Isabelle Hau was named executive director of the Stanford Accelerator for Learning, an initiative of Stanford's Long-Range Vision that seeks to accelerate solutions to the most pressing challenges facing learners.
Stanford Graduate School of Education Dean Dan Schwartz, who is also the faculty director of the accelerator, said Hau joins at a pivotal moment of growth and will help bring cohesion across its focus areas.
Learn more about Hau in this edited interview.
What is your background?
I was born in rural Southern France, and immigrated to the U.S. Education has always been a major driver of my life, and I have devoted my professional career to understanding, innovating, and building a bright future of learning for each and every child to have similar (or better) learning opportunities than I had.
Prior to joining the Stanford Accelerator for Learning, I was a founding partner at Imaginable Futures, the philanthropic investment firm of eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam where I led the U.S. education initiative. In this role, I scaled impact-driven education nonprofit and for-profit organizations, including multiple impact unicorns. I have had the privilege to work with a broad and deep network of educators, edu-preneurs, innovators, funders, researchers, community and system leaders – and partnered with Sesame Street, Harvard Center on the Developing Child, LEGO, Head Start, Khan Academy, Ascend at the Aspen Institute, edtech and philanthropic funders, the federal and local governments, and other esteemed organizations to scale innovations in education that have reached millions of learners.
You can occasionally read some of my musings as a contributor to Forbes and EdSurge, and I enjoy writing a weekly newsletter, Small Talks.
Why did you join the Stanford Accelerator for Learning?
I joined the Stanford Accelerator for Learning because it is a platform for outsized impact in our future of learning.
Sadly, we are in the midst of the largest learning crisis of our lifetime. We need to accelerate solutions that make a difference in learning and connect with what we know works for whom and in what context. We also need to accelerate collaborations, as none of us can do it alone. Last, we need to accelerate the dissemination of scientific knowledge into practices. This is precisely what the accelerator is working on to pave the way for breakthrough impact.
I was also attracted to Stanford as a unique research university, with incredible faculty, staff, student and alumni talent, paired with a long history of daring innovation – having discovered the first neural network in artificial intelligence and the first sleep apnea monitor for newborns, and incubated many startups including Google.
What do you think is most exciting about the vision of the Stanford Accelerator for Learning?
What excites me most about the Stanford Accelerator for Learning’s vision is its ambition to impact millions of learners directly through a portfolio of evidence-based solutions while transforming the way we think about research-to-practice and practice-to-research.
Can you please share a fun fact?
May I share two fun facts? First, I co-starred with Grover of Sesame Street on an episode about early childhood innovation. Second, I am an instructor-level Kung fu practitioner – always learning!