About John Wood


John Wood is the Founder and Board Co-Chair of Room to Read, one of the fastest-growing and award-winning charities founded during this century.  A former Microsoft marketing executive, Wood left the company in 1999 to start the organization.  To date, Room to Read has opened over 1,500 schools and 13,600 libraries, distributed over 11 million books including 707 self-published original local language titles, and supported over 17,000 girls to succeed in secondary school and beyond.  Due to the work of Room to Read, over six million children in 10 countries across Asia and Africa benefit via the lifelong gift of education and literacy.  John has emulated his hero, Andrew Carnegie, by opening over five times as many libraries.  He describes his efforts thus far as “total tip of the iceberg” and aspires to reach 10 million children by 2015.

John is a member of the Advisory Board of the Clinton Global Initiative.  He was the first-ever Microsoft Alumni of the Year, an award bestowed by Bill and Melinda Gates.  He is a five-time winner of Fast Company Magazine’s Social Capitalist Award, a three-time speaker at the Clinton Global Initiative, and was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.  He is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute and was given a Presidential Citation by the American Library Association.  The local language children’s publishing program he catalyzed at Room to Read was awarded with UNESCO’s Confucius Prize for Literacy in 2011.  He has twice been named by Barron’s magazine as one of the world’s 25 Most Effective Philanthropists and was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.

John teaches at the graduate level at the Wagner School of Public Policy at NYU and the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  His degrees include a Masters in Science in Business Administration, awarded magna cum laude (University of Colorado), a Masters in Business Administration from the Kellogg School of Northwestern University and three honorary PhDs.  When not traveling the world for Room to Read, he makes his home in New York City.

Creating Room to Read is John Wood’s idealistic dream turned into practical reality, the inside story of how a sensible businessman reached for the impossible—and seized it.

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Invite John to speak at one of your events!

Razor-sharp business acumen honed at Microsoft, combined with a passion to change the world makes John Wood a unique, inspiring and popular speaker with universal appeal. His charismatic presentations focus on leadership, entrepreneurship, business, education and literacy, philanthropy and women’s empowerment, as well as motivational messages about finding your passion in life, thinking big, and proving that anyone, with focused vision and determination, can make a significant impact on the world.

Click here for John’s speaker biography.

To arrange a speaking engagement with John, please contact Erin Hogan at Room to Read: erin.hogan@roomtoread.org or +1 (415) 839-4400.

Check out John’s first book “Leaving Microsoft to Change the World” here.