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Alumni Feature: Caitlin Richard ’13

Featured in Becoming Magazine, Spring 2020

Sometimes someone with an independent school education has just the right perspective to help a public school system get back on track.

Caitlin Richard ’13 understands, from her Harley School days, that strong relationships with students and faculty, along with robust instruction, are the keys to the success of any school. During transformative History classes with teachers Kristin Sheradin and Bill Schara she learned about human rights, dissent, and social justice. These classes gave her an in-depth understanding of human experience and ignited an interest in how to make society better. Most importantly for her, she learned economics was the driving factor tying all of these strands together.

She pursued this passion at Brown University where she studied economics and education. As a former volunteer for the Horizons at Harley program, she was thrilled to participate in a research study about the effectiveness of the Horizons National program. After graduating with a B.A. in Economics, and a concentration in quantitative analysis and social policy, she started work at Education Resource Strategies, a “national nonprofit that partners with district, school, and state leaders to transform how they use resources (people, time, and money) to create strategic school systems.”

Currently assigned to the Tulsa School Innovation and Design Team, Caitlin will be working in Tulsa for eight months using her quantitative expertise and knowledge of education to collaborate with the staff of the high-need and underfunded Tulsa Public School district. Her job is to help build the capacity of district office staff to support 80 school leaders as they make strategic resource use decisions.

The district suffers from a $20 million deficit. With little government support and declining revenue and enrollment, the team needs to look at the research data they have collected and compiled and see what changes need to be made fiscally. Caitlin is working with the superintendent and staff to determine the priorities that will be the most effective and the potential reduction opportunities that will not take away the educational integrity of the district or negatively affect the students. She has been there two months, and they have a proposal to close the gap on the deficit after analyzing the costs, outcomes, and issues. A board meeting regarding the proposal is set to happen soon.

She says the work is difficult, but she is doing exactly what she should be doing because she is making an impact. Making an impact, indeed.

Caitlin’s mom, Irene Richard, passed along an email from the CEO of Caitlin’s company that confirms it: “Your session was terrific yesterday … I know it’s been crazy doing this work and supporting the deficit work at once…I hope you recognize just how amazing the contribution you are making is and the degree to which the team looks to you…the federal programs team made a point of sharing with me how much you changed their lives and supported transformation in the district … Proud of you!”