Angela Romans, a graduate of Harvard, has been an educator since graduating. She studied engineering but wasn’t sure she wanted to pursue this field. A serendipitous ad set her on a new path in education. She realized that she had a passion for education and wanted to make an impact on young people’s lives. She began her career as a high school science and math teacher, working in alternative high schools in New York and Boston. Angela also worked in college admission at Brown University, where she worked as an admission officer for eleven years before she became the director of minority recruitment and academic advisor. She missed working on the ground, and moved into a position that focused on coalition building, cross-sector collaboration, and systems change work in education. She worked at an organization that supported opportunity youth and transitioned students who had stopped out of high school back into school.
In 2009-10, she was invited to participate in the education campaign of Providence Mayor Angel Divaris, who was passionate about education. She was appointed the first Senior Education Advisor in Providence and served for three years of his administration. Angela also had other system building roles, including working with a nonprofit consulting firm that focused on social sector organizations. She led their racial equity work and education work, and was selected as a fellow for Innovation for Equity. She moved on to work in a non-profit consulting firm that worked with social sector organizations. She has since worked with various organizations, including the Annenberg Institute and Innovation for Equity, and continues to work on a variety of projects and initiatives.
Innovation for Equity
Innovation for Equity (IFE) is a unique organization that focuses on connecting, convening, and supporting senior black education leaders across the entire education ecosystem. It includes senior leaders at various levels, including CEOs, directors, and C-suites in education organizations, superintendents, college presidents, nonprofit leaders, and private sector investors. The organization focuses on two levers: connecting, convening, and supporting black education leaders, and helping to identify and scale solutions specifically working for black learners of all ages. The organization offers a Senior Leadership Fellowship, which is a year-long fellowship that connects black senior leaders for building themselves as a cohort, improving their leadership skills, and connecting them to resources such as mentors and consultants. Learning events throughout the year, such as the annual Black Education Forum and HBCU EdTech summit, help college students understand the power and potential of ed tech careers. IFE is expanding its research agenda this year to identify what’s working for black learners and what black leaders need to be successful in their work. They are also expanding their research agenda to identify what black leaders need to be successful in their work to stay in organizations across education and build their coalitions and power to be as effective as possible. One of the solutions for black learners is targeting universalism, which suggests that what works for some of the most underrepresented and least well-served people tends to lift all boats. For example, having a black teacher in the classroom significantly increases the likelihood of black students graduating high school and having one during their career. Research shows that having a black teacher in the classroom leads to better outcomes for all students across the classroom. In conclusion, Innovation for Equity is a unique organization that focuses on connecting, convening, and supporting black education leaders to identify and scale solutions specifically working for black learners of all ages.
Angela shares her experience as a black student of a single mom and has found that telling her story explains her why to employers and organizations to help pull all parties together. She talks about how to support black leaders and shares a story from a recent EdTech Summit. As a leadership coach for executive leaders, Angela talks about the importance of identifying common patterns and understanding experiences to help black leaders solve those problems.
Angela’s Role as Senior Education Advisor
As the Senior Education Advisor, Angela has been instrumental in bringing people together and improving outcomes for students in Providence. She led the Providence Children Youth cabinet, which aimed to bring together school districts and higher education businesses to work towards improving student outcomes. Major accomplishments include increasing FAFSA completion, helping the mayor prevent the city from going bankrupt, and building community coalitions at individual and larger city levels. Angela is particularly proud of her work on raising awareness about early literacy skills and the role of families and communities in this process. As the director of minority recruitment at Brown University, Angela has a unique perspective on the recent Supreme Court ruling on Students for Fair Admission versus Harvard. She believes that the decision will have a significant impact on selective colleges as an engine of social mobility. She believes that colleges need to have black students who are doing well economically and whose families are doing well, as well as black students whose families are not. To recruit a more diverse class, colleges should be more active in recruiting and visiting schools where diverse groups of students and communities are present. This can help create pipelines of students in specific areas, where some of these students are now graduates and doing amazing things in the world. Brown University has been successful in recruiting students from diverse backgrounds, including students of color, low-income students, and first-generation college bound students. By doing more of this, colleges can continue to diversify their student body and create a more inclusive and supportive environment for all students.
How to Promote Diversity in Education
Angela discusses the importance of supporting black learners in education, focusing on two or three options. The first is to increase the presence of black teachers in classrooms, providing them with professional development opportunities and networks for collaboration. This could lead to their growth and development in leadership roles within schools, districts, and charter school networks. However, barriers to this include policy and practice awareness, as well as the lack of support from school leaders and other black teachers. Paying teachers more at the college level can help bridge these gaps, but it’s essential to ensure that black teachers have access to the right resources and networks to progress in their career. Additionally, creating after-school opportunities for all students in communities with curriculum and resources steeped in black culture can supplement what they receive in school. Investing more in black entrepreneurs who want to start companies can make a difference in the education sector, as having the right people with the right lived experience and technical experiences can make a difference.
