Brett Wigdortz

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Brett Wigdortz
Brett Wigdortz.jpg
Personal details
Born Ocean Township, New Jersey, United States
Nationality American, British[1]
Residence North London, England
Occupation Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Teach First
Social entrepreneur

Brett Harris Wigdortz OBE (born in 1973) is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Teach First,[2] an educational charity working to break the link between low family income and poor educational attainment in England and Wales. He is originally from Ocean Township, New Jersey, United States and is a dual US/UK citizen.

Wigdortz currently serves as a trustee of the National College for Digital Skills and Future Leaders,[3] which recruits and train the next generation of outstanding headteachers for challenging urban secondary schools. He is also co-founder and a trustee of Teach For All,[4] an organization created with Wendy Kopp (who also founded Teach For America in 1989) to help social entrepreneurs in other countries start similar programs and create a global network of social enterprises dedicated to addressing educational disadvantage.

Education and career[edit]

Wigdortz graduated with an Honours bachelor's degree in Economics and International Studies: Politics and Diplomacy from the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia[5] in 1995, and a master's degree in Economics from the University of Hawaii[6] and a Masters Certificate in Asian Studies from the East-West Center in 1997.

While studying at the University of Hawaii, he worked as a researcher at the East-West Centre in Honolulu, focusing on energy and economic development issues in Southeast Asia and Pacific Islands. He co-authored a paper on future Asian energy flows ("China and Central Asia's Volatile Mix: Energy, Trade, and Ethnic Relations")[7] and consulted for the State of Hawaii.

During 1998, he worked as a journalist in Indonesia and Hong Kong, covering the Asian economic crisis and political changes in Indonesia. In 1999, he went on to develop South East Asia policy and business programmes at the Asia Society in New York City. In 2000, Wigdortz joined McKinsey & Company[8] as a consultant in Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines, focusing on retail banking, organisational effectiveness, and Asian microfinance.

In August 2001, Wigdortz transferred to McKinsey's London office and was placed on a pro bono study for business organisations London First and Business in the Community to look at how their business members could help improve results in London schools. It was during this project that he wrote the original business plan for Teach First and then took what was originally planned as a six-month leave of absence in February 2002 to develop and build support for the idea.[9]

Founding Teach First[edit]

In July 2002, Teach First officially launched in Canary Wharf, with a team of 11 employees and with Stephen O'Brien CBE and George Iacobescu CBE as co-chairs of the Board of Trustees. After the launch, Wigdortz continued to lead the organisation as CEO.[10]

Since then, Teach First has supported over 6,000 individuals to work towards raising the achievements, aspiration, and access to opportunities of pupils from low socio-economic backgrounds across the country. The charity has expanded into nine regions across England and into Wales, employing over 500 members of staff and working in partnership with over 1,000 primary and secondary schools, 14 universities, over 40 corporate supporters and many other charities and organisations.[11]

In 2007, Wigdortz was named the UK Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year[12] and the 2011 CASE (Council for the Advancement and Support of Education) European Leadership Award[13] for his entrepreneurial success and outstanding efforts in promoting and supporting education. Wigdortz was also awarded "Charity Principal of the Year" at the Charity Times Awards 2012. He was particularly recognised by the judges "for his vision, tenacity and commitment to social change."[14] The Evening Standard named him one of the 1,000 most influential Londoners.[15] He was appointed an OBE (Officer in the Order of the British Empire) for services to education in the 2013 New Year's Honours list.[16] In 2015, Wigdortz was named one of the "Debrett's 500"[17] most influential people in the UK.

In 2014, Teach First was the largest graduate recruiter in the UK, with almost 1,500 new participants.[18]

Personal life[edit]

Wigdortz is married and lives in north London with his three young children. He has travelled to over 70 countries in the past 18 years. He has also recently written his first book, about the first decade of Teach First as a guide to other entrepreneurs, entitled Success Against the Odds – Five lessons in how to achieve the impossible; the story of Teach First.[19] It was named WHSmith's Business Book of the Month in September 2012.

He is a member of New North London Synagogue, a Masorti synagogue in Finchley where he helps run the 5-8 year old services.


  1. ^ Teaching's man with a mission to free young Britons from 'slavery', The Guardian, 29 October 2012
  2. ^ Teach First."Teach First official website". Retrieved 29 October 2012.
  3. ^ Future Leaders."Future Leaders official website". Retrieved 29 October 2012
  4. ^ Teach For All."Teach For All official website". Retrieved 29 October 2012
  5. ^ University of Richmond."University of Richmond official website". Retrieved 29 October 2012
  6. ^ Department of Economics Newsletter, Winter 2003. "Economic Currents". Retrieved 24 October 2012
  7. ^ JAMES P. DORIAN, BRETT H. WIGDORTZ, DRU C. GLADNEY (May 1997), No.31 "China and Central Asia’s Volatile Mix: Energy, Trade, and Ethnic Relations" The AsiaPacific Issues. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  8. ^ EducationState [file://,%20Barber%20&%20Teach%20First.htm "McKinsey On Trial: Where Now For Gove, Barber & Teach First?"]. Retrieved 29 October 2012
  9. ^ Jenny Knight (10 July 2012) "Where only the very best will do". The Times. Retrieved 24 October 2012
  10. ^ Teach First. "Teach First official website". Retrieved 25 October 2012
  11. ^ Teach First YouTube Channel "The Best of 10". Retrieved 29 October 2012
  12. ^ Ernst and Young "Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the year London and South Region Award Receipts". Retrieved 23 October 2012
  13. ^ The Council for Advancement and Support of Education. "CASE official website". Retrieved 23 October 2012
  14. ^ Charity Times Awards 2012 "2012 Charity Times Awards winners announced ". Retrieved 26 October 2012
  15. ^ Evening Standard (7 November 2011)"London's 1000 most influential people 2011: Education". Retrieved 26 October 2012
  16. ^ "New Year Honours 2013: full list of recipients". The Daily Telegraph. London. 29 December 2012. Retrieved 16 February 2014. 
  17. ^ "Debrett's 500 2015". Debrett's. Retrieved 23 August 2016. 
  18. ^ "Teach First scheme 'biggest recruiter of graduates'". BBC News. 10 July 2013. 
  19. ^ Afua Kokayi (October 2012) "Non Fiction – the books that really live?".Impact magazine. Retrieved 29 October 2012

External links[edit]