News: Ascend Learning Board to add five new directors
Ascend Learning announced today that its Board of Directors will add to its ranks five new directors at its January meeting. These additions represent a significant expansion in the size of the board and in its capacity to steward Ascend’s growth and fulfill its mission of developing a scalable solution to the underachievement of economically disadvantaged children.
The five new directors joining the board in January include:
- Kemi Akinsanya-Rose, chief operating officer at EL Education
- Alex Berzofsky, managing director at Warburg Pincus
- Joe Ferguson, executive in residence at the Charter School Growth Fund and former chief operating officer at Mastery Schools
- Isabel Geathers, Ph.D., education program officer at an NYC-based family foundation and former assistant dean for academic diversity at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
- Ian Rowe, chief executive officer at Public Prep
“We are honored and delighted to welcome Kemi, Alex, Joe, Isabel, and Ian to the Ascend Learning Board of Directors. This dynamic group brings a range of skills and knowledge—from the charter world, academia, and the financial sector—that will deepen our governance capacity while ensuring Ascend’s continued strength and development as a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization. More importantly, these are great and good people who believe in our mission and are truly dedicated to doing what is best for Ascend’s students, families, and extraordinary staff,” said Julia Bator, co-chair of the Ascend Learning Board.
The additions to the board come during a period of change and opportunity for Ascend: Following the departure of founder and longtime CEO Steven F. Wilson in October, Ascend commenced a national search for a permanent CEO and will announce the selection of an interim CEO in early January.
Since its founding in 2007, Ascend has developed and deployed a now-proven educational model, combining a rich and rigorous liberal arts curriculum with a warm and joyful culture, and has operated its schools in custom-built or newly-renovated private spaces. The result of this groundbreaking model has been a dramatic increase in academic proficiency. Over the past four years, Ascend posted gains of 35 percentage points in ELA and 40 points in math and closed the achievement gap by race on New York State’s Common Core exams.
Ascend currently serves 5,500 students in kindergarten through grade 12 in 15 schools in the Central Brooklyn neighborhoods of Brownsville, Bushwick, Canarsie, Cypress Hills, East Flatbush, East New York, and Prospect Lefferts Gardens. Ninety-six percent of Ascend’s students are black or Latinx, and over 80 percent are eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch. To serve as many families as possible, Ascend fills every open seat through grade 9. Ascend schools are committed to the educational success and achievement of all students, regardless of race, economic means, ethnicity, and educates all students regardless of academic ability, special needs, or English language learner status.
We welcome your questions and comments! Email us at ALboard@ascendlearning.org.