Dear Students, Staff, Parents, Alumni, Supporters, and Community Partners:
I write you today with an important announcement. Late last week, I received news from Carrie Brennan, our longtime organizational leader and one of our co-founders, that she will be stepping down from her current post in June 2019. I want to share important information about our next steps as we prepare for a leadership transition.
*Carrie shares more details of her news with you below
On behalf of the Board, present and past, I want to express our appreciation for Carrie’s extraordinary contributions to what has become one of Arizona’s leading progressive educational programs for high school and middle school students. Carrie spent a year in 2003-04, with the support of co-founders Eve Rifkin and Brett Goble, doing the demanding work to create City High School. As the founding principal, she grew the school to an enrollment of nearly 200 students, established its comprehensive programming, and purchased the two buildings that comprise the downtown campus. It was also under Carrie’s leadership that what was City High School transformed itself into CITY Center for Collaborative Learning after she navigated a complex and successful merger with the extraordinary Paulo Freire Freedom Schools, co-founded by Santo Nicotera and JoAnn Groh.
The strength and stability of CITY Center – its schools, particularly – suggests that the impact of Carrie’s leadership will last generations, and that thousands of young people will see their lives transformed by what Carrie and her co-founders have done. I know that you will join me in the coming months to share our gratitude with her.
The CITY board now turns to the important work of seeking a successor to Carrie, a project we will treat with utmost importance. Selecting, supporting, and evaluating the Executive Director is the most important task of a nonprofit board, and after speaking with each of our board members in recent days, it is clear to me that we all understand this responsibility.
The CITY board’s Executive Committee – Vice Chair Theresa Mary Fischer, Treasurer Glen Warner, and I – have begun the work of mapping out next steps. The three of us along with former board chair Mary Jo Ghory and new board member Gina Catalano, an expert consultant in organizational transitions, will serve as a team that leads the transition process.
This transition team recognizes the critical importance of seeking first to understand, and we will work to structure and implement a process that includes multiple opportunities for our key constituencies to provide input in a variety of ways. Please expect additional information in the coming weeks regarding the search process, timeline, and opportunities for input.
In the meantime, I invite you to send me your thoughts and suggestions, both for how we can best demonstrate our appreciation to Carrie and how we can best secure the strongest possible continuation of her work.
Jonathan Martin, Chair, CITY Center for Collaborative Learning
At the end of this school year, I will join ranks with the class of 2019 and head out for my next adventure. I have accepted a leadership position at Thetford Academy in Thetford, Vermont, that begins in July. It won’t be easy to leave this organization I have called home for 16 years and say goodbye to the wonderful community and schools we have created together.
I love my job and our work together and had no plans to leave Tucson or CITY; however, this is a unique opportunity for my family and me that I couldn’t let pass by. My connection to Thetford Academy dates back to the earliest years of my career. I visited the school as an undergrad, my husband student taught there, and a mentor/friend served as the Head from 1991-2010.
I am confident that the organization is in good hands to lead us through this transition period and into the future. We are fortunate to have strong leadership – at both the board and staff levels – to ensure an effective transition. I will work closely with them in coming months to do my part in setting up a smooth passing of the baton, and I am grateful for the extra effort this will require of all involved.
Change is exciting – and yet so bittersweet too.
My commitment to CITY for almost two decades has been the most important chapter of my professional life. I am so proud of our work together and what we have accomplished – and so proud of all that we do for kids every day. I have learned so much about being a teacher, leader, and mentor from all of you.