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Transitioning to STRIVE Prep's next leader

May 13, 2022
By Sully Barrett

These next three weeks will complete my sixteenth year as the Chief Executive Officer of STRIVE Prep.  Of my 22 years in education, these represent the proudest work I’ve done in my life. 

In those years, our work has shifted from leading one or two schools to a period of rapid growth to, now, a time of much more challenging politics and declining enrollment across the district.  All organizations go through life cycles, and STRIVE Prep is at a transition to a new one.  I believe one of the best ways STRIVE Prep can prepare for an exceptional future for our scholars and families is with a leader who will bring fresh, innovative ideas and strategies to the work.

Because of that, I will be stepping away as STRIVE Prep’s CEO at the end of August. The decision to leave the STRIVE Prep community is likely the hardest professional decision I’ll ever make. I love this community more than any other, and working alongside our teachers, staff and our entire community during these 16 years has been some of the most fulfilling work I’ve ever done. Seeing our scholars grow, succeed and thrive has been a huge motivator over these years and will always remain a source of pride for me. Thank you for allowing me to lead. 

While I am stepping away as CEO of STRIVE Prep, I am excited to continue making an impact for scholars and families in charter schools. In late August, I will begin as a deputy director with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, leading the Foundation’s national charter school strategy with an emphasis on supporting students with disabilities and Washington state charters.  

Next week, we will launch a community process to identify the vision for STRIVE Prep and the ideal qualities of our next CEO to help achieve this vision. This process will be done through surveying, focus groups and other feedback from students, families, teachers and staff. STRIVE Prep’s Board of Trustees has appointed a succession committee that will be closely engaged with our community leading this work.

For the candidate selection process, the succession committee will first evaluate internal candidates and local community candidates with a goal to identify the next leader of STRIVE Prep by August 1.  If this process does not lead to a permanent hire, we will appoint an interim CEO by August 1 and re-launch a national search in September. For those interested in being considered for the STRIVE Prep CEO position, the job posting will be available on our website in the next week. 

While change can be difficult, especially after the last two years of constant change,  I have a tremendous amount of confidence in STRIVE Prep. There is a stable leadership team in place, our board is committed and strong, we’ve weathered a pandemic with stronger systems and processes in place, our families continue to have confidence and trust in our service, and our dedicated team of educators remain focused on the growth and success of all STRIVE Prep students. 

Thank you for your continued support of STRIVE Prep and thank you for trusting me in this important role over these last 16 years. I am humbled to have led STRIVE Prep to this point and am excited to help usher in the next leader. New leadership presents an array of new opportunities for our organization in this next chapter of supporting our incredible scholars through achievement, justice, and perseverance.

Cultivate community & connection.

Chris Gibbons

CEO & Founder

Chris Gibbons, STRIVE Prep founder & CEO


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