Holly Harriel, Brown's new director of education outreach and a former Rhode Island Department of Education employee, officially began her job Feb. 8, replacing Tehani Collazo who left last July. She will coordinate outreach programs between Brown and local schools.
Elizabeth Richards, a recent graduate of the Urban Education Policy Program, served as a replacement in the interim.
Harriel was selected from a pool of 50 to 60 applicants by a committee composed of faculty and staff from Brown's Department of Education. The Office of the President, the Office of Public Affairs and University Relations and the Swearer Center for Public Service also offered input to the committee, according to Education Department Chair Kenneth Wong, who was also chair of the selection committee.
Although Wong said that the applicant pool was very strong, he said he felt Harriel had "a really interesting mix of attributes." Wong also mentioned that he thought it was important to take the time to select the best person for the job with the "right mix of experience."
According to a news release from the Department of Education, Harriel, who has a master's degree in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was initially an urban planner in the Boston area. She later came to Providence and worked as a geographic information system analyst for Providence Plan, applying her information technology skills to various local nonprofit organizations. For the past four years, Harriel has been working as an analyst for the Rhode Island Department of Education.
"She stands out," Wong said, adding that Harriel's previous governmental work, her knowledge and appreciation of data systems and her experience with nonprofit organizations all show that she brings a "broad, multidisciplinary perspective."
One of Harriel's primary duties is to coordinate partnerships between Brown and local public schools. Harriel said it is important to document outreach efforts and to "capitalize on social networking" in order to incorporate as much of the Brown community as possible in education outreach.
"I'm here to make sure that we are highlighting all of the good impact we are making,"
Harriel said, adding that she would also like to expand education outreach efforts at Brown.
Wong noted that Brown's numerous education outreach projects with Providence public schools involve a wide variety of departments at the University. He and Harriel both emphasized that the director of education outreach should encourage collaboration across departments and disciplines on these projects.
"This is a very important position because it (provides) a critical link between the larger community and Brown," Wong said.
Another aspect of Harriel's job consists of working closely with graduate students in the Urban Education Policy Program. As part of this master's degree program, students participate in nine-month-long education-related internships, which Harriel is in charge of managing.
"This is a relationship-building time," Harriel said. During her first week on the job, Harriel has been "meeting with students in the Urban Education Policy Program and getting up to speed with their internship placement."
Harriel said she wants to make sure not only that students are offered the best internship opportunities possible, but also that students' work is benefitting the institutions where they are placed.
In addition, Wong said that Harriel will be involved in the Urban Education Fellows Program, through which students commit to three years of service in Providence in return for tuition benefits. Wong said that these fellows take on a variety of jobs, both on the teaching side and on the policy side of education in low-income communities.
"She will support the work of the Urban Education Fellows and make sure they are placed in high-needs areas," Wong said. He expects the program to grow over the next few years, he said.
"We are entering a very good transition phase right now," Wong said. He said he expects that within about two weeks Harriel will be acclimated to the job as she continues to meet people and gets to know the community.
Harriel said she is excited to begin this job because it combines everything she enjoys doing, adding, "I would consider this my dream job."