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Dear community,

I hope your 2024 is off to a great start! After a well-deserved holiday break, the EcoRise team is back in action, creating teacher professional development workshops, hosting Youth Climate Council convenings, and preparing for a busy Student Innovation Showcase season starting in May (stay tuned in the months ahead for more). As we kick off a new year here at EcoRise, I am excited to share that our Board of Directors has approved the EcoRise Leadership Team’s recommendation to move to a Co-Executive Director leadership structure and appoint Abby Randall, our Deputy Director, to work alongside me, as Co-Executive Director! Over the last six months, our Board led an exploratory process to inform this decision. We read case studies and interviewed executives to see shared leadership in action. We conducted listening sessions with our colleagues, collected feedback, and uncovered blind spots. This new leadership structure will bring more perspectives to organizational decision-making, increase leadership capacity, facilitate new growth opportunities, create shared responsibility for the organization’s health and sustainability, and help us continue to be more inclusive and equitable.

I’ve had the opportunity to lead EcoRise as our Executive Director for the past five years. I couldn’t be more excited to learn and grow alongside Abby and the rest of the team in this next iteration of our organizational journey. Abby is a true servant leader who is passionate about the EcoRise mission, cares deeply about our staff and stakeholder communities, and boldly pushes our organization forward. Her list of accomplishments since joining the team in 2016 is far too long for this letter, but I’ll share a few highlights. Abby led the school program team to expand our work nationally, secured major federal grant funding, and became a nationally recognized leader in the environmental education movement. She initiated our DEIJ work, has been formative in building our phenomenal team today, and has led our curriculum team to publish curricula focused on climate resilience and environmental justice.

In this new model, I will continue to oversee our development, operations, and finance teams, while Abby will oversee our programs, people and culture, and technology teams. We will both report to the Board of Directors and co-lead the Leadership Team. I am grateful to our Board for undertaking a thorough exploratory process that helped us develop frameworks to delineate roles and responsibilities, make decisions, and manage potential conflict. Abby and I recognize this work is ongoing. We are excited to learn and grow through it with the support of a leadership coach, board, and staff.

With that said—drumroll, please—I am thrilled to introduce you to our new Co-Executive Director, Abby Randall!

Dear community,

Almost a decade ago, EcoRise resources transformed my middle school science classroom in Austin, Texas, into a learning lab filled with curiosity, innovation, and action. That year, my students conducted every Eco-Audit that the Sustainable Intelligence curriculum had to offer; they monitored outdoor air quality, surveyed teachers about how they utilize outdoor spaces, and weighed food waste in the cafeteria. They were awarded over $3,000 in grant funds to bring their innovative green ideas to life, and they beamed when they showcased their projects at Austin City Hall. It was the proudest and most fulfilling moment of my teaching career. So I jumped at the opportunity to join the EcoRise team and bring these resources to classrooms across Texas and beyond.

From EcoRise Teacher of the Year in 2015 to Texas Program Manager to Deputy Director, I am grateful for the variety of opportunities I’ve had to serve teachers and students across the U.S. I feel most alive when facilitating teacher professional development that has the possibility to transform classrooms, like mine, into inspiring spaces where students are changing the world. I have adapted this passion into designing and facilitating learning experiences for our staff and Board. Co-leading EcoRise’s equity and inclusion work has been a highlight for me, helping to change how EcoRise approaches every aspect of our work. We’ve reimagined our curriculum through a justice lens, revised our hiring policies and our approach to work/life balance, and leaned into uncomfortable conversations with key stakeholders to advance equity across the field of environmental education.

As the next step in my professional journey, I am honored to join Jon as Co-Executive Director and excited for all the possibilities that shared leadership will bring, for myself, our organization, and our movement. One of EcoRise’s core values is striving to be Leading Edge. By joining other innovative organizations on this shared leadership journey, we are pushing the boundaries and redefining what’s possible for our organization. Having two leaders at the helm is undoubtedly better than one. With two different perspectives, two unique sets of strengths, and two diverging networks, we can more effectively secure resources, execute our Vision 2025, and more intentionally serve our stakeholders and team.

Together, #WeRise!
Abby Randall & Jonathan Stott
EcoRise, Co-Executive Directors