As I’ve served on the board of trustees for Learning Forward, and particularly over the last 12 months as president, I’ve had a wonderful opportunity to work side by side with our executive director. As you know, Stephanie Hirsh will soon be taking a transition step, so I’d like to share my gratitude for her leadership and recognize just three of the components of leadership that she demonstrates every day.
BEING EXPLICIT ABOUT YOUR BELIEFS MATTERS.
I’m proud that it was during my time as president of Learning Forward that the organization changed its vision statement to include equity: Equity and excellence in teaching and learning. While the board and staff have long assumed that ensuring equitable access to meaningful learning for each and every student was the overarching goal of all our efforts, Hirsh clarified that unstated assumptions aren’t good enough. When she asked us to make explicit our equity intentions, we fully supported her request.
CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT APPLIES TO EVERYONE
Leaders who reach the top of their fields have the chance to take a breath and enjoy the view. While I know Hirsh enjoys her work each day, she is not one to rest on her laurels. She takes seriously the concept of continuous improvement, both for herself and for those she supports. She solicits feedback on everything she does and welcomes the perspectives of others in helping to improve anything she has in progress.
Under her leadership, the organization continually seeks feedback and outside expertise to examine and reshape as necessary business processes, membership or consulting offerings, or other aspects of the work. The recent focus on amplifying the importance of focusing professional learning on implementing instructional materials is but one example of how Hirsh takes something the organization has always believed and finds ways to bring critical strategies to the fore.
LEADERS COLLABORATE AND DEVELOP OTHER LEADERS.
The board of trustees has the utmost confidence in the organization’s strong future in large part because of the collective responsibility and expertise Hirsh has helped to build amongst every employee, consultant, board member, and close ally of Learning Forward. She’s ensured that processes and structures are in place so that Learning Forward will sustain and grow and embrace new innovations and opportunities with our strategic goals and vision to guide us.
I could share a long list of Stephanie Hirsh’s accomplishments and contributions in thanking her, and I know everyone reading this has his or her own list. Please extend your congratulations to her and join me in wishing her well as she finds her next avenue for service.