Phil Gonring
Senior Fellow

Phil Gonring is an expert in educator effectiveness, community college developmental education reforms, grantmaking and union-district collaborations and has experience as a teacher, school leader and grantmaker. He joined Education First in 2011 to oversee technical assistance to 19 Race to the Top states as part of the US Department of Education’s Reform Support Network.

Phil has devoted his career to improving public education for low-income students and students of color. Raised by parents dedicated to social justice, Phil fell into education as an English teacher, basketball coach and school leader. He experienced firsthand the dream-dashing of institutional racism and has done what he can to erase those practices. After teaching, he managed one of the first Expeditionary Learning schools, then spent 14 years at Rose Community Foundation leading efforts to improve teaching in low-income schools.

Phil lives in Denver and is the father of three children, including two recent graduates of Denver Public Schools and a third soon to enroll. He enjoys travelling, particularly to Southeast Asia, and the Denver Broncos. He parks in the same free-parking spot as his father 45 years ago. His own children maintain the tradition of complaining about the long walk to the stadium.

Phil's expertise

  • Educator Preparation, Strategic Hiring & Retention
  • Educator Support, Development & Evaluation
  • Teacher Leadership, Teacher Voice & Career Pathways
  • Educator and Stakeholder Engagement
  • Assessments for Learning
  • Grantmaking Strategy & Effectiveness
  • Advice & Counsel
  • Student Success in Community Colleges
  • Policy Analysis & Development
  • Communities of Practice & Working Groups
  • Results-Driven Meetings & Facilitations
  • Writing

Recent clients

  • AEM Corporation
  • Denver Public Schools
  • ICF International
  • Oregon Community College Association
  • U.S. Department of Education
  • William and Flora Hewlett Foundation


Phil likes

  • Favorite Bangkok neighborhood for an early morning noodle bowl: Bang Chak.

  • Enjoying dinner in Sihanoukville, Cambodia