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Encouraging individuals and organizations to think bigger and think differently

Moving on

Last Friday, I stepped down as president of the Bush Foundation.  I have loved my four plus years leading the organization through its transformation. The Foundation's Board has courageously committed the organization to being accountable for making a difference—for producing concrete results—on three of the toughest, and most important issues that face our communities.

Today the Foundation is a unique partner with the 23 Native nations that share the same geographic area as Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota in rebuilding their institutions of nationhood. The Foundation is directly supporting the tribes and their leaders in this self-determined, not Bush-determined, work. Research shows that only through self-determined nation-building can the tribes secure the future vitality of their communities. I know of no other foundation doing this work in this way.

Today the Bush Foundation is fostering the development of 25,000 new, highly effective teachers for our schools. That’s enough new teachers to fill every vacancy for the next 10 years. The evidence that effective teaching matters is compelling. Effective teachers raise the achievement of all students and close the achievement gap. In the Network for Excellence in Teaching (NExT), the Foundation has developed the largest partnership in the nation for transforming teacher preparation. These 25,000 teachers will literally change our schools.

Today the Foundation has in place the tools and technologies to support community-driven solutions to their own problems. Through a combination of leadership development, community engagement and mobilization, and testing of innovative solutions, Bush believes that communities can and will discover their own paths to sustained vitality. Bush Fellowships and its InCommons network offer unique ways for communities to take responsibility for their own futures.

With all that in place, why step aside now? Why not stay and see these great strides bear fruit? I plan to...just not as the organization’s president.

What I am best at, what I love doing, is leading an organization through change, developing powerful strategies for success and building its capacity. That is what the Board asked me to do back in 2007. And that is what I have dedicated myself to every day since.

That part of this organization’s journey is now complete. While I might like to believe that I can do all things well, I know that is not true. I am great at some things but only good at others. I believe there are others who will be better than me at leading the Foundation through the next phase of its journey. To make room for that next leadership, I need to step aside. It’s the right time to change.

For some this will seem sudden. I don’t believe in long goodbyes. If new leadership is going to succeed, old leadership needs to get out of the way so that the people in the organization and its partners can focus on the future and not the past. I know there is pain in change. I am sorry for that. But I would be sorrier if I did not do what I know to be best for the organization and those who will benefit for the difference it will make.

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