VP of Strategy & External Relations

Team Strategy 586 805 1115 lisa.gibes@50can.org @lisagibes

Lisa was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan (yep, there really is an 8 Mile). After graduating from Michigan State University with dual degrees in journalism and English, she ran a brief stint on a 2008 congressional campaign before moving to Philadelphia to teach third grade as a Teach For America corps member and earn her masters degree in education at the University of Pennsylvania.

Inside the classroom she came face-to-face with the achievement gap. Then when she interned on Capitol Hill during her summer vacation, she realized that teachers didn’t have to carry the burden of closing the gap on their own. Policymakers also have the power.

Convinced that children like her students won’t get the great schools they deserve unless we make wholesale changes to our school system, she took a crash course in education policy as an intern at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute before joining 50CAN first as Marc Porter Magee’s executive assistant, then chief of staff and now as VP of strategy and external relations.

In her role she works closely with Marc and the Strategy Team on national development, external relations and organizational strategy. She is thrilled to be a part of the 50CAN family and to continue working on what she is most passionate about: ensuring that each child in our country has access to a great school.

I aspire to be like Geoffrey Canada. Here’s why:

Geoffrey Canada, the president and CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone, knew that there’s no easy fix for the achievement gap. So he set HCZ up to tackle all of its students’ challenges—both in school and out—and in doing so, turned it in to one of today’s most inspiring examples of defying the status quo.

I aspire to be as diligent, innovative and passionate as he is, driven by the knowledge that closing the achievement gap will take more than a piecemeal effort.

Why I love my job:

I get to work with everyone in the organization and help ideas go from brainstorming sessions to full-fledged campaigns, all of which drive toward an incredibly worthy mission.

My connection to public schools:

Seeing the discrepancy between the quality of the education I received and the one that kids down the block received inspired me to become a teacher. I taught third grade in a Philadelphia public school for two years, which ultimately motivated me to become an education advocate.

What I’m bad at:

Keeping track of my phone (True story: I accidentally left my phone in the cab that drove me to my interview at 50CAN’s headquarters). Luckily this job requires me to keep it glued to my hand, so the frequency of losing it has declined drastically.

The image that represents why I work at 50CAN:

These are my students from my first year teaching in Philadelphia. Despite the challenges we had that year, we became a family and they ultimately pushed me to do the work I do today. Thank you, Room 304…I owe you one.