Kent Pekel PB

Image provided by the Post Bulletin, Ken Klotzbach


On July 1, 2021, Kent Pekel began his tenure as superintendent of schools in Rochester, Minnesota. Dr. Pekel is an educational leader who has worked at the school, district, state, federal, and university levels. Throughout his diverse career, he has sought to bridge research, practice, and policy to help all young people thrive. 

Prior to joining Rochester Public Schools, Dr. Pekel spent nine years as President and CEO of Search Institute, an internationally recognized not-for-profit organization that conducts applied research that promotes positive youth development and advances equity. During his tenure at Search Institute, Dr. Pekel led the design of the Developmental Relationships Framework, which is now being used across the United States and around the world to build positive and powerful connections between young people and adults in schools, out-of-school time programs, and other settings. Under Dr. Pekel’s leadership, Search Institute received the 2018 Award for Organizational Excellence in Research and Programming for Youth from the Society for Research on Adolescence.

Prior to joining Search Institute in 2012, Dr. Pekel served as the founding Executive Director of the University of Minnesota’s College Readiness Consortium, and as Executive Director of Research and Development in the Saint Paul Public Schools. While at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Pekel led the creation of Ramp-Up to Readiness, an advisory program for middle and high school students that prepares more than 100,000 students each year for success in some form of postsecondary education. He also led the launch of the Minnesota Principals Academy, a year-long executive development program that to date has introduced more than 500 Minnesota school leaders to the knowledge, skills, and tools they need to design and lead high-performing schools and systems.

Dr. Pekel held several senior staff positions during the Clinton Administration, including as a White House Fellow assigned to the Director of the CIA, Special Advisor to the Deputy Secretary of State, and Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Education. Dr. Pekel began his career as a high school teacher in his home state of Minnesota. He holds a B.A. in East Asian Studies from Yale University, a Master’s in Education from Harvard University, and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Minnesota.

Contact Information

Email: Superintendent Pekel | Phone: (507) 328-3000