Five and a half years ago, I established Exemplar Strategic Communications to provide a new strategic vision for education organizations seeking to break through the white noise and have their voices heard. Building off the the groundbreaking public engagement work done by Dan Yankelovich and Public Agenda, Exemplar focused on outcomes-based approaches to PR and public affairs, seeking to not just promote an issue, but to actually change hearts, minds, and behaviors as we improve the public education tapestry across the nation.
This work was strengthened by a number of related experiences along the way. As executive director of the Pennsylvania STEM Initiative, I learned the value of building strong networks and promoting communications across a range of audiences. As executive director of communications and public affairs for the American Institutes for Research, I was reminded of the enormous value of strong data. And as CEO of ConnCAN, I worked with some of the best in the nation in advancing a strong advocacy agenda centered on equity and school improvement.
In reflecting on these experiences, one thing has been crystal clear. Community engagement and improvement efforts are only successful through strong collaboration. Working with others in pursuit of a common goal is king. And there is nothing more rewarding than succeeding as a team, together driving the sort of change and improvement we seek.
That’s what makes today’s post so special to me.
I am happy to let Eduflack’s readers know that I have decided to join Collaborative Communications Group as a partner and that Collaborative is acquiring Exemplar Strategic Communications. With the merger, Collaborative stands as the nation’s largest communications and strategic consulting firm focused exclusively on P-12 education issues.
For more than a decade, I have been fortunate enough to work with the terrific team at Collaborative on a range of issues — from principal empowerment to ESEA reauthorization to high school equity. Founding Partner Kris Kurtenbach, Partner Terri Ferinde Dunham, and the entire Collaborative family have done a tremendous job building an organization that has worked with a veritable who’s who in the educations space, while delivering results that should be the envy of all in the space.
Why is Collaborative so special? At its heart, Collaborative is passionate about helping improve public education within the United States and across the world through learning and collaboration, and communications management. The consulting firm does it by focusing on the learning process, placing specific emphasis on connecting networks of people; creating, sharing and using knowledge; and engaging diverse stakeholders to create real solutions aligned to the values of the people affected by them.
Collaborative is probably best known for the work it does in the OST (outside of school time space), building long-term relationships with organizations and funders across the country to advance a national commitment to expanded learning approaches, opportunities, and outcomes.
I am honored to be joining the Collaborative family, and looking forward to the next chapter in my Choose Your Own Adventure. At Collaborative, I’ll be focusing on the work I so enjoy — strategic communications, organizational planning, content development, public engagement, and advocacy. I will also continue to manage my Eduflack soapbox, as well as focus on the two education books (one I’m editing on scientifically-based reading instruction and one I’m writing on reforming education reform) that (cross fingers) will be completed by the end of the calendar year.
Thanks to all who have helped along the way and been a part of my journey to date. I look forward to fusing collaboration to my education DNA. Onward!