Harvard Professors and Courses of Influence
As a woman of color in engineering thirty years ago, Angela had a difficult time in her program. She mentions that Professor Howard Stone and Doug Mazur were supportive and helped her through her program. She also mentions the course Black Women Writers in African American Studies, and the course Greek Heroes with Gregory Nagy.
04:48 Angela’s path to becoming an education leader
10:05 The role of innovation for equity leaders
15:34 Solutions that work for black learners
20:43 How to effectively convene a group of leaders
30:00 Impact of the supreme court ruling on diversity
35:20 Supporting non-selective colleges and universities
40:17 The importance of getting more black teachers in the classroom
45:36 The importance of diversity in the classroom
50:49 Courses and professors that continue to resonate with Angela
Angela Romans, Will Bachman
Will Bachman 00:01
Hello, and welcome to the 92 report conversations with members of the Harvard and Radcliffe class of 1992. I’m your host will Bachman. And I’m delighted to be here today with Angela, Romans. Angela, welcome to the show.
Angela Romans 00:15
Thank you. Well, it is a pleasure to be here
Will Bachman 00:18
to Angela, tell me about your journey since graduating from Harvard.
Angela Romans 00:24
Well, the journey has, in some ways the journey started while I was in my last year at Harvard, I studied engineering, biomedical engineering, there and in some ways was, you know, preparing to become an engineer. But just had this sort of nagging feeling like Oh, I’m not sure I’m ready to go into the engineering world, and maybe should think about going to grad school are sort of getting what felt to me better prepared for for that particular career. So it was looking around at what I might be able to do in an interim year or transition year, and came across a, an ad for the Mississippi Teacher Corps, which sounds a little random, but it was it was actually quite transformational. In that it helped me to put a finger on this nagging that was kind of in the back of my mind. Because most of what I had done outside of the classroom at Harvard was really about education. And I had this education bug that that really felt like it needed to move forward, for me to sort of explore it. And that created a whole series of conversations with friends and mentors and folks about what I’ve might be actually doing next and what I might want to focus on. So I really shifted to switch my focus from becoming an engineer to becoming an educator, which has been the arc of my career since Harvard, I’ve been an educator in a multitude of different ways. I started out as a high school science and math teacher to kind of mesh my love of engineering and math and science with my interest and love of sort of letting legit love of education. And so I did that in a classroom, in New York and in Boston and small, alternative high schools, which I loved. And at some point, I realized that the classroom, you know, I had lots of other interests outside of the classroom, and how I might be able to make an impact on on young people’s lives. And I have this carryover interest from college in, in really college admission, I’ve worked in the admission office in college, and really just loved that aspect of education. So at the time, I had just gotten engaged. And my, my, my partner and his two brothers both went to Brown. And it just helped me to, you know, look around for different admission positions, there was one at Brown, which felt really convenient and appropriate at the time. So I ended up going to brown and working in their college admission, working in their admission office for 11 years, which is the longest job I’ve ever had. And I’m so was an admission officer, in working a lot with high school students, who are first generation college bound a lot of college access organizations did some international recruitment, became the director of minority recruitment there for the last four years of my time was an academic advisor there as well. I really loved working with the students, some of whom I admitted to really see them through from, you know, just the recruitment side all the way to their graduation and beyond. And then I realized, okay, this, this serving in an ivory tower has been great. And I’m kind of missing schools on the ground and more on the groundwork. So went to my next two roles, actually, probably the next series of my roles, were really focused on a lot of work on the ground. And specifically ended up focusing a lot on the notion of sort of coalition building, cross sector collaboration, and ultimately systems change work in education. So worked at an organization that did work for opportunity youth, and supported a lot of schools to get students who had stopped out of high school to transition back to high school. And then in I think 2009 10 2010, one of our classmates Angel divaris called me up and said, Hey, Angela, I am going to be running for mayor you of Providence. And I would love you to be involved in the education part of my, you know, my campaign because education is a is an important factor for me. I know, I knew, you know that he was really passionate about education and thought that I could help him make a real difference. So he became the mayor and asked me to come onto his cabinet. So I was appointed the first Senior Education Advisor in Providence, which was quite a ride. And we finally made a whole podcast to talk about that role that I served there for the first three years of his administration, and ended up shifting over to go back to Brown to work in our research policy and practice Institute there, or I brought some of the city based work that I had been doing coalition based playspace work I’d been doing for Angel over to the to the Annenberg Institute, as well as doing leading some national college access work. And it’s more systems change work. So I got a chance to really kind of combine a lot of my different loves in that role. And then ended up having a couple of other different kinds of sort of system building roles. And I left providence in 2019, right before the pandemic started, left Providence to work in a nonprofit consulting firm. So I’ve been doing all this work with, with different actors, I’d say across the education ecosystem, the to say, trying to get the adults to play together in the sandbox on behalf of kids and families, which is, you know, sort of professional cat herding work as it is, and, and realize that, you know, a lot of these organizations need help themselves and need a lot of work in their own organizational development and a lot of work supporting their leaders to be, you know, better managers to be better at partnerships to be, you know, sort of better at reaching out. So, so I ended up working for a nonprofit consulting firm that specifically worked with social sector organizations, and I love Providence