Kahlil Byrd

International Affairs Fellow, 2005-2006

Kahlil Byrd has dedicated his career to international media development and U.S. domestic politics. He currently serves as the president of StudentsFirst, a $100 million national effort focused on changing the nation's legislative and policy landscape for public education; driving a national movement of teachers, parents, and students dedicated to education reform; and emerging as the national leader focused on transforming the American education system. Working with Chief Executive Officer and Founder Michelle Rhee and the board, Kahlil is responsible for StudentsFirst's long term strategy, operations, budget, and effort to develop an optimal culture focused on growth.

Prior to StudentsFirst, Kahlil was the chief executive officer of Americans Elect, a national start-up with the twofold mission of re-imagining, through technology, the U.S. presidential primary system and placing a bipartisan presidential ticket on all fifty state ballots. Kahlil and his team raised more than $40 million for the effort, and stood up a fully functioning and fully funded start-up with over 150 paid staff, 5,000 contractors, and 3,000 volunteers nationwide. Over two years, Americans Elect had 3.5 million unique visitors to its website and acquired more than 450 thousand members. AmericansElect.org is the winner of the 2012 People's Choice Award at South by Southwest, one of the country's largest interactive technology conferences; the Campaigns & Elections 2012 CampaignTech Innovator Award; and two 2012 CLIO Awards for content and interactive excellence.

Kahlil was a cofounder and the executive director of the African Public Broadcasting Foundation (APBF), an NGO that encourages the privatization and strengthening of public service television throughout sub-Saharan Africa. He has also worked extensively in politics, running operations, communications, and strategy for statewide governor and Senate races for Democrats, Independents, and Republicans around the country. Kahlil got his start as the communications director and a senior strategist of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick's 2006 winning campaign. He later joined the Patrick administration as the director of gubernatorial appointments, helping to shape the governor's team throughout the state.

Kahlil was a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and in 2006–2007 served as an international affairs fellow focused on international media. He earned his BA in political science from Morehouse College and his master's degree in public administration from the Harvard Kennedy School.

Publications