Policy & Research Director

ConnCAN 781 652 1205 hamish.macphail@conncan.org

Hamish grew up in a small town outside Boston where school was the center of public life. The school system deeply valued diversity of thought, background and race by participating in a voluntary integration program and inviting students from the local Air Force Base to attend. This purposeful commitment to diversity and multiculturalism showed that if a small town like Bedford, Massachusetts, could do it, why couldn’t others?

Hamish followed his passion for equity to Lafayette College where he worked for a Pennsylvania state representative on resolving constituency issues—many that stemmed from inadequate economic opportunities. After graduating, Hamish joined Teach for America and was placed in New Haven, Connecticut, to teach kindergarten. There, he taught 62 incredibly smart and curious students how to read, write, count and work together.

After two years, Hamish recognized that to truly bring about educational equity for all of Connecticut’s children, systems and policies would have to change. Hamish attended the Maxwell School at Syracuse University to earn his master’s degree in Public Administration, and learned about state and local governance, finance and quantitative research methods. He then returned to Connecticut to work at the ZOOM Foundation, a private family foundation focused on education and the environment where he managed the foundation’s parent organizing initiative to develop sustainable parent power for education equity issues in Connecticut.

Hamish is a proud Nutmegger. He lives with his wife, Ashley, and two dogs in Hamden, Connecticut.

I aspire to be like Mr. Rogers. Here’s why:

Mr. Rogers embodied the values of humility, love and respect. He made every child, regardless of their background, feel cared for, appreciated and valued. If we are to achieve educational equity for all children in Connecticut, we must take the same approach. Like Mr. Rogers, I hope to always remain grounded in the ideal that children are our greatest asset, and that by investing in them, we are bettering this world.

“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.” – Fred Rogers

Why I love my job:

Connecticut and its students have unlimited potential. I love my job because I help folks learn about and recognize that, while we’re not currently supporting all kids well, we can and will achieve educational equity. I love working alongside passionate and powerful advocates, who work tirelessly for what they know is right: that all children, regardless of their background, have the right to a world-class education.

My connection to public schools:

I am a K-12 public school graduate from a school district that nurtured and supported my academic and social growth. I transferred this love of school to my work as a kindergarten teacher in New Haven where I had the privilege to teach some of the world’s smartest and hardest-working children. Now in grades four and five, they are preparing for college and career with that same tenacity and joy.

What I’m bad at:

Remembering those simple, everyday tasks. I am a dreamer and, sometimes, that means my head is in the clouds while I’m thinking about how our world could look. Whether I’ve forgotten my keys, socks or grocery list, I find myself leaving the house before I’m fully ready. Luckily, and with support from my wife, I have developed systems to ensure nothing gets lost in the shuffle!

This image represents why I work at 50CAN:

My kindergarteners always led their days with love. They’d care for each other, lend a helping hand to those in need and make the most of any experience. We need more kindergarteners in this world!

At 50CAN, there’s a palpable sense that everyone cares deeply about improving the world in which we live, especially for those who are historically marginalized. This work requires empathy, humility and, most importantly, love.