Articles by Lisa Holton

A New Chapter

Dear Friends,

As I write this note, my heart is filled with deep gratitude, a touch of sadness, and an abundance of joy. After seven years, I have decided to step down from my position as President of Classroom, Inc.

I am so proud of what we have accomplished together. I joined Classroom, Inc. on it’s 20th birthday because I believed in the mission, the impact it had already made on so many children’s lives, and the possibilities that lay ahead. I saw an opportunity to respond to one of my heroes—Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop—who challenged us all to create:

“a mirror for young people to see themselves, a window to see the world, and a sliding glass door to step through.”

Over the past seven years, I’ve had the privilege of working with my colleagues, the Board, and our dedicated donors to build the next generation of Classroom, Inc. and launch Read to Lead, a groundbreaking approach to literacy and leadership. We created a culture of continuous learning because we believe that impact should always be our first priority. In partnership with parochial school districts, including the Archdioceses of Newark, Bridgeport, and New York, and our learning labs like the recently opened Brooklyn Green School, we helped middle school readers master essential literacy and life skills at a critical time in their lives. We also used our powerful tool to teach educators how to use new technology effectively, which, in turn, will impact their students for years to come.

Thanks to generous grants from the New York Life Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation, we designed an out-of-school time program that fills a huge need in afterschool and summer school. In New York, Los Angeles, Birmingham, and Palm Beach County, young people experience first-hand the power and responsibility of being a leader in the professional world.

Our small but mighty team used all of that on-the-ground experience to build a state-of-the-art digital platform that has helped us reach over 200,000 students in less than 18 months. Now, through our national Million Words Read Challenge, we meet new educators every day. I can’t tell you how happy I am to see our leaderboard light up with new “millionaires.” Every young person who is earning badges in our games is developing essential skills for success in school, career, and life.

While I am sad to be leaving this rewarding role, I will always be a part of the Classroom, Inc. family. As many of you know, my passion for our work together comes from a deep commitment to social justice. My professional life has been dedicated to literacy and educational equity. In my personal life, I’ve also spent the last twenty-five years fighting for gender and racial justice. Through my work with the New York Women’s Foundation, the Feminist Press, and the Women’s Leadership Council, I have met an extraordinary group of women leaders who are lifting up our communities and changing the world. I’ve decided to bring my professional skills and experience to join them in that work.

And speaking of amazing women leaders, I am delighted to share that the Board has named Christina Oliver as the Executive Director of Classroom, Inc., effective July 1st. Christina has been our Chief Program Officer since 2014. During her tenure, Christina has led our vibrant expansion into out-of-school time, building strategic partnerships with best-in-class organizations such as the Boys & Girls Clubs, After-School All-Stars, and Horizons National. Christina has also been instrumental in our digital expansion, leading the development of curriculum and online resources. I am excited to see Classroom, Inc. grow and blossom under her talented leadership.

I am so grateful to have been in this role for the past seven years, and I look forward to being part of this very special community in the years to come. I hope to see all of you on September 17th at the Million Words Breakfast; I can’t wait to celebrate all of the young readers and leaders. Thanks to you, not only have they built essential skills, but even more importantly, they see themselves as the leaders and achievers that they are.

See you in September!

With warmest wishes,
Lisa