Today we're shining the spotlight on our newest addition to the Communities In Schools of Tennessee (CISTN) team, Hank Clay.
What excites you about coming to work for CISTN?
I am eager to work with an amazing team that is solving one of the most difficult problems districts face--chronic absenteeism. I have seen firsthand the dedication the team had to doing everything it takes to get kids to school every day focused on learning. When combined with excellent teaching and a strong curriculum, CISTN has the ability to have a generations-changing impact on communities, and I am passionate about improving educational outcomes for Tennessee's most vulnerable students.
What do you hope to achieve in your role over the next year?
CISTN is the turn-key solution for districts seeking to provide data-driven wrap around services to students. Over the course of this next year, I hope to ensure that CISTN continues to provide the highest quality supports to the students we serve and that we expand a sustainable resource base to ensure stability for the organization. With this confidence, CISTN can begin to expand to meet its potential as an organization.
What does true leadership mean to you?
Tennessee's students deserve the best, and I will strive to meet those expectations. Leadership means setting a clear vision for what an organization can achieve and supporting the smartest team possible to achieving that vision. By listening to those with expertise and incorporating their input, we are much more likely to be successful.
Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
I am proud to say that I took six years of classical ballet. Both my parents pushed my brother and me to expand our areas of interest, and ballet was as much a part of my life as tennis, soccer, or backpacking.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
I am most inspired by Andrew Young. Andrew Young joined Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as one of the key leaders of the civil rights movement. During his time as Mayor of Atlanta and Ambassador to the United Nations, he focused on creating a society where every person--regardless of their background--is able to succeed.
What three traits define you?
Hardworking, strategic, and genuinely interested in learning about others.
What would you like to be your greatest accomplishment in life?
When I look back on my career, I hope to have helped to create environments where all students have an equal opportunity to get a great education and live up to their potentials.
What’s your favorite Halloween costume you’ve ever worn?
It is easily from the year my grandparents happened to be babysitting my brother and me over Halloween. I was to dress up at Frankenstein's monster, but there was one major problem. My hair is red, and everyone knows the monster's hair was black. Without hair dye, my grandmother improvised by putting molasses in my hair. It didn't come out for days, but with my green face, bolts for temples, and molasses-black hair, I was glad to be scary as I was trick-or-treating.
Where is your favorite place to be?
My favorite place to be is on a long hike in the woods with my wife and daughter.
You're hosting a dinner party. Who are the 3 people, living or dead, you would invite and why?
If I was hosting a dinner party, I would invite Condeleeza Rice because her wide range of expertise and she would likely play the piano at the end of the evening. I'd also ask Warren Buffett to learn more about how he sees patterns that lead to value and his passion for lifting people out of poverty. If I could only invite three, I would ask the late US Senator Henry Clay. He is known as the Great Compriser because of his efforts to find common ground and keep the Union together. Plus he is my great great great...great uncle and we share the same name.
Click here to learn more about Hank's professional background.