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Teach For America’s Transformation Highlighted at Aspen Ideas Festival

Teach For America CEO Elisa Villanueva Beard speaks with fellow nonprofit leaders about leading effective organizational change.

TFA CEO Elisa Villanueva Beard speaks on a panel at the Aspen Ideas Festival

By The TFA Editorial Team

June 30, 2023

We are living in a time of unprecedented and rapid change, demanding new and different ways of leading, including in the nonprofit sector. At this year’s Aspen Ideas Festival, Teach For America CEO Elisa Villanueva Beard (Phoenix '98) spoke on a panel with Anti-Defamation League CEO and National Director Jonathan Greenblatt and Habitat for Humanity International CEO Jonathan Reckford about balancing their organizations’ enduring sense of purpose with the need to be adaptable in today’s world. It was a rich discussion about the challenges and opportunities of driving organizational change and innovation, moderated by Aspen Institute President and CEO Dan Porterfield, a Teach For America board member. Watch 1-minute excerpts below.

Teach For America's 2030 Goal Is Driving Innovation

Elisa shared more about Teach For America’s 2030 goal, including the thinking behind it and how it has driven innovation in our efforts to recruit, train, and support the next generation of corps members; enabled us to take advantage of our scale; and expanded the applications of our core capabilities of finding great talent, matching that talent with areas of greatest need, and developing that talent.

In the following clip, Elisa talks about the organization's 2030 goal of doubling the number of children in the communities in which we work who are hitting key educational milestones on a path to economic mobility and a choice-filled life:


The 2030 Goal

Principles of Leading Through Change

The CEOs discussed their personal leadership journeys and how they think about navigating in this moment of extraordinary change. Elisa shared that what has been critical for her leadership is centering Teach For America’s mission and three guiding principles: accountability to our students and responsiveness to our communities, an expansive lens on the external landscape, and humanity. As she notes, this work is all about ensuring that people to have the agency to make their greatest contribution to their family, community, country, and world.

In the following clip, Elisa talks about her approach to leading the organization through change to have the greatest impact for students and communities:

Leading Through Change

The Call to Expand Into Tutoring

Panel moderator Dan Porterfield asked each CEO to share more about a change they’ve led at their organization and how this change aligns with their mission. Elisa discussed the origin of Teach For America’s tutoring program, the Ignite Fellowship, in response to community demand during the pandemic that the organization was uniquely positioned to meet.

In the following clip, Elisa explains what led the organization to launch the Ignite Fellowship:

Launching A Tutoring Program

Watch the entire conversation on YouTube and read more from Elisa about how Teach For America is changing the way it operates to better serve the needs of today's students.