Transitioning from Ed Trust–NY: a letter from our executive director

Oct 27, 2023 | Blog

Dear partners, advocates, friends, changemakers:

As of this week, I will begin transitioning from my position as the executive director of The Education Trust–New York. I wanted to reach out to thank you for your partnership and share what to look forward to.

In February of 2020, I accepted the position of deputy director of The Education Trust–New York, later assuming the position of executive director. Having spent the majority of my career in and around schools, I was excited to see what the possibility for change looked like outside of school buildings and classrooms.

Over the past few years, our progress and impact as an organization has grown tremendously. We have more partners, more funders, more conversations, and content – all evidence that we are not alone in the fight for educational equity. It is clear that we have collectively catalyzed a movement of advocates across New York State that will not back down until every child sits in the abundance of opportunity that our great state has to offer.

Since I joined Ed Trust–NY, our team has grown in number and influence. Our state now has a serious commitment to eradicating child poverty, improving access to advanced coursework, reengaging part-time college students by providing tuition assistance, stabilizing the child care workforce through grantmaking, and so much more.

I stand proud of the work our team has done. Agitating institutional stagnation is difficult work. Only through trusting cross-sectoral partnerships have we been able to:

  • Drive pandemic response with research focused on the experiences of infants, toddlers, students, families, and caregivers. Polls and focus groups throughout the pandemic shaped our policy and advocacy asks around food insecurity, remote learning, school reopening, child care, and district-level reopening plans.
  • Collaborate with a diverse group of stakeholders across the state to pass the Child Poverty Reduction Act in the fall of 2021. This statue serves as the state’s commitment to reduce child poverty in the state by 50% over ten years. The formation of the governor-appointed Child Poverty Reduction Advisory Council, established through this statue, will see this work through.
  • Secure $7 billion in historic investments in early childhood education for over the next four years.
  • Lead the research and advocacy that supported making child care a core issue in the 2021 New York City Mayoral Election.
  • Support New York City Public Schools to include new funding weights that will direct resources to schools that have concentrations of students living in poverty and temporary housing.
  • Organize collective efforts to report on students’ access to advanced coursework, which led to the passage of a law in 2023 that will direct school districts to improve information for students and their families about advanced courses and supports to enroll.
  • Advocate for a statewide attainment goal, which Governor Hochul committed to in 2022, and the opening of the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) to part-time students, as well as students who are incarcerated.
  • Lead the charge on ongoing work to improve early literacy instruction in New York City and State by grounding curricula and teacher preparation programs in the science of reading.
  • Provide transparency around New York’s spending of federal pandemic relief dollars from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER).
  • Celebrate the inclusion of children under four in the Empire State Child Tax Credit — an important poverty-fighting tool that helps families access essentials — that will now reach an additional 900,000 children statewide.
  • Engage in hard, and necessary, conversations with state leaders on holding all students to high academic expectations while obtaining a New York State high school diploma.

Behind all this incredible work is an increasing number of funders who are just as dedicated and passionate about ensuring every child in New York State has the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Our work is perpetual; each triumph breeds a fresh challenge demanding our focus and adaptation. While I have relished the demanding role of leading Ed Trust–NY over the past three years, I am well aware that the battle for genuine educational equity will persist in its difficulty. To secure a promising and prosperous future for all children, we must have our most dedicated advocates at the forefront, operating at their peak. Now, it is time for me to seek respite. I am fortunate to engage in this endeavor during a period when the world seems cacophonous and the intricacies of the education sector demand lucidity, inclusivity, and precision. I take my rest with confidence that the Ed Trust–NY team and its partners are stronger than ever, ready to embrace the charge of ensuring that our education systems prioritize the needs of all rather than just a few.

My colleague, Jeff Smink, will assume leadership of Ed Trust–NY in an interim capacity role, with support from Wil Del Pilar, senior vice president at The Education Trust. I have unwavering faith in our small — but mighty — team to continue to be at the forefront of state and city conversations around policies and initiatives that advance educational justice for students who have been underserved for far too long. My leadership is only secondary to the deep knowledge and passion the Ed Trust–NY team has for this work.