John Curtis Reid (JCR)

Places lived:
Boston, MA, New York, NY, Los Angeles, California and Atlanta, Georgia

John holds a BA, magna cum laude, in Economics, from Brandeis University, and an MS in Management Science from MIT. At Brandeis, he was awarded the Sidney S. Cohen Award in Economics, awarded each year to the outstanding senior. At MIT, his concentrations were information systems and operations management.

Designing and implementing sustainable organizations, systems and business models.


Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta (Chair)
Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education

Emory Center for Ethics (2008-2015)
Culture Connect (2008-2010, Chairman)
Cross-Cultural Solutions (2001-2008, Founding Chairman)
The Princeton Review (2001-2004, Audit Committee) (2001-2008, Founding Board Member)
Comet Systems (2001-2004, CEO)
The Edison Project (1996-1998, C00)
LearnNow (1999, CEO)
Georgia Conservancy (1991-1994, Executive Committee)
Duke University School of the Environment (1992-1998, Founding Board Member)
Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau (1989-1990, Executive Committee)
Midtown Atlanta (1989-1996, Executive Committee)
Research Atlanta (1991-1994)
Georgia Alliance for Children (1985-1992, Board Chair)


The Coca-Cola Company
VP, Corporate Social Responsibility
Global Director, Coca-Cola University
Chief Environmental Officer

“You have accomplished so much….As our first chief environmental officer, you were the first leader of that function, which has contributed so much to the world and to the Company. You led Coca-Cola University globally. Today, we see your accomplishments as Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility. Refresh 2020, your work on obesity, and your work on well-being are being widely embedded in plans and programs throughout the world.”
Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO, The Coca-Cola Company

“John was asked to pioneer our first Corporate Environmental Affairs Department. He started this remarkable function from scratch, and his accomplishments are – quite frankly – too numerous to mention here. The bottom line is that the Company is a significant and respected player in the environmental arena. All of our packaging is widely recycled, our operations are institutionalizing a comprehensive management system, and an environmental commitment permeates our organization.”
Earl T. Leonard, Jr. Senior Vice President (now retired), The Coca-Cola Company

The State of New York
Assistant Secretary for Education
Deputy Director, State Operations

“Thanks to your leadership, The New York State Commission on Higher Education and the Commission on Property Tax Relief led the way toward reforms enacted into law, that today are guiding the State towards continued preeminence.”
David Patterson, Governor of New York, in letter to John

The City of Atlanta
Chief Administrative Officer
“John has served brilliantly….”
“…Public spirited, Impeccably honest, hands-on, innovative, and “bottom-line oriented…”
Maynard Jackson, Three-term Mayor of Atlanta

Comet Systems
Chief Executive Officer
(sold to for $33.5 million)
“John joined two great founders and took the Company from 10 million to 75 million software downloads. He encouraged the team to move their business model toward search toolbars. Remarkable results.“
Doug Stern, Comet Board Member

Chief Executive Officer
(sold to Edison Schools for $30+ million)
“John applied his operational savvy, negotiating skills, and extensive knowledge of the educational space to help kids learn and to help this young team flourish.“
Gene Wade, LearnNow Co-Founder

The Edison Project
(IPO valued Edison Schools at $672 million)
Chief Operating Officer (first in history)

“John is the best operator in this business.”
John Fisher , Edison Board Member

Coca-Cola USA
SVP Business Development
SVP Marketing
VP Fountain Marketing and Operations
VP Strategic Planning
Leader, West Coast Marketing
Leader, California, Alaska, Hawaii sales

“You led the regional team that completed US distribution of Sprite – and the result was that Sprite passed the competition and we never looked back. You led USA Strategic Planning when the Company introduced diet Coke. You led negotiations that resulted in aspartame being introduced into diet Coke. You led USA Food Service when the company installed the Dunwoody customer service center, introduced bag-in-the-box, and created integrated account teams that could meet the needs of new fast-growing fountain customers. You led Marketing in the aftermath of new Coke, and we all saw Coke returned to the #1 brand in America on your watch.”
Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO, The Coca-Cola Company

“How many times did I say ‘success is a journey, not a destination’- was it thousands? Your career epitomizes that idea, and it has been my privilege to be a fellow traveler….I recall your grace and style as we found solutions and made the Company stronger.”
Donald R. Keough, Board Member and President, The Coca-Cola Company

Intellectual influences:
“My grandmother, the first woman to graduate from Tufts Medical School; My grandfather, who taught Mathematics, and – upon going blind – passed the bar after studying the law in Braille; My mother, whose study at Wellesley and her tenacity in graduating from Harvard, made me realize that absolutely anything can be accomplished with navigational skills; my father and his father (my grandfather), whose passion for boats and boatbuilding and all things of the sea, gave me the navigator gene that I still employ today; Christopher Alexander, the great architect and author of “A Pattern Language”, who made me realize that leverage and pattern recognition are pretty much the same thing; MIT’s Professor Jay Forrester, who I interned for at MIT, and whose stunning work in systems dynamics led me to realize that system interconnections have a vocabulary of their own – and leverage goes to those who build languages based on this vocabulary.”

