Q&A with Idrissa Simmonds-Nastili, Director, NextGen Network, Pahara Institute

Last week, the spring 2016 cohort of Pahara Institute's NextGen Network was announced--and two EP Alumni, Lisa Ahn and Jelani McEwen were selected. This week on the EP blog, we revisit a Q&A with EP Alumna Idrissa Simmonds-Nastili, Director of the Pahara Institute’s NextGen Network. Idrissa talks about what Pahara looks for in leaders, why diversity in the most senior levels of leadership in education is crucial for excellence and equity in education, and why all education leaders must have a “heart and mind for listening and learning."

Four Must-Knows for Every Education Entrepreneur & Intrapreneur

About a week ago, a handful of Education Pioneers Fellows and Alumni had the opportunity to participate in an “Agents of Change” dinner in New York’s Financial District. At these annual local events, Education Pioneers brings together leaders from across education organizations to share their perspectives, insights, and experiences from their work in the field. As an EP Fellow and someone who is relatively new to education, I appreciated the opportunity to learn from seasoned change-catalysts about what helped them excel. Four must-knows I learned about entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship.

What is the One Thing You Would Change to "Fix" Education?

I have been working full-time in education for a grand total of 102 days. And as actual education experts can probably empathize with, I am (already) immediately asked two questions every time I tell someone from “the outside” that I now work in education: “What is the one thing you would change that would fix all of this? Is there a silver bullet?” I smile, I look around at the cake and dancing (because I am inevitably at a wedding reception during this conversation), and I shake my head.

Why We Must See Ourselves at the Table (and How to Get There)

I suspected that becoming an EP Fellow would be critical for my career, but I didn’t expect to be in a meeting alongside my personal heroes just a few weeks in. So how did I wind up in the same small room in the White House as Marian Wright Edelman (founder of the Children's Defense Fund), Education Secretary Arne Duncan, John King (Secretary Duncan’s deputy, a former commissioner of education for the State of New York, and current Acting Secretary), Stacey Stewart (President/CEO of United Way-Americas), Michael Smith (head of the President's My Brother's Keeper Initiative), and Roberto...

College Access Starts Early: How Breakthrough San Francisco is Leading the Way

Two years ago, during EP’s 10th anniversary celebration, a brave high school freshman named Tomicia stood at a podium in front of hundreds of people and talked about dissecting a cow’s eye. She also talked about learning debate skills, going on an outdoor education trip, and meeting inspiring mentors. The educational experiences she’d had—including attending a top, college-preparatory high school—were because of Breakthrough San Francisco and its executive director, Andy Shin.

Q&A with Idrissa Simmonds-Nastili

In this Q&A, EP Alumna Idrissa Simmonds-Nastili, Director of the Pahara Institute’s NextGen Network, talks about growing up with a global perspective that shaped her career trajectory, why diversity in the most senior levels of leadership in education is crucial for excellence and equity in education, and why all education leaders must have a “heart and mind for listening and learning.”

Building Culture By Getting Out Of The Building

Culture isn’t a decree from on high. It can’t be implemented with the simple swoosh of the CEO’s hand. Instead, it has to be built by and for the entire team it represents. Rather than having executives write handbooks, we should empower teams and individuals to interpret and define the essence of an organization’s culture. And often, some of the best culture-building happens when we literally get out of the building.

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