“Be gentle, kind and caring with your students. But be fierce about their education.”
I shared these words of wisdom with the graduating class of my alma mater, and as we prepare for the NEA Foundation’s 50th anniversary in 2019, it strikes me that they also hold true for this organization and this moment in time.
As a public charity founded by educators for educators to improve public education for all students, the NEA Foundation fiercely fights for equal access to high quality public education for all students by providing educators the support they need to shape the future. We hold dear the belief that when educators unleash their own power, ideas, and voices, communities, schools, and students all benefit.
Like the educators the NEA Foundation serves, I have spent time in the classroom as a teacher. That’s where I learned the importance of timing—of choosing the ideal moment to shift gears. And, as the Foundation approaches its 50th anniversary, the time is ideal for me to pass forward leadership of this organization. I am pleased to leave it at a time when it is organizationally and financially sound, and I look forward to supporting the Board of Directors as they lead a nationwide search for my successor with the Isaacson, Miller search firm.
It has been the honor of my life to lead the Foundation. Throughout my service, the Foundation’s grantmaking and programs have been rooted in an unwavering commitment to educational justice by supporting public school educators, their schools, and districts as they design solutions to solve complex teaching and learning challenges.
I will remain fully engaged in this vital work until the last hour of my last day, on February 28, 2019. After that, I will continue to fiercely pursue my lifelong commitment to working in support of community. Best of all, because of the hard work and dedication of a lot of people, the NEA Foundation is well positioned to thrive both programmatically and financially, long after my departure.
This is the close of a chapter, not the book.
The legacy of keeping the promise of public education is one that continues to drive the Foundation’s work and one that I’m proud to have helped shape. In schools and classrooms, educators are using our grants for professional development or instructional practice, reinventing how they help students succeed in academics and social and emotional learning.
The NEA Foundation is funding educators as they design new STEM programs and courses, serve as ambassadors with the community to tap into new resources, and connect students to find their place in the larger world, including around the globe.
Together with the NEA Foundation Board, staff, our partners, and the educators we support, we remain fiercely committed to ensuring that as it enters its second half century, the NEA Foundation will continue to help give voice to the aspirations of the millions of educators committed to public education and the students they serve.
Education is and always has been the engine of opportunity and the driving force of prosperity that also contributes to the social and intellectual well-being of our citizens.
With your support, the NEA Foundation will continue keeping the promise of public education. To that end, I hope you will consider sharing within your network the link to the search website.
Thank you, as always, for your valuable contributions to our mission.
Note: This should be attributed to Harriet Sanford, President and CEO. Please use our correct name, the NEA Foundation.