Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Celebrating Vicki

October 27, 2015

It’s with sadness but tremendous gratitude that I note Vicki Phillips’ resignation as director of the US Program’s College Ready Strategy. Over eight committed years at the foundation, Vicki used her deep knowledge of education, impressive leadership skills and dogged determination to fuel a powerful transformation for children in our country’s public schools. 

From day one, Vicki led the creation of our College Ready Strategy. After a year of intense research and examination, she and the CR team reset our course in 2008. 

From putting teachers at the heart of our efforts and developing the supports they need to succeed, to raising standards for all students through Common Core State Standards, Vicki has helped to move mountains. One panelist at our recent Education Learning Forum cited the Measures of Effective Teaching research as the most significant research into the field of teacher effectiveness. MET is now helping districts across the nation put into place systems to evaluate teachers – and most importantly - help them improve their practice. 

As Vicki has said so many times, our work is about the relationship between the teacher and student and ensuring teachers have what they need. Proof that we’ve done just that under Vicki’s leadership is in the math and literacy design tools that teachers in Kentucky and Arkansas use every day to engage students in mastering the standards. It’s in the vibrant classrooms in Hillsborough County, Denver, Pittsburgh and Shelby County, where teachers are collaborating to improve their practice. And the proof of this success – and that of our grantees and partners – is in improved graduation rates and increases in college readiness among our nation’s young people.

Please know that our vision for the work remains steady and strong. As Bill said in his speech at the recent Education Learning Forum, we believe “every student deserves high standards. Every student deserves an effective teacher. Every teacher deserves the tools and support to be phenomenal. And all students deserve the opportunity to learn in a way that is tailored to their needs, skills, and interests. This is the combination of advances we are backing that we believe will transform America’s schools—and at the center of it all is an effective teacher.”

On a personal note, it’s been my privilege to work alongside Vicki.  I never cease to be amazed by her energy and passion.  We will miss her but she promises to continue her life’s work to help all teachers and students succeed.  We can’t wait to see what is next! 

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