Dear WITS Community,
As the new year kicks off, we have exciting news to share. After seven years with WITS, Brenda Langstraat will move on at the end of the month to become the next President of the Chicago Public Library Foundation. This is a natural continuation of the work that she has done with WITS and is an opportunity for her to advance the #1 ranked public library system in the US.
Tena Kunik, our Chief Strategy Officer has accepted the position of Chief Executive Officer of WITS. Tena joined WITS four years ago, bringing a strong strategic focus for growth along with tremendous passion and energy for the work. Brenda and Tena forged a leadership partnership that advanced WITS and impacted every student in our programs.
WITS is a movement of educators, volunteers, and investors coming together to support a better public education by creating opportunities for every student in our 90 schools. On behalf of the Board of Directors, we thank you for your commitment and look forward to our continued work together.
I joined WITS in January of 2012 and every single day since, I have been empowered by the WITS community; by each of you. Thank you! It has been a tremendous honor to work alongside the passionate and tireless WITS Board, Associates Board and Staff Team. It has been an honor to support the work of our teachers who are literacy leaders and our mentors who show up every day for our students.
I am thrilled that Tena will step in to lead WITS. As many leaders say, hire people who are smarter and more talented than you. That was certainly the case when we hired Tena. I have learned so much from her. I have become a better leader because of her. She is going to take WITS to the next level.
For more than 20 years, my career has been driven by the deep belief that creating empowered communities of learners will transform lives and support the advancement of Chicago’s neighborhoods. I look forward to joining the Chicago Public Library Foundation to expand and advance programs in 80 neighborhood libraries.
And, I look forward to continuing to serve the WITS mission as an advocate and as a literacy mentor for students. I find myself at a loss for words to express what WITS means to me personally and professionally. The people who are drawn to the mission of WITS are people who understand what an honor it is to support every student in our programs…people who understand that WITS is a powerful movement that has and will continue to transform lives.
WITS has certainly transformed mine.
January 5, 2015 was my first day at WITS. Every day since has challenged and taught me more than any other position I’ve previously held. Most of my career has been dedicated to education – I truly believe it is the most powerful creator of change in the world. Similarly, I believe in the WITS mission to my core and working to deliver on that mission for the last 1,440 days has been a defining opportunity in my life.
To now lead WITS, an organization that engages thousands of students, educators, and mentors, is humbling and exhilarating. The WITS community, from the Board to our students, have helped me grow into a more strategic and empathetic leader. Brenda has been an inspiring guide and the most important contributor in preparing me for this role. More importantly, she is a trusted and valued friend.
This is one of those times where thank you seems wholly inadequate. I look forward to using everything I have learned, and continue to learn, from everyone in the WITS family to continue our legacy of Building Communities and Empowering Readers. #IAMWITS