Each spring, Choate Rosemary Hall presents the Alumni Award to an alumnus/a for outstanding achievement in his or her chosen profession. This is the highest award the School bestows upon a graduate. On Monday, May 24 the 2021 Alumni Award was awarded to Henry Hipps III '90 via Zoom for his distinguished career making social and economic impact through innovation and entrepreneurship. Most recently, Henry has been advancing innovative education policy at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
He first worked as a consultant and engagement manager for IBM Business Consulting, leading global teams on business transformation for several Fortune 500 companies and multinationals. In 2007, he founded Trajectory Learning, a pioneering ed-tech venture which delivered K-12 courseware with culturally relevant content, designed to improve student engagement and outcomes. His company's work intended to bridge the gap between student identity, relevance, engagement, and academic outcomes for Black, Latinx, and low-income students. Having moved into the education realm, Hipps then became Senior Director of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, the city's comprehensive initiative to turn around under-performing schools. There, he was responsible for strategy, development, school finance, technology, facilities, and other core operations supporting 20,000 students and 20 schools.
This professional trajectory led Henry to his current position, as Deputy Director of the Education Team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. There, his role is to improve the availability, awareness, and implementation of solutions that support teachers and increase student achievement in K-12 education. His team's portfolio covers improvement of curriculum, social emotional learning, high school advising, and education technology. He also leads the foundation's investment efforts in the development of K-12 solutions that strategically align the work of nonprofit organizations and mission-aligned for-profit companies. He has helped the foundation simultaneously address the needs of the public sector, engage private capital, address market failures, and invest in entrepreneurial models.
In his remarks to students, he noted, "one of the special things about my Choate experience was being able to engage with students and faculty from very different experiences and worldviews." He spoke of the range of identities he met during his year on campus, and how much power lies in moments of shared experiences, "if we choose to fully engage with empathy and moral imagination, especially if we don't share the same background and at least these points of individual growth and understanding, but also of collective growth of virtual community."