Palfrey Unanimously Elected Chair of Knight Foundation

Head of School John Palfrey was unanimously elected Chair of the [Knight Foundation](, a charitable foundation dedicated to funding innovation in how information improves democratic institutions.

“The Knight Foundation is a national foundation that focuses on informing and engaging communities,” said Palfrey. “So the idea is how we can use information in order to strengthen democracy at a local level.”

Since its start in 1940 by John and Jim Knight, two powerful newspaper owners and publishers, the Knight Foundation has grown to have nearly $2 billion in assets, said Palfrey. Each year, it gives a portion of these funds to support the three tenets of its mission: funding journalistic innovation, engaging and support communities and weaving the arts into the social fabric of these communities, according to the Knight Foundation website.

By funding arts and engagement initiatives, the foundation focuses especially on 26 communities in the U.S. called “Knight Communities,” where the Knight brothers originally owned newspapers. The foundation has donated over $150 million to journalistic ventures since 2007, according to its website.

Palfrey will serve a term of up to 12 years on the Knight Foundation’s 17-person board of trustees, overseeing the foundation’s governance and direction.

> Honored and excited to have chance to serve [@knightfdn]( as next board chair [](
— John Palfrey (@jpalfrey) [September 9, 2013](

“There are many other ways we can support communities directly by giving grants and sharing best practices across nonprofits that’s just incredibly exciting, so I look forward to the Knight foundation continuing to be an innovator in philanthropy, but I don’t feel like I have some particular vision I have to superimpose on it,” said Palfrey.

“The foundation is on an incredibly good track right now,” Palfrey added, crediting much of the foundation’s success to its incredible staff and Alberto Ibargüen, CEO.

While Palfrey acknowledged the heavier workload he will have to juggle as Head of School and Chair of the Knight Foundation board, he looks forward to embracing a position that, in many ways, is not only very similar to his role at Andover but also to his work for the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).

“I get to interact with I think the best student body in the world and it’s an amazing experience working with this faculty,” said Palfrey. “I think that I see a similarly impressive but different side of people coming through as grantees and as staff of the Knight Foundation, but ultimately working towards the same goal, which is in my view using information—whether it’s in education, or in libraries, or in communities—to have a stronger democracy and help people make better lives for themselves.”

“The work I’ve done with the DPLA is similar, as it relates to how we support libraries in a digital era and make them central to the fabric of our communities. I think likewise the Knight Foundation does much the same work but with an emphasis on journalism… looking at communities in a digital era and trying to support the kinds of things that make them strong.”

> [@ibarguen]( [@knightfdn]( Couldn’t be more excited for the fun, challenges, and inspiration we have ahead of us in this work!
— John Palfrey (@jpalfrey) [September 9, 2013](

Palfrey is also the author of “ [Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives](,” as well as four other books on the movement of information in the digital age.