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MacArthur Foundation announces new president

John Palfrey is the new president of the MacArthur Foundation. | Provided photo

The Chicago-based MacArthur Foundation announced Tuesday it has picked John Palfrey, head of one of the nation’s most elite high schools, to become its new president.

Palfrey, 46, will succeed Julia Stasch, Mayor Richard M. Daley’s former chief of staff. Stasch, president since 2014, announced in September that she would be stepping down this year.

“I am honored to lead the MacArthur Foundation during such a critical time, when challenges facing people and our planet can seem insurmountable, but the tools of social change are evolving to be even more powerful,” Palfrey said in a statement.

“I am an optimist, who believes that creativity, rigor, and selective disruption can make outsized social impact possible. I look forward to working with MacArthur’s talented and dedicated board, staff, and grantees in Chicago, across the nation, and around the world.”

Since 2012, Palfrey has been head of school for Phillips Academy Andover, a private high school in Massachusetts with annual tuition that ranges from $43,300 to $55,800, although a large percentage of the fees for returning students are paid for with grants, according the school’s website.

He is also the author or co-author of nine books, including several about children living in the digital age.

“I applaud the selection of John Palfrey as the next president of the MacArthur Foundation,” Stasch said in a statement. “He is a thoughtful scholar and visionary innovator who is deeply committed to MacArthur’s values. Our staff, our grantees, and the issues in which we are investing will all benefit from his. experience and leadership.”

Stasch will serve as board chair for Lever for Change, a new MacArthur-created nonprofit, a foundation spokesman said.

Palfrey and his wife, Catherine Carter, have two young children and plan to move to Chicago in the summer.

MacArthur describes itself as one of the nation’s largest independent philanthropic organizations, doing work in 40 countries.