Geoffrey Canada is President of the Harlem Children’s Zone and Founder of the William Julius Wilson Institute, and he serves as a Special Advisor to Blue Meridian Partners.
Geoff is nationally recognized for his pioneering work helping children and families in Harlem and his passionate advocacy of education reform. Joining Rheedlen Centers in 1983, he became its president and chief executive officer in 1990. The organization launched the Harlem Children’s Zone Project in 1997 to provide Central Harlem with a comprehensive network of education, social-service and community-building programs. Today the Zone Project covers 100 blocks and serves more than 13,000 children from birth through college. Geoff stepped down as CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone in 2014. In 2020, Geoff founded the William Julius Wilson Institute at Harlem Children’s Zone, a national resource for place-based, people-focused solutions that open pathways to social and economic mobility.
Geoff grew up in the South Bronx and earned a BA from Bowdoin College and a master’s in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He has received honorary degrees from Harvard University, Bowdoin College, the University of Pennsylvania, Williams College, John Jay College and Bank Street College, the Heroes of the Year Award from the Robin Hood Foundation, the Jefferson Award for Public Service, the Spirit of the City Award from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the Brennan Legacy Award from New York University, and the Common Good Award from Bowdoin College.
In 2006, Geoff was named co-chair of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Commission on Economic Opportunity, and in 2011 he was appointed to the New York State Governor’s Council of Economic and Fiscal Advisors. He also advises and serves on the boards of several nonprofits.