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June 2010 Archives

I was recently talking with an accomplished business executive in our network about the state of the economy and, in particular, the fate of some of the country's most well-known companies. I asked his opinion of why some businesses within the same industry are failing while others are flourishing. They're operating in the same economic environment, so what differentiates them?

Of course, he said, it's a complex answer, but he believes there is one overarching factor -- strong leadership. We talked about typical components of strong leadership -- charisma, the ability to set a vision, to move a team towards accomplishing the vision. But he focused on another component of leadership that often gets overlooked: the willingness to make costly investments in an organization. Even at times when it may be more popular to save money or increase salaries and dividends, strong leaders know that investing in their company is the key to long-term growth.

Our conversation got me thinking about the work we do at PENCIL. Our programs are based on the belief that strong leadership is key to the success of a school community. And, in fact, we're seeing that play out year after year. Partnerships like the one between Dave Barger and Monica George resulted in a complete transformation of P.S. 153. Principal Israel Soto was awarded the New York Post Liberty Medal this year for his work transforming P.S. 57, an accomplishment he said would not have been possible without the leadership guidance he received from his PENCIL Partner, Bob Silver. The Blackstone Charitable Foundation is working with their Partner, Principal Rashad Meade, to set a fundraising and technology strategy for the Eagle Academy for Young Men at Ocean Hill. And Principal Talana Bradley is working with her Partner to create a strategic plan to guide The Young Women's Leadership School of Brooklyn as it grows.

These Partnerships are, in fact, an investment in our schools -- arguably the most important institutions in our country. But leadership development for principals is just one of the ways that our private sector partners are making a long-term investment in our schools and our students. As everyone from President Obama on down is talking about "jobs, jobs, jobs" and the critical need for workforce development, partnerships like the one between Glocap and Frederick Douglass Academy VII are providing students with the skills they need to identify, and prepare for, meaningful careers. Those between Scholastic and schools in Queens and Brooklyn are fostering students' love of reading and writing with the opportunity to publish their own books. And over the past two years, our PENCIL Fellows program has placed 250 students in paid summer internships so that they can get the training and experience they need for a successful future career.

While the private sector is working through PENCIL to invest in hundreds of schools and thousands of students, there is still much more to do -- and now is the time to do it. #

About Me

Since becoming President of PENCIL in January 2007, Michael Haberman has led the organization through a period of dramatic growth. PENCIL now provides services to nearly 500 schools, making it one of the largest education nonprofits serving New York City. Under Michael's leadership, PENCIL...Read More

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