Alumni in Action
“The fellowship was the intersection of business, policy, and education. Hearing the term 'hybrid leader' was an 'aha!' moment.”
Thalia Theodore Washington - 2006 New York
Spotlight on Thalia Theodore Washington
I loved the freedom of the nonprofit sector - supporting schools with innovative programming without the bureaucracy of school district regulations - but was also intrigued by the methods behind policy making that affected students and their families. I decided to pursue a graduate degree in nonprofit management and public policy to gain the financial, managerial and policy analysis skills that would help me to be a more effective leader.
Because Education Pioneers attracts people with very different backgrounds, I was eager to hear how others had arrived at the fellowship and what direction they hoped to go in after graduate school. The first time I heard the term "hybrid leader" was in the fellowship. I was surprised to hear a term that captured the multiple interests and skills I had but didn't know how to articulate career-wise. I felt like I no longer had to "choose a sector" and was encouraged to know that being a "hybrid" of skills and interests was of increasing value in the workplace.
I was pursuing an MPA but had a strong interest in education and was also taking business and law classes. I felt like I lived at the intersection of business, policy, and education and hearing the term "hybrid leader" was an "aha!" moment.
I had my eye on DonorsChoose.org as an organization I might want to work for. I had set up an informational interview with founder and CEO Charles Best during my first year of school. Then, coincidentally, he was one of the speakers during the fellowship session on education entrepreneurship. It was the perfect opportunity to re-connect with him, update him on the experience I was gaining that summer through the fellowship and get back on his radar. One month following graduation, I accepted a position with DonorsChoose.org!
Working on a regional team at DonorsChoose.org exposes me to a great mix of first-hand interaction with funders and corporate partners as well as with superintendents, principals, and classroom teachers. Whenever I'm missing student interaction, I read through some of the thank you notes, crayon-smeared notes and wacky pictures that the students send the donors who funded the materials they use in the classroom.
Being able to interact with the front-line educators is very fulfilling because I get to hear directly from teachers about the amazing projects and learning experiences my work helps them to provide. That definitely keeps me motivated!