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Communities In Schools® Announces Leadership Transition

Oct. 25, 2019

Communities In Schools ® (CIS) National Board Chair Elaine Wynn today announced that Dale Erquiaga will be stepping down as President and CEO of the national organization that works inside schools empowering all students to stay in school and on a path to success in life.  Erquiaga will leave his current role on March 31, 2020 but will become a visiting fellow at Communities In Schools®’ Milliken Center for Innovation and Student Success. In that role, he will consult with the next leader of Communities In Schools® and support expansion and sector entrepreneurship strategies in support of the CIS business plan.

Erquiaga will be returning to his home state of Nevada next year to be closer to his family. In the interim, he will be working closely with the CIS National Board to help implement a comprehensive search process. That process will be supervised by CIS National Board Members Donna Weiss and Mike French who will serve as search committee co-chairs. The committee’s priority is to identify a dynamic leader who will build on the success of the organization’s strategic plan.

CIS National Board Chair Elaine Wynn praised Erquiaga for his leadership of the organization and his efforts to ensure that every child in America has a community of support inside and outside of the classroom.

Wynn said, “I have worked alongside Dale for many years, first in Nevada and now at Communities In Schools ® (CIS). In that time, he has earned my admiration for his sharp business intellect, great insights about the state of education in our country and compassion for the cause of children.  I know this was a difficult decision for Dale. He has a fierce dedication to serving the needs of all children and hundreds of thousands of young people have benefited from his work. But I know that Dale’s passion for this work is grounded in his own family story. He is a single father and now a new grandfather. He has decided to be closer to his own family so he can be involved in the lives of his grandchildren. While I am sad to see him go, I admire his reasoning.”  

 Wynn added that thanks to Erquiaga’s steady leadership, a strong national staff and network partnership, CIS has undergone an incredible transformation that has positioned it for the future. During his tenure, Communities In Schools ®:

  • Embarked on a new strategic plan to sustain, deepen and grow its work so that one day, every student in America has a community of support inside and outside the classroom. 
  • Secured three record-breaking institutional grants ($15 million from the Ballmer Group in July 2017; $17 million from the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation in May 2018; $30 million from AbbVie in November 2018), contributing to a total of $110 million dollars invested in its work.
  • Launched a new Challenge Schools grant which will serve more than 100,000 students in 152 schools.
  • In partnership with the CIS network, secured $38 million in public funding in the last year, allowing CIS affiliates and state offices to serve more students.  
  • Launched a new business development unit that provides new opportunities for school districts and community organizations to partner with CIS for licensing or professional development.
  • Experienced one of the largest statewide rollouts of the CIS model of integrated student supports in its history following a licensed partnership agreement with the state of West Virginia.
  • Developed an innovative plan to implement Diversity, Equity and Inclusion principles into our policies, procedures and practices throughout the CIS enterprise.  
  • Erquiaga expressed his gratitude to the CIS National Board, national staff, network leaders, staff, and student alumni who have worked with him to impact the lives of 1.6 million children across 26 states and the District of Columbia.

“One of the greatest professional highlights of my life has been stewarding the legacy of Communities In Schools for the last three years,” Erquiaga said. “This is some of the hardest work being done in our nation’s public education system, and the people I’ve worked with here make it look easy.  I’m confident that the organization is on a trajectory to even greater success and even better outcomes for all students.”

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