President's Message - May 2021

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Over the past several months, the Helios board and senior management team have been refining our vision for the next five years.  We will continue to focus on creating opportunities for students to succeed in postsecondary education.  We also remain committed to our beliefs in community, equity, investment, and partnership.  As we think about our work in the future, we intend to double down on our commitment to educational equity.  We have made great strides in both Arizona and Florida toward ensuring all students have access to a high quality education, but the reality is that we need to do more.  We still have achievement gaps and degree attainment gaps that are simply unacceptable.  Over the next five years, Helios Education Foundation will ensure that our work addresses these issues and we are committed to delivering measurable change in addressing these gaps. 

While the areas included in our five-year vision are not new for Helios, we are enhancing our efforts and will work, alongside our partners on the following:

  • Championing postsecondary attainment and eliminating achievement gaps;
  • Raising our voice in support of first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented students and working toward a more equitable education system;
  • Facilitating the creation of innovative education solutions through data-driven decision-making;
  • Increasing our work in convening, collaborating, and partnering together in support of an education system that puts students first;
  • Increasing our internal talent and expertise in areas that will help support our work;
  • Remaining flexible in order to be responsive to emerging needs and priorities that may arise.

To deliver on this vision, we have promoted key individuals among our staff and created additional senior leadership within both our policy and research areas.  Helios is pleased to announce the following:

Janice Palmer has been named the Senior Vice President, Government Affairs and Public Policy. In this role Janice will lead our policy work in both Arizona and Florida, driving the implementation of a policy agenda that supports our fundamental beliefs and our five-year vision.  We know that in order to see the kind of systemic change that is necessary to realize a more equitable education system, we have to engage in policy in a more significant and proactive way.  Janice Palmer has led our policy work in Arizona for the past five years and she will continue to focus on implementing a policy agenda in Arizona and Florida that is equitable and serves all students.

Paul Perrault has been named the Senior Vice President, Community Impact and Learning.  In this role Paul will help inform the Foundation’s strategy and goals by providing strategic leadership to the Foundation’s research and evaluation work and the grants management and administration team.  As we continue to ensure that we are rooting our decisions in data and research, Paul’s work has become even more critical and is directly informing our organizational strategy.

Julie Norwood has been named Vice President, Grants and Project Management. In this role, Julie will take on increased leadership in providing expertise and support in grants and project management to internal and external partners.    

Our Community Engagement teams will continue to be led by Charles Hokanson in Florida and Vince Yanez in Arizona and their roles have been expanded to include both Community Engagement and Strategic Partnership activities. 

I am grateful to lead an organization that puts students first and to have a team that is passionately committed to issues of equity and student success.  We thank you for your partnership and look forward to continuing to work together to achieve greater educational equity for all students in Arizona and Florida.