for that moved to DC, where I live now. And that organization, I lead their racial equity work, lead some of their education work, and, and ultimately was, was also selected as a fellow for this new organization called Innovation for equity, which I’ll talk about and, and so the the nonprofit consulting firm work was great in a lot of ways, because it helped me to see that working inside organization wasn’t necessarily my passion, but I actually really do love the cross sector, that system building work, and, and love supporting leaders, I was really excited about some of the coaching that I was able to do. And specifically some of the work that I was doing supporting leaders of color, generally, and black leaders specifically. So that organization also ended up sunsetting. So I stayed on to sunset that organization as the lead there and learn how to close down a nonprofit, which is a particular set of skills that I would recommend for anyone. You know, if you have a chance, it’s it’s great to learn how to do that. And at the time, innovation for equity, which had been volunteer led, was looking for an executive director. So was, was was invited to apply and was hired as the Executive Director of Innovation for equity. So as the first hire, and right after I sunset, an organization was hired to start up a nonprofit, so kind of to two sides of that, that nonprofit management coin. And so for the last two plus years, I’ve been the Founding Executive Director of Innovation for equity, which is a network of black senior black education leaders across the education ecosystem across the US, which really connects and cultivates and supports black leaders in trying to improve life outcomes for for black learners of all ages. So that’s been the work that I’ve been doing for the past couple of years, which I have loved. And it kind of brings me to, to the answer to you know, finish answering your question of sort of what has my journey been, since I since I left Harvard, lots of education work, lots of work focusing on systems building, and a lot of work, you know, supporting racial equity and leadership develop meant in, in a lot of different mostly nonprofit but other organizations as well.
Will Bachman 10:05
There are so many areas that we could dive in. There’s a lot of entry points here. I’d like to start with the most recent, can you tell us a bit more about with innovation for equity, the, you know, the kind of roles that the black senior leaders have? Are these, like principals or superintendents or, you know, who’s who’s involved as participants in the organization? And what are the types of services or events that you are that you’re doing?
Angela Romans 10:39
Absolutely, innovation for equity, one of the things that makes us distinct across other kinds of networks, education leadership networks, is that we really do our leaders span the, I’d say, the breadth of the education ecosystem. So we have, and it’s all senior leaders, the folks who are at the CEO, the director, CEO, C suite levels in an education organization. So we have superintendents, we have college presidents, we have nonprofit leaders. And we also, we also have private sector. So we have folks who are ed tech, entrepreneurs, and executives in and big, big and small and tech firms, we have folks who are investors in the private sector, so folks who do venture capital, investments in education companies, folks, who are, you know, sort of longer stage who do private equity, investment in education companies, folks who are starting their own education companies, consulting companies attack, etc. So spanning the, you know, the nonprofit public private sector, across the whole education ecosystem, which is, which is unique, I would say, I don’t know of any other organization that has that broader range with, with with education leaders, especially at the senior level. And then we, we focus on two sort of two levers for our work. We connect, convene, and support black education leaders, and we help to identify and scale solutions that are specifically working for black learners of all ages. So we have a senior leadership Fellowship, which is how I got connected to IFP. So I’m really, I think, well positioned and excited and, and blessed and a lot of ways, because I was able to experience the organization before, you know, being called to lead it. So our fellowship is a year long fellowship, where we bring in black senior leaders for, you know, building themselves as a cohort, connecting, connecting them, building their skills, helping to improve, improve some of their leadership skills, and also helping to connect them to resources, whether that be mentors, whether that be consultants who can help them with their, their, you know, sort of problems of practice that they may be facing, bringing them to, to events, learning events, things like that. And, you know, really helping to, to speak about them and bring them into the rooms and help them to understand some of the conversations that happen in these rooms of influence. And so they can be well, you know, really, really well positioned to, to deepen the work that they have done over, you know, over their careers, and to to impact outcomes for black learners even more. So we we have our senior leadership fellowship, we do learning events throughout the year, like our event that we just had on Martha’s Vineyard, our black Education Forum, which is an annual event and our annual HBCU edtech summit so that college students can understand the power and potential of ed tech careers. Like I like to say, if I had been that, you know, that 20 year old graduating from Harvard with an engineering degree, if I had known that Ed Tech was a reality, he was even something that I could have done, that might have been something that I’ve been interested in, but no one really made the connection between sort of technique, you know, technology and education, unfortunately, that 30 years ago, so we want to make sure that college students can understand that and can see that there are black folks who’ve been successful in that space as well. And then we’re really expanding our research agenda this year, so that we can, again, like I said, really identify what’s working for black learners and also really identify even more what black leaders need to be successful in their work to, you know, to to stay in these organizations, across education and to really, you know, build, build their coalition’s build their power in order to to, to be, you know, as effective as possible. So those are the kinds of things that that we’re doing. And it’s, it’s, it’s really exciting a couple of our founders, our class of 92, folks, class 93, folks, as well. So we have some, some close connections there. And, and we just celebrated our fifth fifth year as an organization. So, so that is work that I’m really, really loving, living leading at this point in my career.
