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ASCD's Deborah Delisle to Depart in 2019

Deborah Delisle, the CEO and executive director of ASCD, has resigned, marking the latest change for the 75-year-old organization, which has struggled with membership loss and finances over the past decade.

The Alexandria, Va. -based ASCD is a top sponsor of conferences, provider of teacher professional development, and educational publisher.  

Delisle, previously the assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education at the U.S. Department of Education, took the reins of the organization in 2015. Her last day will be Jan. 4. Ronn Nozoe, the organization's associate executive director, will serve as its interim CEO and executive director.

The reasons for Delisle's departure were unclear; organization officials would not elaborate on her resignation, nor on a timeline for finding a replacement. Delisle did not return an interview request.

In a letter she sent to staff, Delisle took credit for "transitioning ASCD onto a stronger financial footing," citing a balanced budget she presented this year to the board and the launch of several new products, including a subscription-based online PD portal, Activate.

ASCD has struggled financially for the better part of this decade amid a serious membership slide. In 2017, it ended the year with 114,400 members, down from about 150,000 at the end of 2011. According to its annual reports reports, the organization has also spent more than it took in during each of the last six calendar years; in 2017, it ended the year with a $3.4 million loss, though this was less than the declines in the prior two years of Delisle's tenure. Federal disclosure reports required of nonprofits, called 990s, confirm this pattern, though they are on a slightly different timetable.

Leslie Grant, the ASCD president and chair of the board of directors, said the organization is on "a more positive financial trend," thanks in part ot a successful conference earlier in March. "We've seen important growth all around over the last three and half years," she said.

Delisle's tenure was marked by a fair amount of staffing changes. She presided over several waves of layoffs at ASCD, including, in 2017, its chief operating officer, manager of publications, and manager of conferences. By mid-2017 it had 218 employees down from 253 four years earlier, according to the 990s.

ASCD's financials also reflect a more general pattern among longstanding education membership associations. The National School Boards Association, for example, has also lost staff and experienced several years in the red this decade, according to its 2014 and 2015 990s.

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