1. WHAT IS YOUR TITLE, AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
16 years ago I founded PENCIL (Public Education Needs Civic Engagement in Learning) an organization focused on transforming our public schools. A wonderful team now runs PENCIL and I stay active in my role as Chair Emerita. I teach at Columbia University, am an active Advisory Board Member of two organizations: Global Business Coalition for Education and ActionCanada. (You should see the business cards I carry around!). My work is focused on three areas: guaranteeing high quality public education for all students in the United States; ensuring access to education for the 61 million children around the globe who have none; and developing the next generation of leaders to tackle the critical issues of the day.
2. PLEASE DESCRIBE YOUR ROLE IN THE FAMILY, WIFE, MOTHER CARETAKER??
PROUD Mother, Single Mother, and, the child/sibling responsible for reminding my parents and brother/sisters of everyone’s birthdays and managing other life events--- (isn’t there always one in every family who has to play this role no matter how old we get?).
3. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE A TYPICAL DAY?
Nutella crepes for breakfast are a must. And, being home in time for dinner with my kids happens almost every night. In between…well each day is not typical: working with staff, writing, lots of talking on the phone, mommy stuff, academic work, time for play, for friendship, organizational busy-ness. I thrive on the mix and believe that I learn more and am more effective when I am challenged by the many different people with whom I interact and the various worlds I inhabit.
4. IN YOUR CAREER, WHAT GOALS DO YOU HAVE, AND WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO TAKE THIS PATH?
I don’t really think of my jobs as a career but rather as a winding, somewhat serendipitous road on which I’ve been traveling – one where I am very clear that each turn deepens and builds my knowledge and skills, one where I have not lost sight of what I want to accomplish and one where I have been lucky enough to meet people along the way who have guided me towards being able to get closer to accomplishing things that will have lasting impact.
5. IF YOU COULD CHANGE THE WORLD IS WHERE I STARTED WITH THIS QUESTION BUT I PREFER TO SAY … WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD AND KNOWING THAT WHAT DO YOU INTEND TO DO TO BE A PART OF THE CHANGE?
I will raise children who find their path to continuing to make this world a better place. I will mentor young people around the globe to do the same. I will never waiver in my belief in the power of understanding first and being understood second.
6. WHAT TYPE OF STYLE IS MOST COMFORTABLE FOR YOU, AND WORKS BEST FOR YOUR TYPE OF WORK?
My first quest of the day is remembering what role I will primarily be engaged in that day and therefore what “uniform” I will wear. If it is a teaching day my outfit will be very different than if I am visiting public schools in the outer boroughs, meeting with my kids’ teachers, lunching with a CEO to engage him/her in our work, mentoring young leaders. My only style rules seem to be: solids not prints and heels not flats.
7. WHAT TYPE OF PARTNER IS NECESSARY FOR A WOMAN WHO BELIEVES SHE CAN DO IT ALL?
Any one who is passionate enough in his work and beliefs to keep her interested. Any one who respects her enough not to box her into one role. Any one who is grounded and warm and wise enough to love and be loved in the way that a strong, multi-tasking woman does.
8. WHO IS YOUR MENTOR? DESCRIBE
If one is open - and luck plays a role as well - mentors come in many forms and all ages. A mentor to me is a broad notion. They may not be specifically offering guidance but through their actions I have learned and grown - I have been mentored. The key for me is to hold on to the wisdom long after that person is no longer actively in my life. Most recently, I am being guided by a much older, formerly VERY high-level executive who lovingly cares for her ailing husband while staying incredibly active in the business and civic worlds. She is focusing me on concentrating on the positive, moving forward, and letting go of all negative distractions. And, I’m extrapolating lessons from a young woman just finishing her Israeli army service who has come to appreciate the talents and differences of every soldier in her unit. Through her insights, I am more open to recognizing and developing the strengths of the diverse people with whom I work. .
9. HOW DO YOU MANAGE YOUR SELF ESTEEM WHEN IT IS CHALLENGED?
I marinate. I believe that when my self-esteem is challenged there may well be either some or much validity in it and I have to sit in the muck of the feelings and grow from the experience. Then I pick up and get back to living.
10. BEST ADVISE TO SHARE FROM YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE.
Always remember the wonderful Talmudic teaching: "It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it." (Ethics of our Fathers 2:21)