Education Systems Center at Northern Illinois University (EdSystems), a policy development and program implementation center organization dedicated to shaping and strengthening education and workforce systems, is pleased to announce the appointment of Kyle Westbrook, PhD as its new executive director. Kyle brings a wealth of experience and a strong commitment to educational equity, making him an excellent fit for the organization’s mission.
With Kyle’s leadership, EdSystems aims to further its impact on education and workforce systems, drive innovation, and foster collaboration among stakeholders. Kyle’s extensive background in public education, education policy, and leadership will provide valuable insights to address the complex challenges of aligning education and workforce systems to better serve Illinois students.
Prior to joining EdSystems, Kyle served as the founding executive director of the Partnership for College Completion, where he led efforts to pass the Developmental Education Reform Act, SB815 creating the Commission on Equitable Public University Funding, and the development of the Illinois Equity in Attainment initiative. Previously, he served as the executive director of education policy in the Office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Kyle has extensive experience in public education, having spent almost 30 years in public education as a teacher, teacher leader, leadership consultant, and district-level administrator, including five years leading the Office of Magnet, Gifted, and International Baccalaureate programs for Chicago Public Schools. He has also held posts at the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute and teaching positions at Walter Payton College Prep and Lincoln Park High School in Chicago. In addition, he has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in history and the history of education at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and the University of Illinois Chicago, and National Louis University. Additionally, Kyle has served on the board of directors for the Woodlawn Children’s Promise Community, Project Onward, and ACE Technical Charter High School, and on advisory committees for the Library of Congress, the Newberry Library, and the Illinois Advisory Council for the US Commission on Civil Rights.
“I am thrilled to join EdSystems and work alongside a dedicated team of professionals who are committed to transforming education and workforce systems,” says Kyle. “I am eager to leverage my experience and collaborate with stakeholders to drive positive change and ensure educational equity for all learners.”
As executive director, Kyle will provide visionary leadership, overseeing the strategic initiatives of EdSystems across its three substantive priority areas — College and Career Pathways, Bridges to Postsecondary, and Data Impact and Leadership — and working closely with the team to advance racial equity and prepare more learners for productive careers and lives in a global economy. The appointment, which begins in July, marks an exciting new chapter for EdSystems and reinforces its commitment to making a lasting impact in the field of education.
“We are delighted to welcome Kyle Westbrook to Education Systems Center and Northern Illinois University,” said Chief Engagement Officer and Vice President of Northern Illinois University’s Division of Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development Rena Cotsones, Ph.D. “Kyle’s proven leadership and expertise in education systems will be instrumental in guiding EdSystems’ continued growth and impact. We look forward to collaborating with Kyle across the division as we work together to engage with strategic partners and disseminate the work of the university across Illinois and beyond.”
Kyle will be the second executive director in EdSystems’ eleven-year history. Founder Jon Furr departed in June 2023 to join Strada Education Foundation. Over the past decade, Jon grew EdSystems’ impact with state policies and initiatives while building and strengthening partnerships with an array of communities across Illinois. Over time, Jon shifted the center’s emphasis from passing policies and building systems to focusing on how these policies and systems advance racial equity in the state and communities we serve. “On behalf of the EdSystems team and our colleagues at Northern Illinois University, we are thankful to Jon for his work to ensure that all young people, particularly those furthest from opportunity, are prepared for success in college, career, and life and wish him the best in his future endeavors,” says Dr. Cotsones.