Executive Director, Greater New Orleans-Louisiana Delta
Special Application Instructions
The review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until Friday, October 14th. Applications, including a tailored cover letter and resume, should be submitted directly to [email protected] and not through Teach For America’s website.
After nine years building, leading, and holding the vision for TFA-GNO/LAD’s work in New Orleans, Executive Director Kira Orange Jones will transition from this role into a new position at TFA in which she will manage the Executive Directors (EDs) of 15 regions, including all regions in Louisiana.
Therefore, TFA-GNO/LAD is seeking a new leader – one equally committed to this unique region and the aggressive pursuit of excellent educational opportunities and options within it. The next ED will inherit a strong team that is proud of its ongoing and intentional work to operate a community-embedded and core values-centered enterprise and one that is determined to fuel a strong and grounded local movement for educational equity. Over the past few years, the GNO/LAD team has focused intensely on articulating the defining principles for its work. These principles – referred to internally as “culture pillars” – follow and should resonate with the new ED:
We are bridgers. We synthesize, collaborate, and build upon strengths of others.
- We are bridgers, not just between people and resources, but between the institutions and paradigms that emerged in the past and those that will be necessary for our region in in the future.
- We believe there are lots of other bridgers elsewhere, too – in charter schools, in traditional districts, in special education and traditional placements, in the corps, and in the community – and we keep this in mind in when working across lines of difference.
- We resist dichotomies, blaming of others, or either-or thinking – between schools, between sectors, between geographic areas, and most of all, between defenders or detractors of each ‘phase’. As dichotomy-resisters, we look for both/ands, and not either/ors, everywhere possible.
We are working for kids.
- We see our work as being fundamentally in service of kids, and thus we commit to Critical Hope and the active struggle “against the evidence in order to change the deadly tides of wealth inequality, group xenophobia, and personal despair” (West, 2004). We commit to the three elements of Material Hope, Socratic Hope, and Audacious Hope, and recognize that they must operate holistically and, in fact, are mutually constitutive.
- We commit to valuing educators, supporting teachers, and elevate the profession of teaching.
We are learners. We first listen and learn from those who have come before us.
- We commit to a love of feedback and the learning it allows. We welcome it, embrace it, and learn from it.
- We recognize that our ability to bridge will only be enabled if we are dedicated to learning about the dynamics of privilege and institutionalized oppression (race, ethnicity, class, ability, gender, sexuality), keep these at the forefront of our minds, and empower our kids to explore this consciousness with us.
- We strive to stay grounded simultaneously in three interconnected stories, all of which we’re still actively building our understanding: the histories of our communities, the history of education across the country, and the individual story of our schools/classrooms.
We are innovators. We challenge assumptions and constantly push for new ideas in order to build a truly equitable city.
- We recognize that the future requires us to connect an entire community that empowers our kids to lead in a new world and not just maintain pockets of access or equity across our city. We embrace that future as innovators looking for new solutions.
We are stronger together. We bridge differences because we know that together we can do more for kids.
- We embrace the discomfort of this imperfect moment. We recognize that it would be easier to have a guaranteed answer about the path forward and assurance that we are absolutely on the right side of history, but instead, we know that we must collaboratively write that history together.
- Given the challenge of being bridgers in an uncomfortable moment, we recognize that to do our best work on behalf of kids, we must together create a culture in which we take care of each other and spread love, generosity, and accountability.
In this spirit and with the help of this team, the TFA-GNO/LAD ED is responsible for building the force of leaders who will close the opportunity gap for our region’s students in both the short-term and the long-term. S/he will be charged with setting vision and direction for the region and ensuring that our commitment to these values – with particular attention to diversity, equity and inclusiveness –
remain at the heart of this work.
During the years leading up to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, most of New Orleans’ public schools were failing and only 55% of students were graduating from high school. Then and today, almost all public schools in New Orleans are charter schools serving predominantly low-income students. As the flood waters of Katrina receded, the Greater New Orleans – Louisiana Delta community realized that New Orleans public education could – and must – change in order for our city to emerge stronger, healthier, and safer for future generations. State and local leaders acted quickly to capitalize on a rare opportunity to remake an entire urban public school system.
In the Louisiana Delta, currently half of our students are growing up in poverty, and, disproportionately, these students are African American. This puts the Louisiana Delta parishes (East Carroll, Madison, Tensas, and Concordia) among the most impoverished counties in our country (#16, 32, 34, and 81 of 3140, respectively, and all in the top 3% of all counties as of the 2010 US Census). The majority of public schools in the area are well over 90% African American, despite between 40-50% of the parish population identifying as White. Our schools are consistently ranked among the lowest in state by all measures; schools that earn a C or D from the state’s School Performance Scores are often seen as successful, while most in our region remain an F.
