The Trustees of the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund have selected R. David Addams to be the foundation’s next executive director. Mr. Addams will take on the role on March 3rd, when the current executive director, David Nee, retires after 20 years in the position. Mr. Addams is now the executive director of the Oliver Scholars Program, which engages extraordinary New York City students of African and Latino descent and prepares them for success at leading independent high schools and colleges. In prior years he has served as the Deputy Borough President in Manhattan, executive director of the Institute for Mediation and Conflict Resolution, and executive director of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, among other positions.
Mr. Addams will bring deep experience in community development, public policy and education to the Memorial Fund’s mission of improving education for all children, starting at birth. “Education has been the foundation of my life,” said Mr. Addams. “I see education as having the most impact in transforming lives and allowing people to fulfill their potential.” Growing up on the South Side in Chicago, Mr. Addams said, “I benefited from the ‘accident’ of the schools I attended. First an experimental school allowed me to accelerate learning through the sixth grade. Then a more typical middle school, where a teacher told me I’d never amount to anything, grounded my experience. For high school, my mother found a way to send me to a private school, where I took three buses and a train to go. At the same time she went back to school, and she graduated with a bachelor’s degree when I got my high school diploma.”
“These educational choices are available to some and not others. We need to change that and prioritize education as a central part of life, a lifelong experience, and a benefit to society,” he said.
“I am delighted that David Addams will be joining the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund as Executive Director,” said Bill Graustein, the Memorial Fund’s Lead Trustee. “Throughout his career David has worked across boundaries to build relationships, resolve conflict, and increase opportunity. I look forward to bringing his experience and skills to the Memorial Fund’s continuing work to support Connecticut communities in analyzing, reflecting and acting on behalf of young children. I am confident communities will find David a strong ally in bringing their yearnings for children’s future to bear on the shaping and implementation of policies and plans. I am also confident that our institutional partners will find him an insightful and respectful colleague.”
Mr. Addams has also served as executive director of Associated Black Charities, vice president of the New York Urban League, deputy director of the New York Civil Liberties Union and a director for the American Civil Liberties Union, charged with managing diversity and affirmative action for 50 national affiliates. He is member of the Business Advisory Council of the Turn 2 Foundation (Derek Jeter’s foundation). He served as a Visiting Distinguished Professor of Public Policy and Administration at Brooklyn College and taught Public Policy and Constitutional Law at Brooklyn College Graduate Center.
“I am excited to join the Memorial Fund and build on its 20-year track record,” said Mr. Addams. “The Memorial Fund takes a holistic approach, looking at the whole child, family and community – and also the roles that the education system and philanthropic sectors can play. The work is about being analytical, certainly, and also about building relationships. The way to bring about justice and change is to reach out and work with people to build solutions. I look forward to working with the Fund’s partners – the communities, advocates, educators, and policymakers.
“Connecticut is a place where every voice counts and you can make a difference. My wife and I are excited to be moving to Connecticut,” said Mr. Addams. Mr. Addams received his BA magna cum laude from Princeton University, his MSJ from Columbia University School of Journalism and his JD from Columbia University School of Law. He was admitted to the bar in the state of Michigan. He and his wife, Zanetta, have three children.
About the Memorial Fund’s work: The Memorial Fund’s Discovery initiative supports 52 Connecticut communities in developing locally-driven action plans for improving life and educational outcomes for young children. In addition, Discovery statewide partners provide public information, policy research and advocacy on behalf of children and families. The Memorial Fund also supports and partners with the Connecticut Center for School Change to improve pre-K to 12 instruction across the state. From Discovery’s beginning in 2001 through its projected end in December 2014, Discovery will have invested over $45 million to ensure that Connecticut children of all races and economic backgrounds are ready for school by age five and successful learners by age nine.
In the last six years, the Memorial Fund partnered with the State and the Children’s Fund of Connecticut to support 40 communities in creating local comprehensive plans for children birth to age eight. This partnership resulted in more than $11 million for local community support and capacity building. In addition the Memorial Fund, in partnership with the State, invested about $2.5 million in parent leadership training, and, in partnership with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, nearly another $1 million in early literacy support.