David Welch, PhD

David Welch

President, Infinera; Founder, Students Matter

Vergara v California: for a basically equal opportunity to a quality education


David Welch grew up in Maryland where, along with his six siblings, he was educated in public schools.  His passion for public education arises from his roles both as a parent of three school-aged children and as an employer in two highly successful start-ups in Silicon Valley.  Dr. Welch founded Students Matter in 2011 with the goal of creating positive structural change in the California K-12 public education system.

Dr. Welch’s career spans almost 30 years of entrepreneurial leadership in fiber optic communications.  Dr. Welch came to California after graduate school to join SDL as a research scientist in 1985.  After rising to the role of CTO and VP Corporate Development at SDL, he successfully identified, negotiated, and completed several corporate acquisitions, culminating in the merger of SDL with JDS Uniphase.  In 2001, Dr. Welch co-founded Infinera, a manufacturer of optical telecommunications systems based in Sunnyvale.  He currently serves as its President and sits on the Board of Directors.  Dr. Welch holds over 130 patents in optical transmission technologies, and has authored over 300 technical publications in the same field.  A fellow of both the Optical Society of America and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, he has been awarded the Adolph Lomb Medal, Joseph Fraunhofer Award and the John Tyndall Award in recognition of his technical contributions to the optical industry.  Dr. Welch holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Delaware and a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University.

In addition to serving as the board chair of Students Matter, Dr. Welch also sits on the national board of the Natural Resources Defense Council.