Education foundation to have new director, new plan
Schmidt steps down as group completes four-year strategy
As far as Laura Schmidt is concerned, this is the right time to step down from her four-year stint as executive director of the Elmbrook Education Foundation.
In particular, Schmidt pointed to the completion of a four-year plan and the dawn of efforts to develop a new strategic plan. She also wants to think about a new phase of professional life.
"When I came on board, the foundation was strongly positioned and doing great things," Schmidt said. "I looked at what had been done, assessed what could be done by getting feedback from the community and from other foundations.
"And then we did what made sense, putting together a four-year strategic framework. It was the beginning of the recession and we knew donations would be impacted so we talked to the board and built a structure for long-term growth."
That structure included strengthening the foundation's data management, taking another look at how financial support could grow and incorporating community outreach. Developing an endowment fund was an essential part of the strategy.
"We have (former superintendent) Matt Gibson leading our endowment campaign," Schmidt said. "As I looked ahead and the next set of plans for the future, it made sense to me to step down. I felt it was my time."
Seeking new challenge
Schmidt is not sure what her next business position will be. She previously worked for 15 years at Northwestern Mutual. She has an MBA in leadership studies and a background in information technology and organizational management.
She has learned a lot in the last four years, she said.
"I've been involved in a corporate setting, so getting involved in the nonprofit sector has been interesting because I have learned new skills as well as applied skills I had," she said. "There is a lot to foundation work."
With an 8-year-old daughter in the district, she gladly will continue to be closely involved in the district, she said.
"I have so much enthusiasm for what the new leaders are going to do," Schmidt said. "I'm excited to see where they take Elmbrook from here."
In a news release announcing the change, Superintendent Mark Hansen said the district has benefitted from the partnership with the foundation.
"Laura's vision and leadership will be greatly missed, and we're grateful for her determined dedication toward advancing the foundation's goals," Hansen said.
Foundation President David Frank also offered his formal comments about Schmidt.
"Under her leadership, the EEF has achieved enormous successes," Frank said. "It will be a challenge to find someone as enthusiastic as her to fill that role going forward."
Plans are in place to seek a new executive director. Schmidt said it is easy to identify the qualities that are needed.
"If you are not passionate about Elmbrook or about education, then I can say this probably is not the position for you," Schmidt said. "I know the foundation will find the right person. This is a great district that should be very attractive to anyone who has that passion for education."
Foundation board member Tom Palzewicz heads the search committee. He can be reached at tompalzewicz @actioncoach.com.
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