News From Bellwether

Some bittersweet news from Bellwether today – press release here and Ed Week hereKim Smith will be leaving us later this year, she’s launched a new venture, the Pahara Institute, that will further her leadership work and the Aspen – New Schools Education Fellowship, which will now be the Pahara – Aspen Education Fellows Program.  It’s sweet news for the field because this is an important and impactful program. But bittersweet to see Kim transition from BW as a full-time team member.  More on that in a moment.

We’re also adding two new partners: Becky Crowe in Bellwether’s strategy practice and Andy Smarick on the thought leadership team. Becky has spent the past several years as a strategy consultant to philanthropic clients and state departments of education. Becky brings her ongoing work for the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the 100Kin10 STEM initiative to Bellwether. Among other previous leadership roles, Becky led Partners in School Innovation in San Francisco. Andy most recently served as Deputy Commissioner of Education in New Jersey, where he played an instrumental role in the state’s recent education reforms including improvements to the state’s charter sector and teacher evaluation system. He has also worked at the Department of Education and The White House, as well as with several D.C.-based think tanks and education organizations.

Bellwether is also adding other team members and making key promotions.  Lina Bankert from Bain & Company is joining Bellwether as a Principal on the strategy team. As recognition of her substantial and growing contributions to Bellwether’s success, Bellwether has promoted Sara Mead to the role of Principal on the thought leadership team. Chad Aldeman from the U.S. Department of Education will join that team as Senior Policy Analyst, and Sarah Srivistava and Dhivya Venkataraman have joined as Consultants on the strategy team.

Bellwether now has more than 20 professionals working across its three teams – strategy, talent, and thought leadership and policy.  With this transition we’re changing our leadership structure and making Mary Wells managing partner.  Mary is not a household name in the sector but is one of those people quietly making a big impact through her work who should be. For those who follow closely, our basic organization and norms of operation remain unchanged.

With regard to Kim, I say bittersweet because while it’s for the good and we’re excited about what’s next for her and for us at BW, she’s going to be missed. Kim and I have worked together formally and informally for a long time- since back when New Schools was a small organization distrusted by only a few education elites rather than the large organization distrusted by the masses that it has become.  She was a founding board member at Education Sector among other capers and we’ve had a variety of education and non-education related adventures together.  She’s a demanding but loving colleague and a generous wonderful friend with the qualities you look for in both.  Working with her makes you better at what you do.  We’ll still get to work together (and she’s staying involved at Bellwether as a board member and many of us have ties to Pahara) but having her on the team full time and daily is one of the reasons the last several years at Bellwether have been so outstanding.  We wish her all good things in this new project.

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