Theodore (TJ) Coburn, the former Director of the International School Dhaka (ISD), has recently joined the Aga Khan Academies network as the Founding Head of the brand-new Academy in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The Aga Khan Academies is an initiative of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and His Highness, the Aga Khan. His Highness’ vision is to create a global learning community where exceptional young people from any background can develop the capacity to become the future leaders of civil society. Aga Khan Academies have already been opened in Mombasa, Kenya; in Hyderabad, India; and in Maputo, Mozambique. The Dhaka Academy will open in September 2021.

Like its partner Academies, the Dhaka Academy will be a day and boarding school offering the International Baccalaureate (IB) PYP, MYP and DP. It will fuse an international ethos with a deep appreciation for and connection with the culture and history of Bangladesh, the host country. The curriculum will be distinguished by the infusion of five ‘strands’ which reflect the broader mission of the AKDN: Ethics and Pluralism, Cultures (with an emphasis on Muslim civilizations), Governance and Civil Society, and Economics for Development.

Society’s work on this appointment process was led by Conor Wilson and Kerry Wallace from our Schools Practice. They searched globally for experienced international school administrators who could evince a clear empathy for the mission, vision and values of the AKDN. Given that this is a start-up Academy, we were particularly interested in individuals with strong general organizational management skills, entrepreneurial flare, and the ability to build community.

TJ has had a fascinating career straddling various endeavors. He spent the first ten years of his career in investment banking, rising to senior leadership roles with Merrill Lynch and Prudential Securities. Leaving Wall Street, TJ completed graduate programs in Divinity, Counseling Psychology, and Cognitive Development at Harvard University to serve in a variety of educational settings. He has worked in inner-city schools serving underprivileged communities in New York City and in Boston. And he has led international schools in New York City, Poland and Bangladesh.

On his appointment, TJ commented: “I am grateful for the work ahead in serving the mission of the Aga Khan Development Network in its Academies initiative. And I feel fortunate for the dedication and devotion of the Society team of Conor Wilson and Kerry Wallace in facilitating this once in a lifetime opportunity for me. They are nothing short of terrific."