TLLF: How has your prior work experience impacted your desire to pursue a career in philanthropy?
GS: I’ve had a winding career path, but in all of my roles and experiences, I’ve seen the transformational power of local education nonprofits. As a teacher, I relied on nonprofits to help get my students to dentist appointments and conduct home visits. In my most recent role with the YMCA of Greater Charlotte, I got to support nonprofits as they provided high-quality literacy instruction to their students during the summer. In each example, nonprofits stepped in to fill a gap and provide critical services and experiences for students and families.
A career in philanthropy allows me to support nonprofits to help them do what they do best.
TLLF: What are you most excited about as you start this new role with TLLF?
GS: I’m excited to deepen my relationships with local nonprofits that I’ve worked with previously, and get to know organizations across the Carolinas and support them as they work to empower their students and families.
TLLF: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
GS: Going on hikes with my partner and dog, reading, traveling, running, spending time outside.
TLLF: Who is one of your educational equity heroes – and why?
GS: Geoffrey Canada and the work of the Harlem Children’s Zone has inspired me for years. Their multi-generation approach and laser focus on systemic inequities has achieved amazing results for their community. I’ve learned so much from HCZ’s work and Mr. Canada’s philosophy. On a more local level, I will always consider teachers as superheroes, especially those that are working to close the opportunity gap for students in our community.
TLLF: Since you’ve spent some time in the classroom…what inspires you about the next generation?
GS: Oh man, so much. They are hilarious, creative, and determined to chart their own path. Thanks to technology, they’ve seen so much more of the world and understand so much about the human experience than I did as a kid, and that has (in my opinion) helped to build a generation of incredibly empathetic young people. I can’t wait to see how they change the world.