With Oct 31st being her last day, Nyesha McCauley spent a little over 7 years of her professional life with all of us here at Achieve Hartford. From old staff to new staff, from old board members to new board members, and from old partners to new partners, everyone speaks of Nyesha as one of the most good-natured and committed advocates for Hartford kids, families and the city itself.

But this short story isn’t about what everything thinks of Nyesha; it’s about what I as the Executive Director for the past 10 years owe to Nyesha. For the past decade, my organization has had to adapt to the changing conditions in the city’s education landscape and continually find ways to add value on behalf of the intense and urgent needs of Hartford children. Sometimes, that meant being the school district’s “critical friend,” while other times it meant acting as an incubator of new community programs, or a think tank, or neutral convener, or a coalition-builder, and the list or roles goes on. The only way I could have ever pivoted the organization to play those roles, was by having Nyesha on staff.

Nyesha not only facilitated all the different methods for communicating to such different audiences over the years – from tv shows, to events, to letters, to community trainings, to Get Out the Vote campaigns, to social media, to publications, etc. – but she also helped the organization find its voice each and every time we made a pivot. Even in our most recent pivot, almost two years ago, when we decided to apply the tenets of community organizing to our work recruiting and supporting individual leaders throughout the private sector, Nyesha was there to help us communicate who we are, what we do, and make it look beautiful both in print and online.

Reflecting on this, I realize that perhaps even greater than her talent in the diverse technical world of communications, is her talent in adaptability. She has risen to whatever the challenge and has always found the unique angle and message, and always delivered on time. Add to this her warm and positive demeanor, with a deep sense of urgency and justice for those who need it most, and you get an incredible human being.

Nyesha, you were at Hartford Public Access TV for 10 years, then Achieve Hartford for 7 years, and now you’re looking to launch your own venture helping community members who want to solve problems find their solution, find their strategies, find their voice, and find their potential. I can’t think of anyone better to take on that much-needed role in our city, and on behalf of the entire board and staff, we wish you nothing but the best of luck, and are always here for you. For the 7+ years of amazing work, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

If you’d like to thank Nyesha, or wish her the best, or just keep in touch, you can reach her at her personal email: [email protected].  She’s always right here, in Hartford, somehow making us all feel right at home.