Vicki Phillips to Leave Gates Foundation

Vicki Phillips to Leave Gates Foundation

Vicki Phillips (center right) and Alan Golston (center left) of the Gates Foundation / Gates Foundation

The Gates Foundation's education program is seeing about as much change as, oh, say, the US Department of Education.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Foundation said that Vicki Phillips, who has directed the College-Ready Education program for eight years, will be leaving at the end of this year. Allan C. Golston, president of Gates' US program, will head the College Ready work during the search for her successor. 

Phillips has spent her professional life leading education groups. Before joining the foundation, she was Superintendent of Portland Public Schools in Portland, OR. She also served as the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education and Chief State School Officer, among other posts. Originally from Kentucky, Phillips has also taught middle and high school. 

She led the "reset" of Gates education strategy in 2008, noted Golston in this blog post. Among the accomplishments the Gates Foundation notes were achieved during Phillips' tenure: 

* 42 states have adopted Common Core standards;   

* 33 states have teacher evaluation systems based on the "Measure of Effective Teaching" practices; 

* 25 states are working to ensure that teachers get actionable feedback and professional development based on their evaluations.

“These gains have been hard won by an array of partners that we’ve been privileged to invest in, learn from and work along side,” Phillips wrote in a note to the Gates staff.  

Phillips is reportedly considering two very different options in her life after the Foundation, both of which would involve working closely with students and teachers. 

Golston, who has an MBA from Seattle University, joined the Gates foundation in 1999 as chief financial and administrative officer.  He describes his philosophy about providing educational opportunities for all children in this recent post on Medium. "[This] is not just a time for thinking and talking — it’s a time for action," he writes. "We’ve seen progress and know what is required for continued success, but we cannot do it alone. It’s time to put more of what we know works into the hands of more students and teachers, in more places."  

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