|Message from Our Center Director:
Reflections on Leadership and Coordinated Mobilization
One of the wonderful things about holidays is that when properly celebrated, they cause us to stop and reflect on our lives and on the things that we are grateful for. This Thanksgiving, I was grateful for so much. I was recently honored with awards from organizations that I care deeply about and whose leaders have inspired me.
I understand, of course, that the work being honored is really our collective work to support and inspire a next generation of STEM professionals who reflect the full diversity of our society. I hope you will take pleasure in the recognition that our work is getting.
From the Dana Center’s inception, we have understood that, to realize our best hopes, we would need to work with and through organizations that not only share our vision, but also have broader influence and reach. We call this a joyful conspiracy. It requires modesty and appreciation that the coordination of the efforts of many is required for success.
The need for coordinated innovation and action is especially important as we address what I call “last-mile” issues—those challenging issues that had not been attended to in the first phases of our work. We have made such great progress on introducing the ideas of multiple math pathways and in connecting this work to the guided pathways approach to increase college completion rates. It is overwhelmingly clear that there is enough evidence that responsible systems should enact the new pathways at scale.
Doing so will require addressing difficult questions:
- How will we build respectful support systems for the individuals who connect directly with students and on whom their success depends?
- How will we address the flotilla of policies, both small and large, that needs to shift so a new approach to math education can flourish?
- How can we help align the vision and action of so many constituencies central to the success of system transformation?
It’s not the case that we have finished the introductory phases of making change. It would be so easy for us just to continue the excellent work that we have all been doing. But we need to be relentless in our communication and in our engagement with faculty, administrators, governance officials, and policy leaders. We need to listen carefully both to their concerns about and their hopes for change.
It is time for us to reallocate our energies so that we can also address the next phase of our work. Let us draw our inspiration and energy from the faces of the million-plus students whose lives we can transform through our actions. In joyful conspiracy, let us move forward together.