John Furr Headshot

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, and delivering deep support for leading regions to align education and workforce delivery systems.

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 developed a comprehensive Master Client Index system across multiple agencies, performed unduplicated count analyses of Illinois’ early childhood system, and linked the data needed to assess career pathways education and employment outcomes.

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 federal 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 Vice-Chairman of the board of a nonprofit supporting career pathways in Liberia, and is leading the development of a comprehensive education dashboard for Rwanda.

Prior to starting 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 Masters of Urban Planning from the University of Michigan.