In this episode of Executive with a Cause, host Tammy Ven Dange chats with Analiza Quiroz Wolf, Former CEO of Neighborhood Charter Schools in New York City about improving access to education, representation and leadership for women and people of colour, and the learnings she’s picked up along the way.

With her background and education, Analiza acknowledges she was initially idealistic in thinking her expertise and passion would be enough to change the system. In today’s episode, we discuss that ‘meaning well’ isn’t sufficient when entering a community and that organisations need to develop a culture of collaboration and respect to develop sustainable relationships. Analiza’s work for Charter Schools developed many of these insights, as well as the value in providing structured pay scales to create equity for women and people of colour who are less likely to negotiate on salary. Reflecting on her career, Analiza identified the value of having greater support would have provided. This has led to her now offering organisational coaching and consulting on diversity and inclusion and providing support for the next generation of women of colour leaders. Finally, we discuss several of Analiza’s books, where she aims to create representation of different cultures and identities in the media.

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IT in Plain English

Known by many names and acronyms, a Request for Tender (RFT) is common amongst many Not for Profit organisations when seeking a product or service. But this process can be time-intensive, and costly, and it doesn’t allow you to determine if you can even afford the requested tender until provided. Experienced in both providing and responding to RFTs, Tammy summarises when RFTs may be suitable, such as when comparing stock items that aren’t customised, and when an alternative process might be better.

Sign-up here to subscribe to the “IT in Plain English” newsletter. You can submit your question to Tammy Ven Dange by messaging her on LinkedIn, and maybe she’ll answer it on the show.

 Topics from this episode:

  • 0.00 | Introduction
  • 2.11 | Charter schools
  • 9.00 | Making sure it’s ‘not just marketing’
  • 13.50 | Starting a program
  • 15.40 | Key learnings
  • 22.05 | The next chapter
  • 25.40 | Working in a new space
  • 28.45 | Storytelling
  • 31.30 | Supporting Analiza
  • 32.48 | IT in Plain English

Quotes from Analiza in this episode:

“In a charter school, the quality can span from great to not very great. But if it’s not great, the accountability’s very high, so after a few years if they don’t meet the benchmarks, they are going to be shut down. In the case of a public school, they don’t have that”

“The differences between the two, charter schools have more flexibility, they don’t have teachers’ unions so you’ll have a more flexible workforce. They tend to have longer school days. The workload can be quite high, but that doesn’t guarantee quality”

“With charters, it’s great to have all these scripted business plans and lesson plans, ‘how to run a classroom’, but it takes away the agency of teachers to be creative. So with this approach, we say they’re the master of their classrooms and here’s the resources to do it”

“In this next chapter, I really am driven by ‘how can I be of service that are unique to my experiences?’”

“The second thing that I would do differently is I would partner with that principal. It was set up so that we would take over. But I would actually talk to the government to see if there was a way to go forward in partnership. Understand what they provide really well, they were an excellent social and emotional school. We were not. We were high rigour, extra-curricular and extra readings…we would have found differentiating points that we were both proud of and shared that together”

“We should have had culture built together. It was their staff and our staff. Eventually, we had a pot-luck and were all able to come together, but we should have done that from the start.  We should have done it from the get-go at orientation. Otherwise, the staff just passed each other, and it was like there was going to be a fight, ‘look at them, they think they’re better than me’. Our staff were also skewed white, whilst theirs were primarily people of colour, from the communities. So there should have been real relationships. Real investment in all of that before it started”

“I was incredibly grateful for the opportunity and proud of the impact that I had, but I wished I’d had more support, which is how I’m now pivoting my career to supporting women of colour leaders, so they have a community and know they’re not alone. We can have these seats and thrive, but we can’t do it alone”

“It’s holistic still, but less focused on being a mum, and more on those soft skills. That inner confidence that you need when you’re leading people. In the military, you’re put in these really tough situations. And how do you react under new conditions, not knowing what to do and having to project confidence? So how do we talk about that as women, women of colour, what are some lessons learned

“I do believe once we have different leaders, diverse leaders at the table, that’s when we change systems. Because we’re led differently, perhaps more inclusively, more collaboratively. And I think that’s when we can change the system”

Links & Resources

  • Connect with Analiza on Linkedin
  • Visit Analiza’s website
  • Listen to Analiza’s ‘Women of Colour Rise’ podcast
  • Purchase Analiza’s books on Amazon


Thanks to our Producer, Nick Whatman, and the entire team at Lonsdale St. Studio. Thanks also to our Digital Content Creator, Laura Kleinrahm.

Tammy Ven Dange is a former charity CEO, Not for Profit Board Member and IT Executive. Today she helps NFPs with strategic IT decisions, especially around investments.

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