Spencer was born in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, to a military family. He decided to follow his family’s history of military service, and graduated from West Point as valedictorian in 1994. His military career began with rotary-wing flight school, and he served as an aviation officer and Blackhawk helicopter pilot across the globe. During his eight years of service, his duty locations included the Republic of Korea, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Central America and South America. His primary missions were humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, counter narcotics and peace enforcement, and he held aviation company command positions in both Honduras and Savannah, Georgia.
After his military service, Spencer earned an MBA with honors from Harvard Business School in 2004. He joined McKinsey & Company, where as an associate he worked extensively with clients in the retail, airlines, consumer goods, private equity, industrial and government sectors. As an Engagement Manager, he shifted his focus to serving social sector clients in 2007. This shift resulted in his leading various engagements with major public sector clients such as the Department of Defense and the FBI.
His work developing and executing transformation strategy with the Washington, D.C. Public School system exposed him to the education reform movement in D.C. and across the country, and he decided to leave McKinsey to join that effort in 2008. He joined Teach For America as a Vice President of Recruiting, where he managed recruiting of young leaders from campuses across the country, developed overall recruiting strategy, and managed learning and development until 2011.