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Decatur Education Foundation executive director stepping down in June

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Decatur Education Foundation executive director stepping down in June

Gail Rothman is the executive director of the Decatur Education Foundation. Photo provided to Decaturish.

Decatur, GA — Decatur Education Foundation Executive Director Gail Rothman will step down from the position on June 30.

Rothman was hired in 2009 as the first foundation-supported executive director.

“Over 20 years ago, our community made a commitment to bring resources together to ensure that every Decatur child had what they needed to grow and learn. This simple, yet profound, idea gave rise to the Decatur Education Foundation, which has impacted generations of Decatur youth,” Rothman said in a statement.  “For 14 years now, I have experienced first-hand the power of a community to come together to create opportunities for ALL of our kids.”

The foundation has challenged the notion of what education can be and tackled hard issues. It has empowered teachers and administrators to reach beyond budget boundaries and find creative solutions.

“We have honored not just the academic superstars, but the character superstars – by providing close to a million dollars in scholarships,” Rothman said. “Most importantly, we have collectively said that every child in Decatur is ‘our’ child and that the impact we can have as a community is immeasurable. With all of this in my heart, I’m sharing the news that I will step down as executive director at the end of DEF’s fiscal year, June 30. From now until then, I will work with the foundation’s talented and thoughtful board of directors to shepherd the organization through a planned leadership transition.”

Rothman is excited to take what she has learned to help other organizations expand their impact.

“I’m grateful to have worked with so many outstanding teachers, supporters, children, and teens,” Rothman said. “What we have built together makes me hopeful for the future of our world.”

In the coming weeks, the DEF Board of Directors will form a search committee to recruit the organization’s next executive director. Rothman and her staff will work to create a smooth and seamless transition in leadership, board chair Maria Pinkelton said in a statement.

She added that under Rothman’s leadership, DEF has:

– Developed programs to close the opportunity gap among students based on family income;

– Prioritized behavioral health Initiatives, including the creation of the Decatur Student Center at Decatur High and the extension of the center to Beacon Hill Middle School;

– Grown the scholarship program from five to 21 awards, with annual scholarship awards totaling $114,000 in 2022;

– Helped incubate community organizations and programs, including Decatur Makers, REAP-Reading is Essential for All People, the Farm-to-School initiative, and the CSD elementary school Orchestra program;

– Grown foundation assets to over $2 million and an annual operating budget of nearly $1 million;

– Shaped and led a pandemic emergency response to support families across Decatur;

– Strengthened community efforts to address racial inequities by helping to fund the equity department at City Schools of Decatur and funding anti-racism initiatives;

– Implemented systems and processes to prepare the foundation for future growth; and

– Forged and grown partnerships across the community to solve the challenges facing kids.

“All of these accomplishments reflect Gail’s tireless efforts in building a network of supporters and partners,” Pinkelton said. “She has collaborated with City Schools of Decatur, Decatur Housing Authority, and the city of Decatur, as well as with school PTAs, local businesses and parents. Throughout these efforts, she has been a tenacious advocate for Decatur’s youth, working to create new opportunities for children and teens, fostering creativity among teachers, and championing equity for all. The impact Gail has made on the community is both durable and cherished, and we look forward to sustaining the foundation’s momentum with new leadership this summer.”

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