Gabrielle Lyon
Gabrielle Lyon

Adjunct Lecturer of Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Print Overview

Vice President Education & Experience, Chicago Architecture Foundation

Adjunct Lecturer of Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Kellogg School of Management

Gabrielle Lyon, PhD, is a nationally-recognized non-profit leader, educator, and public speaker on education reform and social impact with a background that includes founding and leading award-winning organizations and initiatives focused on leveling the playing field of educational opportunity for underserved youth - particularly in science and technology. She synthesizes data-driven social-justice work with education, championing the belief that high-quality educational opportunity can and should be accessible to everyone, especially those to whom it has historically been closed.

Gabrielle Lyon joined the Chicago Architecture Foundation in Fall 2014 as the Vice President for Education & Experience, where she is responsible for leading the organization's thinking on how to engage youth, educator, mentor and family communities to explore the built environment and design thinking through in-person and online experiences.

In 1994 Lyon began her work in education reform as a Fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance magazine. In 1996 Lyon moved to Chicago to direct the School Change Institute at the Small Schools Workshop at the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

In 1999 she founded Project Exploration, a high-impact nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the face of science for underserved minority youth and girls. Lyon designed and led the organization's unique program, fundraising, and earned revenue strategies, establishing it as nationally-recognized model for recruiting and retaining minority youth and girls to science. Under her tenure as Executive Director Lyon built Project Exploration into a 20-person, $1.8 million organization reaching more than 1500 youth through highly-personalized programming and 1 million people annually via travelling educational exhibits and online initiatives.

In 2012 Lyon chaired the launch of the Chicago STEM Pathways Cooperative, a community-based effort to document Chicago's out-of-school-time STEM landscape and outline ways educational institutions, businesses and city services can cooperate to build and support pathways into science, technology, engineering and mathematics for Chicago's young people.

Lyon's honors include representing the International Association of Educators for World Peace as a delegate to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, addressing the U.N. Subcommittee on Human Rights on "The Prevention of Racism and the Protection of Minorities," in 1995 She was recognized as one of "Tomorrow's Leaders Today" by Public Allies in 1999, one of the Community Renewal Society's "35 Under 35" in 2007, and a recipient of The Chicago Community Trust Fellowship in 2009. Under her leadership, Project Exploration received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring in 2009, was named a national model by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology in 2010, and in 2011 was recognized with an "Excellence in Summer Learning Award" from the National Summer Learning Association. In 2011 Chicago Magazine named Lyon a "Chicagoan of the Year." In 2012 she was named a National After School Champion by the After School Alliance.

In 2013 she founded Lyon-Strategies LLC, a strategic planning and program design firm. Clients have included the Chicago Architecture FoundationChicago Public LibrarySmart Chicago CollaborativeThe Thirty Million Words Initiative at the University of Chicago, and Voqal.

Lyon's teaching and research is focused on better understanding ways cross-sector efforts can be designed and supported to create long-lasting social change. Gabrielle Lyon earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in history from the University of Chicago in 1996 and received her Ph.D. in curriculum studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2010. She received a Certificate in Nonprofit Management in 2011 from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.

Print Vita
Certificate, 2011, Nonprofit Management, Northwestern University
PhD, 2010, Curriculum and Instruction, University of Illinois at Chicago
MA, 1994, History, University of Chicago
BA, 1994, History, University of Chicago, Honors

Academic Positions
Director, Strategic Initiatives and National Partnerships, University of Chicago, 2013-present
Instructional Coach, Social New Venture Challenge, Booth School of Business, University of Chicago, 2014-2014
Instructor, Designing Civic Innovations for Social Impact, Starter School, 2013-2013
Instructional Coach, Social New Venture Challenge, Booth School of Business, University of Chicago, 2013-2013
Instructional Coach, Social Entrepreneurship Lab, Booth School of Business, University of Chicago, 2013-2013
Adjunct Professor, Science Education and Social Change, Graham School, University of Chicago, 2007-2007

Other Professional Experience
Founder, Lyon Strategies, LLC, 2013-present
Cofounder, Interim Executive Director, Project Exploration, 1999-2013
Director, School Change Institute, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1995-1999
Research Fellow, Southern Poverty Law Center, 1994-1995

Honors and Awards
National After School Champion, After School Alliance, 2012
Honoree, Annual Women's Luncheon to Benefit At-Risk Girls in the Foster Care System, Childlink, 2012
Community Service and Social Justice Award, University of Illinois Chicago Gender and Women's Studies Program, 2012
Chicagoan of the Year, Chicago Magazine, 2011
Distinguished Service Award, Phi Beta Kappa, 2011
Leadership Fellow, Chicago Community Trust, 2009
"35 Under 35" Award, Community Renewal Society, 2007
Outstanding Community Leaders Award, Association of Fundraising Professionals, 2004
Best Educational Exhibit, “The Mesozoic Garden.”, Chicago Flower and Garden Show, 2003
Tomorrow’s Leaders Today, Public Allies, 1999
Community Brick Award, Do Something, 1997
Delegate to the United Nations, Geneva, Switzerland, International Educators for World Peace, 1996

Print Research
Lyon, Gabrielle. 2013. The State of STEM in Out-of-School Time in Chicago. Project Exploration.
Lyon, Gabrielle. 2012. Beyond the Pipeline: A Pathways Framework for Engaging Youth in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math in Out-of-School Time. Afterschool Matters Journal.
Lyon, Gabrielle. 2011. Lessons Learned: 10 Years of Changing the Face of Science. Project Exploration.
Lyon, Gabrielle. 2010. Project Exploration’s Sisters4Science: A Blueprint for Involving Urban Girls of Color in Science Out of School. Afterschool Matters Journal.
Lyon, Gabrielle. 1999. Desert Diary. Medicine on the Midway.
Lyon, Gabrielle and Jameela Jafri. Forthcoming. Environmental Adventurers: Amplifying Urban Youth Agency, Identity and Capacity with Mobile Technology..
Lyon, Gabrielle and M. Kelleher. Tragedy in Back of the Yards. Catalyst.
Working Papers
Lyon, Gabrielle. The Onus Is On Us. A Watershed Moment: The First National Conference on Science and Technology in Out-of-School Time.
Lyon, Gabrielle. "Clinton Global Initiative and Small and Medium Sized Businesses: Hot Stuff or Hot Air?.".
Lyon, Gabrielle. "It’s 3pm. Is Your Child Discovering the World?." Catalyst Chicago.
Lyon, Gabrielle. "Can You Tell Me How to Get to Science Street?." Huffington Post.
Lyon, Gabrielle. 2000. A Simple Justice: The Challenge of Small Schools (Teaching for Social Justice Series). New York: Teachers College Press.

Print Teaching
Full-Time / Evening & Weekend MBA
Social Innovation: Designing for Change (KPPI-452-0)
This course was formerly known as KIEI 452-0.
In this experiential lab course, students will explore - in class and through quarter-long consulting projects - innovation as a mechanism for social problem solving. The lab component of this course places teams of Kellogg students with a local organization that has an innovative product, service or business model. Teams will work with nonprofit organizations with revenue-generating initiatives and for-profit companies working in: education; energy & sustainability; financial services; healthcare; and housing & community development. This class will be beneficial for students who want to start, work for, advise or invest in a business with an innovation that is designed to have a social impact.