Dec 03, 2018
Race and educational inequity have been intertwined throughout our nation’s history. On May 17, 1954, in the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, the Supreme Court observed “… it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.” However, oppression, inequity, and violence still obstruct the path to self-determination and a life full of choices for young people from historically marginalized identities.
Promise54 was formed in fall 2017 by Xiomara Padamsee, Monisha Lozier, and team members from Bellwether Education Partners’ former Talent Advising practice to enable organizations to deliver on the promise implied in the Supreme Court’s ruling. We envision a day when organizations committed to educational equity have maximum impact because they have the right people excelling in right roles, their teams reflect the communities served, their cultures are inclusive, and their internal structures are equitable. Promise54 helps adults to thrive so that they can do their best work for students.
With our vision and mission held closely, we are a small but strong and growing team of a dozen passionate and experienced consultants. We work to ensure that clients have the systems, culture, capacity, and the talent itself, to cultivate diverse teams of leaders who can transform the lives of students. The focus of our partnerships balances investments in people and the organizational systems around them, spanning topics such as recruitment systems, competency modeling, diversity, equity and inclusion, compensation, performance management, change management, board development, management capacity building / leadership development, and more. We conduct all of our work with a particular focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, based on our belief that creating a thriving, sustainable workplace for a diverse team will both generate greater impact for students as well as more durable relationships with the communities these organizations serve.
Our aim is to shape the field’s understanding of what it means to build an organization where talent can truly thrive so that these organizations generate unprecedented results for children. In that spirit, we have committed to specific goals by 2023: first, we envision shifting the conversation with 1000 education organization leaders about the role of talent health in achieving strong outcomes with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI); second, we will support 100 organizations to material progress on diversifying their teams, increasing staff performance and strengthening retention without gaps by seniority or identity.
Promise54 provides services to support these goals at three levels: to the education field, to organizations, and to teams and individuals.
For the field, we produce research and thought pieces to generate insights focused on the connection between DEI and accelerated impact. These products include high-quality diagnostics/analytics, field reports – such as 2017’s Unrealized Impact – and convenings.
For client organizations, we focus on supporting and enhancing organizational effectiveness, inclusive culture, and equitable systems. We do this through group leadership development training and executive search.
Finally, for individuals, Promise54 focuses on supporting and developing people and experiences that enable diverse teams to thrive. We do this through long-term partnerships for implementation support, 1:1 executive coaching, and cohort-based workshops and institutes.
In service of this work, our team is committed to the following core values :
Champion Justice : We acknowledge the impact of historical inequities and are committed to pursuing justice. We will do this by reshaping mindsets, behaviors, and structures one organization and one leader at a time, while examining ourselves in the process. We believe all young people, especially those of color and those growing up in low income communities, deserve to have adults acting boldly on their behalf – challenging the status quo, spotting and addressing inequities, sharing power and, perhaps most importantly, making room for silenced voices to be heard.
Pursue Impact : We are committed to helping adults live out their fullest potential, so they can offer their very best to the young people they serve. This means we relentlessly pursue the best outcomes with our partners and, in the process, we always choose courage over comfort. We strive to consistently deliver excellent work and an unparalleled client experience to inspire effective action, advance equity, and help our partners realize their missions.
Embrace Possibility : We approach our work with a sense of possibility, adaptability, and optimism. We invest time in new ideas, engage in thoughtful problem solving, and explore innovative ways to team with each other and partner with our clients.
Be Well: We know that to do our best work, we must accept and support each other in all of our humanity. We have fun, laugh out loud, celebrate each other’s life milestones, and live unapologetically in our own skin. We practice flexibility related to where and how we get our work done, respecting each other’s professional preferences and life priorities. We carve out time to relax, recharge, and refuel individually and as a team.
Be Humble: We don’t have all of the answers, so we listen closely to our colleagues, our partners, our schools, and our communities, as they tell us what’s working and what’s not. We embrace those who push our thinking while helping us make progress. This learning makes us and our work better.
Promise54’s first three quarters of operations have been auspicious; client demand for our services exceeds our capacity, we have gained the support of several national funders and, in January we brought together 200+ leaders from 54 organizations across the field working to enhance equity within their organizations with ~20 diversity, equity, and inclusion specialists for our first DEI Accelerator convening. Still, we have room for growth: we need to grow our team even further to serve the work we’re being asked to do in the field, particularly related to DEI; we have ambitious plans about building out our research division and corresponding offerings; we seek to enhance and diversify our philanthropic funding base and therefore aim to expand our development efforts; and, of course, like any start-up, we are making critical internal operational decisions in real time while serving clients, developing our team, and building our brand.
