Opportunity Is Calling
Our society has shifted fundamentally, rendering the previous path to success obsolete. The unwritten social contract is broken, and security is gone.
To get ahead in the new America, everyone needs to be prepared to pursue multiple paths toward upward mobility. Everyone must answer opportunity’s call.
See What ThinkShift Is All About
Opportunity isn’t what it used to be.
Opportunity isn’t shallow. It doesn’t play favorites or bet on the front-runner. Opportunity roots for everyone. Every class, color and county. First, second and third shift. Underdogs and overachievers. The young and the not so young. Ivy Leaguers and high-school dropouts. All of us. And when we’re stuck and held hostage by fear, it’s opportunity that begs us to break out of our comfort zones, to get back up, and to be more.
But opportunity isn’t what it used to be. Hard work and determination alone no longer put our goals within reach. We’re not promised the same certain victories some workers of this country once were.
We need to look change in the eye and believe we’ll come out on the other side. Better. Stronger. Smarter. We need to redefine this nation's wild eyes and hungry hearts. To rally together and feed the fire that’s in each of us. Let’s rebuild the land of opportunity and give a piece of it to everyone. We can and we will ThinkShift.
We need to change the way we think about change.
The New Path to Success
After decades of minimal progress, it’s clear that large, complex societal challenges cannot be solved through isolated, scattershot interventions. There needs to be a new path forward, one that addresses root causes rather than just symptoms.
All individuals must be positioned for success.
We must all come together to build bold, new solutions to today's most pressing problems. We need to develop and execute innovative ideas that close the opportunity gap and harness the power of research and practice to equip individuals with the knowledge they need to act on opportunity.
Disconnecting the Predictable Links Between Class, Background and Outcome
By providing the skills and resources needed to move beyond one’s circumstances, we can change the mindset of the nation. Letting everyone see what's before them, and realize that the opportunities once thought out of reach are now possible.
A New Approach
ThinkShift is building a solution-oriented movement. A movement that serves as a catalyst for nationwide impact through efforts that disrupt the status quo and challenge assumptions about education, the economy and the development of personal resources that facilitate success.
We've built a model that presents a new perspective on the critical components for success in the 21st century. Through engagement, research and human-centered design thinking, ThinkShift is piloting programs and creating resources to support fundamental change.
A hub of inspired individuals who share a transformative vision for their lives, for others and for the nation.
A non-traditional transdisciplinary research institute focused on developing innovations for research and evaluation to equip individuals and communities with tools to build opportunity.
A social innovation collaborative that catalyzes growth by developing resources and strategies which democratize exposure and access to opportunity and self-sustainability.
It’s a group effort. We’re joining forces with everyone who shares in our desire to increase opportunity for all. We want everyone to realize it is possible to reach higher and to embrace change in their personal and professional lives. Together, we can make a meaningful, transformative impact on the world.Get Involved
Barriers to opportunity continue and despite the knowledge surrounding this problem, gaps exist in its solution. The Institute for Upward Mobility develops research innovations, tools and resources to aid communities in generating holistic strategies tailored to their specific needs. Through the democratization of access to data and information, we aim to achieve clarity regarding the ecosystem required for educational and economic success and mindsets critical to life success while discovering and refining the paths for individuals to achieve it.Get Involved
Our design teams evolve and refine the tools and processes for individual social, educational and economic growth. With our partners we create new platforms and on-the-ground solutions where people can see, create and act on opportunity.Get Involved
Chief Operating Officer of the DeBruce Foundation
Chief Operating Officer of the DeBruce Foundation
Natalia brings vision and leadership to ThinkShift. She has more than 20 years’ experience in the private and non-profit sectors as a clinical psychologist, a leadership and performance executive for national organizations such as Gallup and The Corporate Executive Board, and most recently as the CEO of the Women’s Center for Advancement (formerly YWCA of Omaha). Through her varied experiences, she has developed a deep expertise in change management by helping individuals and organizations take new strategic directions and position themselves for success.
Natalia has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Omaha Branch, and currently serves on the Operation Hope Global Board of Directors. She holds a BA in Psychology with Honors from Brown University and a Ph.D. in Clinical/Community Psychology from the University of Maryland. She completed her clinical internship at Harvard Medical School/Boston Children’s Hospital.
Erikson is a sociologist and digital strategist focused on creating the largest hub of knowledge, stories, tools, and collaborators promoting upward mobility in the 21st century. During his six years at Policy Studies Associates, he evaluated programmatic and policy innovations targeted towards school turnaround, school leadership development, data use, social networks, and youth empowerment at the national, state, and local levels. Erikson completed his bachelor’s degree with a double major in sociology and education studies at Brown University and received his master’s in educational policy and management at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.
Burt is a labor economist and program evaluation specialist seeking to help individuals succeed in the modern economy. Concurrently a faculty member at The George Washington University, his insights are rooted in research and evaluation experiences over his career, which also included positions at Johns Hopkins University, the Lewin Group, and the U.S. Department of Labor. Burt received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a doctorate in economics from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Katrina is dedicated to improving lives and communities through the development of interconnected resources. She specializes in social, cultural, and contextual psychology which undergirds several initiatives, such as multi-media platforms designed to raise aspirations. Prior to joining Thinkshift, Katrina was at the Education Development Center where she conducted multi-site, community-based program evaluations at the local, state, and federal levels. She earned her doctorate in social psychology with a specialization in evaluation research from Claremont Graduate University.
