September 01, 2017
Dear Friends and Supporters,
Room to Read has been an important part of my life for a very long time and is a part of my family. Each year at Room to Read—16 of them —has been an amazing journey! Growing this great organization into what it is today—first as a volunteer to establish our operations in Vietnam, then as founding staff member and COO, and finally as CEO—has been one of the greatest privileges of my life.
Each day, I see evidence in our data and discourse with supporters that Room to Read is in a position of strength and stability as a business and as a leader in the global education sector. We have exceptional programs driving high-quality results and an equally strong bench of talent throughout the organization. It is at this juncture in Room to Read’s upward trajectory that I have made the personal decision to transition out of the CEO role, in early 2018, and pass the baton to the next generation of leadership. I want my legacy as a co-founder and CEO to include a successful leadership transition that supports Room to Read in continuing to break new and unprecedented ground.
Room to Read has always placed a high value on our transparency with our investors and supporters, which is why I am sharing this news with you now - well in advance of a leadership transition. I have thought very hard about this decision and feel that early next year is an opportune time for our next CEO to step into the role, as Room to Read prepares for our next 5- year Global Strategic Plan. After nearly two decades helping to build and lead Room to Read, I am also personally excited to take on new and different challenges in my career.
I have had the distinct pleasure of meeting and getting to know the action-oriented spirit of so many of you over the years, so I know that you will join me in looking toward the future of Room to Read, as the organization continues to innovate and benefit deserving children around the world. The culture we have built is one based on collaboration, continuous learning, accountability, and results, so we can create a world filled with more opportunities through education for all children. Some of the best days of my life have been visiting Room to Read partner schools and seeing all of our hard work come to life. I have many fond memories, including conducting a read aloud of a children’s story book in Siem Reap, Cambodia, where my acting skills were put to the test as a pig and a butterfly, and of sharing in a traditional dance in Bagamoyo, Tanzania as part of a girls’ life skills session. There is nothing more valuable that I can think of than choosing to devote our time and efforts to improving educational outcomes for children.
Our Board of Directors will be embarking on a search for my successor, led by reputable professional services firm Egon Zehnder, in the coming weeks. We will also be looking inward at the talent that has flourished under our own roof. We are committed to identifying a CEO that embodies our organizational values and will be a true leader—in professional skills and visioning— for our 1,400-person strong global team. I personally am committed to assisting with a smooth transition and am excited to remain involved as I proudly transition to Room to Read’s Emeritus Board, providing strategic advice and guidance to this great organization. Our important work will continue uninterrupted.
I wish to thank our dedicated Board of Directors, chaired by Scott Kapnick, who have been supportive of my decision as well as keenly attuned to the needs of the organization in our next CEO. It has been an honor, privilege and inspiration to lead Room to Read into its next phase of growth and work alongside my co-founders and management team, local leadership, worldwide staff, partners and volunteers, global and regional boards, as well as our investors to effect world change. The global movement that is Room to Read is fueled by an intense passion to deliver quality education to children around the world. I am very proud of the accomplishments that we have collectively achieved.
As always, I thank you for your dedication to our mission, which makes Room to Read such a strong force of positive world change!
Co-Founder and CEO, Room to Read
Please direct any inquiries about the search to Jessica Watson at Jessica.Watson@egonzehnder.com