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Wendy Kopp by Emily Lampert


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Biography of Wendy Kopp as a leader in all parts of life, written by Wharton MBA student for a course on leadership from the point of view of the whole person.

Published in: Leadership & Management
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Wendy Kopp by Emily Lampert

  1. 1. EMILY LAMPERT ● MGMT 671 ●SPRING 2017 Wendy Kopp: Inspiring a Movement of Leaders to Make a Difference
  2. 2. Short biography of Wendy Kopp • Born in Austin, Texas • Attended Princeton University • College thesis project called “A Plan and Argument for the Creation of a National Teacher Corps” • Struggled to gain buy-in and funding, but eventually transformed this idea into Teach For America • In 1990, Teach For America selected 500 applicants to serve as the charter corps members • Teach For America grows rapidly • As of 2016, corps size of 3,400 with over 46,000 alumni • Kopp has simultaneously received praise as a social entrepreneurship pioneer and criticism for her work • In 2007, Kopp founded Teach For All, a “global network of independent social enterprises that applies the principles of Teach For America around the world”
  3. 3. “Make a Difference, Beyond What You Can See” “I thought it would have such a huge power for kids growing up today, just to channel all this talent and energy — that’s good enough for the firms on Wall Street — but into our highest-need schools. And at the same time, I thought it would have this kind of larger power. That we would be influencing the priorities and the consciousness of all these future leaders. And I had this idea that this was going to change the consciousness of the country, and generate a belief that we need to do something to bridge the disparities that exist in our country.” –Wendy Kopp, 2013
  4. 4. Integrating different parts of her life for mutual gain Work Home Community Self While she travels constantly, Kopp has integrated family into her work. For example, she has taken her oldest son on work trips to visits schools in places such as rural China and the Mississippi Delta. “Instead of dynamism, there is discipline.” Well aware of her strengths and weaknesses, Kopp has empowered her team to serve as “cheerleaders” for the organization, while Kopp focuses on longer-term strategic planning. Kopp’s husband, Richard Barth, runs KIPP, a national network of high-performing charter schools. Both live in line with their value of “fairness” and are working to ensure that all children have access to a high-quality education Daily 5-mile runs in Central Park allow Kopp to reflect and gain mental clarity on how she can better serve the global education community, while being more present for her husband and 4 children.
  5. 5. “When I say, ‘I’m going to miss you guys so much,’ they say: ‘It’s important that you’re doing this! Just go!’” She jokes. “My kids understand why this work is important. They encourage me on.”
  6. 6. Lessons I will apply from Wendy Kopp’s example: 1) Connect a personal story with a collective narrative. 2) Find a partner who shares my values. 3) “Take criticism seriously – not personally.” 4) In line with ideas in Baby Bust, consider requiring a year of public service.