Kinnari Patel-Smyth Named Acting CEO Of The KIPP Foundation

We are writing with an update, a celebration, and a final note from Richard.

As some of you know, last fall Richard announced this would be his last school year with KIPP. We are incredibly grateful for Richard’s nearly 17 years of service, and as a Team and Family, we will continue to express our deepest gratitude for his leadership and contributions.

Since his announcement, the national board conducted a community-wide listening tour to inform the job description for our next national CEO. The search is now underway. We’re meeting the most extraordinary leaders from our sector around the country and are proceeding thoughtfully and with care. Additionally, yesterday the board voted into place an interim leadership plan that will be in effect until a new CEO joins us. I have the great pleasure of announcing that the board has appointed Kinnari Patel-Smyth as Acting CEO, effective immediately. Kinnari shares more below, but as many of you know, she brings decades of experience, servant leadership, and strategic focus on what matters most for students and families.

As we prepare for this seamless transition, I want to take another moment to celebrate and appreciate Richard. KIPP’s board, alongside key national supporters, collaborated to launch the Barth “Onward Fellows” Fund to support alums pursuing alternative programs in their post-secondary journey. This program will launch next year, awarding up to 40 grants of $15,000 annually, across the next five-plus years. We are thrilled to invest in alumni and honor Richard through this program. Please join me in thanking Richard and giving him a sendoff full of gratitude.

From Kinnari

I want to first start with an immense appreciation for Richard and his partnership throughout my 10 years at KIPP and particularly in this last year as we prepared for his departure. Richard, I have always admired your passion for our work and relentless drive. You model constant learning. Your curiosity is endless. Your commitment, unwavering. I would say I’ll miss you, but we know, once a KIPPster, always a KIPPster. Thank you, Richard.

As I humbly take up the work of Acting CEO, I am honored and energized. To work in service of our mission is to be a warrior for equity and identity-affirming, joyful, academically excellent schools. We will go together with full hearts on what is right for KIPPsters, big and small. We will continue to deliver on promises to current and future KIPPsters. I read Richard’s note below and am filled with hope. Today and always our mission matters. We are here. Together. To build a more just world and a future without limits.

From Richard

Thank you, Katherine and Kinnari. I am so thrilled by and supportive of the board’s appointment of Kinnari to Acting CEO. Team, the future is bright. The work Kinnari has done in the last year alone has been so inspiring. I am thrilled for our network, our Foundation team, and know we are in good hands.

When I joined KIPP in 2005 I had already spent 16 years working in education, and I had spent my career working within systems that too often denied the dreams and hopes of children and families, and educators. I knew so many caring educators who wanted to do more, and I had met so many families who wanted more from school for their children.

Through my work, I had seen glimpses of what it looks like to bring a community together in pursuit of excellence, but it had always been something I witnessed in individual classrooms or on a court or a stage. And then I visited our KIPP schools in Gaston and San Jose. I had never seen anything like it. After seeing what I saw — entire schools in which expectations of everyone involved were high, and schools where everyone was helping each other meet those expectations — there was no turning back. I had to be a part of the KIPP Team and Family.

Time flies when you get to do unbelievably important work with extraordinary people. When I joined KIPP my oldest child was 5 years old. Today, he is a high school Math teacher in New Orleans. I say goodbye with a full heart knowing that nearly 115,000 students walk through our doors bringing with them their gifts, hopes, and dreams. And every day over 45,000 alumni are pursuing the life paths they have chosen for themselves.

For those of you who have been here for a while, you know that I always sign off with Onward. I do that because I believe that the best is always ahead of us. I believe that tomorrow always presents us with an opportunity to move closer to our vision. I know all of you believe that too. 

I just learned yesterday about the launch of the Onward Fellows, and I am both humbled and honored. I sign off now, eager to watch our alums build a more just world.