David Banks, Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, will be the Law School’s commencement speaker on Sunday, May 22, 2022. The commencement exercises will take place on St. John’s Queens campus.
Born and raised in New York City, Chancellor Banks now leads the nation’s largest public school system, one that educated him growing up in Brooklyn and Queens and that now comprises 1600 schools serving close to one million students. He brings a range of experience to his newest role. After graduating from St. John’s Law, Chancellor Banks worked as a lawyer for the city and state before becoming a public school teacher in Crown Heights.
Along with being a seasoned educator, Chancellor Banks is also an innovator. He was the founding principal at the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice and, in 2004, he launched the Eagle Academy for Young Men. As the first public single-sex boys’ school to open in New York City in about 30 years, the Eagle Academy recognized that public schools weren’t meeting the needs of low-income Black and Latino boys. Today, the Eagle model has been adopted in schools throughout New York City and Newark, NJ. and is expanding nationally through the Eagle Institute.
Outside his work with the Eagle Academy schools, Chancellor Banks co-founded Black EdFluencers United to influence and develop the capacity of Black educators. He has also served on the Board of Directors for the International Boys’ Schools Coalition, as co-chair of New York City Young Men's Initiative, and as a founding board member of the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color.
“We are delighted to welcome Chancellor Banks home to St. John’s Law,” says Dean Michael A. Simons. “He brings unique insight on leadership, and what it takes to address longstanding challenges within our education system and within wider societal systems and structures. That perspective is informed by a deep commitment to being a problem solver—a commitment shaped by his St. John’s legal education and its focus on the law’s power, and the lawyer’s obligation, to serve the greater good.”