Best of Luck to Elizabeth Clay Roy•
Just a few days before our first national summit in 2011, we still had no one assigned to present the central part of the event, the launch of our Opportunity Index. This was our coming out party, with 800 of our closest friends, including governors, senators and a phalanx of reporters from TIME, which had just done a cover story featuring the Index. I asked Elizabeth if she would do it in yes, six days from now. She looked at me as though I was crazy, and then in characteristic form, she graciously said yes. Elizabeth then proceeded to stay up all night, every night from that day until the summit, preparing. And of course what we all know is that her presentation was the highlight of the summit, introducing what has become a center point of the Opportunity Nation campaign.
Next month, Elizabeth will be leaving Opportunity Nation to become the Chief Strategy Officer at Phipps Community Development Corporation with an initial focus on launching an education-focused collective impact initiative in the South Bronx, part of a cradle-to-college initiative designed to promote student success. Elizabeth made Harlem, New York her home for the last two years, and this initiative will be unfolding in her backyard.
“It’s a chance to make a real impact in my city, and in a neighborhood with more disconnected youth than almost anywhere in the country,” Elizabeth said. “I would not have left unless there was an opportunity that truly excited me, and this one does.”
Elizabeth was the first person I hired, long before that campaign launch in 2011. Together, we criss-crossed the country, meeting with hundreds of national and community leaders and young adults to inform our campaign vision, goals, strategy and tactics. This outreach led to the development of our Shared Plan and she led the effort to grow theOpportunity Index. “She is the brains and wisdom behind our Index,” said Senior Advisor Sarah Beaulieu.
For me, Elizabeth has been the voice of reason and calm for the 3 ½ years she’s been a leader at Opportunity Nation. She has brought intellectual clarity and wisdom to all our work. There is nothing more reassuring than being on a panel with Elizabeth – whenever the tough questions arose, I could always turn to her and say, ‘Elizabeth, why don’t you take this one.’ She has been an extraordinarily effective presenter, relentlessly organized and thorough in everything she’s done.
These are some of the words our staff have used to describe Elizabeth:
Working with Russell Krumnow, Director of Coalition and Community Engagement, Elizabeth helped to grow our coalition from a few dozen to over 250 organizations and institutions across the country.
Russell calls Elizabeth “the critical thread” pulling together the campaign’s ambitious goals: building a coalition; working with researchers, grassroots leaders and practitioners to create the Index; publicly launching our first summit; and reassuring all of us that these disparate actions would add up to something meaningful.
“Her ability to see the big picture and articulate the story of our campaign to diverse audiences while overseeing so many of our initiatives has been incredible,” Russell said.
He speaks for all of us when he says, “I’m really grateful to have had the chance to work closely with her and I’m excited to see the big things she accomplishes in her new role.”
On behalf of the entire Opportunity Nation team, thank you, Elizabeth, for leading Opportunity Nation through a successful three years. You will be truly missed.
Her works lives on – we are planning an ambitious new release of the Opportunity Index this fall, and we promise that whoever will leading the presentation, he or she will have more than six days to prepare!