Former Teach for America state director Jared Henderson to run for governor as Democrat | Arkansas Blog

Former Teach for America state director Jared Henderson to run for governor as Democrat

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HENDERSON: Taking on Hutchinson.
  • HENDERSON: Taking on Hutchinson.
According to John Brummett's column in the D-G that morning, Jared Henderson, the former executive director of the Arkansas branch of Teach for America, will likely initiate a "soft launch" today for a campaign for governor. I don't know what a soft launch is, but Henderson, a Democrat, has a website up, so I'd say he's running. The website, naturally, notes that Henderson is a fourth-generation Arkansan. He's a University of Arkansas graduate with masters degrees from Harvard Business School and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government; he has worked as a research scientist for NASA and a consultant for McKinsey; for the last six years he's been involved with Teach for America, first as a senior vice president of regional operations and then as the executive director at TFA's Arkansas branch, where he oversaw the program's efforts to to place teachers in around 40 schools, mostly in the Delta region. He was featured in the 40 Under 40 list in Arkansas Business a few years back.

One possible challenge for Henderson: the teachers union, a core part of the state's Democratic base, has often been skeptical of Teach for America.

The bigger challenge for Henderson: He's running against a popular governor in a dead-red state. Part of rebuilding the party is running credible candidates even in the nearly impossible races, so it's good news for the Dems if Henderson throws his hat in the ring. My guess is that the heavy hitters would be more likely to be interested in the Senate seat that could potentially be open if Tom Cotton heads to the CIA — or the Second District congressional seat, which looks at least gettable in a year that will likely have good national headwinds for Democrats. 

Here's Henderson's full bio from his website:

Jared’s Arkansas roots have provided him with incredible opportunities to learn and achieve, and to serve in business, government, and non-profit education. Like so many other beneficiaries of the American Dream, Jared’s opportunities and accomplishments have stemmed from the hard work and sacrifice of previous generations.

After attending Arkansas public schools his entire childhood, Jared graduated from the University of Arkansas, summa cum laude, with bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science and Physics. He later attended Harvard Business School where he earned a master's in Business Administration. He simultaneously studied under full scholarship at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government where he earned a second master’s degree in Public Administration.

In 2001 and 2002, Jared worked as a research scientist and operations manager at NASA, where he was formally recognized for his leadership. After NASA, he joined the world’s top business strategy firm, McKinsey & Company. He was the first person ever to be offered a job at McKinsey while still a student at the University of Arkansas. At McKinsey, he worked alongside Fortune 500 executives in multiple industries, a state superintendent of education, and supported mayors of two of America’s largest cities during the Great Recession.

For the last six years, Jared’s career has focused on public education. As an executive director and senior vice president of a national non-profit, Jared had responsibility for more than 1,500 teachers and 150 employees. This work has cemented his belief that all students can learn and achieve if provided with equitable opportunities – and that great educators should be counted among the most important and talented professionals in our society. For two years, Jared served as managing director of ForwARd Arkansas, working alongside dozens of Arkansans to develop a statewide vision for the future of public education. The vision and more than 90 supporting recommendations were approved unanimously by the State Board of Education in 2015.

Over the last three years, Jared has assumed his most important and fulfilling jobs of his life as husband to Dr. Melanie Prince and father to a precious baby boy, Duke. Today, they live in Little Rock where they own and operate a medical practice.

Jared’s maternal grandmother grew up in rural Arkansas and attended the 8th grade twice because it was the highest level of education available to her. Throughout her life, she demonstrated the quiet resolve and selflessness that defined the Greatest Generation as much as their victory in the war. Drawing strength from her deep Christian faith, she raised three daughters almost entirely by herself – including one during the Great Depression. She was a union Kroger employee for many years and earned a pension that, along with Social Security, allowed her to live a fulfilling and independent life right up and into her 96th and final year.

Jared’s paternal grandfather fought in Patton’s Army. Despite being wounded in combat on two different occasions, he survived. Jared’s entire family reveres both his grandfather's service and humility as, like so many heroes of his generation, he rarely spoke of it after he returned. After the war, he returned to Central Arkansas and worked the rest of his life in construction.

Jared’s mother is an exceptional small business and office manager who showed Jared by example that women are equally as capable as men at home, at work, and in any other dimension of life. Jared’s father spent most of his career selling windows and doors in Northwest Arkansas. He taught Jared that honesty and integrity were non-negotiable in every arena of life. Both of them, through their daily actions, showed Jared that the best leaders treat everyone with decency and respect – and that compassion and kindness are signs of true strength.

Jared was adopted into this family at birth having never met his biological mother. Despite being an unmarried teenager, she had the profound wisdom and courage to give him up for adoption to a loving family. Her decision gives Jared a sense gratitude and responsibility every day.




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