Matthew Lyons knows that he’s lucky: growing up, he attended exceptional public schools. His experience grew his passion for public education and rooted his deeply-held belief that every kid should have the opportunities he has had.
With a commitment to close the opportunity gap for all students, Matt has built a career aimed at transforming human capital systems to better support educators in their work with students, parents, and communities.
Before transitioning into education, Matt was a training and management consultant for ICF International in Chicago and Washington, D.C., where he assisted local, state, and foreign hospital officials in preparing for public health emergencies.
After earning a graduate degree in urban education policy, Matt joined the inaugural Education Pioneers Chicago cohort in 2009.
- Human Capital
As an EP Fellow with Chicago Public Schools (CPS), Matt developed a strategic communications plan for the district’s Excellence in Teaching Project. Housed within the Department of Human Resources, the Excellence in Teaching Project was a new teacher evaluation approach that used rigorous classroom observation protocol to provide more meaningful feedback to teachers.
At CPS, Matt led the district’s efforts to design and implement a new evaluation and feedback system for CPS’ 20,000 teachers that is research-based, credible, and trusted, and involved gathering input from more than 2,100 teachers and the teachers’ union.
Now serving as Chief Talent Officer for CPS, Matt manages 70+ staff and a $20 million budget. He oversees all of the district’s human resources work, including recruitment, onboarding, staffing, feedback, evaluation and professional growth, leadership development, health and benefits, and employee retention.
More specifically, a focus of his work as he describes it, is to “lower the price of being an effective educator.” He points out a common culture in education that encourages or requires exceptionalism among teachers and principals -- those who go far above and beyond job requirements to show true dedication to students.
Matt points out that while those committed education leaders absolutely deserve praise, “the system is broken if consistent 80-hour work weeks are the price of making meaningful change. In Chicago, there are nearly 400,000 public school students. It is unrealistic to expect us to find the 20,000 outstanding educators that we need if the sacrifices educators have to make are so great.”
To ensure that all students succeed, Matt is engaging educators as partners, holding them to high standards, helping them succeed, and recognizing them when they do.
Matt was a semifinalist for 2016 EPic Alumni recognition.