Teach For America – Greater New Orleans-Louisiana Delta (TFA-GNO/LAD) is the New Orleans-based chapter of Teach For America (TFA), whose well-documented vision is that one day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education. TFA works toward this vision by enlisting, developing, and mobilizing our nation’s most promising future leaders to grow and strengthen the movement for educational equity and excellence. Since its founding in 1990, TFA has grown nationally to include 53 regions with between 3500-4000 incoming corps members annually, in addition to an alumni base of more than 40,000 former corps members who have collectively reached over two million students.
When TFA launched in 1990, its New Orleans chapter began with just 45 corps members, but today, the region has a corps of over 200 serving the parishes of Orleans, Jefferson, and St. Bernard. In 2010, TFA expanded its work in the region to include two parishes in the Louisiana Delta, which began with 16 corps members. Since then, we have seen the impact of our teachers, in partnership with community members, with results in test scores, increased graduation rates, and opportunities for our students. Today, TFA corps members and alumni comprise a full 20% of the New Orleans teaching force; over 50 alumni serve as leaders at the school or school systems level; 40% of Orleans charters are led by alumni; 66% of our alumni teach for a third year; three of our teachers in Concordia Parish began Conexiones: Costa Rica, which is now in its third year and takes students to Costa Rica every June; a corps member was a finalist for Louisiana Teacher of the Year; and there are over 1,000 alumni living in the region, 91% of whom are doing mission-centered work.
In the nearly 11 years since Katrina, while TFA has been expanding its footprint in the city, the community has seen rapid growth in student achievement. Next year, we expect that not a single child in New Orleans will be attending a failing school, whereas this was not true for 62% of students just a decade ago. The proportion of our city’s public school students in grades 3-8 who score “Basic” or above on statewide exams has grown from 25% to 62%. Additionally, the gap between New Orleans student performance and that of their statewide peers has decreased from 23 percentage points to six. Still, while progress for students is undeniable, much work remains to be done to create a truly equitable system for all children and define what the next phase of education reform looks like across our state.
Five key areas of focus are central to the GNO/LAD Executive Director role. S/he must:
Partner with a broad set of local community leaders and organizations to define what the next phase of reform will look like to end educational inequity in Louisiana by:
- seeking and listening to discerning and diverse perspectives to formulate informed opinions to ensure that this vision is grounded in the region’s opportunities, needs, problems, and culture
- acquiring firsthand community experience and perspectives to deepen insights and approaches
- navigating and leveraging existing structures and relationships to gain support
- acquiring knowledge of political and policy landscapes to deepen insights and approach
- anticipating where conflicts may develop and surfacing, managing, and resolving conflict proactively and constructively
- convening and mobilizing diverse groups of stakeholders – including staff, corps members, partner schools and alumni – to fight for educational equity
- deepening our political capital and fundraising capacity to ensure that GNO/LAD maintains its meaningful positon in the educational fabric of the community
- identifying public relations opportunities which can maximize impact
Preserve and provide leadership deeply reflective of the GNO/LAD culture pillars by:
- continuing to build and maintain a culture that is grounded in our regional culture pillars and our five core values: transformational change, leadership, team, diversity, and respect and humility
- creating an environment that fosters and prioritizes diversity and inclusiveness
- exemplifying our core values in all actions with all internal and external constituents
- demonstrating adaptability in approaching and communicating with diverse audiences to share the story of GNO/LAD; building new alliances and partnerships; bridging gaps between communities, cultivating support; and inspiring action
Inspire, lead, and optimize the GNO/LAD team by:
- attracting, hiring, and developing a team of diverse and talented staff members
- ensuring proper infrastructure to maximize performance of people and resources toward regional and personal goals
- effectively managing other executive/high-level staff members
- coaching and developing regional staff members to exhibit strong cultural leadership skills and orientations
- synthesizing and making meaning of a dynamic educational climate for staff, corps members, and alumni and enabling that meaning-making for others in order to foster leadership development and to catalyze collective action
Execute the fundamentals of not-for-profit leadership and management by:
- developing a comprehensive multi-year strategic plan with outcomes and targets to achieve regional goals
- cultivating and building a regional advisory board who will help maximize Greater New Orleans-Louisiana Delta’s impact, narrative, and sustainability in the region
- focusing on significantly growing and diversifying a sustainable funding base that will include gifts from individuals, corporations, foundations, and districts
- being responsible for a budget of approximately $7M
- promoting new and strengthening existing relationships with public officials and organizations that are statewide in nature – ranging from district partners, higher education institutions, education non-profits, and civic/social justice organizations – to maximize our scale and impact
Serve effectively as a national leader for Teach For America by:
- supporting the work of teacher leadership development and alumni impact to create a larger, more effective force of transformational teachers and leaders
- leading with integrity in ambiguous and/or paradoxical situations
- exercising good judgment when facing new challenges and viewing situations through multiple lenses to weigh options and consequences
- constructing decision-making processes which balance timeliness with the need to engage multiple perspectives
- serving as a contributing voice on public relations efforts to maximize impact
- establishing national networks of education and community leaders to understand best practices in education reform and how to maximize those best practices in the local landscape
- being the face and voice for TFA-GNO/LAD in national platforms
TFA seeks a leader propelled by a palpable urgency to transform educational equity in Louisiana. Ideally, the successful candidate will possess a public speaking record that reflects an ability to engage and inspire diverse, local, and national audiences. The ideal candidate will also bring a developed, sophisticated understanding of the complexity of the local political climate of the region.