Will Bachman 15:42
And he mentioned several times that sort of the second function beyond the convenient convening leaders is, is solutions for black learners. curious to hear, what sort of solutions? Have you been finding that work for black learners that might be distinct for them? solutions that work for, you know, non black learners? Like what’s distinct about that? Audience What, you know, for students have the same, say economic status and so forth? Like, are there things? Are there solutions, or interventions that are working for black learners in particular, that are specifically tailored to their needs? Be very interested to hear some examples of that?
Angela Romans 16:28
Sure, I mean, two, I would say two things to that. One is that, you know, part of what we know and subscribe to is the the notion of targeting universalism, which essentially says what works for some of the the most underrepresented and the least well served folks tends to lift all boats as a word, that rising tide. So this notion of, for instance, curb cuts on sidewalks, right, so that was specifically designed for, for folks in a wheelchair who use wheelchairs, and that’s something that all of us have benefited from, from, you know, bike riding or, you know, just just generally, folks who are, are able to get up and down the sidewalk better. So for, for black learners, it’s similar, in some ways that things like having a black teacher in the classroom, you know, significantly increases the likelihood of black students graduating high school, having even one black teacher during their career. And it’s also something that research is showing leads to better outcomes in the classroom in general for all students. So again, this this notion of targeted universalism, right, I can see a black teacher who looks like me, who might have some of my same experiences, who might be able to, you know, who I might feel more comfortable going to than a non black teacher about, you know, specific issues that I am experiencing in my life. And it’s, it’s the so that’s the specific, you know, sort of lever for black students and impact on black students. And it’s showing, you know, increased outcomes for all students across the classroom. So, so that that targeted universalism is one way I would say, you know, something that we’re finding, and we’re ascribing to, then the second piece is, you know, there are some things that are specifically targeted for black learners that we’re, you know, sort of understanding beginning to understand more. So, for instance, one of our members, chi Henderson, who used to be the, you know, who served in a variety of education roles. She was the Chancellor of the DC public schools, she’s created a, she’s co founded an edtech company called reconstruction, which is specifically designed to teach aspects of the African American experience out of the classroom. So doing it virtually, for students, you know, out of school, after school, some schools have contracted with her, etc, in the summertime. And so those are, you know, those are, you know, specific interventions, for lack of a better word, but specific support specific resources that are designed specifically for and by and about the African American experience, that we are looking into more and more about, you know, sort of how that can work to support not only this, just the black students, but the communities that they come from. So, you know, similar to folks going to Jewish school, or folks going to Chinese school or really community focused experiences also some things like Um, you know, some after school experiences like freedom schools or schools that are specifically being designed for, say, you know, young men and boys of color, looking at the effectiveness of some of those designs, and we’re really just starting to see the research about the effectiveness of some of those, those that are really designed, as I, as we said, in our black Education Forum, you know, designed for us and by us. So that’s, that’s another set of of topics and resources were exploring.
Will Bachman 20:35
Now, the first lever you mentioned, is that you connect, convene and support black senior black leaders. What have you learned in through your involvement with innovation for equity? What do you know now that you didn’t know then about how to effectively convene a group that is represent a wide range of companies, some nonprofit organizations for profit? What have you learned about how to effectively convene people?
Angela Romans 21:12
Well, some of this, I’ve been learning, like I said, over the various roles that I’ve had. And that so so just generally, effectively convening people across sectors, is helping people to, you know, identify their why, why am I in this work? What matters really most to me, and to be able to articulate that and lead with that and start with that, and then find common ground through that. So I like to say that, you know, my mom, who largely raised me as a single mom, and it showed up a lot in my growing up, she showed up a lot at school, she had a lot of fights with people in the school, about getting my brother and me access to the kind of education resources like they should be in the advanced classes, or they should be doing this after schoolwork, et cetera, et cetera. And she really kind of, she really pushed that. And I believe and say that the reason that I do what I do is so that black mamas, like mine don’t have to fight, or really, any mamas have to fight to get their kids that kind of education they deserve. So my mom is a real inspiration for a lot of the work that I’ve done and making sure that you know that black families can get those educational resources. So when I tell that story, other folks who may be in the business world, may be in you know, in higher education may identify with that and say, okay, so I know why you’re doing this work. And that helps to build trust. So that I’d say, you know, leading, leading with your why identifying, you know, some commonalities across sharing stories, and then also identifying, you know, some some goals and outcomes that you have that are that can be common across all of these groups to help to help pull them together and keep them together. So that is, you know, one one fundamental lesson around convening, I would say specifically for black leaders, many are the first and the only in their organizations. And, you know, so giving them space to to do what I said, telling stories, giving them space to to connect with each other and really lead with not only just the stories, but the relationships, you know, what, you know, where are you from? How did you get to this work? What’s important to you? You know, we understand that those those the spaces for them to do that can be really important. So at our, at our Ed Tech Summit, for instance, this February, there was a panel about superintendents, and how superintendents and school districts and the folks who support them are spending their s or funds there, you know, the the sort of COVID pandemic recovery funds. But those superintendents spent the first like, I don’t know, 710 minutes of the, of the the panel talking about their stories, and sharing their stories and, and that’s one of the things that I think is, you know, can be really different and be really powerful about convening black leaders or folks who you know, share a specific identity and experience that may be that may be different and they help them bond together. So the you know, sort of being the first being the only sharing those stories are important and then Um, part of that as well, is I’m a, I’m a leadership coach as well, for executive leaders. And I’d say probably, you know, a good proportion of my work as a coach is to tell leaders, yeah, you’re not crazy, this happened to you. And this happens to a lot of other folks. So a lot of the convening is, you know, for black leaders I’ve found is about understanding some of the common patterns, some of the common experiences in their in leadership in, you know, across organizations, and helping them to understand, you know, what, what those commonalities are, and how they, and others can, you know, solve those problems or help to, you know, to, to, to work together on some common solutions? Or just to say, All right, well, we’re seeing this in the field, how can we, you know, sort of build some power to be able to, you know, talk to philanthropy about this specifically, or talk to investors about investing more in black leaders, you know, venture capital, investing more in black entrepreneurs or things like that. So the, you know, you’re not crazy piece of it is, is really about sort of identifying patterns that happen and a just commiserating about them and understanding that, you know, that’s, it’s not just about you. And also how can you, you know, build some collaboration and some collective power towards some solutions.
