The Federal Coach: A goal that is bigger than ‘who you are’

In today’s column, I speak with Margot Rogers, chief of staff for Education Secretary Arne Duncan, on her childhood inspiration.

Q: What experience was critical to becoming the leader you are today?

A: I attended schools where I was in the distinct racial minority in a small town in the rural South. My family made the decision to attend the majority African-American public schools in a district that had closed its public schools for five years instead of integrating. I had this great experience as a child and felt a lot of responsibility for leading in my own simple ways even then – by becoming a part of a wonderful school community that most whites had shunned.

I think as a parent you want your kids to believe in something that’s bigger than who they are and for me that was making sure that integrated education in this small town was successful. I carried the experience of being a small part of an institutional change with me. As a result, I’ve tried to commit myself in a deep way to making things around me better, not just by “fixing” them, but by working with individuals and organizations to develop the capacity to imrove and achieve the desired results.

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