Connie Ballmer of Ballmer Group, Lisa Hamilton of the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Sue Lehmann of the Student Success Network join education-focused organization
CINCINNATI, OHIO — StriveTogether, a national nonprofit working to improve education for every child, today announced the addition of three members to its board of directors. Joining the board are Connie Ballmer of Ballmer Group, Lisa Hamilton of the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Sue Lehmann of the Student Success Network, strengthening the organization’s expertise in data and policy advocacy, philanthropy and systems-change work.
“All three of our newest board members care passionately about the success of every child and bring a wealth of talent and energy to this work,” StriveTogether President and CEO Jennifer Blatz said. “It’s our obligation as Americans to provide every child with the opportunity to succeed in life, and we’ve never been in a better position to deepen our impact nationally and locally. We’re fortunate to have such an outstanding group at our helm as we continue to create real, lasting change for children and families in communities across the country.”
Connie Ballmer is a co-founder of Ballmer Group, which supports efforts to improve economic mobility for children and families in the U.S. who are disproportionately likely to remain in poverty. Her longstanding focus on the well-being of children, especially those living in out-of-home care, led to the creation of Partners for Our Children in 2006. Ballmer is also a general partner and founding investor at Blue Meridian Partners, a funding collaborative seeking to transform the lives of America’s most economically disadvantaged children and youth through strategic investments. She also serves on the board of the L.A. Clippers Foundation.
A native of Oregon, Ballmer serves as a trustee on the governing board at the University of Oregon, where she earned a bachelor of science in journalism before entering a career in public relations and marketing for the technology sector. She and her husband, Steve Ballmer, current owner of the L.A. Clippers and former CEO of Microsoft, have three sons and live in Bellevue, Wash.
“We believe that improving economic mobility will take local focus, unified effort and hard work,” Ballmer said. “I have visited StriveTogether communities, and I have seen firsthand how the lives of kids and families in poverty can improve when residents and local leaders working in multiple sectors come together to focus on results.”
As executive vice president and chief program officer for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Lisa Hamilton oversees the Foundation’s investments to promote community change, economic opportunity for families and public system reform. She also guides efforts to strengthen the social sector and encourage the take-up of effective strategies through policy and data advocacy, leadership development and research. Hamilton previously served as the Foundation’s vice president of external affairs.
Prior to joining Casey, Hamilton enjoyed a 14-year career at UPS in multiple leadership positions. She also serves on the boards of the Baltimore Community Foundation and Case Commons. She served as a trustee of the Casey Foundation from 2008 to 2011. A native of Atlanta, Hamilton earned a law degree from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree in commerce from the University of Virginia.
“At Casey, we believe in the importance of strengthening leaders and organizations to accelerate results for children and families,” Hamilton said. “We’ve been fortunate to work with StriveTogether for many years. I’m thrilled to join the board of an organization focused on developing local community leadership to ensure the next generation has the opportunities and resources necessary to thrive.”
Sue Lehmann is a former management consultant who worked independently with senior corporate executives to shape their strategies and operations. Two assignments in the early 1990s — helping rethink special education in New York City and leading the team that designed the AmeriCorps program — sent her in a new direction. For more than 20 years, Lehmann has worked alongside nonprofit leaders with systems-changing approaches to helping all children achieve their full potential.
Most recently, Lehmann co-founded and is facilitating the Student Success Network, a rapidly growing community of youth-serving organizations sharing evidence-based social-emotional practices to ensure all New York City’s children have the experiences they need to become empowered, connected adults with fulfilling work and relationships. She also co-founded and chairs the board of Chalkbeat, an online news organization that provides coverage of education issues in seven metro areas daily, as well as in a weekly national edition. Lehmann is a trustee of New Visions for Public Schools and is a lifetime director of Teach For America; she is on the advisory boards of 100K in 10, South Bronx Rising Together, Teach For America-New York and Teaching Works.
“I’m excited to join the StriveTogether board after having served on its leadership council for many years,” Lehmann said. “I am passionate about helping children reach their full potential and embrace this chance to continue supporting the work of such an innovative organization in closing opportunity gaps and ending educational inequity.”
Ballmer, Hamilton and Lehmann will serve on the board with Nancy L. Zimpher, former chancellor of The State University of New York and current chair and co-founder of StriveTogether; Danae D. Davis, executive director of Milwaukee Succeeds, a collective impact initiative of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and a member of the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network; and Tom Fry, partner at Dietel Partners and former managing director of The Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation.
“Having been a champion of this cradle-to-career work from the very beginning, it’s thrilling to see StriveTogether continue to grow in impact and leadership,” Zimpher said. “The experience and expertise of Connie Ballmer, Lisa Hamilton and Sue Lehmann in areas including data and policy advocacy, philanthropy and systems-change work will strengthen StriveTogether’s ability to get better results for every child in communities across the country.”
StriveTogether helps communities to build stronger cradle-to-career partnerships through a methodical and collaborative process, using data to figure out what’s working and what isn’t. Communities in the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network commit to improving outcomes for major milestones in a child’s life. The work in each community is coordinated by a coalition of local partners with progress measured along the cradle-to-career continuum, from kindergarten readiness through postsecondary success and employment.
StriveTogether leads a national movement of nearly 70 communities to get better results in every child’s life. We coach and connect partners across the country to close gaps by using local data, especially for children of color and low-income children. Communities using our proven approach have seen measurable gains in kindergarten readiness, academic achievement and postsecondary success. The StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network reaches 10.4 million students, involves 10,800 organizations and has partners in 30 states and Washington, D.C.