Partners play a vital role toward accomplishing all of this and living up to our aspirations. Partners are leaders within Promise54 and participate in building the firm with fellow Partners by contributing to decisions on organizational strategy, financials, marketing, branding, hiring, operations, and the development of field-leading intellectual capital. Partners play the leading role in business development and service delivery for clients of the firm, and are directly accountable for its success in terms of financial sustainability, team development and management, and impact.
Duties and Responsibilities
In addition to the general responsibilities described above, the next Partner will play an especially significant role in shaping and delivering Promise54’s work, voice, and example in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Specifically, the Partner will:
represent Promise54 externally in the field;
play a critical role in the management and support of internal teams, including the recruitment, professional development, and mentorship of Promise54 staff;
serve as a thought partner to client project teams working across all Promise54 service offerings on how to center diversity, equity, and inclusion and conduct all of our work through a lens of cultural competence;
lead a growing set of Promise54 DEI-related engagements, ensuring an external focus on helping clients achieve outstanding results through rigorous and practical actionable advice, skill-building, and partnership-related DEI goals;
cultivate relationships with clients, including independently leading business development from lead generation to relationship building, scoping, staffing, and finalizing sales;
partner with clients to develop sustainable and impactful solutions to the hardest people-related issues and time-sensitive challenges brought forward by the client, including:
determining the scope of work for client projects,
leading in the development of high-impact solutions,
packaging insights and recommendations effectively to clients, and
delivering exceptional service that delights clients and creates impact;
advance our DEI work by codifying approaches, methodologies, tools, leading practices, lessons learned, and resources;
write blogs, conference presentations, website materials, and other eminence building materials to share our approaches and findings related to DEI with the field; and
develop, sustain, and enhance relationships with leaders, funders, and other leaders in the field.
Requisite Experience, Skills, and Personal Characteristics
First and foremost, the new Partner must share Promise54’s conviction that organizations will best maximize their impact and truly thrive when their teams are diverse, their cultures are inclusive, and their practices model the equity they wish to see in the world. Further:
Candidates must have the following professional experience :
leading diversity, equity, and inclusion work at the individual and/or organizational level;
leading/facilitating change and creating organizational strength and synergy;
at least ten years of professional experience.
Candidates must also have the following skills:
an understanding of, and aptitude for, client service including:
designing, delivering, and refining a structured, codified approach and guiding frameworks to solving complex talent challenges
organizing complex ideas and ambiguity into clear direction, and translating recommendations into action
well-developed influence skills and comfort working through others
the ability to develop written communications and presentation;
the capacity to develop and secure new business by leveraging his/her network;
a well-rounded interpersonal skill set with deep emotional intelligence, relationship-building skills, and the ability to build strong senior client relationships, facilitate tough discussions, work effectively in a team, and facilitate joint problem-solving with clients and teams;
the ability to develop, manage, and inspire a team of highly proficient professionals;
excellent analytical skills, creativity in problem-solving, and a keen business sense demonstrated in either a professional or academic environment;
analytical inclination, demonstrated by a strong grasp of key takeaways from data sets/visuals and intuition in designing analyses and graphical depictions that lead others to insight; and
the ability, willingness, and—ideally—comfort with working virtually.
Finally, candidates must demonstrate (or referencing must reveal) the following personal characteristics:
unwavering commitment to Promise54, its mission, and its core values and a strong desire to continue to strengthen and build the organization;
sound judgment and discretion with respect to critical information and decisions;
a highly self-motivated work style; and
an entrepreneurial mindset and comfort with a start-up environment.
Ideal experience, skills, and characteristics
familiarity with the national education sector in the U.S. and past efforts to reform its systems and practices, particularly those related to the challenges facing young people from historically marginalized identities;
previous work in or with schools and/or organizations supporting schools;
formal training and experience from a management or human capital consulting organization or experience in the field of talent management or organizational development, ideally in the education sector
a solid network of senior level relationships with nationally significant practitioners, funders, and/or elected officials in the field of education reform;
a graduate degree.