Marc was born in North Carolina but has lived at one time or another in Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Washington, DC before settling down in Virginia with his wife and three kids (and scruffy dog). He caught the political bug while in college at Georgetown and returned to the nation’s capital after grad school at Duke University, where he earned a PhD in Sociology.
In DC, Marc put his research skills to work at the Democratic Leadership Council’s think tank, the Progressive Policy Institute, supporting the expansion of national service programs, such as AmeriCorps, and later at the Partnership for Public Service, recruiting a new generation of young people to help transform the way the federal government works.
He made the jump to state-level education advocacy when he joined ConnCAN in its startup year in 2005. As ConnCAN’s Chief Operating Officer, Marc led the communications, development, research and government relations teams. As the big cheese at 50CAN, Marc works in partnership with the national leadership team to support our local leaders and leads 50CAN’s national development, external relations and organizational strategy work.
When I was in my first year of graduate school, my end-of-the-course project in a class on social capital was to map the social network of someone famous and write about how these ties impacted the course of this person’s life. I chose Nelson Mandela because I always wanted to read his autobiography and quickly became completely engrossed in the assignment, reading everything I could find on him and filling pages and pages of a notebook with every person mentioned in his life with lines connecting them all together.
What really amazed me about him was that even in his darkest hours he was always looking forward, building the ties across communities that would form the foundation for a new nation when his cause prevailed.
Why I love my job:
We are working on the biggest problem our nation faces and we are doing it at a scale that –if we do our jobs right—can actually solve that problem. And it just so happens that to do our jobs right, we have to build this amazing organization that brings together passionate, talented people from across the country, who in turn connect us together with leaders and advocates from across their states.
It's like Jane Addams’ Hull House meets Kennedy’s moon shot. Our work reminds me of this great quote from architect Daniel Burnham: “Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work.” It’s true of architecture but doubly true for advocacy.
My connection to public schools:
I am a product of public schools and the son, brother and husband of teachers. Until I had kids of my own, I tended to view our work to right the wrongs of the achievement gap through the lens of research. Now it’s much more personal and more urgent: no parent should ever be forced to send their child to a school I wouldn’t be willing to send my children to. And unfortunately, today in America, far too many families have to do just that every single day.
What I’m bad at:
My memory is the thing that most frustrates me. Since our kids were born and I stopped getting a good night’s sleep, I’ve found it so easy to lose things (keys, earbuds, my wallet), which I imagine drives everyone around me completely nuts. I’ve had to learn to be very consistent with where I place those objects and to be much better about writing down all the things I want to get done in a week.
The image that represents why I work at 50CAN:
50CAN exists because of a driving sense of urgency. Time is literally running out on millions of kids every year. It’s happening in communities across our country. I want us to bring a fierce urgency to this crisis: we don’t have any time to waste and we can’t take no for an answer in our quest for change.