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Two-time governor of Maine, John McKernan has dedicated over 30 years to boosting the U.S.’s competitive advantage through his work in educational and economic policy. The experienced public servant and former CEO currently serves as a senior advisor to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, which works to further Americans’ entrepreneurial skills and capacity to innovate as a means of building stronger communities and a better quality of life.

After completing service in the Maine Army National Guard, Governor McKernan became one of the youngest members of the Maine State House of Representatives. He served two terms while at the same time pursuing his law degree. As governor, he created centers of innovation and invested millions of dollars in Maine’s education system in order to make Maine not just economically competitive with other states, but other countries as well. He was recognized as an Outstanding Governor by the American Society for Training and Development for his contributions to advancing education and human resources.

Widely viewed as “ahead of his time,” Governor McKernan published the book Making the Grade, which laid out a roadmap for creating apprenticeship programs in American secondary schools. He continued to push educational reform through his work as chairman of the National School-to-Work Advisory Council in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he served as chairman of the International Advisory Board of the Center for Career Development in South Portland, Maine.

Full Profile

    Former Maine Governor John McKernan served as Chief Executive Office and Vice Chairman of Education Management Corporation (EDMC) and as a member of its Board of Directors. He joined the company in June 1999. Prior to being named CEO in September 2003, he served EDMC as President and Vice Chairman. In that role, he was responsible for the strategic expansion of the company and also oversaw the Law, Education, Human Resources and Strategic Development Departments.

    Prior to joining EDMC, he was President and CEO of McKernan Enterprises, Inc., a consulting and investment firm, from 1995-1999.

    He served his native state of Maine for two terms in the United States Congress and then as Governor for two four-year terms from 1987 to 1995. While in office, Governor McKernan won national recognition for leadership and innovation in education and human resources, serving as Chair of the Education Commission of the States in 1992 and the National Education Goals Panel in 1994. In 1992 he was named the Outstanding Governor by the American Society for Training and Development and in 1994 he authored Making the Grade, a book on youth apprenticeship.

    Governor McKernan has won national recognition for leadership and innovation in education and human resources. The National Alliance of Business honored him in 1993 with the first annual School-to-Work transition award and in 1989 by naming Maine State of the Year. He was also recognized as Outstanding Governor in 1992 by the American Society for Training and Development.

    Governor McKernan is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the University of Maine School of Law.

    He and his wife, former U. S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) reside in Falmouth, Maine and Washington, D.C.


John McKernan Speaker Videos Back to top

Governor John McKernan: Keynote


Former Maine governor, John McKernan talks about what we can do to get the economy back on track and growing again. He attributes the U.S.’s historic record of continuously making life better for the next generation to its average annual growth rate of 3.3%.

However, Governor McKernan reveals that the average growth rate forecasted for the next ten years is 2.5%, something he is concerned will have a negative impact on the average American’s quality of life and access to opportunity. Why does such a seemingly minute difference in rate of growth matter? “Look what’s happening in 2024,” Governor McKernan takes a look at the projected deficit for the U.S. Pointing out that we’ve currently worked our deficit down to $400 billion, he explains, “We’ll be back up to $1.3 trillion if we don’t change policy in this country…That means our national debt will be $21 trillion.”

Gov. John McKernan: Youth Employment Panel


Keynote Speech



Speeches / Speaking Engagements Back to top


John McKernan unpacks the education, skills, and conditions needed to give the U.S. a long-term competitive advantage worldwide. The longtime educational and economic reformer offers a roadmap to bettering American society through closing skills gaps and boosting business leaders’ partnerships with their regions. Governor McKernan explores how employers, educators, and communities can leverage opportunities, provide schooling and training, and develop a world-class workforce.



    Topics Include:
    • Making America′s Education Second to None
    • The Future of School-to-Work Programs
    • National Politics





* Please note that while this speaker’s specific speaking fee falls within the range posted above (for Continental U.S. based events), fees are subject to change. For current fee information or international event fees (which are generally 50-75% more than U.S based event fees), please contact us.

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    Topics Include:
    • Making America′s Education Second to None
    • The Future of School-to-Work Programs
    • National Politics



Governor John McKernan: Keynote


Former Maine governor, John McKernan talks about what we can do to get the economy back on track and growing again. He attributes the U.S.’s historic record of continuously making life better for the next generation to its average annual growth rate of 3.3%.

However, Governor McKernan reveals that the average growth rate forecasted for the next ten years is 2.5%, something he is concerned will have a negative impact on the average American’s quality of life and access to opportunity. Why does such a seemingly minute difference in rate of growth matter? “Look what’s happening in 2024,” Governor McKernan takes a look at the projected deficit for the U.S. Pointing out that we’ve currently worked our deficit down to $400 billion, he explains, “We’ll be back up to $1.3 trillion if we don’t change policy in this country…That means our national debt will be $21 trillion.”

Gov. John McKernan: Youth Employment Panel


Keynote Speech