Additionally, the next ED must have the following experience:
- Significant leadership experience (minimum of 10-15 years) with a verifiable track record of:
- achieving excellence and successful outcomes leading a complex enterprise;
- setting bold vision for impact and leading others to reach ambitious goals in support of that vision;
- defining and leading others towards a culture of excellence;
- managing individuals to goals and managing managers
- Experience building and working in partnership with a Board of Directors
- Demonstrated achievement in fundraising or ensuring financial sustainability of an organization, including an ability to mobilize people and to create champions to support our organizational mission
- Experience navigating political processes at the state level, including district officials and board members
- An undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university
The next ED must have the following skills:
- Highly-developed strategic and execution skills that allow him/her to manage systems in a complex environment
- A suite of adaptive leadership skills that facilitate smart, disciplined, and timely decisions via multiple layers
- The ability to seek, listen to, and discern diverse perspectives and to synthesize and make meaning of a dynamic educational context and then apply that knowledge to the regional leadership, vision, and direction
- Proven ability to lead collaboratively and to share responsibilities for outcomes
- Tolerance for ambiguity and conflict
- Outstanding interpersonal skills and desire to develop deep relationships with a variety of constituents
- Excellent oral and written communication skills
The next ED must have the following personal characteristics:
- Strong alignment with, passion for, and commitment to the mission and values of TFA
- A level of maturity and gravitas that engenders respect and facilitates strong partnerships with senior-level staff members, high-profile community stakeholders and civic leaders, staff members, corps members, and alumni
- Commitment to exploring issues of race, class, and privilege
- Sense of urgency around accomplishing goals and objectives
- Humility, self-awareness, and a commitment to personal growth
- The ability to work some evenings and weekends, travel within the region daily, and attend meetings in various U.S. cities quarterly.
The ED will manage a team of more than 30 regional staff members and s/he will report to the (emerging) Senior Vice President Regional Field Executive, Kira Orange Jones. Further, TFA is shifting toward a more decentralized regional structure and, as such, the ED will be charged with further exploring board structure and governance and, in turn, s/he will need to cultivate and build a board that represents the community in which we work.
To assist with this transition, TFA-GNO/LAD is partnering with Bellwether Education Partners, a national, non-profit consulting and executive search firm focused exclusively on K-12 education and dedicated to helping education organizations in the public, private, and non-profit sectors become more effective in their work and achieve dramatic results, especially for high-need students. Bellwether’s Talent Services practice identifies, places, and supports education leaders through comprehensive executive searches, customized advisory services, and individual coaching, and partners with clients to build talent-ready organizations where diverse teams can work, develop, and thrive.
Monisha Lozier and Rebecca Knicely Cagle will be managing the process from Bellwether and, together, we are excited to tell the story of Teach For America – GNO/LAD and the vision for its next chapter. In that spirit, we welcome inquiries, ideas, and expressions of interest. The review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until Friday, October 14th. Applications, including a tailored cover letter and resume, should be submitted directly to [email protected] and not through Teach For America’s website.
Benefits and Salary
Salary for this position is competitive and depends on prior experience. In addition, a comprehensive benefits package is included. Learn more at www.teachforamerica.org/about-us/careers/employee-benefits.
Commitment to Diversity and Equal Opportunity Employment Policy
Teach For America encourages individuals of all ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic backgrounds to apply for this position. We are committed to maximizing the diversity of our organization, as we want to engage all those who can contribute to this effort. Learn more about our diversity on staff: www.teachforamerica.org/about-us/careers/life-at-tfa/workforce-diversity-and-inclusiveness.
Teach For America is committed to providing equal employment opportunities to all qualified individuals and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age, marital status, veteran status, pregnancy, parental status, genetic information or characteristics (or those of a family member) or any other basis prohibited by applicable law.
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