We are thrilled to welcome Laura Brief to the 826 network as the new CEO of 826 National, the organization that supports 826 chapters around the country. Welcome aboard, Laura!
The search for 826 National’s next leader was a months-long process in collaboration with Bellwether Education Partners. Among many highly-qualified candidates, Laura stood out with a career defined by a commitment to educational equity, a track record of scaling social impact programs through creative means, and a passion for nonprofit leadership. Laura has been a longtime champion of 826, beginning as a volunteer back in the 826 Network’s earliest days.
In addition to her expertise, she brings with her a deep commitment to the 826 mission, culture, and values. Laura believes in 826’s writing-focused model and its ability to have a transformative impact on lives across the nation and on our education system. As a student in New York City public schools, Laura’s early classroom experience left gaps that ultimately placed her in an English as a Second Language (ESL) class when transferring elementary schools. It was great teachers who further on fostered her love of writing. Laura found her voice through poetry and studied creative writing in high school in New Orleans.
Laura started her career as a therapist for young people and survivors of trauma, and she soon realized that she wanted to shift her focus to changing the landscape where this trauma was occurring. It was when she crossed paths with the Posse Foundation that she changed course and began an eight-year-long odyssey to support the growth and expansion of Posse’s reach and offerings. At the Posse Foundation, Laura was the architect and founding National Director of Career Programs, Corporate Engagement and Alumni Engagement where she designed, led, and scaled a program aimed at supporting students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds to transition from being leaders on campus to becoming leaders in the workforce. Laura has a deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and the importance of representation—in society, in the classroom, in the boardroom, and as part of the culture and practice at every level of organizations she has led. In her words, “Education is the great equalizer. If you look for a line through my career, it’s about leveling the playing field and creating equitable access to opportunity.”
Most recently, Laura was the Executive Director of BUILD Bay Area, an organization dedicated to using entrepreneurship-based experiential learning to ignite the potential of youth from under-resourced communities and propel them towards high school, college, and career success. She also currently serves as the chair of the board of Youth Speaks, a national arts organization dedicated to empowering young people to discover, develop, and apply the power of their voices through writing and performing spoken word. You can read Laura’s welcome letter to the 826 community here.