Turning points:
“I was blessed with a full-ride through Brandeis and huge support from my Professors there (I won the Senior Award for best student in Economics) to take my interest in systems design to MIT. The Department Chair actually asked me to intern for the summer after graduation – at Wassily Leontief’s Harvard Economic Research Project, where she was Research Director.”

John grew up outside Boston – in a little town on the North Shore called Winthrop. His brother, father, and grandfather were boatbuilders, so he remarks that it is more than unusual for him to be working on systems issues in huge institutions.

John says, “I was always pulled toward systems, especially information systems. As an intern at Coke, I designed over a summer a prototype decision support system – that was the first of many that followed. Because I was running sales for Coke out of LA, I got wind of Apple, and bought the first Apple !! at Coke! I then learned Basic and designed a promotional tracking system for weekly price-off ads that is now a global standard.”

So why Coke? John didn’t know it then, but his arrival in Atlanta was more than a summer fling. He quickly saw that the consumer dimension, with all of its human and psychological dimensions, was by far more interesting than just data analysis and programming. So all of that curiosity and energy was directed toward the world of the consumer and customer of a massive, complex institution. He found himself always asking – how can we make this experience better?

Public Service:
So why all the public service? He says “I would like to attribute all this to angelic qualities, but I am afraid that is not the case. It really is simpler than that: how do you turn down a Mayor when he calls? A Governor? The answer is – you don’t. It was only when I got there, and starting managing in these exciting, crisis-filled environments, that I realized that these massive institutions had the very same system design challenges – with human interface issues always the #1 concern – that I saw at Coke. I loved the public sector challenges – I just hated the dysfunction.”

And why start-ups? He goes on: “Same story! I began in the world of start-ups when I received a call from Benno Schmidt – who had stepped down as the President of Yale to commit himself to transformational change in K-12 education. He asked me to lead the team at the Edison Project, as COO, reporting to him as Chairman – how does a person turn down an opportunity like that? I don’t know, so I gave it my best shot. Three years later, we had built 30 schools and had 21 new ones in the pipeline – 51 schools in total and the first ever truly national K-12 system of schools in the Country. A fabulous experience with a great team.”

Most memorable non-profit experience? “There have been so many. I guess my most exciting challenge was Cross-Cultural Solutions. The Executive Director sought me out when this non-profit was supporting volunteers in Delhi. His big question was: can we do more? For more people, in more places? This led to my becoming Chairman, during the eight years when CCS skyrocketed successfully into China, Russia, Peru, Guatemala, Brazil, and Tanzania – laying a system’s design foundation that continues to provide service to this day.”

What about leadership? He says “I have spent my life working with teams of leaders seeking to tackle really big issues – both problems and opportunities. The best teams fight the tendency to declare victory. They are all about the journey, not the destination. That tug of constructive discontent motivates me, and I have also enjoyed teams that see this at the heart of what they do.”

Very few have enjoyed a career so global.Themes? “I have long been a Diamond two million miler with Delta. I have worked with colleagues throughout the world- in over 55 cities, and dozens of towns and hamlets. I have worked in Singapore on ASEAN issues, in Brussels and Bonn on EU issues, in DC on American issues, and never cease to be amazed at what a huge world it is but how similar the problems and opportunities are. My basic take-away is this – anyone who says that issues are global is just plain wrong. Ditto anyone who says issues are local. Virtually all issues are both: they have a component of universals, and a component of empirically-driven local color. To me, building one’s capability in this nuanced and complex environment is a never-ending challenge.”

Many people today think we have a leadership crisis, but John is hopeful, and is more inclined to view issues through a system design lens. “The world’s systems were designed when banks were permanent, and static thinking prevailed. The world has always been dynamic – we all just don’t really like change! So we neglect adaptation and learning in all things, ,especially in systems design. My passion has always been to design adaptation and learning into any system from the beginning. Easy to say and very tough to do!”

In the last few years John has focused on advancing a variety of global initiatives in the well-being space. In particular, he co-led the design and implementation of the now-global Associate Well-Being Program of The Coca-Cola Company and the dozens of community-based active, healthy living programs now in place around the world.

See more about John’s background at

Reach John at