CEO and Founder Jill Vialet has worked for more than 30 years in the nonprofit sector. In 1996, Vialet launched Playworks with two schools in Berkeley, California. Currently, the organization brings play and physical activities to children across the country, with offices in 23 cities. With a staff of 700, this year Playworks will reach 900,000 students through on-site coaches, professional training, and consultative partnership, serving 1,800 schools and youth-serving organizations. Prior to Playworks, Vialet founded the Museum of Children’s Art (MOCHA) in Oakland, California. She served as the executive director at MOCHA for nine years, ultimately expanding its programs to reach 20,000 young people each year.
Vialet graduated from Harvard University where she studied medical sociology, played rugby, and became actively involved with Harvard’s service-learning community. Vialet served as the director of Harvard’s Public Service Program during the 1986-87 school year. In 1996 she was awarded Radcliffe’s Jane Rainie Opel Award for achievement by a young alumna. Vialet was a Eureka Fellow from 2000 to 2001 and in 2004 she was selected as an Ashoka Fellow. In 2009, Vialet and Playworks were selected as a member of the Clinton Global Initiative. In 2011, Jill was named by Forbes magazine as one of the top 30 leading social entrepreneurs and recognized by the Women’s Sports Foundation as one of 40 Women Leaders in honor of the anniversary of Title IX. In 2013, Jill was awarded the James Irvine Leadership Award and in 2014, Jill received the Pahara Aspen Education Fellowship.
Jill is a frequent public speaker and has given talks at TEDMED, TEDxSanFrancisco, TEDxABQ, and keynotes at national conferences including Points of Light, America’s Promise, and Futures Without Violence. Jill also writes extensively on play and social entrepreneurship and has contributed to publications including the Huffington Post, Edutopia, Forbes.com and Principal Magazine. She is the author of the middle-grade novel Recess Rules and is working on the sequel, No Substitute.
During the 2015-16 school year, Jill was an Education Fellow at Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (better known as the d.school) where she launched a new project called Substantial, re-designing the way we recruit, train, and support substitute teachers.