Will Bachman 26:35
I’d love to dial back the clock, and hear a bit about your experience as the Senior Education Advisor serving our classmate, Angela Varis, when he was mayor of Providence. And by the way, Angel was a guest on the show, I think, two or three.
Angela Romans 26:52
Yeah, I listened to his podcast.
Will Bachman 26:55
So yeah, tell us about that experience. And what were some of the accomplishments you had there that you were particularly proud of?
Angela Romans 27:01
Sure, it was, it was instructive. It was, you know, definitely one of the jobs I’ve had that’s taught me in some ways the most, about life, about politics about, you know, sort of bringing people together. You know, there are a lot of things that I am proud of in that work, some of which still, you know, still continue, many of which still continue in Providence. You know, one thing is the the cross sector collaborative work that I lead there, the Providence Children Youth cabinet, which is expanded to a more statewide coalition and shifted a bit, but that work was trying to bring together, you know, the school district, higher education business, to work toward, you know, improving outcomes for students in Providence. So, we set some common goals that we wanted to see around, you know, more students reading on grade level by third grade, because that, you know, a lot of research shows that that helps to predict high school graduation, the number of students graduating high school on time, the number of students who are enrolling and completing post secondary, both, you know, the sort of traditional age college students as well as supporting adults who are coming back to complete their degrees. So help to lead a just the building of that, that city wide coalition, and then some of the major accomplishments on that, like increasing students FAFSA completion, increasing by about 1000 degrees, the number of students who were completing post secondary degrees in Providence, helping to you know, helping in the little ways that I did, helping the mayor to prevent the city from going bankrupt, which unfortunately involves a lot of which involves closing some schools and a in a credible amount of tension. And also the sort of community coalition building at the individual relationship level and the the sort of larger city wide level to sort of recover from from that necessary decision to try to make sure that the students who were transitioning schools had a as smooth as possible transition to the rest of the schools that were serving students. So that’s those are a few of the things we won the $5 million mayor’s prize that the Bloomberg Philanthropies had, so that really was focused on helping some of our youngest learners. Um, become, you know, develop early early literacy skills by increasing the number of words that the kids here and there in their, in their homes when they’re really young. So so that work was started, it was really proud of that work and just raising awareness about early literacy for for kids and the role that families and communities play in that, especially parents, as the first teachers. And then, you know, a lot of other things, but those are a few of the ones that I would say, were really, really impactful, and of which I’m really proud.
Will Bachman 30:42
Given your role as the director of minority recruitment at Brown, you have a unique perspective on the recent Supreme Court ruling on students for fair admission versus Harvard. What’s your thoughts on the impact that that ruling is going to have and what universities can do to you know, continue to recruit diverse classes?
