As the Managing Partner for Knowledge to Power (KP) Catalysts, I oversee our business systems and serve as the Executive Producer for CTO Remix. In addition, I maintain my own portfolio of projects that focus on partnership and systems building at the intersection of the youth development and k-12 education sectors.
I have spent my career working to change the odds for children and youth by helping the adults and organizations that support young people be their most effective and very best. I have had the unique opportunity to play a leadership role in building multiple cross-sector collaboratives focused on children and youth at a state and local level, and in partnership with and as a team member of a large, urban school district. Whether contributing to the creation of a statewide effort focused on youth, launching a local out-of-school, or defining the district’s agenda for focusing on the whole child, I consistently saw that across systems our goals are more aligned than we realize, our challenges are not as unique as we think, and we are stronger when we can think beyond our organization or system and instead think about the full ecosystem in which young people live, learn, play, and grow.
In 2018, recognizing I was at a point of transition both personally and professionally, I decided to transition to a consulting role – eager to shift from direct organizational and initiative leadership to a role where I could support others in their work based on the lessons I’d learned. KP Facilitation was born. My first call to help identify and shape the work ahead was to Merita Irby, a co-founder of the Forum for Youth Investment, who had become an incredible mentor. Through that connection I have been consulting for the last three years with the Forum for Youth Investment, supporting a range of projects at the national and local levels.
Throughout 2021, I engaged with the Forum’s other co-founder, Karen Pittman, to conceptualize and plan for the next phase of her work after she transitioned out of her role as President and CEO of the Forum. In December 2021, Karen and I launched Changing the Odds Remix to cultivate the uptake of the biggest and boldest ideas that have true potential to help leaders across the country change the odds. As Karen and I worked on Changing the Odds Remix we began to recognize the strength in aligning our individual and collective work to catalyze knowledge to power. I invited Karen to join my one-woman consulting business and transform it into this new boutique consulting firm – Knowledge to Power (KP) Catalysts.
A Note About Our Name: You might have noticed that KP seems to have a lot of meanings – my initials, Karen’s initials, Knowledge to Power. So which is it? All of them! As a college journalist, my initials on an article file meant it had been reviewed and had my edits enclosed. My initials became (for me) a symbol of my role as a leader. As a business owner of KP Facilitation, those initials connected to my goal of supporting leaders to be more successful in their work supporting their teams and young people. In both cases, I was transforming knowledge to power. As Karen and I began to explore our partnership she was concerned the initials would be more associated with her than with me in the field – I pushed back. For KP Catalysts, KP stands for what we bring to the work – the ability to transform Knowledge to Power – and KP demonstrates the strength and leadership of not just one of us, but of our partnership.
As a founding partner in KP Catalysts, I focus on synthesizing research, policy and practice resources about where, when, how, and why learning and development happens, working to augment K-12 educators excitement and commitment to strengthening the education ecosystem with knowledge from the youth development fields. I take these lessons into my roles as Creative Director of CTO Remix.
I have made a career of starting organizations and initiatives that promote youth development – including the Forum for Youth Investment, which I co-founded with Merita Irby in 1998. After serving as the President & CEO of the Forum for Youth Investment until February 2021, I stepped away from organizational management to dedicate my time to galvanizing the growing interest in using science-informed strategies to truly change the odds that all children and youth can be successful. I spent the remainder of 2021 as a senior fellow at the Forum, working with Merita Irby on the Readiness Projects while I took time to find or create my new “home base.”
I am pleased to have recently announced my decision to become a partner in Knowledge to Power (KP) Catalysts, helping friend and colleague Katherine Plog Martinez strengthen and expand her nimble, capacity building business. KP Catalysts is the home for my lasting contribution to the thriving youth fields, Changing the Odds Remix – a public platform for sharpening the ideas about how, where, when, why, and with whom learning and development happens (or doesn’t happen). Launched in December 2021 the first season of the Remix podcast, you’ll see Changing the Odds Remix grow in the coming months with a wide range of regular Remix publications. In addition, after a several year hiatus, in January 2022 I will once again write a monthly column in Youth Today, the field paper I regularly contributed to for more than two decades.
My commitment to public thought leadership is grounded in a much deeper commitment to servant leadership. In addition to CTO Remix, I have reaffirmed my commitment to use my knowledge and connections to help selected organizations and initiatives whose leaders are on the same journey to change the odds for youth success. In 2022, after stepping down from my Senior Fellow role at the Forum, I am taking on new roles with the two co-leads of the Readiness Projects – as a scholar-in-residence with the National Urban League and as an Equity Fellow with the American Institutes for Research. I am also continuing my role as a governing partner of the SoLD Alliance and taking on a range of new – roles as a senior advisor, fellow, consultant, or board member – with organizations committed to creating equitable, learner-centered ecosystems.
