A Word from Edisha: My Elm City Leadership Journey

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My roots and my leadership journey began here in the Elm City. And my leadership has always been about making sure my community is supported and successful.

I was born and raised in New Haven and educated in New Haven Public Schools. My journey in New Haven and NHPS informed much of who I am today. It framed my career and passions, my reason for doing the work, and my commitment to education reform and education in general. As a leader shepherding our work in operations and finance, I have always felt like the programmatic side, the depth of any organization’s impact, is only possible with sound systems and structures that enable it to thrive. The infrastructure acts as a skeleton, stabilizing the function of the organization.

I want any organization that I work with  – and more importantly, the people who rely on the work that we do – to get the benefit of these structures in ways that I did not.

My academic journey began at  New Haven Public Schools, where I graduated in the top 12% of my high school graduating class. My academic experiences were always stable; student of the month, Honor Roll, advanced placement classes, you name it. So, I felt extremely confident and prepared for my college experience at Southern Connecticut State University, in the city I was educated and had called home.  

However, my first year at SCSU was quite humbling. I felt defrauded. It was jarring to see how underprepared I was for my college experience. I had not been set up to succeed. And my freshman year exposed the inequities in the Connecticut education system.

Through prayer, work, and faith I was able to get my footing back sophomore year and boosted my GPA. I joined the Black Student Union, became president of our NAACP chapter on campus, and upon graduation with a degree in business administration, I earned a fellowship with ConnCAN. All the while, I worked a retail banking job where I was on track to becoming a branch manager. But something kept pulling me toward education reform, toward utilizing my gifts in finance and operations to improve the education system that did not prepare me as I needed to be prepared. 

Eventually, I resigned from my full-time job at the bank to take a consulting role at ConnCAN and worked under the Chief Financial Officer. I led in finance operations and H.R. and expanded my consulting portfolio to take on other small nonprofits in need of financial support. During this time, I served as the first finance/ops lead for Booker T. Washington Academy here in New Haven, and served as the first bookkeeper for FaithActs for Education.

I relocated to the DMV– the Washington metro area – and led in finance and operations at organizations including DC Prep, Girls Trek, and the University of the District of Columbia. Finally, I led at Baltimore Corps, where I served as Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Technology and Measurement, overseeing finance, HR, measurement, and evaluation.

Coming back to FaithActs is a full-circle moment for me. I started my non-profit experience working as a consultant for FaithActs, and now, I have acquired all this knowledge in all these places and I get to bring it back to my hometown.

Here, I get to use my finance and operations talents to create and maintain systems and structures that will allow FaithActs – an organization I supported nearly 10 years ago – to grow and thrive for the next 10 years.

Somewhere in my city, there’s a little girl just like the one that I was. And I pray the work we’re doing ensures that when she gets to college, she’s equipped, prepared, and ready to soar, even beyond her wildest dreams.

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