Penn Foster Group Appoints Kermit Cook As New CEO

Former Cengage Group COO Hired to Improve Learner Journey and Lead Next Stage of Company Transformation.

PHOENIX, Ariz., Feb. 1, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Penn Foster Group, a provider of digital and data-driven learning solutions that aim to prepare learners for in-demand skills and jobs, has appointed Kermit Cook as its new Chief Executive Officer. Cook will be responsible for the company’s vision and strategy to create paths to greater economic mobility for learners. As a seasoned executive, Cook brings over two decades of experience in education, business, and finance to his new role.

“I am honored to join the team at Penn Foster Group.  As I embark on this new journey, my passion lies in understanding the unique needs of our learners,” said Cook. “By delving deeper into their experiences, challenges, and aspirations, we can continue to deliver education solutions that resonate. I look forward to working with our leadership team to enhance Penn Foster Group’s offerings that empower learners to achieve greater success — something the organization has a track record of for 130+ years.”

Cook began his career as a high school physics teacher in St Louis Public Schools with Teach For America. Most recently, he served as the Chief Operating Officer of the education technology company Cengage Group, where he was responsible for investments to grow its career education offerings. He also led Cengage’s K-12 business, along with corporate functions including supply chain, corporate development, and human resources. Prior to Cengage, Cook worked at the investment firm KKR, ultimately serving as co-head of KKR Capstone in the Americas and as a member of the Portfolio Management Committee.

“The vision that Kermit brings to our organization is invigorating,” said Joel Hackney, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “With a shared commitment to innovation and learner success, we are confident that under his guidance, we will continue to encourage learners, advance our mission, and shape the future of education.”

Former CEO Bill Okun will continue working with the organization and remain on the Board as Vice Chairman. This transition continues the mission Penn Foster Group sets out to achieve in putting those they serve first by expanding access to thoughtful, proven, flexible online learning that works for partners looking to grow their workforce and learners looking to change their lives.

Penn Foster Group

At Penn Foster Group, we are transforming online learning to help learners by bringing together Penn Foster, CareerStep, Ashworth College, James Madison High School, the New York Institute of Photography, the New York Institute of Art and Design, and other education platforms. Together, we create an accelerated path to greater economic mobility through real-world skills and knowledge that enable them to achieve long-term success in the workplaces of the future. Our history dates back to 1890 when our founder, Thomas Foster, pioneered distance education by offering training by mail for coal miners to get the necessary skills for safer jobs. Today, with the partners who use our education and training programs, we continue that mission of providing accessible training and education for in-demand skills and are building a workforce that’s prepared for the future job market.

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