Senior Advisor, America’s Promise Alliance
We all have gifts and should look for a way to make a difference.
I’ve always tried to find ways to make a difference and make situations better because I was there. All of us can do that regardless of social standing or place in an organization—you don’t have to be CEO. We must find ways to give back. I have passion for giving back and helping those who have been less fortunate—the people who need us the most.
Education is the breakthrough strategy.
It can break cycles of poverty, open doors and create opportunity. It can be life-changing. At America’s Promise Alliance, we chose the dropout crisis as the defining measure. It’s symbolic of how we have failed our kids. This country is too great, too special and too generous to tolerate the loss of one of every four young people, including half the youth of color, to the dropout crisis.
You can carry your passion and commitment through a career regardless of sector.
My passion is for improving the lives of children. I began my career in government, I helped found a company in the private sector, and now I lead an alliance of nonprofit organizations. But improving the lives of children has been the common thread. You start with a commitment, and you can find ways to carry it out wherever you are.
The most effective leaders are servant leaders.
They understand that their own success is secondary. If others succeed, the leader will be successful and that spirit of pulling together will become part of the organization. It’s remarkable what you can accomplish, if you don’t care who gets the credit.
Failure often represents opportunity.
Resilience is the most valuable lesson to learn in life. Sometime, somewhere, somehow, you will fail. Then what counts is how you deal with failure. If one door closes, quit banging on it. Turn around and see what other doors might be opening. Much in life is serendipitous. Don’t be frustrated by failures; see opportunities. They’re almost always there if you look.
The views expressed on this site are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Pearson Foundation.
Marguerite W. Kondracke is senior advisor to America's Promise Alliance. Kondracke served as president and CEO of America’s Promise Alliance from 2004 to May 16, 2012.
During her 40-year career, Mrs. Kondracke has been both an entrepreneur and a public servant, focusing on the needs of children and families. Prior to joining the Alliance, she served as Special Assistant to U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, as well as Staff Director for the Senate Subcommittee on Children and Families. She also served in the cabinet of then Tennessee Governor Alexander as Commissioner of the Department of Human Services. Previously, Mrs. Kondracke was co-founder and CEO of Bright Horizons Family Solutions, the nation’s largest provider of employer-sponsored child care and one of Fortune’s "100 Best Companies to Work For." Today she continues to serve on the company’s board of directors. She is also a member of the board of directors of Saks, Inc., LifePoint Hospitals, and Teachscape.
Throughout her career, Mrs. Kondracke has received numerous awards and honors, including being named a Purpose Prize Fellow, awarded by Civic Ventures to those over 60 taking on society’s biggest challenges. For the past three years, Mrs. Kondracke has been named by The Non-Profit Times as one of the "Top 50 People of Power and Influence."
She is an alumna and now a trustee of Duke University, where she co-chairs DukeEngage, which makes civic engagement an integral part of the undergraduate experience. Mrs. Kondracke also holds a master’s degree in psychology from Austin Peay State University. She is married to award-winning journalist Morton Kondracke; they enjoy golf, international travel, and spending time with their four children and three grandchildren.