September 2021 Newsletter: Learning with a new leader

angela jones

Fall marks the beginning of a new school year, and as the season changes, so begins a new chapter of our Washington State Initiative. This month the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Washington State Initiative team is excited to introduce you to our new director, Angela Jones. Angela has nearly three decades of experience in education and a passion for change making. We’re excited to move forward with such a spirited leader. Here’s Angela’s message as she takes the reins on our newsletter Director’s Note.

Thank you for your partnership,

Your Gates Washington State team

Follow us on Twitter: @GatesWA.

Director’s Note

Angela Jones shares her outlook

angela jones

I started my career in education as a substitute teacher because I knew I wanted to help students successfully navigate the education system. I saw myself in the children I worked with, especially Black and Brown students and those working hard to break the cycle of poverty. Nearly three decades later and my goal hasn’t changed. Washington state, I’m still here and I’m still pushing. I may wear a different hat, but the same passion that led me into education gets me up and moving each and every morning. Joining the Gates Foundation to lead the Washington State Initiative was not just a career move, but a next step in fulfilling my responsibilities as a leader in my community and state. A next step in being a good ancestor.

While I grew up in Snohomish County, I have had the privilege of living and working across Washington state and engaging with a diverse group of students and communities. I began my career in education teaching English/Language Arts in the Wapato School District before serving as director of employment and conciliation services at Spokane Public Schools. Later, I led teams at Washington State University and Eastern Washington University. Most recently, I served as CEO of Washington STEM, where we focused on credential completion for Washington students. Given my family’s humble beginnings, I am proud of my journey, but the job titles are simply bullets on a resume. What I truly value is the opportunity those experiences afforded me to build the relationships and partnerships that are necessary for transformational and sustainable change.

As I step into this role, I recognize that there is still much work to be done. I remain committed to helping and advocating for the students of color who drew me into education. COVID-19 has created unique challenges, and the learning recovery effort must put equity at the center. Inequities have laid themselves bare, and opportunity gaps continue to widen for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds. Now, alongside my U.S. Program colleagues, our task is to engage with those closest to the issues we’re working to address, to elevate voices that too often go unheard, and to recognize that we are partners in this endeavor.

At a time when inequities in education are exacerbated, I still see the power of collective strength in classrooms and communities. Together, we can advance equity and create opportunity in Washington state’s education system.

There were leaders who advocated for the young Black and Filipina girl named Angela Jones. I still remember every community member, teacher, counselor, and administrator who helped me reach my full potential. And, I take seriously my responsibility to pay that forward. I also recognize that my community is holding me accountable in this role with the Gates Foundation. While that is daunting, my life’s journey has taught me that our future depends on all of us being willing to do hard things.

My heart’s with my home: Washington state. We will support communities rebuilding and the bright, talented students creating a better tomorrow. I’m ready to do the work and grateful to be your partner.

Angela Jones
Washington State Initiative

Partner Spotlight

partner spotlight

The Community Center for Education Results was created to lead the Road Map Project (@RoadMapProject) in South Seattle and South King County. The Road Map Project’s community-centered approach keeps students on track and supports equitable education policies. Over 127,000 students in the Road Map region have access to resources including math support and social-emotional skill building.

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Angela jones selected as new director of washington state initiative

At the Gates Foundation, we are proud to call ourselves “impatient optimists” – hopeful for the future, yet at the same time eager to make progress and improve lives as quickly as possible. That also describes the current state of our work in our home state of Washington.