We asked Annabel to share some information about her personal and professional background, and her initial thoughts about ASA and its mission.
Q: What part of your background will most benefit you and ASA in your new role?
A: My experience engaging with a variety of organizations and state government around digital innovation in Massachusetts has really prepared me for this position. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with some of the most ground-breaking organizations nationally who are thinking about the future of work and projected skills gaps, and specifically what career pathways, credentials (degree, micro-credentials and non-degree) and opportunities are needed to prepare young people for productive and engaging work lives.
For more than 15 years I worked with a very large learning company (Pearson) involved in direct education as well as delivering learning at scale through courseware. This gave me unique exposure to K-12, higher education and corporate learning in the US. I’ve also had deep experience working with large, complex organizations, helping to simplify and bring structure and systems to drive scale and impact.
The variety of perspectives I have had, both as a consultant and at Pearson, is going to be very helpful in my role at ASA. I have worked in and around all life stages of the education ecosystem, and I’ve gained an understanding of how the systems connect (or don’t) to each other.
Q: Is there a story or experience you can share that helps you connect with ASA’s mission on a personal level?
A: I have spent the last few years working with organizations focused on helping adult learners complete post-secondary credentials, many of whom are returning learners for whom college was not a linear or easy path. In addition to academic challenges, many of those students have significant social and emotional challenges to overcome as returners to post-secondary education. I’ve seen first-hand the challenges these adults face because they didn’t receive interventions and assistance when they were younger.
We have an exciting opportunity at ASA to help students as early as middle school become thoughtful and planful learners through a journey of engaging and exploring. We can help young people find excitement and relevance in their school work and an ability to connect it to the promise of a future career.
I volunteer as an after-school math coach for middle schoolers in Cambridge Public Schools. Most exciting about this experience is seeing them connect their pre-algebra work to a math pathway that will open up opportunities in fields like the sciences. For example, my daughter’s ambition is to be a biopharmaceutical researcher, and her interest in middle school math has increased considerably with this realization. Connecting learning to the real-world is transformative in getting kids engaged, excited and motivated to excel in school, helping them see the potential career pathway it may lead them down.
Q: You’ve only been on the job a couple of weeks, but what are your initial impressions of ASA?
A: I feel incredibly fortunate to have found a group of smart, passionate, and mission-oriented colleagues with whom I can partner. As a team, we are well-positioned to deliver in creative, effective and scalable ways against ASA’s mission to help students know themselves, know their options, and make informed choices to achieve their education and career goals.