Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

Adams is CEO of The Urban Assembly, an innovator in public education, and a leader in social-emotional learning.

We are pleased to announce the selection of David Adams as the recipient of the 2023 Greg Farrell Award. The Award was presented to David at a ceremony that took place over Zoom on March 25. The ceremony also paid tribute to the other 2023 nominees and the work they are doing to bring to life the words of the Award tagline: “lighting sparks, living boldly, leaving the world a better place.”

This annual Award honors the life and legacy of Greg Farrell, who lived an extraordinary life of accomplishment and inspiration before passing away in the spring of 2020. Among his many accomplishments, Greg was a founder of NYC Outward Bound Schools and EL Education (formerly Expeditionary Learning) and the Executive Director of the Fund for the City of New York. The Award was established by a group of Greg’s former colleagues at NYC Outward Bound Schools, each of whom was inspired and nurtured by him. The group serves as the Award Selection Committee. Previous Award recipients were Pascale Florestal (2020), Moses Ssenyonjo (2021) and Tonya Dreher (2022).

In choosing David as the 2023 recipient, the Committee was particularly impressed by the powerful work he is doing as a passionate champion of educational equity and a tireless advocate for bringing social-emotional learning (SEL) into schools in ways that help students thrive by supporting and complementing their academic learning. He is currently the CEO of The Urban Assembly (UA), a nonprofit that promotes social and economic mobility by innovating in public education, both in its 22 New York City schools and in the solutions it offers to school districts nationwide. David also serves on the Board of Directors of CASEL (the Collaborative for Academic, Social & Emotional Learning), the preeminent SEL-focused organization in the nation. And underscoring his commitment to service, he is a U.S. Army Reserve Commander.

“This year feels particularly special because we’re honoring a peer in the NYC public education space,” said Vanessa Rodriguez, CEO of NYC Outward Bound Schools. “David and The Urban Assembly share our belief that students are human beings first — and that their social-emotional needs must be met in order for them to achieve academic success. Both UA & NYC Outward Bound have a deep history of innovation within our city’s public schools, and we look forward to continuing that work in service of NYC’s young people!”

Richard Stopol, a member of the Selection Committee who is the President Emeritus of NYC Outward Bound Schools offered these comments about David: “He is cut from the same cloth as Greg – both visionary leaders with the gift of getting things done with grace, compassion and deep respect for others. Both also inspire through the depth of their commitment to making a positive difference in the world and the personal examples they set in living their lives – with integrity, kindness, and both boldness and generosity of spirit.”

Listen to "Innovations in Education" with David Adams

On his podcast, David Adams speaks with people who have solved problems to improve public education.

Each of this year’s nominees are living lives of purpose and impact and are engaged in work that is making a profound difference by putting their distinctive stamps on their communities and our world in ways that are helping them to be more just and welcoming places.


Our 2023 Nominees are:

  • David Adams, The Urban Assembly
  • Ebony Gustave, Design for the Commons
  • Joanne M. Oplustil, CAMBA
  • Jessica Posner & Kennedy Odede, Shining Hope for Communities
  • Ralph Saint-Louis, Lowell High School
  • The New Utrecht High School Equity Team
  • Domanick Walker, Camp Dudley and Baltimore City Schools

A Special Thank You to our Selection Committee:

  • Julia Boral
  • Thea Daniels
  • Paul Herdman
  • Susan McCray
  • Richard Stopol
  • Jeanne Sturges
  • Sanna Randolph Thomas
  • Denis Udall
  • Paola Vita

Donate to the Greg Farrell Award

Contributions to the Greg Farrell Award fund are welcome and greatly appreciated.

Back to top