Angela Romans 31:09
Sure, that could be its own zone podcast episode, as well, as you can imagine, have had lots and lots and lots of conversations and have lots of thoughts about it, I would say, it is going to, you know, we, we can foresee the kind of significant impact that it can have, that we’ll have, especially on selective colleges as an inch, you know, as an engine of social mobility, because we’ve seen it in University of California, Berkeley, in Texas. So So UC Berkeley with the prop two, nine, Texas with the Hopwood decision and other selective universities that have ended, specifically, you know, looking at the considering race or using racial preferences positively in the admission process is one, you know, it’s one part so we can we I would I, it portends the decision portends a decrease in the number of students of color across the board. And both low income students who, you know, folks, many opponents of the use of race order, then some proponents have said, well, we can just consider income, right and have and use that as a proxy for diversifying the class. And I’d say that’s one factor that colleges have been using all along anyway. But the other point is that if you hold income study, black students, in particular black and Latino students have, you know, more gaps or harm in their education than white students than than other students across the board. So, you know, essentially, black students who may be going into suburban schools, or maybe in private schools, or may have, you know, more sort of elite education are still on the whole faring not as well as others. So, you know, looking at income only or socio economics only is not going to solve the quote unquote, problem or make sure that colleges are able to continue to diversify across all socio economic groups, right, they need to colleges need to have black students who are doing well as economically whose families are doing well, economically, as well as black students whose families are not so. So there’s, I can foresee a lot of impact that way, I think in order to, to recruit a more diverse class colleges are going to have to get more active in recruiting and think about going places where diverse groups of students diverse communities are and colleges, you know, when I was recruiting, I would sometimes visit schools that, you know, hadn’t seen an admission officer from an Ivy League school at all period. Some of that was really productive, just from the brown recruitment standpoint and serve to you know, create pipelines of students in some specific areas that you know, that I’m really proud of creating, helping to create and, you know, some of those students are, are now graduates doing amazing things in the world. And so I know that they were able to be at Brown, because I was in the room not because, you know, quote, unquote, brown believed in diversity writ large, but because of Have me feeding, you know, sort of sort of specifically recruiting there. And colleges are gonna just have to do more of that than they have been used to and get where, where diverse students and communities are. Where students of color are, where low income students are, where first generation college bound students are. They’re just going to have to get there. And then secondly, we are going to need a larger conversation about how other non selective colleges and universities can be better supported to, you know, pick up the slack, across the board, as maybe fewer students of color applied to selective schools, because many of them unfortunately, will feel like oh, well, why apply? Because I’m not going to get in which, you know, we’ve seen some of those comments heard and seen some of those conversations. So other colleges and universities, HBCUs, community colleges, etc, who haven’t had the resources and support systemically, we’re going to have to do better as a society and supporting those institutions to accept to enroll and support and graduate more, more students of color if they’re not going to be as many in in those selective colleges. So So that’s part of the work that I’m doing, and lots of conversations that I’m having with, you know, a lot of different folks right now. About, you know, okay, how can we support a broader array of colleges and universities to help educate, you know, this, this next generation of black leaders?
Will Bachman 36:37
Now, perhaps you’re under some kind of nondisclosure agreement? And if so, tells me you want to pass on this next one. But I’m curious, and I’ve always been curious about this. For college admissions, I’ve always wondered, like, what is the real driver behind giving a tip to athletes and legacy students and I have many friends who are both and listeners of the show are former athletes, or current athletes and legacies, my closest friend, is fine. So but I’m curious, does the research internally say that, you know, athletes give more donations or legacies give more donations or something driving that, you know, athletes get more of a tip than say, the person is going to go on beyond the Call newspaper or in the orchestra? So what’s driving that decision internally at admissions offices?
Angela Romans 37:38
Well, I think what you have heard, and in, you know, the conversations, is is consistent with my experience and my understanding. So for athletes. Across the board, both I mean, big college athletics is a money driver, as we know, it right. I was just visiting some friends in Rhode Island. We were talking about this, and the coach at the University of Rhode Island is the highest paid employee in the state of Rhode Island. So the basketball coach,
Will Bachman 38:21
sure, but Oh, no, but like the Penn State football is a very different thing than men’s swimming or men’s squash at Harvard,
Angela Romans 38:30
at Harvard. Yeah. And, and alumni give money to the squash team. So you know, what the the budget of the squash team at, you know, that that the university might have? Is not the, the the sort of subset of the budget that the you know, the coach can spend if the coach is able to talk to alumni who say yes, you know, we have a winning squash team, we’ll donate, you know, a certain amount of money to that. So it’s it’s both, it’s, you know, money driver, as in both in both big college athletics and smaller college athletics are money drivers, and legacy, you know, having alumni who are who are loyal to the university and who will therefore donate their time, talent and treasure to the university in you know, in support of their children Micah, maybe getting in is, is a is a major factor for that legacy tip. So it is it’s money, but it’s also you know, sort of loyalty and participation and volunteerism, and those are the kinds of things that make universities like Harvard run better. So so so those the both of those the the time talent treasures that have loyal tea are major reasons why both a legacy tip and athletics tip
Will Bachman 40:07
more so then, you know, alumni of the college newspaper or alumni of the College choir or, you know, the Harvard Club em or something like that?
