About Us
Wayfinder Core Team

Patrick Cook-Deegan

Founder + CEO
Patrick Cook-Deegan

Wayfinder was born out of Patrick’s experience teaching high school students at a public school in Oakland, CA. During his time there, Patrick tried to find a curriculum that would help his students develop a sense of purpose and prepare them to lead meaningful lives. Unable to find a curriculum that landed with his students, he began developing his own.

In the fall of 2015, Patrick was awarded an education innovation fellowship at the Stanford Institute of Design K12 Lab (or d.school). Drawing on his experience as a teacher, Patrick spent the following two years at Stanford where he assembled and led a team that piloted, prototyped, and developed Wayfinder’s first offering: a yearlong purpose learning curriculum for high school students. During his time at Stanford, he worked closely with Bill Damon’s Center on Adolescence, the leading national center on youth purpose development.

Since 2015, Patrick has guided Wayfinder from a small pilot program with one year of curriculum to becoming the fastest growing K-12 social emotional and durable skills solution on the market – now working with over 1,000 schools and half a million students.

Since his time in high school, Patrick has been interested in how people lived purposeful lives. His own path to purpose was sparked by a transformational mid-college gap year where he biked 5,000 kilometers across Asia to raise money for the construction of an elementary school in Laos. Following this trip, Patrick began speaking at schools around the world about the importance of global service while also launching a scholarship program to support low-income students to travel abroad.

Patrick’s interest in education innovation dates back to college, when he co-founded the Social Innovation Initiative at Brown University.  Since graduating, Patrick has launched and led a number of youth development organizations including Inward Bound Mindfulness Education, the leading organization for teen mindfulness, and Back to Earth, a wilderness rites of passage program for young men where he led dozens of wilderness trips. 

Patrick has over a decade of experience working with schools to bring innovative programming to students across the world. He previously worked at Big Picture Learning School, led workshops at United World Colleges, taught at a number of independent schools, and presented at the Deeper Learning Network national conference. Patrick has spoken at more than 300 schools and K12 conferences including NAIS, NWAIS, AVID national conference, CA SEL coalitions, and the Oregon administrators conference.  

Patrick’s work has been featured in the Washington Post, Forbes, Boston Globe, NPR, and TechCrunch. His writing has appeared in Fast Company, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Edutopia, UC Berkeley’s Greater Good and in the book Purpose Rising. He has written extensively on purpose development in adolescence. Patrick is a Fulbright Scholar, All-American high school lacrosse player, Brown University graduate, and former lecturer at Stanford University and UC Berkeley. Patrick currently lives in beautiful Central Oregon with his wife and one-year-old son, Jaden where he is an avid backcountry skier.

“My purpose is to catalyze purpose-based programs, organizations, and movements.”

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