Announcing New Chief Executive Officer in January 2023

March 8, 2022

Contact Information:
Wendy-Ann Dixon-DuBois
Director of Communications 

For Immediate Release

NewSchools Board of Directors Announces that Frances Messano will succeed Stacey Childress as the next Chief Executive Officer in January 2023

Oakland, Calif.—March 8, 2022—NewSchools Venture Fund today announced that Stacey Childress will step down as Chief Executive Officer, effective January 1, 2023 and its Board of Directors has named Frances Messano as her successor. 

In 2023, NewSchools will celebrate its 25th anniversary. Over the next year, the organization will embark on a leadership transition to set the stage for the future. This week, the Board of Directors announced that after eight years of leadership, Stacey Childress will step down as Chief Executive Officer. Effective January 2023, Frances Messano will be the organization’s next CEO. 

“NewSchools has been doing the work to advance equity for years, long before many organizations awakened to the necessity of elevating diverse leadership to achieve better outcomes for our students. Stacey was the right leader to get us to this point. Over these past eight years, Stacey’s vision and strategic leadership has helped us reconnect to our core values and bring all our efforts into powerful alignment. Building on that foundation, our board has unanimously and excitedly selected Frances Messano as the next CEO, the right leader to take us into the future.” —  Paula Sneed, Board Chair, NewSchools 

Since Stacey joined in 2014, NewSchools has invested in schools and organizations committed to ensuring students build a strong academic foundation and other important mindsets, habits and skills necessary for long-term success. A key early insight was that in order to spur more excellence and innovation, NewSchools needed the best ideas from everyone. However, its grantee portfolio, board, and team were overwhelmingly white, even though more than 90% of students served in its portfolio were Black or Latino. This meant the organization was missing out on many innovators with ideas for serving students better. By doubling down on equity and diverse leadership in the field and on its internal team, NewSchools has seen an explosion of great ideas and renewed energy for expanding opportunity for students. 

“At the start of my tenure, I committed to our board that I would drive a vision for accelerating our impact and at the same time cultivate potential successors for CEO. The more I understood how important it was to invest in an increasingly diverse portfolio of grantees, the more committed I became to diversifying our board and team. Frances Messano has been a key partner as we aligned our external and internal commitments to equity, innovation, and excellence. Since 2015, we have invested in 495 schools and organizations, 64% of which are led by leaders of color. Half of our outside board members are Black or Latino and 63% of our team members identify as a person of color. And our results by nearly every metric are better than ever. I’m proud of my legacy at NewSchools and couldn’t be more excited for the future with Frances as our next CEO.” – Stacey Childress, CEO, NewSchools 

While there has been progress in education, philanthropy, and the broader nonprofit sector to increase diversity at the executive level, the data shows there is still much work ahead. According to the Council on Foundations, fewer than 1% of foundation CEOs identify as Latino (Council of Foundations). Even in a state like California, where 57% of the population identify as Latino, Urban Institute reported that fewer than 7% of nonprofit executive directors do (Urban Institute Report). Messano will be the first woman of color to lead NewSchools, and she will deepen the organization’s focus on equity, excellence and innovation.

“It has been a privilege working shoulder-to-shoulder with Stacey over the last seven years. I am so grateful for all that I have learned with and from Stacey, and proud of what we’ve accomplished. NewSchools is demonstrating the power of bold ideas to drive impact in education and philanthropy, even now, during some of the most disruptive years in education. Schools in our portfolio are serving more students of color compared to the national average and outperforming schools in their local communities. I am excited to build on Stacey’s legacy and empower more diverse innovators who are providing what is needed most right now: Schools and solutions that accelerate student learning, provide students with social-emotional support, and put equity at the center.” – Frances Messano, President, NewSchools 

NewSchools will host a special webcast on Thursday, March 10, 2022 from 9:00-10:00 am PST to preview what’s ahead in the coming year. View recording here

About NewSchools Venture Fund

NewSchools Venture Fund is a nonprofit venture philanthropy that invests in promising teams of educators and innovators with the vision and skills to reimagine learning. We help them accomplish their missions to achieve outstanding results for the students, educators and schools they serve. We are committed to helping students finish high school prepared and inspired to achieve their most ambitious dreams and plans. Through our investing, management assistance, network building and thought leadership, NewSchools helps to reimagine PreK-12 education.