Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Insider: Carmita Vaughan


"I don't want to increase the number of children beating the odds; I want to change those odds so that all our children are prepared and expected to succeed." -- Carmita P. Vaughan

America's Promise Alliance, founded by General Colin Powell, appoints former Chicago Public Schools official to combat the nation's high school drop out and college readiness crisis

On April 1st, Carmita P. Vaughan begins a new job with America's Promise Alliance as its Chief Strategy Officer. And her job is very important. America has an epidemic on its hands with the drop out crisis - its been estimated that fifty percent of African American students don't finish high school.

In her new role, Vaughan will oversee the Alliance’s major new initiative, the Dropout Prevention Summits, hosted by Governors, Mayors, and Superintendents in all 50 states and 55 additional cities. She will also lead “Grad Nation” following the summits, to help communities increase high school graduation rates and ensure that the long-term metric of all students graduating high school is that they will be prepared for college and work. Through all of her work the focus will be on disadvantaged youth.

America’s Promise Alliance is the nation’s largest cross-sector partnership dedicated to improving the lives of America’s children. With more than 270 partner organizations, the Alliance mobilizes Americans to make children’s well-being a national priority.

Alma Powell, Chair of the Board and wife of Colin Powell shared, “Having helped lead one of the nation’s largest public school systems makes Carmita the perfect candidate to shape our efforts to ensure that all children have access to the highest quality education and receive the key supports they need to succeed. We are thrilled to have such a talented and experienced individual help us advance this critical agenda.”

Although Carmita is busy preparing for her first day on the job, she took the time out to e-chat with me about why she left a successful corporate career to work in education, and how you can get involved and help with the drop out crisis.

Education: Master’s Degree, Business Administration, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management; Undergraduate degree, Chemical Engineering, University of Michigan

Previous Positions: Danaher Corporation, Pepsico Beverages and Food, Procter & Gamble, and Chief of Staff of Chicago Public Schools’ Office of High Schools and High School Programs. While at Chicago Public Schools, Vaughan worked closely with Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, and former Chief Executive Officer of Chicago Public Schools, to develop a comprehensive strategy to increase Chicago’s graduation rate to 70 percent by 2010.


In your previous positions, you transitioned from the corporate world to become the Chief of Staff of Chicago Public Schools’ Office of High Schools and High School Programs through the Broad Residency program. What made you move to the education sector after a successful corporate career?

"My transition into education from corporate was an inevitable evolution. While many of my friends and colleagues sought MBAs to gain the skills needed to quickly climb the corporate ladder, my desire was always to utilize my skills and gifts to drive great social change. While others' business school essays focused on aspirations for careers in investment banking and management consulting, I passionately discussed my desire to revitalize urban neighborhoods.

This passion is deep-seated and innate. My professional successes have come in spite of a childhood spent in poverty with a disabled parent who held an entrenched belief that education would be the key to my "escape". I've always been taught that "to whom much is given, much is expected". I'm truly grateful for what I've been able to experience and accomplish professionally and want to serve as an advocate for those who often lack the resources and exposure necessary to realize their promise. I don't want to increase the number of children beating the odds; I want to change those odds so that all our children are prepared and expected to succeed."

Your new position will oversee the Alliance’s major new initiative, the Dropout Prevention Summits that will occur in all 50 states and 55 additional cities. If I’m a parent of a school aged youth and plan to attend this summit when it comes to my community, what will I learn? How can attending this summit help me?

"Summits provide a common ground -- for parents, teachers, school administrators, elected officials, nonprofits, business leaders and students to come together to learn about what is working and craft a plan to help solve the dropout crisis. The key word is ‘together’ because no one individual, organization, or sector can do this alone.

By participating in a dropout prevention summit you will have an opportunity to learn more about what is currently being done and to express support for the things you think need to develop. You will learn what the research says about keeping kids in school and on the road to success. To learn more about Summits taking place in your area, visit www.americaspromise.org/dropoutpreventionsummits."

The Alliance states that nationwide, nearly one in three U.S. high school students drops out before graduating. In total, approximately 1.2 million students drop out each year – about 7,000 every school day, or one every 26 seconds. Experts say that dropping out of high school affects not just students and their families, but the country overall – including businesses, government, and communities. Get involved today!

The Insider is a series that highlights the movers and shakers in the non profit world and philanthropy. Do you know an Insider? Email me at blackgivesback [at] gmail.com.

{Thanks to Rives & Amy}
Photo: Broad Residency website & PR photo

1 comment:

mma said...

I am delighted to learn that Ms Vaughn has transitioned to education. Enjoy the perspective that comes from having different "blind spots" than you colleagues. It leads to creative insight and the hope of new solutions to the challenges the youth of our nation currently face. Love & Light