Angela Romans 40:17
Well, I mean, ah, I’ve certainly been in admissions meetings where the conductor of the orchestra will say, our drummer has graduated. And we really need another drummer and the student from x High School in Kentucky, is the top drummer, you know, he’s played at the Newport Jazz Fest, three years in a row, we really want the student that’s something that doesn’t get talked about in this conversation, because it’s not on the same scale, or it’s not as measurable or it’s just not in the radar. But that happens too. Because keeping you know, the orchestra, well populated, making sure that the orchestra can tour around the world, you know, world class college orchestra, like Harvard’s, those conversations happen to they just don’t rise to the level of most people’s awareness. So when when we talk about tips, you know, I mean, that one drummer is not going to show register in a class of 1600. But all if you look at all the athletic teams and all the athletes that get a lot of attention, that’s going to register or the percentage of legacy students that’s going to register but the drummer in the orchestra or, you know, the the tenor, and the in palladium or you know, etc, etc, then the newspaper editor, which you know, is probably a little bit more common, and as a high school skill than, you know, the world class drummer, those those folks who fit need, so the university that are rare, and that our, you know, exceptional talents, they get tips, too. They just, it just doesn’t get talked about
Will Bachman 42:19
broad Canvas question. So let’s say that you have the opportunity to make some intervention happen that would help support black learners. And let’s say it’s politically realistic, at least, you know, at least at the edge of realism, right? So, not some complete waving a magic wand, but something that we can realistically imagine what happened? What would that be, give us, you know, two or three options of what you’d like to see, you know, ideas that listeners of the show could, you know, could support? What are some things that should be happening that are not now?
Angela Romans 43:00
Well, I’d say the most, the most obvious maybe, is to get more black teachers in the classroom. Given the amount of research that that’s shown the importance of black teachers in classrooms, and not only getting them in classrooms, but making sure that they’re supported to stay so that they have networks of other teachers that they can collaborate with, that they have professional development opportunities to support them, and their growth and development, both in the classroom and then potentially into, you know, leadership roles in their school, and then their school district or their, you know, their their charter school networks, etc. You know, speaking specifically about public education, so more black teachers, giving them the resources that they need to stay, and giving them the resources they need to advance, I’d say, you know, it’s like 90% interest.
Will Bachman 44:02
But let me dive in a little bit. What, what’s the barrier today to making that happen? Is it that the black professionals who would be well qualified to be teachers are of more attractive opportunities, or making people more aware that it’s possible reducing regulatory barriers? Like you don’t have to have an education degree? Like what are the changes, specific changes that would help make that a reality?
Angela Romans 44:27
Yeah, and, and, and all of the things that you that you mentioned, well, though, the policy, the practice the awareness, all of those are our demonstrated barriers to getting black teachers into the classroom. So at the, you know, at the college level, paying teachers more I mean, that people is sort of argued back and forth about whether that’s it’s not the only lever but it certainly helps as people are able to support their themselves in their Are there families and communities. So all of those things, the barriers, the testing barriers, to, you know, teacher education, the, you know, taking out big loans to have to go to education school, if they didn’t do it, and undergrad, all of those things, and then the support in schools, so if schools are, you know, don’t understand what it might, school leaders don’t understand what it might be like to be a black teacher in a school where they may be one of few, where they may not have other black teachers to lean on and to talk to and to share practice with, that can be a barrier to because it can be really isolating like is that our leaders, many of them are the first or the only. And, you know, 83% of teachers are white. So So that’s, that’s a big, please, to making sure that they find the right networks and resources in collaboration. And then there’s the notion of, you know, of, of a career ladder, so if teachers decide they want to leave the classroom, making sure that they have the kinds of training and resources that that can help them to become school leaders and guess a district leaders and to to potentially make an impact in education outside of outside of the schools, like in an edtech company, where they can write curriculum, things like that. So all of the things that you talked about are barriers, and there are specific ways that they can be the specific levers to remove each of those barriers, and it takes both the knowledge of, you know, all of the sort of things standing in the way as well as collective will to remove those things, remove those barriers, so that, you know, that I would say is a is a huge, is a huge lever, that that would help to that we know, that research shows to help to increase experiences for black learners. Also, I would, you know, I would create more after school opportunities for, for all kids in, you know, in communities, and especially ones that may specifically have curriculum and resources and teachers that are, that are, you know, steeped in the in like history, black culture, that can help to supplement what kids are getting in school as well. So both the in school and the out of school resources, research shows that, that those those tend to help so I mean, I could I could talk for hours, what I would do, and, you know, some of the Levers investing in, in black entrepreneurs that are starting companies, for instance, that are you know, there’s there’s a trillion dollars in education, technology, money flowing through, through and around schools, and a tiny, tiny, tiny percentage of that is led by black entrepreneurs. So and those black entrepreneurs are, you know, tend to get something like 4%, I think of venture capital. So having investors invest more in, in black, black entrepreneurs who want to start companies, because, you know, it makes a difference who’s in the room, I think that’s part of our organization’s work and focus, having the right folks in the room with the right lived experience and the right set of technical experiences, makes a difference. I’ll just one of our, our keynote speaker at our Ed Tech Summit. Molly as GM who’s also a Harvard grad, he talks about his company that focuses on on social and emotional learning and, and the work that he was doing with the Miami Dade School District, which is one of the larger school districts and maybe the fifth largest school district in the country. And you know, Mari Molly is an Ethiopian immigrant. His family immigrated, and in the the technology product that he was designing around social emotional learning, he realized that it wasn’t translated into Haitian Creole. And so he made sure that that translation happened for, you know, in his work with Miami schools, and I can’t remember how many 1000s But several 1000s of students were able to, to, you know, experience that SEL work in their own in their native language and, you know, the data that he took out After doing that showed that those students, you know, increase their test scores significantly, because they were able to do that in their native language. And that happened because Molly has a particular perspective as an immigrant and understands the importance of of being able to do that with learning. So you know, who’s in the room really matters. I think that’s, that’s part of the story that we’re trying to tell. And, and so what helps for black learners is to make sure that the right folks are in the room, that are connecting with them that are supporting them that are celebrating their gifts, and their their beauty and their joy, to help black learners ultimately, you know, have better lives and really thrive.
