Update: Announcement from our Board Chair, naming Ed Honowitz at Interim CEO



11/5/21 Letter from outgoing CEO:

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I write today to inform you of my departure from the CDE Foundation on November 17th, after more than seven and a half years as a member of this extraordinary team. It has been an honor to contribute to many cycles of growth and evolution of the Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation. We started small, committed to providing an opportunity incubator for CDE initiatives, and our progress has been remarkable. My own professional arc maps similarly: I entered the CDE Foundation as an Education Pioneers graduate student summer fellow in 2014 and will depart as its CEO. Along the way, scores of you shared your wisdom, support, expertise – even humor. The leader I am today is in many ways thanks to the collaborative generosity of our incredible community.

Created a decade ago, the CDE Foundation is a unique organization gifted with wonderful peers. Working with SSPI Tony Thurmond and Chief Deputy Mary Nicely, and our colleagues at the California Department of Education, we seek ways to catalyze billions of dollars in public and private investment: the COVID-19 Bridging the Digital Divide Fund, our joint effort with the Governor’s Office, State Board of Education, and CDE, raised $18.4 million in under a year for distance learning resources; the coalition-guided Labor Management Initiative ignites trust-based collaborative problem-solving with an equity lens; and whether through STEAM, the CA Teacher Residency Lab, early education (DIAL EE), or other pursuits, the CDE Foundation has developed a reputation for innovative and effective partnerships grounded in strategic approaches to systems and policy improvement. I am thrilled to witness even more excellence from the CDE Foundation Board and staff in the years to come – and I know that much of it will be accomplished hand in hand with you. I have no doubt that the CDE Foundation will continue to thrive and grow in its instrumental contributions to California’s public education landscape.

It has been my pleasure to serve in this role, and I am grateful to you all for your partnership and support. I feel a special gratitude to the CDE Foundation team – unparalleled colleagues and friends – and consultants who may as well be family. Thank you to the CDE Foundation Board of Directors for giving me this opportunity and being brilliant collaborators. Thank you SSPI Thurmond and the entire CDE team, our longtime teammates for inspiring servant leadership.Thank you also to the visionary funders who understand the promise of a small innovation shop incubating big ideas for 6.2 million California students. And thank you, Shelly Masur, for welcoming me to the starting block.

The CDE Foundation Board will soon share information on the transition timeline, including interim leadership and the CEO search process. Please feel free to keep in touch by contacting me at my personal email. I look forward to seeing you all in person at the 10th anniversary of the CA STEAM Symposium in Anaheim in early October 2022 – this time save me a seat in the audience!


Jessica Howard