Whether in his native Georgia or from his St. Louis, Chicago, and Los Angeles experiences, new Achieve Hartford! Chief Engagement Officer Derrick Alan Everett has a straightforward view of what school improvement looks like: Dedicated partners willing to work together to get things done to provide a superior education for all children.


Not too many people have a B.A. in English from Washington University in St. Louis, an M.F.A. in writing from the California Institute of the Arts, and a J.D. in law from Northwestern University, followed by an additional degree in media law and a University of Southern California Annenberg Ph.D.-level fellowship studying social change.  Derrick Everett has all of the above.  So what’s he doing here?


He will be nearer to his family, and nearer to his heart, he told Achieve Hartford! Board of Directors and staff members in a series of rigorous interviews recently.


As it happened, Mr. Everett founded DGTL SQRE in Los Angeles, directing strategic planning for organizations, following a stint directing communications and advocacy for the nonprofit Parent Revolution.


A self-confessed “reformed lawyer,” Chief Engagement Officer Everett has gravitated not only geographically but professionally, moving from a law and art background to work on social justice and school improvement – on which he has found his philosophy to be simpatico with the work of Achieve Hartford!


“I was drawn to the convening and constructive friend roles that Achieve Hartford! has been developing, not just to talk about, but to drive systemic reform,” he said.  He added, “Even as we emphasize accountability for equity among all the public, private, and community entities, we also need to subject ourselves to that same standard.”


“Derrick is well prepared to help our organization set strategy and build key relationships throughout the city and region,” Achieve Hartford! Executive Director Paul Holzer said today.  “Integrating efforts to close the achievement gap will require proven ability to cultivate a sense of ownership across all stakeholders and sectors, measure success, and supervise staff – and Derrick has an impressive background on all of those fronts.


“Strong schools make a strong city; activating the community to take ownership of problem solving is both an art and a science, requiring a wide and deep skill set,” he added.  “Given that he has that – and fits in so well with our small staff – we are delighted to welcome him.”