Julie is focused on building strategic partnerships to promote widespread transformation of individuals, communities, and our nation. She has a personal passion for strengthening children and families in U.S. cities that she has applied over the years to her work at the National League of Cities, the White House Domestic Policy Council, the Mayor’s Office in Philadelphia, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She has a bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College and a master’s in public affairs from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School.
Jonathan is a Pk-12 policy maker and practitioner who focuses on implementing systemic approaches to increase educational outcomes. Prior to ThinkShift, he was appointed as a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. Before his appointment, he served for 18 years in senior leadership, school leader and teacher positions in Maryland, Florida and Delaware school systems. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Baltimore, a masters in human resource management from Towson University, and a masters and doctorate in administration, planning and social policy with a concentration in the urban superintendency from Harvard University.
Leon is a scholar-activist who utilizes strategic evaluation and participatory research to implement empowering solutions with individuals and communities. He most recently served as a senior research associate at The Annie E. Casey Foundation; prior to that, he was the Founding Director of the Center for the Advancement of Youth Development at Rhodes College in Memphis, and launched the Family Potential Center at the University of Nebraska, where he was a tenured professor. Leon earned a doctorate in counseling psychology from Penn State, and a master’s degree in education and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Lehigh University.
Andrew is a student and practitioner of how people develop the resources needed for success in life. He is driven to create a world where all individuals feel like they have both a stake in society and a contribution to make to it. During seven years at Mathematica Policy Research, and earlier positions at the University of Michigan and the Illinois Department of Employment Security, his work focused on ways to create healthier home environments and better prepare individuals for advancement in the workforce. He holds a doctorate in sociology and social policy from Harvard University.
Steve is passionate about using social design innovation and outside-the-box thinking to reimagine education and learning. Drawing from policy and evaluation expertise across the learning spectrum – from K-12 education policy and reform and higher education policy to innovative strategies for community college completion and workforce, he brings an understanding of how an array of knowledge and experience can be combined and recombined to access and create opportunity. He holds a master’s degree in economics from the University of Illinois and bachelor’s degree in economics and French from Illinois Wesleyan University.
Megha helps guide and develop operational and strategic initiatives at ThinkShift, parlaying a lifelong love of strategic challenges into pushing the boundaries on social innovation. She comes to ThinkShift from the Boston Consulting Group, where she developed solutions from strategic analyses, managed cross-functional projects, and served on the strategic planning team of Green Dot, a charter management organization operating over 20 schools nationwide. Megha earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin with dual Honors degrees in liberal arts and business administration/marketing.
Denese focuses on social infrastructure for community and economic development, seeking to translate research for multiple audiences and promote new-on-the-ground approaches. Her work draws on broad experience that encompasses health, human services, housing, cultural resources, business, financing, and urban planning. Former engagements include work for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, City of New Orleans, and the U.S. Treasury Department as well as investment firms, for-profit and non-profit entities. She earned her doctorate in urban studies at the University of New Orleans.
Austin is an innovator, wide-ranging economist and expert methodologist. Over the last decade at the Urban Institute, his research focused on economic mobility and the impacts of education, healthcare, and social insurance. He has studied disability, poverty, K-12 education, minimum wages, and Promise Neighborhoods. Austin received his doctorate in economics from the University of Michigan, and holds a master’s in public policy from Harvard University.
As a sociologist of education, Argun promotes holistic learning strategies that address the entire ecology of human development and wellbeing. Concurrently teaching at the University of Kansas, his research focuses on social class and racial/ethnic inequality in K-12 education, school board governance, and organizational responses to reform pressures in the field of education. He received his doctorate from Case Western Reserve University in organizational behavior, specializing in sociology of organizations and education.
Robin is passionate about decoupling the link between geography and opportunity for individuals. Her conviction reflects twenty-five years as a researcher with the Urban Institute focused on housing and community development including co-creating a program to understand how neighborhoods influence youth transitions to adulthood. Robin holds a master’s of public administration degree from George Mason University.
James is a designer and evaluator of learning support systems. His work is focused at the intersections among learning, work, and community, and how we can leverage those points for greater social and economic mobility. During his previous ten years at American Institutes for Research, James led major experimental and quasi-experimental evaluations of adult learning, coaching, professional development and leadership; organizational and systems redesign; and the skills needed to be prepared for everything from kindergarten to college and career. He earned his doctorate in educational administration and policy from the University of Michigan.
Daryl is passionate about economic development, innovation, and entrepreneurship. His work includes designing innovative economic and entrepreneurial platforms. Daryl spent the previous 15 years as the Chief Executive Officer of the Urban Entrepreneur Partnership (UEP) and Director of Research and Policy at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. He holds a master’s degree in sociology from the University of Kansas.
Darren works on a variety of projects related to expanding learning opportunities and using education as a platform for success in life. Past leadership roles at the American Institutes for Research and Comer School Development Program have focused on the intersection of culture, context, educational practice, and systemic achievement and opportunity gaps. Darren has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and communication from Stanford University, a master’s degree in education from Harvard University, and a doctorate in educational psychology from Howard University.
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ThinkShift is an initiative of the DeBruce Foundation.
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