A Note from Scott Warren on Generation Citizen’s Future

November 7, 2019

I’m excited to officially announce that I’ll be transitioning out of Generation Citizen’s CEO role at the end of June, 2020. 

This is, above all, a time for tremendous celebration.  Co-founding, growing, and leading GC has been the honor and privilege of my lifetime. If you had told me when I was graduating from college 10+ years ago that GC would eventually be working in six different sites with 25,000 students per year as one of the pre-eminent civics education organizations in the country, I would have called you crazy. I’m not that robust of a visionary. I’m so incredibly proud of where we are today, and so grateful to all of you for having played an integral role in getting us here.  

Promise54, an esteemed search firm with experience with founder-led transitions, and a focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, will lead the search for my successor. Our Board of Directors, led by long-time Board members Julie Hudman and Matt Segneri, will lead a Search Committee to find our next leader.  Additionally, we’re planning a big 10-year celebration/farewell/welcome in New York City on Wednesday, April 22nd.  Mark your calendars for a grand old time.

Before then, I did want to give you all a little more detail on why I’ve made this decision.

First, the decision to transition is personal: I feel that not enough folks in this sector talk about this aspect of the work. I’ve been doing this job ever since I graduated from college, at a pace that has become a bit unsustainable. I’ve personally set up a system and a set of expectations that I’m eager to break away from, both for myself, and the organization. I’m confident that the work will be more tenable for future leadership.  For now, I’m excited to explore new terrains, and prioritize friends and family.

Second, I think this is the right time for the organization. We’re at a great point: we’ve continued to grow and establish systems, develop our own internal leaders, and build external champions. I know these types of transitions are challenging to do well, but we have the right people and supporters to do this right. I have immense trust in our exceptional Board of Directors to lead this transition process, and steward the organization after I step down as CEO. I’m proud of the fact that I know this organization can thrive without me at the helm.

And thirdly, GC must become about more than one person, be it myself, or any other team member or supporter. I think one of the most powerful tenets of democracy is that the voices and opinions of individuals matter only as to form a collective will. Yet, too often in this sector, organizations can become overly dependent on one person. I reject the logic that non-profits or companies should be led by one person for a long, long time.  New people bring new ideas, and can demonstrate the longevity that an organization can hold.  GC, as an organization that embraces the end goal of an equitable and functioning democracy, should also embrace the principle that we should and will always be bigger than any one person. I am hopeful that new leadership, and especially leadership that has lived experiences that mirrors that of our students, can provide new ideas: to GC, and to the broader education sector.

In the months ahead, I’d love to talk and connect with all of you: about GC’s path, to date and in the future, about my own, about our democracy.  I do believe that at a moment in time in which our very democracy is at risk, GC’s work is as important as ever. I also believe that the students we work with every day provide hope and possibility for a better democracy. It is up to us to invest in their future, and to listen to their voices. Indeed, it is those voices, that of Julian and Carla and Laila and Safiya and so many more young people, that have provided me with the energy and spirit to lead this organization. 

I’ll close with some words Samantha Power, who many of you know I admire greatly.. She ended her latest book with the following, which is an adage I am trying to take to heart: 

If one lesson in my experience stands out about all the others, it is that the people we love are the foundation for all else. I have never found the optimal balance between immersion in my work and the pull of home, love, and laughter that are my fuel. But I do know that when we turn in our White House badge- or its equivalent in other fields- what is left is our own garden, and what we have sown and cultivated. 

Here’s to our gardens,

Scott

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