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One of Teach For America's Top Executives Is Stepping Down


Guest post by Ross Brenneman

Two years ago, Teach For America decided to appoint co-chief executive officers to run the organization. That experiment is now set to end: Like with the Highlander, there can be only one.

Matthew Kramer, appointed co-CEO in 2013, announced Wednesday afternoon that he plans to leave TFA toward the end of the year, after a transition process. His counterpart, Elisa Villanueva Beard, will become the sole person in that position.

Kramer first became acquainted with TFA in 1998, when his then-fiancé became a teacher in New York City. After several years with the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, Kramer was hired as TFA's chief program officer, before becoming president in 2007. Beard also started as a TFA teacher in 1998, before becoming a staff member in 2001; in 2005, she became chief operating officer.

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Kramer gave indication that the co-CEO system has become less tenable:

'It's been a privilege to lead alongside Elisa and our partnership has produced many benefits, but co-leadership comes with real costs too—we spend a lot of time maintaining alignment, and we often speak in a voice that reflects our daily compromises. Ultimately we determined that Teach For America will be best served in the period ahead by a single CEOwho can act more decisively, speak more authentically, and evolve more rapidly.'

In an email, the company's vice president for communications, Takirra Winfield, insisted that the transition is about what will allow TFA to best pursue its strategic plan for the future, and was unrelated to recruitment challenges or negative press.

Image: Matthew Kramer, left, and Elisa Villanueva Beard of Teach For America. Credit: TFA

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