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Valerie Sakimura named next executive director of Deans for Impact

Austin, TX – Deans for Impact, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring every child has a well-prepared teacher, today announced that it has named Valerie Sakimura as its next executive director. Sakimura will step into the role October 2022, succeeding Benjamin Riley, founder and executive director, who announced his intent to step down in April 2022 after leading Deans for Impact (DFI) for eight years.

“Deans for Impact was founded by a group of individuals, including several education deans, based on the idea that we needed better ways to identify the impact we are having on teachers as they complete their preparation programs as well as creating opportunities for teacher education leaders and faculty to positively improve their impact,” said David Chard, DFI Board Chair. “Benjamin Riley built a team that has certainly done this and much more, and Valerie Sakimura will be able to grow the organization to reach many more aspiring and early-career teachers.”

Sakimura was a member of the founding team of DFI and has served as the organization’s vice president of program for the last seven years. With a deep commitment to education equity, she has led the organization’s work to partner with educator-preparation programs to better prepare future teachers. She established the Impact Academy fellowship for deans, which has now supported over 100 leaders across seven cohorts to lead equity-driven instructional improvement within their programs. She also launched and led DFI’s efforts to support networks of faculty and staff at educator-preparation programs to redesign coursework and clinical experiences to ensure future teachers are equipped to make research-informed instructional decisions that counter historical patterns of inequity. Together, this work supports programs preparing 34,000 future teachers annually.

Before joining DFI, Sakimura worked at NewSchools Venture Fund, advising leadership teams of school networks and education support organizations on strategic and operational issues. Sakimura received her bachelor’s degree in social studies from Harvard University, her MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business, and her MPA from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

“If we are going to make progress on ensuring every child has opportunities to learn and thrive, we need many more teachers entering the profession equipped to create rigorous, equitable, and inclusive classrooms,” said Sakimura. “I look forward to expanding Deans for Impact’s work partnering with programs and policymakers to ensure we have pathways into teaching that are affordable, practice-based, and focused on instructional decision-making grounded in science and rooted in equity.”

“I am thrilled that Valerie will be the next executive director of DFI,” Riley said. “She is an extraordinarily talented person, and also an extraordinarily kind one — I have no doubt the organization will continue to thrive under her leadership.”

Sakimura’s appointment concludes a five-month national search supported by Mike Jolley, Search Consultant, and conducted by DFI’s Board of Directors.


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