This summer marks my five-year anniversary of coming to work at The Education Trust to start planning for the launch of a Tennessee office. I joined Ed Trust at the invitation of our former CEO and President, John B. King, Jr, and I’m forever grateful to him for offering me the opportunity. I’ve learned from incredible leaders across Ed Trust, and it’s remarkable to think about all that we have accomplished together.   

When I joined Ed Trust in 2019, I had an opportunity to be a part of something significant: launching a bold statewide movement for education justice. I was able to leverage my experience and relationships to build a broad coalition of partners and advocates that would speak out for and alongside students in Tennessee. Our founding team was small but mighty, with Alexza Barajas Clark and Vilmaris Gonzalez on board from day one. Together we opened the office in January 2020, just prior to the pandemic. 

Since then we have more than tripled in size, launched the TN Alliance for Equity in Education the TN Coalition for Truth in Classrooms, have a record of policy wins, and a reputation as a trusted and formidable advocacy organization not only in Tennessee, but also in the region. It’s been inspiring to see students, advocates, educators and parents build a shared agenda and participate in our movement and lead on the issues that matter to them. 

With pride in what we’ve accomplished, and deep gratitude for my colleagues and partners, I write today to inform you that I am stepping down from my role at the end of July. The work absolutely continues as The Education Trust – Tennessee team is poised to enter our fifth year in a remarkably strong position. The movement we created together has real momentum, and that is because we have durable and strong wins we can point to, trusted and deep partnerships across the state, and a skilled team of leaders that is committed to doing what’s necessary for students in Tennessee, in particular for those who have been denied access to opportunities for far too long. 

So what’s ahead? My trusted colleague and strategic thought-partner of eight years, Alexza Barajas Clark, Ph.D. has been asked to step forward as interim Executive Director. She has been my anchor since founding this office, a part of every important organizational decision and the visionary leader behind our communications strategy and the growth of our team. Importantly, she is also responsible for setting the direction for our work through our strategic planning process for the next three years. I am excited to see Alexza serve in this role, and I know she will make a profound impact. She has the enthusiastic support of our team, funders and partners as well as our CEO, Denise Forte, and national office and she will provide the continuity, sustainability, and direction that we need. 

As for my next chapter, I will stay in Nashville, but begin a new role as the Director of National Education Strategy at the Raikes Foundation. I’m excited to learn how to make an impact through philanthropy, and to support incredible organizations doing the hard work on the ground – just like Ed Trust – Tennessee does every single day. I’m forever grateful to my past and present colleagues at Ed Trust – Tennessee, and those at our national office who have provided us with support in countless ways, and to the many long-time friends, partners and allies in the work here in Tennessee. You took a leap of faith with me and our team, and it’s been a privilege to work alongside you. I can’t wait to see what the next five years hold for Ed Trust – Tennessee, but more importantly, for all the ways they will advance our mission on behalf of students across our state.