Milton Chen

Summer 2013 Mentor

Dr. Milton Chen is senior fellow and executive director, emeritus at The George Lucas Educational Foundation (GLEF), a non-profit operating foundation in the San Francisco Bay Area that utilizes its multimedia website and documentary films to communicate a new vision for 21st Century schools. He served as executive director of GLEF for 12 years from 1998 to 2010. During his tenure, GLEF and its media brand, Edutopia, greatly expanded their editorial publishing efforts, including the award-winning Edutopia magazine. is known as a destination Web site for educators and others interested in educational innovation and has won numerous honors, including the 2009 Webby People’s Voice Award for best education website. has grown in traffic to more than 700,000 unique visits per month.

Dr. Chen’s career has spanned four decades at the intersection of preK-12 education, media, and technology. Prior to joining GLEF, he served for 10 years as the founding director of the KQED Center for Education (PBS) in San Francisco. In the 1970s, he was director of research at Sesame Workshop in New York, helping develop Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and 3-2-1 Contact. Dr. Chen has been an assistant professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and, during 2007-08, was one of 35 Fulbright New Century Scholars conducting research on access and diversity issues in schools and universities.  He received an A. B. in social studies from Harvard College and an M.A. and Ph.D. in communication from Stanford.

Dr. Chen serves as chairman of the Panasonic Foundation in New Jersey, which supports superintendent leadership and district improvement, and is a member of the board of directors for Sesame Workshop, the San Francisco School Alliance, and ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career. He chairs the Games and Learning Publishing Council for the Joan Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, a Gates Foundation-supported activity. He is also a member of advisory boards for the National Park Service, appointed by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to advance their work in STEM and history/social studies education, and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at St. Vincent College.

Dr. Chen’s career has been honored by the Elmo Award from Sesame Workshop, the Fred Rogers Award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Association of Educational Service Agencies, and two science centers in the Bay Area, The Exploratorium and the Lawrence Hall of Science. His 2010 book, Education Nation: Six Leading Edges of Innovation in our Schools, was named as one of the 10 best education books of the year by the American School Board Journal. He is a frequent speaker at education conferences in the U. S. and abroad, presenting close to 100 keynote addresses based on the themes of his book.

Dr. Chen lives in San Francisco with his wife, Dr. Ruth Cox, faculty liaison for academic technology at San Francisco State University. Their daughter, Maggie, is embarking on a career in medicine and public health at UCLA.

Perhaps most importantly, on his 50th birthday, Dr. Chen was named a Jedi Master by George Lucas!