Executive Leadership Team Inaugural Year-In-Review
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Letter from the CEO
Reflections On Our Charge
ELT By NUMBERS
View ELT By-The-Numbers Here
The last twenty-five years has offered many proof points as to the as to the impact, need and importance of the work of Teach For America. However, there is evidence that what we do, how we do it and the why of what we do has become obscured. This is not surprising given the spread of our work. We are a single entity that exists in many "versions", 53 regions, over one dozen national functional teams and in the experience of nearly 9000 corps members and over 40,000 alumni. It is not difficult to see how maintaining clarity can be an ongoing challenge.
"Core ideology in a great company endures as a source of guidance and inspiration." Jim Collins
The Executive Leadership Team (ELT) has taken a leadership role in stewarding the entire organization into the next phase of Teach For America, in a reality vastly different from that during its founding. Resetting and evolving what we do, betting crystal clear on what we do and why we do it, knowing this work is more important than ever, driving harder towards One Day.
“The work we do in the next 12-18 months will be as critical as all of our work to this point. That is how important this time is for our organization.” ELT Member
WHAT WE DO
- We recruit outstanding and diverse leaders to expand opportunity and access for all children inside and outside of the classroom
- We develop and cultivate the leadership skills and mindsets necessary for systems-change through classroom teaching
- We support the individual and collective leadership, relationships, and learning of those in our network throughout their lifetime
Achieving clarity has been a primary order of business for the ELT. We've spent x hours defining the root cause of current organizational challenges and defining the best solutions and path forward. This is a place where the diverse perspectives and expertise at the ELT table are key. The ELT is comprised of former ...this diversity is a tremendous asset when determining strategy, designing solutions and assessing progress.
As would be expected diversity also results in thinking that isn't always aligned and many times convergent. While this is understood, we know concerted effort to deepen relationships and continuing to build trust and defining the culture we aspire to as an ELT will unlock even greater potential and ensure the whole is greater than the sum of who we are individually.
"The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can't blow an uncertain trumpet." Theodore M. Hesburgh
Leadership is never easy. However, when it feels like change is the most consistent element of our work, leadership, especially st the senior-most level is even more perplexing. Undoubtedly, staff at all levels have been impacted by change over the last three years, the ELT has had to lead through change holding and stewarding their teams/regions and the organization as a whole.
There is no indication the external landscape will settle anytime soon. Conversely, the new normal seems to be marked by complexity, uncertainly and ambiguity. Given what feels like perpetual swirl and endless tumult, the solid shore we are approaching is a refreshing and needed state for the entire community.
"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things." Niccolo Machiavelli
Our internal story is becoming clearer. Our core values have been finalized, or Diversity, Equity and Inclusiveness statement has been fine-tuned and we have greater understanding of what "elevating the regional voice' means in our new model. These new elements and critical understanding coupled with avowing what is core to Teach for America will be our North Star, guiding and directing us on the path to One Day.
Teach For America has many strengths. Chief among our most powerful assets is our community. Our size, our diversity, our experience as a collective is staggering and certainly a competitive advantage. Among the current ELT we have a former Congressional Press Secretary, florist, psychology professor and someone who sourced forklifts for a food processing company. This diversity is largely why the ELT exists and why we must continue to identify and systematize was of optimizing the richness of the group.
The formation of the ELT has created a central space for senior-most leaders to engage. This has increased the number of common spaces for regional and national leaders and allowed teams/partners to not only share information but also get input/information in a single instance.
We have only begun to realize the impact, power and potential of the ELT. Increasing opportunities to learn from each other, collaborate across Home Teams/teams and regions and problem-solve together will bring us to fully comprehend what Aristotle meant when he said "the whole is greater than the part." We look forward to becoming better and stronger together.
“All is connected ... no one thing can change by itself." Paul Hawken
“I loved the space that was provided [ELT Conference] and I'm grateful for all of the time and thought that went into this conference...it made me feel more connected to what is happening nationally.” ELT Member
There are several lessons that will inform areas of focus as we move into the new year. We invite others to add to and suggest additional priorities for FY18.
"Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful." Margaret J. Wheatley
- Clarity is Critical: In FY18 we will reset early, beginning with the purpose of the ELT and the orientation required to fully and appropriately leverage the group. We will continue to clarify the purpose, expected outcomes and follow up required for all of our time together.
- Live into Culture We Aspire To: We are a collection of individuals with varied experiences and perspectives, we want to articulate norms and expectations of how to engage and what to do when we fall short and how to celebrate when we get it right. Specifically, we need to better manage the gap between regional and national members. We know relationships and making time to develop and strengthen relationships will help us make progress culturally and strategically.
- Drive Integration & Cohesion: There are several ways the ELT can facilitate the work of streamlining efforts and communication across the organization. The ELT is also key in understanding the breath of what is happening across the organization. Additional focus on surfacing successes, learning and spreading innovation will happen in FY18.
The Management Team has outlined priorities for FY18. These priorities will govern what we focus on in-personal as well as virtually. (insert a link to presentation or include here at a high level)
The ELT has benefited from the expertise and experience of many outside of the ELT. In additional to many regional and national teams, our work has been furthered by many partners. We appreciate our partners and look forward to adding partners in FY18. Our FY17 partners include:
- Boston Consulting Group
- Charter Board Partners
- Dr. Michael Lomax
- The Management Center
- Newark Charter School Fund
- Peter Block
- Teach For All