Founder & CEO, MindCatcher
When I was 8, my family moved to Miami from New York. My dad traveled often for work and my mother had not yet learned to drive. We lived too close to school for the school bus to pick me up. So my mother and I walked 3 miles for me to engage in learning. I don’t quite remember this detail, but my mother says that during that first day of walking I looked up at her and asked if anyone would give us a ride. Sure enough on the walk home, a school bus driver pulled over and said “I noticed you walking this morning. Does your daughter go to Pine Lake elementary school?” From that day on, she picked me up from my house and took me to and from school. She was the first of many threads that my mother wove into a strong community fabric for me. My mother enlisted my school’s principal in ensuring I had the best teachers. She developed relationships with my teachers to make sure that my school work was rigorous and preparing me to excel at the high standard she had set for me. Along my educational journey, there were countless people that my mother knitted into this fabric of community support. The example that she set for me propelled me through Columbia University, the Wharton School and a Wall Street career.
By 2011, I wanted more from my professional life and was drawn to the education sector. Looking back, the transition was not surprising. After all, I was a living, breathing testament to what a first rate education could enable someone to achieve. First I worked at Pearson leading product marketing for a tablet-based curriculum aligned to the Common Core. There I saw firsthand how school systems are not designed to engage with innovative curriculum and products. Also many education companies and non-profits are not sufficiently incented to develop products and services that truly meet the needs of students attending today’s public schools. Schools serving predominantly low-income youth and students of color often bear the burden of this tension.
I believed more was possible for our young people, and I knew the answer lay in supporting our educators. Since 2018, I have been developing a process that elevates educators and young people in the education innovation sector. Already I have seen students come alive in ways previously unimaginable and educators trying out-of-the-box strategies. And we’re just getting started!
Nakeyshia Kendall Williams
Founder & CEO