Peggy O'Brien Named Folger Director of Education-Folger Shakespeare Library
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Peggy O'Brien Named Folger Director of Education

Press Contacts:
Garland Scott
(202) 675-0342

Peter Eramo, Jr.
(202) 675-0344

Peggy O’Brien, who founded the Folger’s education programs and edited the groundbreaking teacher series, Shakespeare Set Free, has been appointed Director of Education. She succeeds Robert G. Young who is retiring at the end of June.

“I believe that Peggy has the ideal combination of knowledge, skills, experience, entrepreneurship, and high energy to allow Folger Education to realize its full national potential,” said Folger Director Michael Witmore in making the announcement. “She brings to the Folger a strong commitment to education, one that is rooted in Washington but extends across the country. I'm delighted that she's joined our team and am confident that she will lead Folger Education to new successes.”

After years of teaching high school English in the District of Columbia’s public schools, O’Brien established the Folger’s performance-based education philosophy and many of its programs in the 1980s, including the NEH-funded summer Teaching Shakespeare Institute and the beloved student Shakespeare festivals. She led the Folger’s education department until 1994, when she was named Director of Education Programs for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. During this time, in collaboration with Cambridge University Press and Georgetown University, she launched and published Shakespeare Magazine, a print and online magazine for teachers of Shakespeare.

Deeply interested in education and technology, O’Brien has served as Chief Operating Officer of KIKO: Knowledge In, Knowledge Out, Inc., an internet educational company, and Executive Director of the National Cable and Telecommunications Education Foundation, where she created an early online learning game, Shakespeare: Subject to Change. She returned to the public school system in 2008 as the Chief of Family and Public Engagement for DC Public Schools.

Currently, O’Brien teaches policy, theory, and practice in American K-12 education, and is advising on a new minor in Education, Inquiry, and Justice at Georgetown University. She continues to consult on major national education programs.

O’Brien’s long and distinguished career in education has brought her numerous awards and honors, including Doctor of Laws honoris causa from Trinity University, Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa from Georgetown University, the Public Humanities Award from the D.C. Community Humanities Council, and the Folger’s 2008 Shakespeare Steward Award. She holds an A.B. from Trinity College, an M.A. from The Catholic University of America, and a Ph.D. from The American University.


Folger Education is a national leader in how Shakespeare is taught today. Believing the best way to learn Shakespeare is by performing Shakespeare, the Folger supports its performance-based, language-centered approach to teaching Shakespeare with training, online lesson plans and resources, and groundbreaking publications, including the Shakespeare Set Free series and the Folger editions of the plays—the leading Shakespeare text used in American classrooms today.

Folger Shakespeare Library is a world-renowned center for scholarship, learning, culture, and the arts. It is home to the world’s largest Shakespeare collection and a primary repository for rare materials from the early modern period (1500–1750). The Folger is an internationally recognized research library offering advanced scholarly programs in the humanities; an innovator in the preservation of rare materials; a national leader in how Shakespeare is taught in grades K–12; and an award-winning producer of cultural and arts programs—theater, music, poetry, exhibits, lectures, and family programs. By promoting understanding of Shakespeare and his world, the Folger reminds us of the enduring influence of his works, the formative effects of the Renaissance on our own time, and the power of the written and spoken word. A gift to the American people from industrialist Henry Clay Folger, the Folger—located one block east of the U.S. Capitol—opened in 1932. Learn more at

Press release issued on June 6, 2013.
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Peggy O'Brien

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