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Alan  Blankstein

Alan Blankstein

Founder and Past President of Solution Tree & HOPE Foundation, Award-Winning Author, Film Producer & Educational Leader

Alan Blankstein

Founder and Past President of Solution Tree & HOPE Foundation, Award-Winning Author, Film Producer & Educational Leader


Award-winning author and educational leader, Alan Blankstein served for 25 years as President of the HOPE Foundation, which he founded and whose honorary chair was Nobel Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu. A former “high-risk” youth, Alan began his career in education as a music teacher. He worked for Phi Delta Kappa, March of Dimes, and Solution Tree, which he founded in 1987 and directed for 12 years while launching Professional Learning Communities beginning in the late 1980s.

He is the author of the best-selling book Failure Is Not an Option®: Six Principles That Guide Student Achievement in High-Performing Schools, which received the Book of the Year award from Learning Forward. Alan is Senior Editor, lead contributor, and/or author of 18 books, including his book Excellence Through Equity with Pedro Noguera, which takes an inspiring look at how real-world educators are creating schools where all students are able to thrive, and his latest work Breakthrough Leadership: Six Principles that Guide Schools Where Inequity is Not an Option. Alan has completed his first multi-award-winning documentary, Petersburg Rising, which is now serving as catalyst to community-building around support for equitable public schools.

Alan has provided keynote presentations and workshops for virtually every major U.S. Ed Org, and throughout the UK, Africa, and the Middle East. Alan has served on the Harvard International Principals Centers advisory board, and the Jewish Child Care Agency, where he once was a youth in residence.

Speaker Videos

Petersburg Rising Trailer

One on One with JC Hayward

ASCD General Assembly Keynote

How I Became Involved in Equity

Failure is Not an Option

Celebration of Teaching & Learning

Speech Topics

It Takes a Community…

Learn how successful district and school leaders are reclaiming their communities, schools, and students.

This can be done by building relational trust, and using processes, like collective impact, to focus on the needs of youth:

  • Going from Conflict to Healing and Harmony
  • Creating Common and Equitable Goals, Plans, and Actions for All Students’ Success
  • Engaging the Community Around the Voices of Students and Meeting their Real Needs & Underlying Conditions of Challenge (e.g. Poverty)
  • Building Effective, Communitywide Supports for All Students
  • Assuring Successful Teacher and Leader Recruitment and Retention (includes strategies for individual and collective stress reduction and energy management).

Recovering Learning Loss

Underlying the challenges children now face in recapturing the learning they would have otherwise gained were they in school steadily since 2020, are additional needs that must be addressed while also rethinking the delivery of instruction. Depending on the student and context, the issues may include poverty, trauma, isolation, and grief. This presentation focuses on adapting instructional strategies to reclaim and engage students, their families, and the community so that the conditions for enhanced learning can be collectively created.

Courageous Leadership for Breakthrough Results

There is a time for adaptive responses to a new challenge. At other times, the fundamentals of the situation have shifted significantly and require Breakthrough leadership, whereby leaders see the status quo as unworkable must rethink previous assumptions. In all cases courage is required to act.

Very few of us were trained to lead through the crises that have befallen all of our schools, communities, children and families these past few years. This keynote points to models we can learn from successful leaders who have prevailed during times of extraordinary challenge.