Education Governors

Informing the Conversation

The Hunt Institute is proud of its role in building the capacity of executive leaders as they look for opportunities to prioritize education in their states – from convening sitting governors to preparing the governors of tomorrow. Critically, after leaving office, former governors continue to wield influence in their states, both in the public sphere and in private political circles.

Cultivating Education Governors for the 21st Century

Gubernatorial leadership is critical to making systemic changes that result in improved student achievement. It is crucial that governors — and those running for governor — deepen their own knowledge of why education matters.

The Hunt Institute is focused on equipping future, current, and former governors with the information, research, communication tools, and support they need to engage in state and national discourse around public education.

Governors Education Symposium


The Hunt Institute launched its inaugural event with the first symposium designed for governors by governors – a first of its kind meeting by any organization – in December 2002 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. More than 20 governors from around the nation participated in the convening known as the Governors Education Symposium (GES).

Ever since, the GES has brought governors together in a private, non-partisan setting to receive in-depth information from experts and engage in candid dialogue about the best approaches to critical challenges facing education. Each meeting examines a variety of core education issues, incorporating information from nationally recognized experts and providing governors an opportunity to interact with these experts and share practices in their states. The intimate setting allows governors to engage with their peers about the successes and challenges they have encountered within their own states.

Governors’ Advisors Retreat


The first annual Governors’ Advisors Retreat was held in February 2020 and brought together 90 participants from 22 states to engage in discussions on workforce development. The private meeting gave gubernatorial staff and other key state advisors an opportunity to discuss critical issues facing their states, with an eye toward problem identification, coalition building, and implementation. In addition to gubernatorial staff attendees, former governors engaged in discussion about the essential role of the governor in promoting education and the workforce.

The Hunt Institute will continue to bring together Governors’ advisors and other state leaders to discuss the work that is most pressing at the time. We aim to equip leaders not only with the policy knowledge necessary to create change, but the relationships necessary to create that change across sectors and departments.

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Former Governors


The Hunt Institute is excited to expand its work and build on its extensive relationships with former governors to provide a platform for their continued engagement on issues of education. As a nonprofit created by former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt, we understand the value of leveraging former governors’ experience and knowledge. Our Hunt-Kean Leadership Fellows Advisory Board is comprised exclusively of former governors and we have recently developed a new webinar series, Governing Principals, featuring conversations with former governors on the most pressing education topics.

While in office, governors have the opportunity to have a profound effect on their state’s education policy, and can continue to influence policy long after they leave office. In recent months, several former governors have lent their voices to important conversations on issues exacerbated by COVID-19, including:

Governors Jim Hunt & Susana Martinez: Children Are Going Hungry Without School Meals
Governor Bob Wise: Closing the Digital Divide Now is an Investment in our Future
Governor Jack Markell: Colleges Must Support the Most Vulnerable
Governor Jim Douglas: The Urgent Need to Rethink How We Fund Our Schools
Governor Martin O’Malley: COVID-19 Should Help Us End Education Excuses