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C!E Announces New Partner and Other Organizational Updates

Hello colleagues and friends!


We have been a little quiet in our communications recently as we managed a number of big projects and made our way through some organizational shifts. As we enter October and come up for air, we wanted to provide everyone with a few updates.


A New Partner!


We are excited to announce that we are welcoming Rita Harvey to our team! She comes to us from the nationally recognized MCIEA project, which many of you know is a local accountability system being developed and governed by a number of communities in Massachusetts. In that work and other work with the Center for Collaborative Education (CCE), Rita has sharpened expertise in performance assessment, balanced assessment systems and accountability systems which, as you can imagine, makes her a particularly compelling intellectual thought partner to us at C!E. She has also done research on the intersections between race and special education, which our nation is finding to be an even more important topic as COVID pulled the curtain back and revealed just how grim it can be for young people standing at that intersection. And, as you all know, how we work is as important to us at C!E as what kind of work we do, and we are thrilled that Rita is bringing to our team her curiosity, wit, and drive to transform our education systems into engines of equity.


We are excited to see how Rita shapes our team and our work. And we are certain that when you get the chance, you will enjoy partnership with Rita as well. Her email is rita@leadingwithlearning.org if you want to get in touch.


And, read on for a welcome note from Rita herself!


Organization Updates


Another big piece of news is that Gene Wilhoit and Linda Pittenger have shifted from staff roles to board roles at C!E. Each member of our team has directly benefited from the leadership, mentorship, intellectual provocation, and friendship that Gene and Linda have always given so freely. Finding ourselves on this team with these two felt like a golden ticket moment for each of us, and it is bittersweet that we have come to cash in those golden tickets and together take over the day-to-day operations of the spectacular chocolate factory that Gene and Linda built. As you might imagine, even in “retirement” they both continue to be invaluable members of our team. They remain connected and dedicated to our work, in fact, you may be fortunate enough to find them on a zoom with us from time to time.


As we managed their transition to the board, we also took our time rethinking roles, and we continue to collaborate in new ways as a team. You can see some of our new titles on our website. As the Managing Partner, I have formal organizational leadership responsibility, but you will notice that we are each partners. This does not connote that we are a consulting firm with partner as a rank title, for us partner with its most basic connotation best describes how we relate to one another. We are partners with one another and with each of you in this big endeavor of transforming our systems of education. We have an unusually powerful combination of expertise in this small team, but we also count on learning from one another and each of you in each of our interactions. Our website is www.leadingwithlearning.org because in all that we do, we begin with curiosity.


And finally, we changed fiscal sponsorship. As many of you know, we were initially housed as a center at the University of Kentucky. As our work diversified, we found that there were kinds of work and types of partnerships that were difficult for the university to manage with us. To continue to be mission driven, cost effective and nimble, we needed to find a new organizational home. We landed at the Tides Center. For those who are unfamiliar, they are a non-profit that hosts smaller non-profit projects. While this transition took significant time and attention, we are now comfortable at our new home and happy to operate in a little more streamlined busines environment. Despite Tides offices being on both coasts, rest assured, Kentucky is still home for C!E. We continue to return there for staff gatherings and board meetings, and when we are able we will likely host some future face to face convenings with you there too.


In closing…


Thanks for reading our update, and more so, thanks for being our partner. One of the things Gene and Linda always imagined was that C!E would stay small because doing work in partnership is essential to doing good and lasting work. In this unprecedented time of turmoil, challenge and opportunity, our continued partnerships with you give us courage and strength and fill will us with gratitude. Thank you for being strategic partners with us.


Gretchen & the C!E Team


PS – you can always email me at gretchen@leadingwithlearning.org. For general inquiries you can also email theteam@leadingwithlearning.org. We check the general email daily.



Getting to know Rita Harvey


We asked Rita to share a little bit about herself, what draws her to C!E, what gifts she’s excited to bring to the work, and what she’s most looking forward to learning with us. Read on!



“Doing education work through a lens of antiracism and justice is a familial inheritance for me. While the foundation was always there, my work started when my Aunt Rosie allowed me to me to engage in service-learning in her elementary self-contained special education classroom. My “service” included engaging in basic literacy activities with this group of children, but it was my own learning that was invaluable. Working under the guidance of Aunt Rosie, at the age of 16, I learned first-hand that all children have gifts and brilliance they bring to the classroom, and it is the work of educators to love every child enough to see those gifts. Over years of practice and study in special education/disability studies, assessment literacy, and critical race studies, I have come to understand that individual educators such as Aunt Rosie work in systems. We must work on both the systems and the individuals to transform education so that the gifts and brilliance of every child can truly be appreciated.

Seeing this passion for equity and justice being pursued by compassionate and thoughtful human beings has drawn me to the C!E team, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to do this work with both the smaller team and the larger community. In this next chapter of work, I hope to always bring a deeply empathetic and analytic approach the work in which we engage together. While I will bring this approach along with the technical knowledge I have acquired over the years, I am most excited about what I will learn from the C!E team and our partners. I am excited to continue learning how educators and communities are disrupting deep-rooted patterns of inequity. In learning about your communities, your mechanisms of disruption, your ways of loving children and fellow educators, I am hopeful we can continue to reimagine and rebuild educational systems.”

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