Will Bachman 50:49
I like to turn back to college and ask you, are there any courses or professors you had at Harvard, that continue to resonate with you?
Angela Romans 51:02
Sure, I was just talking about this with someone recently. Um, I mean, a couple a couple that I would mention. First, my, you know, I had a, I will say, a difficult experience as a woman, and as a woman of color in engineering, you know, 30 years ago. So that’s the head. One professor Howard stone, in particular, really stood out, stands out continues to stand out to me at Howard Stern. And I would say Deb Mazar, as just as teachers who really identified with students tried to connect with students were warm and welcoming and open. And to all students. But particularly, they made a difference to me, as a, you know, as a woman in in this in STEM, who’s really like, not confident in my ability had been super confident in high school, but going coming at Harvard, it’s like, Ah, I am not as smart as I thought I was, or at least not all these people. So having those two having, you know, just be really warm and say, Hey, can you come to my office hours? Can you, you know, I’d love to get to understand you better, where are you having problems? How can I, how can I help, they went over and beyond what other teachers did. And so I like to single them out in just in my engineering experience, and I and I see Howard still around and about occasionally, he’s like, Hey, I remember you. So that’s also really wonderful, because he’s just personable. And then in terms of other courses, the courses that I took an African American Studies, black woman writers, for instance, I took my freshman year, it really changed my life changed and deepen my perspective on feminism, on race on just everything that informs what I do now. So that course, drink heroes, interestingly enough to sort of like the hero’s journey and what it takes to lead, I think, continue and that it was just fun. Like, Greg, neither of them was a fun professor. He loved the work that he did was a big class that a lot of different people were in and just sort of reading The Iliad and The Odyssey, for the first time, for me was just a lot of fun and a big change from doing problem sets. And I’d say, you know, thinking about like, those, those leaders in those big Greek dramas, still, in some ways continues to inform, like how I think about leadership and leading people a little bit. Um, so So I’d say those, the, you know, the professors in particular in, in STEM, and then the black woman writers, Greek heroes, and a lot of the courses that I, you know, the few courses that I had to take that were specifically around like black literature and black experiences, and though those really, those still continue to resonate, and impact me
Will Bachman 54:28
any experiences outside of class any extra curricular activities that were really important to?
Angela Romans 54:34
Yeah, I mean, that’s why I’m an educator working in the admission office was it was transformational for me. And for all the reasons that I’ve named, helped to shape my early career and my continued focus and I continue to focus on post secondary education as a major lever for You know, for economic transformation,
Will Bachman 55:02
what did you do there?
Angela Romans 55:05
I was I worked as an undergraduate minority recruitment in the undergraduate minority recruitment program as a coordinator. So there were, I think, 10 of us who were coordinators, and we coordinated groups of students of color, to go back to their high schools to talk about Harvard, and about college in general. And a lot of those students went to schools that admission officers didn’t have time to visit or couldn’t visit or didn’t really know or things like that. So so being able to do that, as a college students go back and recruit in you know, in Atlanta to be able to to send other students and coordinate the other students who are going to coordinate the visiting you know, visiting student days when when admitted students were able to come and to show them you know, different experiences of students of color. All of that doing that in college was absolutely transformational to to what I have done and continue to do so that was really big. I also was the the hands coordinator so the remember what hand stands for but essentially the like house based community service programs at the college each house has its own like community service program. And so I co coordinated hours Quincy houses and at a local elementary school and that also really helped to shape my the education bug that continues to, you know, to to motivate me and my work today.
Will Bachman 56:47
Angela, for listeners who want to follow up with you or just learn more about the organization that you’re working at, what links would you like to share?
Angela Romans 56:56
Sure, they can visit our website, which is innovation equity, dot o RG innovation equity.org. There’s a lot on that. We are on Linked in and on. I guess, X and Facebook as in for equity. So I n f o r e qu i t y in each of those places, especially LinkedIn, we’re especially active on LinkedIn and Facebook, I would say and then personally, I am on LinkedIn, Facebook and a little bit on Instagram as well. You can you can find me my my Instagram is private. But you can even find me at Angela at at Angela, Nikki Romans and I take AI
Will Bachman 57:49
Angela, thank you so much for joining today. This is a wonderful discussion.
Angela Romans 57:54
Thank you so much well for doing this for our class. It is amazing. And so I applaud you and applaud everyone who has done it and hope you will be able to fulfill your goal of interviewing everyone in our class,
Will Bachman 58:06
like 30 years. Thank you for joining exactly