President Gary Larson, an expert in strategic positioning and crisis management, specializes in helping quality education reform organizations across the nation tell their story to the broader public.
Gary entered education reform when he voluntarily and successfully spearheaded an effort in San Francisco to help parents save their local, high-quality charter school from revocation. This battle was prominently covered in statewide media, as well as in The Wall Street Journal, The San Francisco Chronicle, BusinessWeek and The Economist.
After generating this national attention, Gary was recruited as the nation’s first head of communications for a state’s charter schools association in California at a time when charter schools were being defined by their worst-performing schools. By shining the spotlight on quality, Gary changed that perception into a positive one, proactively shaping the charter environment in California. Support for charter schools increased dramatically and enrollment more than doubled.
For the California Charter Schools Association, Gary spearheaded numerous media campaigns covered by state and national outlets and launched the ‘My School!’ public awareness campaign aimed at reaching 300,000 new parents. Gary also led media efforts around two major lawsuits against school districts refusing to make facilities available. The public pressure of these campaigns forced the districts to make space available for charter schools.
Gary also led the public fight against the California assembly speaker who held up $18 million in facilities funding intended for charter schools serving California’s neediest students. After a barrage of news, opponents backed down and the governor signed legislation to preserve the program. This program has since expanded, providing millions of dollars in additional facilities resources to California’s charters.
In 2007, with the goal of serving as many organizations offering real solutions for students, parents and teachers as possible, Gary founded the only communications firm in the nation to specialize in education reform, Larson Communications. The team, which began small in California and has since grown to include offices nationally, has advised leading education reform organizations including advocacy, philanthropy, ed tech and charter organizations in over 30 states. Our clients’ work has been regularly covered by The Wall Street Journal, Good Morning America, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune and USA Today, among many others.
With the spotlight Gary has helped shine on solutions and the stories of children, families and teachers, public support for education reform has grown. For example, the demand from parents for charter schools has increased from serving nearly 1.3 million students in 2007-08 to over 2.5 million students today.
A former collegiate swimmer and water polo player, Gary has both a bachelor’s degree in political science and communications and a master’s degree in public administration from USC.