Very excited about this update: Ken Bubp and Chris Barbic are joining the combined efforts of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and Hastings Fund.
These additions to the team will help us further support communities that are trying to empower families and educators.
Ken will be joining us in the role of Education Director, where he will manage a portfolio of city based and national investments.
Chris and I will share the same title, Senior Education Fellow, and will serve as general partners in the overall effort. With this partnership, we will be copying the structure of venture capital firms, with our aim to serve children rather than make profits.
Ken is joining us after spending time on the management team of The Mind Trust, which is amongst the best city-based education organizations in the nation; in this role, he has been supporting extremely innovative governance reform that is transcending the district / charter divide.
Most readers of this blog will be familiar with Chris and his work: he founded YES College Prep (winner of the very first Broad Prize for best charter organization in the nation) and was most recently the founding superintendent of the Achievement School District, where he did some of the toughest work in education reform in leading an effort to increase opportunity in a stagnant system.
I’m looking forward to learning so much from Ken and Chris.
Ken has a rare combination of intellectual curiosity, strategic aggression, and moral depth. In a single conversation, he might ask you to summarize the arguments of the last few books you’ve read; question whether you’re moving fast enough to achieve what you said you’d achieve; and then engage you in a conversation about how we might understand if we’ve found our life’s calling.
Ken’s work at The Mind Trust is indicative of these traits: few cities are moving as fast or with as much integrity as Indianapolis. Moreover, Ken’s internal work at The Mind Trust led to all-time organizational highs in staff satisfaction and performance. He will be playing a big role for us as we continue to develop our culture.
Chris’ talents are immense: he rallies the best people and instills great loyalty through ambitious vision, strategic clarity, and having a huge heart – moreover (and unlike many visionary leaders) he also moves immense amounts of work with an operational drive that simply gets things done again and again and again.
In the time it takes most organizations to write a strategic plan, Chris has usually moved mountains; built deep relationships with those around him; and found a new thorny problem to tackle.
While many might point to the success of Chris’ work at YES, I view his work at the ASD as the greatest embodiment of these traits. Yes, the jury is still out, but I strongly believe that in 10 years time we will look back at Chris’ work in Memphis and appreciate that he, his team, and the city’s non-profit partners built the foundation for sustainable and effective reform.
Lastly, I’ve never heard so many people say – “I’d do anything for him” – as I’ve heard people say about Chris.
You just can’t quantify the importance of something like that.
Perhaps most importantly, both Ken and Chris will tell you about the mistakes they’ve made; the struggles they’ve had; and how these experiences have shaped who they are.
Ken was very open with me about his struggles early in his career as he attempted change management at an organization that was trying to find its way.
And the letter Chris wrote when he left the ASD embodies his humility and ability to self-reflect.
We will continue to rely heavily on Noor Iqbal, who joined us from MIT’s Poverty Action Lab and has been a one person chief of staff + chief operating officer + grants manager + deep thought partner on our original two person team. I’ve rarely seen someone grasp the strategic underpinnings of reform so quickly, and I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have Noor’s help in getting the work off the ground.
I hope that with this team we can accomplish a lot of amazing things for children in this country. They deserve our best and we hope to give it to them.