Jan 2012

Speaking Up

Tamra is an alumna of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship (Class I) and the Current Project Director of the new Ramah in the Rockies.  Tamra can be reached at tdollin@ramahrockies.org

The day school’s board of directors was seated around a large dining room table at the home of one of the school’s founders and major donors.  The young school was at a precipice, not yet having reached a sustainable size, and needing to move from start-up venture to the next stage.  Founding directors were tired, and out of ideas.  I was a relatively new board member.  The major donor posed a critical question to the board:  “If I were to give you one million dollars right now, what would you do with it?” 

Silence.  No one said a word.  I remember thinking, “How is it that no one around this table, the leadership of this school, has even a thought of what the school needs or what the next step is to take?” 

I decided to speak up.  I said, “I have an idea”, and proceeded to outline what I thought would be a thoughtful way to spend the money.  The next thing I knew I was elected President of the school board.  The next several years were a whirlwind of activity.  Using my energy, skills, motivation and vision, I oversaw efforts to reorganize the board, bring on new leaders, separate the roles of lay people from that of the education professionals, balance the budget, pay outstanding bills, put noncompliant parents on affordable tuition payment schedules, met an $800,000 endowment challenge and gained a major operating grant for the school to develop organizational infrastructure.  My actions helped moved the school from a struggling start-up venture to a more mature and stable organization that today is thriving as a lower school, and has just added a brand new innovative high school program.