Strength in Community:

Chief Talent Officer Braintrust

Across the country, teachers and leaders work tirelessly to provide students with an excellent education.

Behind the scenes, often with little fanfare, talent teams build crucial foundations for successful schools by leading efforts to recruit, develop, recognize, reward and retain educators.

The NYC Chief Talent Officer Cohort functions as a collaborative cohort for senior talent leaders
of high-impact school management organizations to share best practices,
problem-solve and leverage community to improve outcomes for students.

Since inception in 2018, the braintrust has met monthly, establishing a valued space to collaborate with others wrestling with with similar obstacles. Hendy facilitators develop agendas and activities that deepen collective understanding of challenges in the field, offering ideas and resources based on research and national best practices, and guiding the group's experience to support talent leaders in our hometown. Past session topics include Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Compensation, Succession Planning, Leadership Development, and Performance Management.

In the face of Covid-19 crisis and uncertainty, the group began meeting weekly, maximizing the value of what has become a tight-knit community and trusted soundboard to tackle new challenges together.

We now look forward to the 2020-2021 school year and continuing to partner with eight incredible leaders navigating unprecedented times. We do so with a shared commitment to the school leaders, teachers, students, and families we collectively serve.

Announcing Our 2020-2021 Cohort:

  • Emilee Christopher, Chief Talent Officer, Public Preparatory Network
  • Lisa Friscia, Chief People Officer, Democracy Prep Public Schools
  • Betsy Goldfarb, Chief Talent Officer, DREAM
  • Kim Kassnove, Chief Talent Officer, Hebrew Public
  • Rachel Modica Russell, Managing Director of Talent, Explore Schools
  • Elaine Perez, Chief Operating Officer, Prospect Schools
  • Talia Shaull, Chief Talent Officer, Achievement First
  • Ross Thomason, Chief People Officer, Coney Island Prep

"I've considered myself so fortunate to be part of the brainstrust from the start of the year — but especially in this moment. Thank you for the warmth, advice, and space + resources to build and get better."

- Rachel Modica-Russell, Explore Schools

of current cohort members would recommend the cohort to another talent leader

agree that the cohort has helped to strengthen their leadership and allowed them to have a greater influence on their networks

agree they have been able to raise the priority level of talent within their CMO such that organization-wide decisions are being made considering best practices in talent and adult management

report they are extremely or very likely to reach out to another cohort member for support when facing a challenging issue

report their experience was extremely or very valuable

Measuring Impact:

Reflecting on Two Years of the Cohort

Program Participation:

  • 2018-2019 cohort: 5 talent leaders
  • 2019-2020 cohort: 6 talent leaders collectively serving more than 15,000 students
  • 2020-2021 cohort: 8 talent leaders collectively serving more than 32,000 students
  • 100% of 2019-2020 cohort members returned for year 3 and we added two new members

Impact on Individuals:

  • 100% of participants agree that the cohort has helped to strengthen their leadership and allowed them to have a greater influence on their networks.
  • Participants named the following program components as most valuable:
    • Building relationships with peers in similar roles
    • Sharing resources and tools
    • Sharing and learning about best practices
    • Problem-solving around specific challenges
    • Supporting each other through the challenges of COVID
    • Getting quick input from the group via email

Impact on Network Talent Practices:

  • 100% of participants agree that they have been able to raise the priority level of talent within their CMO such that organization-wide decisions are being made considering best practices in talent and adult management.
  • Specific talent practices most frequently cited as added or enhanced as a result of their experience in the cohort:
    • Talent team priorities
    • Compensation strategy
    • Response to COVID-19
    • Network DEI practices
    • Talent review

Ross Thomason

CTO Coney Island Prep

"Being part of the CTO cohort experience was incredibly impactful on my leadership. It was really empowering to take ideas away form our cohort sessions and go back to my Leadership Team with thoroughly-vetted, peer-reviewed ideas to offer to whatever challenge it was that we were facing. Having the CTO cohort as a resource really amplified talent work at my school broadly. Particularly for a smaller school, to be able to workshop ideas with other talent leaders is really valuable professional development learning opportunity that is not widely available."

Betsy Goldfarb

CTO DREAM Charter Schools

"The shifts due to COVID could've been an incredibly isolating time, as CTOs navigated so many complicated, unprecedented issues. The CTO group came together even MORE often during this time, and in addition to being able to learn from each other, it was just an amazing sense of community, where we never felt alone."

Lisa Friscia

CTO Democracy Prep

"Learning from and with other talent leaders with such diverse skill sets and experiences has been incredibly valuable, and helped to push my own thinking and creativity in my role. In the ed space- particularly in charters- there are trainings and programs to support school leaders and their coaches, but not a lot of opportunities for those in the talent space to talk."

Kim Kassnove

CTO Hebrew Public Schools

"Leading in a small start up CMO can be particularly challenging because you are creating everything as you go. Relying on the wisdom, proven practice and resources of this group has made decision making and new program implementation infinitely easier. I know that if ever a question arises that I can't answer on my own (which happens all the time), I have a brilliant group of colleagues in the sector who can help me work it through. I have often boasted about being a member of this group to my colleagues, and they've lamented that there isn't a similar cohort for program, operations and communications. This is an incredibly unique opportunity and one for which I am extremely grateful."