Center for the Developing Adolescent
Children’s Funding Project
Science of Learning and Development (SoLD) Alliance (Governing Partner)
Turnaround for Children
External Fellow with the American Institutes for Research supporting assignments aligned to AIR’s Equity Initiative Goals
Scholar in Residence with the National Urban League elevating its next generation assessment and accountability work
Senior Advisor with Education Reimagined ensuring efforts to create and strengthen equitable learner-centered ecosystems are attuned to all adults, all settings, all organizations, and all systems supporting young people
Senior Advisor & Equity Commission Member with The New Teacher Center actively engaging with other commissioners to launch a new Point of View framing for the organization.
Columnist & Advisory Group convener with Youth Today supporting the launch of an advisory group to bring connections from across the thriving youth field to the journalistic excellence the Center for Sustainable Journalism has brought to the publication.
Arizona State University Teachers College/ Next Education Workforce Initiative
Special Olympics’ National Education Leadership Network
Student Experience Research Network/Mid-career Fellows Program
Teach for America/ National SEL Programming Evaluation
As a partner in KP Catalysts, I work with leaders in school districts, governmental departments, community collaboratives, and non-governmental organizations nationwide. My portfolio of projects focuses on helping leaders tackle real-world complexities by developing lenses and decision-making frameworks for the whole child and whole community that are youth-centered, science-informed, and equity-focused.
I am a nationally recognized master facilitator who supports catalytic leaders in taking a youth-centered, big picture approach to planning and action. Working at the national, state, and local level, I focus on creating and supporting collaborative tables for cross-systems planning and action.
I work with leaders in school districts, governmental departments, community collaboratives, and non-governmental organizations nationwide, helping them tackle real-world complexities by developing lenses and decision-making frameworks that are “whole child / whole community” – youth-centered, science-informed, and equity-focused. Countless communities and initiatives across the country credit have shared with me that I have been instrumental in their work to build cross-sector collaboratives that engage young people and communities in action-oriented, asset-based solutions.
I began my career as a classroom teacher in Central America and in urban schools in the United States. Exploring the intersection of school, family and community supports, I worked at Stanford University on a five-year study of community-based urban youth organizations, and co-authored Urban Sanctuaries: Neighborhood Organizations in the Lives and Futures of Inner-City Youth.
At the Center for Youth Development and Policy Research, I directed a multi-site study on school collaboration with youth organizations. This was where I first began working with long-time creative and strategic partner, Karen Pittman, who I then joined in starting the President’s Crime Prevention Council, chaired by Vice President Al Gore. At the International Youth Foundation, I led the facilitation of the foundation’s Global Partner Network and worked with Karen to develop a U.S. strategy that would eventually give rise to the Forum for Youth Investment.
Karen and I co-founded the Forum for Youth Investment in 1998. Throughout the Forum’s history, I played multiple programmatic and operational roles most recently leading the Forum’s Big Picture Approach Training & Consulting. I launched Big Picture Approach Training & Consulting to connect national thought leadership with on the-ground coaching, training and consulting. From 2019 to 2021, I served as the managing director of the Readiness Projects, created and coordinated by the Forum, the National Urban League, and the American Institutes for Research to engage national and local leaders in efforts to dramatically changing the odds for youth by committing to upend inequities, embrace science-informed strategies, and accelerate progress.
I received my master’s degree in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. A notable public speaker and author, I also serve on a number of boards and advisory committees.
My academic background is in broadcast journalism, communications, and writing. After completing my degree, I worked for Department of Defense as a contractor for Langley Air Force Base Library. There I focused on assisting the children’s and young adult book selections. After that I worked as a reference assistant librarian at the Hampton Virginia City Public. At both locations I over saw and helped organize and promote projects for community outreach and involvement such as – the Freedmen Bureau Project workshops and Summer Reading events.
After leaving Virginia my family and I moved to Georgia. There I began working from home as a foreign English teacher virtually as well as teaching preschoolers in person. I enjoyed working with children and saw the benefits of building strong bonds with young people of all ages. Within the my community I volunteered with young women ages 11-18 with developing their inner strengthens and personal character, finding and building a supportive network, and learning how to adapt and react to real world experiences. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of the different young people I have worked with and helped shape.
I am beyond excited to be part of the KP catalysts team and the work of building equity in all settings for young people to thrive and find their inner strength. It is a pleasure to work as their Social Media Director for Changing the Odds Remix Podcast and as a Communication Associate for KP Catalysts.