There are a lot of songs about coming to California. Not a whole lot about leaving California.
That’s for good reason. Over the past (gulp) 22 years, I’ve fallen in love with the Bay Area—the beauty of the hills and water, the endless hiking and mountain biking trails nearly out my back door, the mountains and the ocean, the range of people and food and experiences. I’ve long doubted I could ever leave.
Add to that a remarkable group of friends and colleagues (groups I can no longer distinguish), from a decade as a journalist and another in education. Actually, education is a bit of a first love for me; I started my career as a public high school teacher, and since 2002 have worked alongside some great folks passionate about creating better schools for underserved kids, first at KIPP and now at NewSchools Venture Fund.
So what would it take to dislodge me? It starts with Barack Obama.
Even before he was elected in 2008, I fervently believed that Obama would bring desperately needed change, particularly in education. What we’ve seen in the years since has surpassed my hopes, thanks in large part to the vision and savvy of Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Now, with Obama’s reelection, I am honored to have been invited to join Duncan’s communications team.
I begin on Jan. 14, in a role focused on speechwriting, website and social media. I’ll work with an extraordinary team dedicated to communicating President Obama’s and Sec. Duncan’s education agenda and ideas. The role represents an incredible match between the things I love doing, ideas I believe in deeply, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to serve in an administration uniquely dedicated to improving education, especially for America’s most vulnerable children. The experience of leaving my colleagues whom I care about so much, and a home and life here in Oakland that I adore, has made this decision bittersweet. But I can’t pass it up.
Yes, this does mean a big cross-country move, which is already in progress—and being close to Mom in my hometown of DC, closer to niece, sister and brother-in-law in Boston (all excellent developments), but far from the people we love in California. Rachel, as you can read on her blog, will continue to work at KIPP, from the DC office, and has been a phenomenal partner in the move as in all else. To our California friends, we promise to visit soon and often!
Please email me if you want updated contact information.