• Senior Director/Media and Democracy
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John Sands joined Knight Foundation in January 2019.

He leads many of Knight’s research initiatives, including a $50 million investment in new research on the internet’s impacts on democracy, as well as a multiyear research partnership with Gallup on trust, media and democracy.Sands’ background is in higher education, and he brings experience in development and enrollment management from the University of Pennsylvania (Penn), where he drove initiatives around market research, strategic planning and marketing/communications. 

In Penn’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions, he developed and led the implementation of committee-based evaluation, an innovative student application review model that has since been adopted by dozens of colleges and universities nationwide. Following his time at Penn, John was chief of staff and special assistant to the president at the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He has consulted to clients in higher education as well as to Knight Foundation.

A native of east Tennessee, he studied music theory and composition at Vanderbilt University and holds a PhD in the history and theory of architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. He lives in Philadelphia.