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What we’re thankful for this year

As Thanksgiving approaches, our team took time to reflect on what we’re feeling grateful for.

Randi Blair, Program Manager
“I am thankful for my family, health, and my workplace.”

Benjamin Riley, Executive Director
“I am thankful for everyone who feels empathy for the less fortunate, and acts upon those feelings. My friends, colleagues, and family helped me more this year that I had any right to expect, and I am very grateful.”

Rebekah Berlin, Senior Program Director
“I’m thankful for our new puppy, Tillie. She is hilarious.”

Amber Willis, Program Director
“There are many reasons to be thankful this year, but here are my top five: my safe and healthy family, the kindness of others, the professional adventures I’ve had, my immune system, and God’s favor.”

Patrick Steck, Senior Director of Policy
“Professionally, I’m incredibly thankful to work with a team that, even in the face of incredibly daunting challenges all around us, is unwavering in its commitment to teachers and students. Personally, I’ve been humbled by the outpouring of love, support, and compassion shared among family and friends day-in and day-out; my community is strong and I am privileged to be welcomed as a member of it, exactly as I am.”

Griselda Rodriguez, Operations Manager
“I am thankful for the little ways in which my mother, who passed away three years ago, remains alive through my daughter and nieces. Each of them carries something that reminds us of her, and it brings our family so much joy.”

Tracey Weinstein, Vice President of Data and Research
“I am SO thankful for the grace and support of every colleague at DFI and in the programs we work with as we all worked to negotiate new ways of doing our work together amidst so much uncertainty in so many dimensions of our lives this past year.”

Tripti Thapa, Senior Director of Finance
“I am very grateful that we as a family have (finally) reached a point where I can see us going back to our pre-pandemic normalcy.”

Jim Heal, Director of Special Projects
“I’m thankful that it’s nearly Thanksgiving and the snow still hasn’t arrived in our part of New England…yet! I’m also thankful that I have started to meet colleagues and friends in three dimensions once again.”

Michelle Heard, Director of Operations
“I’m thankful for sweet kiddos who learn from and play with each other!”

Valerie Sakimura, Vice President of Program
“Iā€™m thankful for my family who have been a source of strength during a challenging year, my daughter whose love and curiosity has been a source of joy, and for the grace and kindness shown by so many people this year which has been a source of hope.”

Sarah McKibben, Program Manager
“I’m so grateful that I live down the street from an elementary school so I can hear kids at recess and get a daily reminder of why we do the work that we do.”

Callie Lowenstein, Program Manager
“At work, I’m so thankful for a community of colleagues and faculty dedicated to thinking differently about teacher preparation, and putting in such deep thought and efforts to making change. At home, I’m thankful for a wonderful puppy who gets me up away from the computer screen and into the fresh air every day, a true asset for the remote work lifestyle!”

Staci Bradbury, Creative Content Manager
“I’m grateful to work on a team that is so thoughtful about creating opportunities for connection and community building.”

Peter Fishman, Vice President of Strategy
“It probably sounds cliche given the work we do, but I’m thankful for teachers showing up each day and creating classrooms where every student feels they belong and feels supported in thinking for themselves and pursuing their dreams. Teachers are doing it in spite of impossibly challenging conditions. I’m thankful for everyone, including the team at DFI, working to change those conditions.”


Staci Bradbury

Creative Content Manager


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