By Andy Greenawalt, Board Chair, Austin Achieve
In 2011 the founding board of Austin Achieve consisted of just four people. Since then, we’ve grown to as many as 14. Just as John Armbrust, our founder and CEO’s role has changed a lot through the past 8+ years of development and growth, so has ours. Just as John has had to develop new capabilities, so have we. We started with a keen focus on finance and fundraising. As we grew, we found ourselves acquiring real estate and building facilities. And while we kept a close eye on results, we did our best to let John develop and administer the academic plan.
We’ve been fortunate to have John’s vision and passion as the driving force behind the school. We view our role as enablers to help him and his team to execute the school’s mission. In order to do that we’ve not only had to grow in numbers, but also be very intentional about the capabilities and demographics of the members we’ve added - acquiring finance, fund raising, real estate, education, and leadership capabilities as they were needed. We’ve worked hard to continually improve the effectiveness of our governance processes, including implementing recommendations from two consulting engagements focused on board performance and administering annual board self-assessment surveys. Some of the consulting recommendations were to:
As board chair, I’ve worked closely with John to help him build consensus around all major decisions and advise him on some of the leadership challenges inherent to building a 200+ person organization. In this, our ninth year of operation, we’re serving nearly 2,000 scholars spanning pre-k through 12th grade. During our nine years, we’ve learned many lessons - here are a few I’d like to share:
This year, we’re working with John on a new strategic plan to refine our mission and determine the best path forward from here. While we experience the normal amount of push and pull between a board and CEO, we still view our primary role as enablers for the fulfillment of the mission of our school – one that John founded, but in which we are full partners.