Alumni in Action
“I believe that education is the single biggest driver of successful revitalizations to end the poverty, etc. that often leads to inner-city decline.”
Butch Trusty - Graduate School Fellow DC Metro Area 2007
Spotlight on Butch Trusty
Immediately prior to business school, I was a Business Development Specialist at Edison Schools in their District Partnerships division. I was responsible for general policy and sales support for eight Development Vice Presidents. It was an exciting position with many facets. To the extent that there was a typical day, it would involve collaborating on client (target school districts) presentations, scouring education news clips to spot potential opportunities, and preparing briefing documents for the VPs in advance of "sales calls." In my time at Edison, I witnessed the beginnings of a shift in focus toward offering a wider variety of services to "turn around" schools. In my two years, the organization launched to new products - Edison Alliance and EdSuites, and my team secured over $20M in contracts to work with schools in two states - South Carolina and Hawaii.
But I love school, so I always knew I wanted to go back. Being from Baltimore, I also have always been interested in urban revitalization. I believe that education is the single biggest driver of successful revitalizations to end the poverty, etc. that often leads to inner-city decline.
When I entered graduate school, it was with the intent that within 5-10 years afterward, I would found my own education-related organization, probably an EMO/CMO. The 5-10 year interim would be spent in management consulting, so that I could really hone whatever skills I would learn in school. Given where I ended up, I can pretend, now, that my grand plan worked out, but it is only coincidence.
When I began business school, thinking that I wanted to enter the for-profit, strategy consulting world, I tried to stay away from public education. However, knowing that I had some experience, I kept the door open. Interestingly, there was another Duke student, Samit Chhabra who had just completed EP in New York. He and I simultaneously reached out to each other. I wanted to know more about his experience, and he wanted to hear my perspective on working full-time in education. The conversation was energizing and I decided to apply.
By far, the cohort experience was the best part of the summer. I already had the passion for education; I already thought I would work in the sector; and I already knew many of the policy issues. However, being around other really smart, passionate people and having the debates and career conversations made the whole experience worthwhile.
During one of our early training sessions, we heard from Kaya Henderson of DCPS. She mentioned that ultimately if we want to effect change in urban education, the district is where the action is. This was a direct challenge to my worldview that suggested that choice and outside-the-system solutions would be the driver of change. Her perspective, to which I now ascribe, is that those organizations can initiate, spur, and create change, but, ultimately, at the end of the day, no matter how good they are, the district is still serving almost all of the kids.
Outcomes for kids, as a whole, can only change if and when we change the district.
Ultimately, I chose to join Bridgespan because I believe that results and impact are the most important things to achieve in the education and the social sector, more broadly. It goes back to my days at Edison. Again, passion is not enough. Social sector organizations become great not merely by believing in their cause but by being set up to succeed. I truly think that, in the short term, I can more significantly develop and have a greater impact working here than for a service provider. That said, I still see this as a temporary stop (although I am loving it so far) and would still like to transition in to a school operator role either with an EMO/CMO or district or both.