We Will Begin Leading By Listening
This is one of three letters sent to the Teach For America community today announcing leadership changes at the organization.
February 13, 2013
Dear Members of the Teach For America Community,
We are honored and humbled by the board’s decision and the opportunity to serve as co-CEOs of Teach For America. For the last eight years, we’ve worked side by side to maximize Teach For America’s potential as a force for justice for our country’s most disadvantaged children and disenfranchised communities. We are thrilled to be able to build on that progress in our new role, in partnership with our extraordinary colleagues and the entire Teach For America community.
We have both made educational equity and social justice our life’s work. In Arizona, Minnesota, New York, Texas, and communities across the country, we’ve seen firsthand the obstacles that prevent millions of our nation’s brightest, most promising students from realizing their potential. We’ve also seen that it doesn’t have to be that way. All children can excel when they receive the educational opportunities and support they need and deserve. In the classrooms, schools, and communities that are making the most progress, we’ve seen the central importance of leadership—the unparalleled power of people who know what is possible, set bold visions, rally others, and work purposefully and persistently for change. Teach For America is an important and growing source of that leadership.
We will approach our work as a team, united by shared values and a shared vision for Teach For America. We have a long history of making decisions together quickly and effectively. We will manage the leadership team together, work with the board together, and together we will be fully accountable for the organization’s success. Though we each will have areas of primary responsibility, we will stay closely aligned and be jointly engaged on all major decisions and issues. Once we make a decision, we will commit fully and act with one voice.
We will also be a team with Wendy. Since she founded Teach For America 24 years ago, Wendy has been a visionary leader and has guided the organization to the strong position it has today. To us, she’s been an incredible friend and mentor. We look forward to continuing to work with her closely in her new position as board chair. We value her experience and judgment and plan to enlist her help regularly as a resource, partner, and advisor.
When Wendy launched Teach For All six years ago, we could not have imagined it would become such an important source of innovation and partnership for our work in the U.S. Learning from colleagues in countries around the globe has allowed us to find and adapt new solutions and advance our progress. We are thrilled that Wendy’s continued leadership at both organizations will foster deeper collaboration between Teach For America and Teach For All.
We are going to spend a lot of time during our first few months listening. Starting in March, we will be kicking off a national listening tour to spend time with staff members, alumni, corps members, community partners, regional board members and critical friends in communities across the country. Over the years, we’ve met so many exceptional people working for educational equity who have touched our lives and shaped our perspectives. We look forward to meeting even more of you and hearing your thoughts to shape our priorities and approach going forward.
We are grateful for and honored by the confidence and trust the board, Wendy, and members of this community have placed in us. Teach For America has contributed so much and has even greater potential to help build a stronger, more effective movement for educational opportunity. We couldn’t be more excited to move forward as a community united by a common purpose: to ensure that all children in this nation have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.
Yours in partnership,
Elisa Villanueva Beard and Matt Kramer