For a decade, GO Public Schools has been a much-needed voice of hope and educational justice in public schools in Oakland. We have accomplished a lot together, from helping bring hundreds of millions of more dollars into our public schools via ballot measures to building educator leadership and advocating for students-focused policies for our community.
As we look forward to the work ahead, I wanted to tell you about some staff changes. Jessica Eastman Stewart, who has been involved in GO’s work in Oakland since we started nearly 10 years ago, is stepping into the role of Executive Director in our Oakland office. Jessica takes the reins from Ash Solar, who will remain with GO but who is moving to Davis to be closer to family after he and Sara welcomed their first child, Ada Marie, a few months ago. View the video linked below to hear more from Ash and Jess on this transition. Marc Tafolla, our long time policy director, will also be transitioning out of his role, and committing his time to his growing family and nonprofit consulting.
We believe that our Oakland work must be led by an Oaklander, and Jessica is prepared to step in and make an immediate impact: she is a former OUSD teacher, former Alameda County Math Teacher of the Year, an Oakland parent, and longtime advocate who will focus her considerable energy and passion for educational equity on the city where she has built her life with her family.
Gloria Lee, a GO board member and Oakland parent, shared, “Since Day One, Jess has been GO’s secret weapon: an insightful and immensely capable get-things-done leader who is deeply passionate about better schools for all children from all backgrounds.”
Brian Stanley, also from the GO board and an Oakland parent, wants you to know: “Jessica is a remarkable leader who has been a force advocating for children in this city for over a decade. I’m excited she said yes to this leadership role in our city and I cannot wait to see how she leads GO into its next phase.”
We are grateful to Ash for his tireless efforts on behalf of Oakland students. In the last few years, under Ash’s leadership, GO Oakland has launched our Budgeting for Impact and 1Oakland campaigns, supported two promising entrepreneurs-in-residence who have launched The Oakland Reach, a parent advocacy organization, and Energy Convertors, a student advocacy organization, as well as a membership model to further strengthen our network of community leaders in service of all students.
Our goals and work in service of all students are clearer than ever and we’re excited that Ash will continue to be a part of the GO team and the work ahead.
Marc Tafolla, our longtime Policy Director, is transitioning out of his role after seven years at GO. Marc has been a critical member of the GO team, and we are grateful for his contributions to our work, including launching our Teacher Policy Fellowship, now in its fifth cohort, helping to author 2014’s Measure N to bring $120 million to support college prep, career pathways in Oakland’s secondary schools, managing multiple independent research studies about Oakland schools to help inform decisions across the city, and much more that you can read about in this blog. Marc just welcomed a second child–Malcolm–and is looking forward to spending more time with his family while consulting with area non-profits and staying involved in Oakland.
Mirella Rangel, Oakland parent and longtime GO Director of Community Organizing, said it best: “Ash Solar and Marc Tafolla have led our team to find our niche, one that is unapologetically focused on practical and long-term solutions to Oakland’s complex education challenges. We have learned to live and breathe a student-focused approach in an environment of dogmatic struggles.”
The Work Ahead
We’re incredibly grateful for the contributions made to date by Marc and Ash, and also excited about the work ahead. The 1Oakland campaign is building momentum for an exceptional, equitable, and sustainable education system that reflects our commitment to all Oakland students across district-run and public charter schools. This November, Oakland will elect three members to our school board and we will need your input on which candidates the GO community should support.
Thanks to each of you for your support of GO’s work and the great team taking us into the next phase of our journey. I’ll let Jess and Ash tell you more about this leadership transition: