I’m an educational consultant and an adjunct professor.
After college, I taught high school in New York City and then worked for Teach for America. I’d been planning to go to grad school in literary theory. But after going out in the world, I decided I didn’t want to become an academic. I wanted to be more actively involved in social justice.
I ended up going to law school and pursuing a lot of education-related things. I got a job at a big New York firm, where I met my husband. I stayed there longer than I’d planned to, doing educational work through the firm. I left after six years and went to work as general counsel for an educational nonprofit. I was there for a while, and then I started having babies. I had also started teaching classes on legal issues and education.
I had my first two kids very close together. So I left the nonprofit and started doing independent projects. I was hired by the NYC Department of Education, first to be an internal special master over certain functions of the agency, then to be their head of special ed policy. It was a huge, amazing opportunity, and it ultimately led to my becoming the education advisor to the governor of New York. I did that for about a year. It was a great learning experience. Super demanding, with a lot of back and forth to Albany.
After that, I had to take a beat and think about what I wanted to do next. I was pursued by a firm that had a big consulting practice in education, but it involved a lot of travel. My husband travels all the time for work; it didn’t make sense for both of us to do it. At the time, I had to frame it for myself as, I decided I don’t want to do that. But the truth was I couldn’t do it. It was hard for me to accept that as a limitation.
Now I do educational consulting on my own. And I’m very involved with my kids, guiding them in their education, using my expertise in that area. I also have a lot of close friendships. Those relationships are among the most rewarding parts of my life, and they take a lot of work. For one friend who’s very sick, I’ve been serving as an advocate. My 12-year-old said to me, “You’re being such a good friend. It’s such a good example you’re setting.”
I started out as a teacher, and that’s still a huge part of my personality. Whenever I’ve worked in big organizations, I’ve ended up mentoring younger people. I try to do it with my own kids. They’re not always the most open to it.
My parents had very big ambitions for me. That’s been a good thing in a lot of ways. It’s also been challenging at times, figuring out the difference between what I was capable of doing and what I wanted to do.
I feel uncomfortable with the fact that I don’t contribute equally financially to our life. I worry about what effect that has on my kids. But why should it matter, when I’m doing work that I feel good about? And of course, a lawyer and a teacher make very different salaries. That has nothing to do with who’s working harder.
Interviewed on January 25, 2019