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New ISTE CEO: It’s time to partner up
Brian Lewis says he’s not an ed-tech guru, but an ‘entrepreneurial education nonprofit leader’
Strong leadership to guide policy, and a voice to speak for education stakeholders nationwide, are essential to discussions about school reform, according to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)—and this fall, ISTE will turn to a new leader for these in Brian Lewis.
Lewis, who will take over as CEO of the ed-tech advocacy group for long-time CEO Don Knezek in September, has a 25-year career in both the public and private sectors as an association leader for a number of nonprofit organizations, an education advocate and reformer, and an elected school board member.
“[ISTE’s] unique work spans the entire education landscape, touching everyone who cares about, works in, or volunteers in education,” said Lewis in an interview with eSchool News. “Most importantly, ISTE is focused on the right thing: serving students. Because of all this, ISTE is well poised for its next chapter. That’s very attractive to a lifelong education advocate like me.”
ISTE board president Holly Jobe told eSchool News that the organization wanted a CEO with association experience, who knew education, and who was an “entrepreneurial visionary and strategic leader.”
Because ISTE is currently transitioning to a new strategic plan that will drive the organization’s work, the board also wanted a leader who had business acumen, who was collaborative, and who could lead the organization “to the next level,” she said.
Lewis said that as the organization transitions to the future, its board of directors has set a number of goals, including an introspective look at governance, how it advocates, how it listens to and communicates with members and stakeholders, and how it partners with other organizations.
“I’ll be working to position the organization for the future it sees for itself,” said Lewis.
Part of that future, he said, involves finding other organizations with similar mission objectives, while keeping the focus (resources, volunteerism, staff, and money) on students.
“The need to … work collaboratively to achieve common goals couldn’t be more pronounced,” said Lewis. “We’re living in a new world where education nonprofits know they can’t do it alone. So we have to ask our fellow organizations and ourselves how we can collectively be wiser, thriftier, and more strategic in how we fulfill our unique, but aligned, commitments to students.”
ISTE’s board is currently focused on best practices in nonprofit governance, and Lewis says this is noteworthy because pursuing these changes in nonprofits is difficult, often controversial work.