The College Board, an organization dedicated to expanding educational opportunities for all students, asked Isaacson, Miller to help it find its most recent top leaders-presidents who could engage the country in vital conversation about education equity and excellence, and help the organization deliver on its core mission.
The College Board is a nonprofit, member-led organization dedicated to equity and excellence in education across the K-16 spectrum. Widely known for its assessment programs, the Board's advocacy work is crucial to its core mission.
Showcasing Underserved Students' Capabilities
In 1998, as its presidential search began, the College Board sought ways to influence the transition in college admissions processes that was underway. Admissions leaders across the country were attempting to open their doors to more minority, rural, and urban student populations.
IM founder and chair John Isaacson working closely with the client's search committee members, helped identify the search strategy and the skill set the Board needed to reach its goals. "Candidates needed strong public policy experience in order to advance the Board's overall mission, but they also needed a fundamental understanding of business-the assessment side of the Board's work," says Isaacson.
IM's extensive relationships with leaders in mission-driven organizations yielded a broad range of exceptional candidates, from both traditional and unexpected backgrounds, and allowed the firm to highlight talent that might otherwise have been missed in such a complex search.
IM recruited Gaston Caperton, a twice-elected governor of West Virginia, who had guided the state through a prolonged recession, and whose track record as an education governor impressed the Board.
"He was an unusual candidate and, eventually, president," remembers Isaacson, "but he immediately set out to open the Advanced Placement (AP) system to a much broader swath of students by shifting the focus of the Board from the SATs to the more rigorous demands of the AP regimen of courses and exams." In so doing, and in persuading states to subsidize the associated costs of expanding AP courses to urban, rural, and minority districts, Caperton delivered on one of the core missions of the Board: expanding the equity and excellence of educational opportunities.
An Innovator Steps In
In 2012, after Caperton's long successful tenure as president, the Board called on IM again. This time, Isaacson, aided by IM associate, Pam Pezzoli, explored the Board's concerns about the persistent achievement gap and its hopes of continuing to increase educational equity nationwide.
In developing a pool of exceptional candidates, IM found another unusual visionary: David Coleman, a Rhodes Scholar, and highly successful McKinsey consultant and entrepreneur, was also one of the key architects of the Common Core Standards. Coleman's engagement in educational improvement, especially among low income students of color, stretched back to his days as an undergraduate at Yale and continued throughout his business career.
"His deep commitment to educational excellence, innovation, and fairness resonated deeply with the Board," says Isaacson. Like Caperton, Coleman had the policy experience the Board needed, having worked closely with the National Governors Association and the Chief State School Officers to collaboratively craft and maintain support for the Common Core.
"When you harness that kind of insight about what students actually need to know and be able to do in order to be truly college and career ready, and tie in the business capacity of an organization with the scope of the College Board, " says Isaacson, "there is unprecedented opportunity to improve educational outcomes at scale. The new College Board, under the leadership of David Coleman, is serious about - and capable of - delivering on its mission to advance opportunity for all students."
Coleman became the organization's 9th president and CEO on October 15, 2012. The hire marked IM's 12th closed search for the College Board.