As the largest charter school operator in New York City, Success Academy often finds itself in the news. When the organization decided to provide a more comprehensive view into its school design and culture, David Briggs got the assignment to address their needs.
The result was a sparkling series of virtual tours at Success Academy’s elementary and middle schools, featuring students on video describing what they do and how they learn, and educators breaking down their approach for viewers.
It was also a turning point for Briggs. That was the moment he knew he’d made the right move by leaving the private sector in 2015 to work for the education nonprofit.
“I was very proud of that work,” said Briggs, who earned his MBA in 2012 from New York University. “I didn’t feel like I was putting my MBA to its most creative use. The creativity wasn’t serving some sort of higher purpose.”
Today, Briggs is director of creative content at Success Academy Charter Schools, a recent corporate partner of The Consortium. The 10-year-old nonprofit is in the midst of a massive expansion, with plans to double the number of schools in the next five to 10 years, with six new ones due to open in the coming school year.
The organization is scaling up hiring in a variety of areas—from classroom teachers to school principals to central office leaders. The greatest need and many of the most rewarding leadership positions are directly within Success Academy’s schools.
“We also have managing director and director positions that we need to fill out our leadership layer,” said Savasti Addison, recruitment outreach associate for Success Academy. “These are the people who can be the strategic thinkers as we grow.”
That opportunity—to be a strategic thinker in a nonprofit environment—is what really drew Briggs to the opportunity. After a stellar nine-year career as a marketing professional and brand manager at Diageo, the spirits company, Briggs decided it wasn’t the place he saw himself retiring.
Experiences at a smaller spirits brand and a private advertising agency helped him further refine his career goals. When the opportunity arose at Success Academy, he jumped at it. “Here, it’s a good mix of strategic thought and problem-solving mixed with the creative-driven social change that I’m interested in.”
In his role, Briggs and his five-person team work across the organization to create content that serves the dual mission of providing world-class education and advocating for children who need quality education.
“We’re always looking for ways to tell that story,” he said. “My job is to think about that strategically. How do we use new media formats or social media to get the word out about the educational crisis out there?”
Briggs loves that he can use 30,000-foot level thinking and his broad perspective for the entire organization and its pieces—skills he learned as an MBA student and practitioner—to imagine what the organization needs to do to function and thrive. He can understand, for example, why colleagues in student enrollment may be upset about a legislative change that affects student recruitment and devise creative media strategies that might help address the situation.
The surprise, he said, was how much he enjoys the connection with students and the social justice ramifications of the work.
“It’s really rewarding to see people critical to education reform are keeping a close eye on us. They’re looking at our media and responding to it,” he said. “I didn’t realize how much I’d enjoy being part of the larger conversation. It’s very moving and a different way of participating in the political process that I didn’t expect.”