Well hello there, Raven Greenaway speaking, the newest contributor to Nora Lee & DC. Originally from the city that never sleeps (New York City duh), I came to D.C. to start my career in journalism. I’m here to tell you the stories of the people and events that keep the city rolling and help some fellow millennials keep their eyes on the prize.
This week I had the pleasure of interviewing a Superhero that wears more than just capes.
Jeanne Allen, the wearer of many hats, CEO, President, Mom, and lover of Italian Reds. Allen founded The Center for Education Reform back in 1993 after data showed a decline in what our children knew and were able to do. Today she wants to dissolve school districts and create schools run by educators, parents, and citizens. In her system schools would be chosen based on the best match for the child not on income or location.
Currently Nora Lee is assisting Allen on her latest project “Why America?” with the DC Charter schools. The project is working to build the three C’s amongst students, Allen says, “Content, Character and Choice”. Through the introduction of students to figures like Alexander Hamilton the project hopes to provide content that reflects character, in hopes to influence positive choices in society. The next event in this project will be January 23rd at Anderson House.
Like many of the greats we read about Allen’s career was sparked by a serendipitous stroke of events. She was introduced to education on accident–which led her to be recruited for the Department of Education. She obtained a high level role in comparison to her age. Neither her age nor her gender stopped her; early in life she learned people didn’t know the difference if you didn’t help them see it. “I actually felt like they had to adjust” she remarked.
Jeanne Allen has accomplished many things throughout her career. The Huffington Post discusses her accolades ranging from serving on numerous boards, stirring up the efforts for education reform with her bookThe School Reform Handbook: How to Improve Your Schools and being a trusted advisor to policymakers and governing officials.
It’s no wonder she’s accomplished so much. She lives by mantras that would keep any working girl on her toes. “You never give someone who’s not busy something to do because you don’t see them as capable of doing it,”she said. When I asked her does she ever get overwhelmed, “Life is too short to be worried about being overwhelmed,” she joked.
In our short conversation walking throughout the historical Willard I learned exactly why Jeanne Allen is a #WomantoWatch. Learn a set of skills, build on your knowledge, know your stuff and don’t forget your tough skin at home.There you go millennials the key ingredients to Jeanne Allen’s secret sauce.
Photos by Brady Gaskin