon’s leadership in policy development and system implementation has made him a national authority in career pathways, college and career readiness policy, and longitudinal data systems. Jon 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, delivering deep support for leading regions to align education and workforce delivery systems, and driving innovation through competency-based education and other innovative practices.
Additionally, Jon has developed the critical legal and governance structures for the Illinois Longitudinal Data System, including the authorizing legislation, the governance and data sharing agreements, and federal grant proposals that have funded its build-out. With Jon’s leadership, EdSystems and NIU have also led the development of multiple regional data collaboratives, including a secondary-postsecondary collaborative in the Rockford region, and an emerging early childhood data collaborative in Chicago.
Over the course of his career, Jon has authored multiple comprehensive laws that have shaped the Illinois public education system. He has also authored and managed an array of successful grant proposals that have resulted in more than $100 million in federal funding for state system development.
As a compliment to his work in the United States, Jon is engaged in education and workforce initiatives in sub-Saharan Africa. He is Chairman of the board of a nonprofit supporting career pathways in Liberia and has led the planning for a comprehensive education dashboard for Rwanda.
Prior to founding EdSystems, Jon was a partner in the public policy and education practice of an international law firm. Earlier in his career, he served as the General Counsel for the Illinois State Board of Education. Jon holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture and history from Washington University in St. Louis, and his Juris Doctorate and Master of Urban Planning from the University of Michigan.