The American David Edwards was chosen to succeed the outgoing and founding General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen. From 2011, David Edwards held the position of Deputy General Secretary. Prior to joining EI, Edwards was Associate Director of Governance and Policy and Head of International Relations at the National Education Association (NEA) of the United States. A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he started his career as a foreign language teacher in secondary education and has a doctorate in international educational policy.
Fred van Leeuwen officially stepped down on 1 March 2018 after running the organisation for 25 years. As founding General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen was one of the architects who worked to merge the International Federation Free Teachers Union (IFFTU) and the World Confederation Organisation of the Teaching Profession (WCTPO) in 1993.