First Person: Alumni

First Person: Alumni

Our alumni are aligned around a common vision: working to create environments that enable good teachers to do great work and students of all backgrounds to learn and thrive. From the value of dynamic, diverse perspectives to lasting connections made with their peers in school system improvement efforts across the country, read our alumni's reflections on their experiences.

The Broad Academy

The Broad Residency in Urban Education


The Broad Academy

“My experience at The Broad Academy was life-changing. The program challenged me from an intellectual and a philosophical standpoint, and I benefited a tremendous amount from the perspectives of my peers and from my mentor and coach. I still speak with members of my cohort, who share my strong conviction to give back.”

 - Robert Avossa, superintendent, Fulton County Public Schools, Ga., The Broad Academy Class of 2011

“[The Broad Academy] has been one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve had in my entire professional career. What makes it different is that it is full of a lot of ‘we’s. This work can’t be about just ‘I’ or ‘me.’ It’s about working with others, reaching out to others and how, together, we can transform communities and the lives of underprivileged youth.” 

- Patrick Dobard, superintendent, Recovery School District, La., The Broad Academy Class of 2014

“The Broad Academy is a place where you will stretch and grow in ways that you never thought you could. It could be as a leader of some of the most important school districts in the country - but in every case, it will be working with what really matters in this country, which is our youth and the next generation of Americans.”

- John Deasy, superintendent, Los Angeles Unified School District, The Broad Academy Class of 2006

“Public education reform is really about what it takes to have quality schools, to have great teachers in every classrooms led by great principals, and how to partner with parents, partner with the community and create environment for innovation for reform and change. That was the joy of going through the [Academy] program - it was constantly looking at different ways to do this work.”

- Heath Morrison, superintendent, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, N.C., The Broad Academy Class of 2009

“First and foremost, [The Broad Academy is] intellectually challenging. You learn about management, strategy and leadership from people who have done that work not just in education but outside education, and having that mix is absolutely invaluable. My experience at The Broad Academy has given me a full sense - emotionally, spiritually and intellectually -  of what it means to sit in the superintendent’s chair.”

- John White, superintendent, Louisiana Department of Education, The Broad Academy Class of 2010

“It was great learning, a great cohort of colleagues, great speakers, great practical application. Having been a superintendent, it still felt like there was so much more to learn. I felt challenged…but I also feel that I have been inspired to do even better work.”                  

– Mike Miles, superintendent, Dallas Independent School District, The Broad Academy Class of 2011


The Broad Residency in Urban Education

“The Residency is a portal into every major reform effort in the country. We are building a critical mass. No one else is doing this. The initial benefit of becoming a Broad Resident is that it provides an on-ramp to the world of education reform. I was thrown into the center of the conversation of how to reform a school district from day one. But, most importantly, the long-term benefit of the residency is the network and fellowship with education reformers throughout the country. Residents are engaged with every major reform in the country at the charter, district, state and national level. Even years after I have completed my residency, I can still reach out to reformers throughout the sector and get plugged into their experience and insight. That access has helped me at every point in my career.”  

- Ken Zeff, chief strategy & innovation officer, Fulton County Public Schools, Ga., The Broad Residency 2003-2005


“The two biggest benefits [of The Broad Residency] have been the professional learning that you are given over a two year period and the national network of like-minded people that you have access to during and after the residency.  When you reflect and combine those two elements, you realize that you're part of a movement of people that want to change the trajectories of urban youth all over the country.”

- Victor De La Paz, chief financial officer, Baltimore City Public Schools, The Broad Residency 2008-2010


“Being a Resident allowed me to work with some of the most innovative, invigorating and exciting individuals in the country. By joining the resident community, I entered a caring family of like-minded change agents who are committed to providing the best possible outcomes for students. And this family only grows with each class that joins the program. In the Residency, I learned a great deal about the reform landscape but more important, I learned a great deal about myself - how I want to grow as a professional and how I can have the greatest impact on as many students as possible.”

 - Mark Kleger-Heine, chief operating officer, Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, The Broad Residency 2008-2010


“Sharing and learning from a network of like-minded people facing the same challenges has been invaluable.”

 -  Robert Tagorda, director of equity, access & college and career-readiness, Long Beach Unified School District, Calif., The Broad Residency 2006-2008


“Residents have a community of peers who are committed to supporting one another as they tackle similar challenges. It's a tremendously helpful network.” 

- Hannah Dietsch, assistant superintendent - talent, Louisiana Department of Education, The Broad Residency 2008-2010


I’ve had the opportunity to be in world-class leadership training programs, through my time in the Navy. But I can tell you that the opportunity to be part of The Broad Residency and to focus on what you need to be successful in public education, and to make the people around you successful, has been amazing. This is a family, and when you go into how difficult this work is – as it is, really hard work – you want a family going in. [The Broad Residency] is not just a team. It’s much more than that. These are your friends for life.” 

- John Manahan, regional director, Rocketship Education, The Broad Residency 2010-2012


When I was working in consulting, I had no passion for doing things like helping a company optimize its call centers. It wasn’t the same ‘value-add’ as when I was a classroom teacher in Harlem. The Broad Residency was exactly the place for me to get what I was looking for, which was world-class training, an amazing network, and the opportunity to serve young people in a really powerful way.”

– Jeremy Chiappetta, executive director, Rhode Island Mayoral Academies Blackstone Valley, The Broad Residency 2004-2006


The Broad Residency is an unprecedented opportunity to change fields and go into public education with a lot of support and professional resources. I’ve utilized these resources, from executive coaching and learning and sharing best practices with my network across the country.

– Panya Lei Yarber, director - small learning communities, Atlanta Public Schools, The Broad Residency 2006-2008


After a lot of soul searching, I realized that I wanted to pursue my family business of education (my parents were both teachers) and bring the skills I had to bear. The Broad Residency helped me do that.”                                                           

 – Neil Campbell, independent education consultant, The Broad Residency 2009-11


The Broad Residency offered me the opportunity to get back into education, work with an amazing group of dedicated professionals that bring such passion, commitment, and intellect. [The Broad Residency] makes us all want to work harder, work smarter, deliver more results, and at the end of the day,  we all have the goal of improving public education for kids across the country, especially in urban settings.” 

- Chris Pencikowski, head of school, Lee Montessori Public Charter School, Washington, D.C., The Broad Residency 2010-2012