The NYC Leadership Academy welcomes Bibb Hubbard, Principal of the Parent Engagement Initiative, to our Board of Directors. Bibb is an accomplished education policy and communications professional whose contributions will be incredibly valuable as NYCLA continues to grow and expand. We recently spent time with Bibb to get to know her better.

Q: What motivated you to join NYCLA’s Board of Directors?

A: I have always felt passionate about ensuring that all students in America have access to a truly great education.  This is especially true for low-income students – all children should have the opportunity to pursue their interests and follow their dreams.  I have fully committed my career to helping make this aspiration a reality in any way that I can.

Throughout my 20+ years in education policy and communications, I have seen time and again, constant reminders of the critical roles that principals play in schools and communities. Without a strong school leader, you can’t have a truly successful school.

As such, I feel privileged to be able to both learn from the highly talented team at NYCLA and contribute to the emerging and groundbreaking work NYCLA is spearheading across the country.

Q: You started your career in politics. What prompted your transition to focus on education?

A: Ever since my childhood when I would help my grandmother in her rural K-2 public school library, I saw the power of books in the lives of young children and the worlds books can open up for all children. Those memories are still so vivid, and they helped ignite my interest in the role policy and politics can play in making sure all students have access to a great education, regardless of their zip code.

It was at the US Department of Labor in the early 1990’s that I was able to apply my passion and interest in education more formally as I began to develop policy expertise in both education and workforce issues, or as we termed it, “lifelong learning.”  During this time, Secretary of Labor Robert Reich placed an emphasis on building the workforce for our modern economy and I was involved in a joint program with the US Department of Education called “School to Work” that encouraged high school students to gain work experience as part of their secondary education, as well as the Department’s efforts to encourage community colleges to play a more significant role in re-training workers.  These efforts led me to a job at Scholastic Corporation, where during my eight year tenure, I had the chance to deepen my experience in education practice, policy and communications.  I also developed important knowledge of the business world’s intersection with education.

Since that time, I have dedicated myself to pursuing education related policy and communications issues.

Q: You recently launched “Learning Heroes: The Parents in Education Engagement Initiative.” Can you tell me more about it – its genesis, vision and goals?

A: Children today learn in an education system that must prepare them for the modern world. This requires setting high expectations for all young people, which has led to changes in how we teach, and in how students learn. And while two plus two will always equal four, and verbs are conjugated as they’ve always been – shifts in how today’s children are taught and tested can feel like uncharted waters to many parents and guardians.

We know parents and guardians are asking important questions: How do I support my child when I don’t even have all the answers? If my child struggles, how do I step in and get them the help they need? How can I understand what’s happening in the classroom, and how it affects my daughter or son?

The Parents in Education Engagement Initiative works to be there for the parents who clear dinner and then help their children with homework at the kitchen table. We’re a guide to help parents and guardians play an active role in their child’s education.

We’re here to answer their questions about whether the new state test is any better than the old state test, and about why their children are taking state tests in the first place. We’re here if they want to talk about their children’s homework and assignments, but aren’t sure how to have that conversation with the teacher. We’re here for the parents or guardians who don’t know the first thing about data privacy law, but who are determined to do everything they can to make sure their children’s personal information isn’t compromised.

We’re a curator, putting the most credible, user-friendly resources at the fingertips of parents and guardians to inform their understanding of the changes happening in education today. We’re a listener, that hears parents’ and guardians’ questions and goes out to find the answers. We’re a partner in parents’ and guardians’ mission to help their child do well in school and in life.

Q: You’ve held a variety of roles throughout your career – from education policy to communications to nonprofit leadership. Tell me about one accomplishment that you are most proud of.

A: My professional goals have always sought to support Americans to follow their dreams and to be successful. In that pursuit, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be involved in many amazing efforts that have helped create greater opportunity for people across this country, especially those most in need, so it is really hard to choose just one!

There is one that stands out to me, though.  I am incredibly honored to have had the chance to help design and execute the President’s Summit on America’s Future in Philadelphia (1997).  This catalyzed a bipartisan movement that continues today.  Attended by Presidents Clinton, Bush, Carter and Ford (with Nancy Reagan representing President Reagan), and chaired by Retired General Colin Powell, the gathering challenged America to make children and youth a top national priority. Together, they signed a Declaration that served as the guiding force for the movement they started; work continuing to this day through the America’s Promise Alliance.  In 2017, America’s Promise will celebrate 20 years of helping strengthen communities across the country.

Q: What do you do when you are not working to improve outcomes in education?

A: Outside of work, I prioritize family time with my husband, Stephen, two amazing sons, Campbell, 13 and Preston, 10, and our sweet dog, Dixie.  Most free moments we have, we find ourselves at one of our sons’ many Little League baseball games.

My sons, in particular, keep me grounded and remind me daily why this work is so important and urgent.