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Executive Director

David Pickler
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David Pickler is the Executive Director of the American Public Education Foundation and Past President of the National School Boards Association (NSBA). As an attorney, wealth advisor and financial planner, Pickler has grown several firms into highly successful businesses in the Memphis, Tennessee area. However, his greatest passion is in promoting high-quality public education for every child which he says, “will help ensure America’s economic and vital national interests.”


Pickler has spent years encouraging school board members and educators to take charge as reform leaders and change agents by continuing the fight for the best public education in the United States. As a business leader and entrepreneur, he has spoken on Capitol Hill to promote the free, invaluable investment of public education. This is the message that Pickler shares in all of his speeches: If we fail to properly promote and defend public education in America, we fail the children.


Pickler’s journey as a proponent of public schools began when he became a PTA volunteer in 1989. As his dedication to the school children of Memphis grew, so did his passion for public education on a national level. After serving as a school board member for the Tennessee School Boards Association, Pickler was elected President of the National School Boards Association in 2013, leading more than 90,000 school board members. During his tenure, Pickler led the fight to stop the privatization and profitization of public schools; well-funded movements that could ultimately end the promise of public education. As part of the campaign to promote public education, David helped the NSBA launch its Army of Advocates, a movement that gained more than five million members in less than one year. Under his guidance, Pickler also established the “Stand Up 4 Public Schools” red wristband program; a simple way for people to show their support for the 50 million children and 6.2 million employees in public education.


As a community leader, Pickler has also served millions of children. He helped shape his city through philanthropic work and foundation developments by helping to raise millions of dollars for the following organizations: MOSD (Memphis Oral School for the Deaf), JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), Chickasaw Council Boy Scouts of America and Kiwanis International. Because of his work in the community, Pickler was recently named among the “Top 25 People Who Shaped Memphis” – a list containing the most influential individuals who helped Memphis grow and prosper. 


In July of 2012, David was honored by the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences as a recipient of the Educators Voice Award, and in September of 2013 he received the prestigious Bammy Award as “School Board Member of the Year”. The acclaimed Bammy Award is one of the highest accolades for professional educators and the education community. He has twice been honored as Tennessee School Board Member of the Year, and received the Distinguished Service Award a record four times from the National School Boards Association. He is also a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Congress of the Parent Teacher Association.

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