Founder & CEO
John Bridgeland is Founder and CEO of Civic Enterprises, a social enterprise firm in Washington, D.C. He is also Senior Policy Advisor at Emerson Collective; Vice Chairman of the Service Year Alliance at The Aspen Institute, an initiative to create a civilian national service counterpart to military service in the United States; Vice Chairman of Malaria No More; and Co-Convenor of the Grad Nation campaign. He is also author of the book, Heart of the Nation: Volunteering and America's Civic Spirit, which was reissued in paperback on the 15th anniversary of 9/11 with a foreword by General Stanley McChrystal and is being assigned on college campuses.
In 2017, Bridgeland was Executive Producer of the National Geographic film, Sea of Hope, featuring oceanographer Sylvia Earle and a team of teenage aquanauts on their journey to bring the national park idea to the ocean in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone. In 2017, Bridgeland gave a TED talk on universal national service at TEDx Pennsylvania Avenue. In 2016, Bridgeland received an honorary degree from the College of William of Mary and was named to the National Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Development at The Aspen Institute. In 2015, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association awarded Bridgeland its highest honor for “outstanding career achievements and contributions to society."
In 2010, President Obama appointed Bridgeland to the White House Council for Community Solutions, where he authored the report “Opportunity Road: The Promise and Challenge of America’s Forgotten Youth". Bridgeland previously served as Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council in the first term of President George W. Bush, where he coordinated policy on more than 100 issues, and then as Assistant to the President of the United States and first Director of the USA Freedom Corps, where he coordinated policy on international, national, community, and faith-based service in the aftermath of 9/11. He co-chaired the White House Task Force for Disadvantaged Youth, co-led the Cabinet-level review of Climate Change, and co-chaired the White House Task Force on the Revitalization of New York City. Bridgeland also co-led the Policy Transition for the President-elect in 2000-2001.
Bridgeland was also the Founding CEO and is now Vice Chairman of Malaria No More and Senior Advisor to the United Nations Special Envoy for Malaria, which together are mobilizing the public and private sectors to end malaria deaths in Africa. He co-led the White House Summit on Malaria, which launched Malaria No More. Since 2000, more than 6.3 million lives have been saved from malaria.
His work on the high school dropout crisis helped bring national attention to the issue, with the TIME cover story "Dropout Nation" and two Oprah Winfrey shows prompted by his report, The Silent Epidemic. Bridgeland led the National Summit on America's Silent Epidemic with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Governors Association, TIME Magazine and MTV that prompted action at the federal, state, and local levels around a 10-point plan of action to boost high school graduation rates and college and workforce readiness. Over the last seven years, he has been a co-convener of the GradNation campaign and co-authored the report, Building a Grad Nation, which launched a "Civic Marshall Plan" to meet the national goal of a 90 percent high school graduation rate by the Class of 2020. High school graduation rates have risen from 71 percent in 2001 to 83 percent by 2015, with nearly 3 million more students graduating rather than dropping out. President Obama and General Colin Powell featured the initial report in a broadcast from the Oval Office and subsequent reports have been featured on the PBS NewsHour, NBC, CBS, and NPR. He is the author or co-author of a dozen reports related to the dropout epidemic. Bridgeland also recently co-authored the report, Hidden in Plain Sight: Homeless Students in America’s Public Schools, which was featured in The Washington Post, The Atlantic, USA Today and on National Public Radio.
Bridgeland is Co-Chair of The Aspen Initiative on the Future of Work with Bruce Reed to upgrade America's engine of opportunity, which released its policy plan of action in 2017. Bridgeland co-authored with former OMB Director Peter Orszag, Can Government Play Moneyball? for The Atlantic; co-authored the book, Moneyball for Government, with Melody Barnes; and is working with Results for America to promote evidence-based policymaking, including through his 2015 testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee.
Bridgeland also co-authored the book, Teaching America: The Case for Civic Education, led the White House Summit on American History, Civics and Service, and worked with the National Archives to develop Our Documents to promote understanding of 100 important documents in American history. Bridgeland also served on the Bipartisan Policy Center's Commission on Political Reform, which released its bipartisan blueprint in 2014.
Bridgeland also was a co-convener of ServiceNation, a Presidential forum with Senators John McCain and Barack Obama on September 11, 2008, and a national summit that showcased a comprehensive plan to increase community, national, and international service opportunities. The plan generated a TIME cover story and was included in the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which was signed into law within the first 100 days of the Obama Administration. For his work in promoting the national service agenda, Bridgeland was named NonProfit Times Executive of the Year.
Bridgeland also is a senior policy advisor for oceanographer Sylvia Earle and Mission Blue, working to bring the national parks idea to the oceans for conservation, economic and national security purposes in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone through the "Blue Centennial" initiative. He also worked with the National Parks Conservation Association to help develop the Centennial Initiative and Challenge to strengthen our National Parks and served on the National Park System’s Advisory Board; served on the Executive Committee of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Recovery Team for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, perhaps the rarest bird in the world; helped the National Conference on Citizenship develop America's Civic Health Index, the Civic 100 and the Service Year Exchange; co-developed a plan of action and six Opportunity Millennium Goals for Opportunity Nation to increase economic mobility and help restore access to the American Dream for low-income Americans; worked with CASEL to make social and emotional development, grit, mindsets and empathy integral to learning in schools and co-authored the report, The Missing Piece: A National Teacher Survey on How Social and Emotional Learning Can Empower Children and Transform Schools; co-authored a report, More to Give, with Robert Putnam and Harris Wofford, on the Greatest, Silent and Baby Boomer Generations for the 50th anniversary of the AARP; and co-authored the report, A Call to Peace with Harris Wofford on the 50th Anniversary of The Peace Corps.
Bridgeland is an experienced public speaker and has appeared on the PBS NewsHour, CNN's Anderson Cooper, Fox News, Cavuto Fox Business, BBC, National Public Radio, American Public Media's Market Place, among others. For his work as a social and policy entrepreneur, he is featured in the American Government textbook by James Q. Wilson, John J. Dilulio and Meena Bose. Bridgeland also was a Teaching Fellow at the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where he offered a seminar on Presidential Decision Making. He is currently a Fox Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania.
Bridgeland began his professional career by practicing law in the New York and Paris, France offices of Davis Polk & Wardwell, where he also had an active pro bono practice. He also served as Chief of Staff and Counsel to former U.S. Congressman Rob Portman, where he drafted or played a leading role in developing 9 bills that were signed into law.
Bridgeland graduated with honors in government from Harvard University, where he wrote his senior honors thesis under James Q. Wilson and played on the Harvard Varsity Tennis Team; studied at the College of Europe and Universite Libre de Bruxelles as a Rotary International Fellow; and received his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was on the National Moot Court Team and continues to serve on the Public Service Advisory Committee.
Bridgeland received an honorary degree from the College of William and Mary in 2016. He also has honorary degrees from Saint Anselm College, Ripon College, and Hamline University, where he delivered the commencement addresses. He also delivered the commencement address at the College of William and Mary, Thomas Jefferson Program for Public Policy, Johns Hopkins University, Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, and Westwood College. He currently serves on many non-profit boards, including City Year; Earth Conservation Corps (Co-Chairman); EARTH University in Costa Rica (Chair, PAB); Malaria No More (Vice Chairman); the Service Year Alliance (Vice Chairman); the New Hampshire Institute of Politics; Points of Light (National Advisory Board); and the National Conference on Citizenship (National Advisory Chair).
He lives with his wife, Maureen, in McLean, Virginia, and has three children, Caily, Fallon, and Regis.