Session 4 - “Stand Up and Lead” - Wendy Kopp

Spkr_wKopp_lg Wendy Kopp is the founder and CEO of Teach for America, a nonprofit organization that recruits the nation's most promising college graduates to teach in America's most distressed urban and rural communities. Kopp's long-term goal—to build a force of civic leaders with the insight and credibility to make fundamental changes in all sectors—exists to provide every child with an equal chance in life. This leadership vision was recognized by U.S. News & World Report when Kopp was named one of "America's Best Leaders."

This session was carried out in an interview format:

  • Easy to ask for sacrifice from others when you really believe in the cause.
  • Her greatest asset when she started was that she had no idea how impossible it was.
  • Have to build an organization to support the vision. She willed herself into becoming a leader and manager. Became obsessed with becoming a well-managed organization.
  • Insanely aggressive recruitment but very selective in applicants (more leader types than teacher types). Greatest need in under-resourced areas is leadership. Need leaders in the community, not just teachers.
  • Convinced the problems in low income schools are fixable because not families or low motivation from poverty but teacher quality, principal quality and expectations for kids.There are schools where because of the teachers and leaders they buck all the trends.
  • Because it’s a solvable problem it is a moral imperative.
  • Encourage your young leaders to just give two years to Teach for America. Half who do it say their faith motivated them to do it.