Shannon is a Pug Lover and Community Organizer hailing from the Pacific Northwest. With a passion for travel, civil rights, and activism, she lives with her partner and their sweet, goofy pug named Marcus, in Portland.
Her entire career has revolved around the community, making resources more accessible, advocating, or fighting for equity. After serving two years in AmeriCorps, she discovered the world of Charter Schools, which lead her to CSC, where she reflects on what it means to make a difference in the world, one day at a time.

How did you meet Charter School Capital?

After working in Admissions for a Charter School in Portland, I started looking around at different options in the area and was pretty impressed to learn what Charter School Capital does. What Charter School Capital does on a mission level clicked with me because I saw the firsthand need for it at the school I was working with. CSC welcomed me in and gave me a try, and it’s been a perfect fit.

How would you describe CSC and your position?

Charter School Capital is an organization that supports the work of charter schools nationally in filling the common pain points for schools, like access to facilities, support with enrollment marketing, enabling strategic growth, and filling financial gaps.

In my role, I provide support on a personal level to charter schools, serving in more of a coaching role, identifying what their pain points are, and how we can support them with our programs. Beyond that, on a managerial level, I work with a team where we reach out to schools and help strategize to see what else we can do to better serve charter schools in general.

What’s something about you that might be surprising?

Many folks think of me as intimidating and hard to talk to, but in reality, I’m quite sensitive, and I always want to listen and learn from others.

When did you learn about this line of work? What called you to it?

When I signed up to do a second year for AmeriCorps, I first stepped into the Charter World, and they positioned me to work at a charter high school where I was doing admissions and fundraising work. After that year, the school hired me as a full-time employee.
I saw firsthand just how unique the challenges are that charter schools face. Now, I feel I have come full circle to CSC, working in support of charter schools. Frankly, I think if the charter I worked for knew about CSC, they wouldn’t have ended up closing. What’s kept me interested in working with charters all this time is continuing to invest in school choice.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

A strong internal sense of responsibility. I want to use my time to the best of my ability to help level the playing field for the most people possible. We live in a nation full of gaps in opportunity, so I seek jobs and hobbies that allow me to support advancement and liberation for all oppressed peoples.

Over the years, what wisdom have you learned?

It’s going to be okay. When things feel like you don’t know what’s ahead, just remember that it’s okay to not have a concrete vision of the future. I learned to follow the path that is most meaningful and what makes me feel empowered, without societal pressure.

What brings you joy? Professionally and Personally

Professionally, I’m really grateful to have been given the opportunity to work into a managerial role within the inside sales team and advocate for my team. It’s making sure that I can create an environment that makes my team happy, healthy, and meets their needs professionally and personally.

Personally, I love helping communities and using my privilege to lift up other voices. I love being part of groups who learn, engage, and improve the system we live in.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

For a long time, I thought I might be a teacher. I’ve always loved teachers, and they’ve had a significant impact on my life. So, I value it. Over time, I’ve been pleased in most of my career to work in strong support of education and educators, just knowing I couldn’t really do that myself.

What piece of advice would you give to recent graduates?

I see the youth movements and what they’re doing, even utilizing TikTok to spread awareness. It blows my mind. So, before I would ever give any advice, I would want to ask… do they have advice for me?

If I were to give any advice, it would be to not point fingers at each other but point those fingers up to the system. For true, long term change, there needs to be some movement on a systematic level. Don’t be afraid to cause disruption. Change is a good thing.

From your position, how do you impact charter schools?

In my role, I find true joy in lending a compassionate, empathetic, highly human ear that is very consultative to the charter school leaders. The consultative, person-to-person sessions allow me to help connect the dots for schools and get them access to resources they didn’t know they had available.

If you could create a new class subject, what would it be?

It would be called “You Have a Voice,” and it would be an activism empowerment class. We would talk about different avenues to use your voice and everyday actions you can take. This would be the best fit for adult learners who have been made to feel voiceless by the system, especially women and gender non-conforming folks, to find that voice.

This is inspired by the 2017 Women’s March and how so many folks who had never gone to a march before, are now super skilled and active organizers. I want to see people learning and feel empowered that they have a voice outside of the voting polls the other 364 days of the year.

In your view, what does the world need more of? Less of?

We need more Equity of Access and Opportunity for all generations. I see so many of my peers, and older folks dealing with the disparities of health care, pay wages, and some basic needs.

We need less politicization of fundamental human rights.

What do you hope to see for the Future of Charter Schools?

I hope that Charter Schools, Traditional Public Schools, and their educators work together to fight for resources. Instead of pointing at each other, start pointing up and putting pressure on the system and our leaders to provide more. When they start working together, they could accomplish more and gain immense power.

What do you hope to see for the Future of CSC?

I would love to see how we can continue to give back to the community through reduced rates, larger granting, more gifting; at as little cost as possible. Advocating for more schools, more states, and more students positively impacted.

I hope we can help clear up some of that educational, institutional infighting and put pressure on the system for more resources.

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Since the company’s inception in 2006, Charter School Capital has been committed to the success of charter schools. We help schools access, leverage, and sustain the resources charter schools need to thrive, allowing them to focus on what matters most – educating students. Our depth of experience working with charter school leaders and our knowledge of how to address charter school financial and operational needs have allowed us to provide over $1.8 billion in support of 600 charter schools that have educated over 1,027,000 students across the country. For more information on how we can support your charter school, contact us. We’d love to work with you!

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