Educational Designer & Managing Director
Sydney Schaef, Ed.D., M.B.A, is an Educational Designer and Managing Director at reDesign. Sydney leads a number of design and practitioner capacity-building projects, with a particular interest in the intersections of organizational development, change management, and school redesign initiatives that emphasize competency-based, learner-centered models. Prior to joining reDesign, Sydney served as Director of Learning Strategies in the Office of New School Models, School District of Philadelphia, where she supported new school startups, and led the development and knowledge-building work of a competency framework, Learning What Matters, for several recently launched open-admission high schools in Philadelphia.
Sydney’s work in education has been both domestic and international, with over ten years of experience in educational program design, nonprofit leadership, and education management. Originally from southern California, Sydney began her work in education as a science teacher in South Los Angeles as a Teach For America corps member. In 2006, Sydney founded a 501c3 non-profit organization and as its Executive Director, led its international development work with a focus on secondary education delivery, youth development, and social entrepreneurship. Under her leadership, the nonprofit co-founded and operated the first free private boarding school for orphaned and vulnerable teens in the rural region of Mkuranga, Tanzania, that featured youth-led entrepreneurial programs in permaculture, poultry farming, solar energy, music and the arts.
Sydney was awarded the Skoll Scholarship for Entrepreneurship in 2011 in recognition of her leadership and innovation in education design, development, and delivery among at-risk youth in East Africa. She continues to be involved in the Skoll Scholar Network, a network of over sixty social entrepreneurs and University of Oxford alumni working across the globe to drive solutions to social and environmental challenges.
Sydney holds a dual degree in History and Religion from the University of Florida, a Master of Education from the University of California Los Angeles, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Oxford's Saïd Business School, and a Doctorate in Education Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania. Her current research interests involve the relationship between students’ cognitive and behavioral engagement, self-regulation capabilities, and learning environment and curriculum design; competency-based learning systems design and implementation; and organizational change leadership.