Chad Wick’s contribution to Cincinnati, Ohio, and American education were celebrated on Wednesday at the Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

In 2001, after bringing me to rural Minnesota schools, Joe Nathan took me to Cincinnati to learn about Steve Adamowski’s efforts to tailor school support based on academic results.  Joe introduced me to a banker that had recently helped form the KnowledgeWorks Foundation.

As a new foundation executive Chad was a data-driven sponge.  But it was also obvious that he was a civic leader passionate about making Cincinnati a great place to live, learn, work, and play.  Over the next five years I had the chance to build a real learning partnership with Chad and his team.  We agonized over how to fix failing schools, we brainstormed engagement strategies, and we tried to make sense of the future out kids will inherit.  We did some of that on his back porch with a cigar and an adult beverage.

When I heard about the dinner honoring my friend, I thought about something I wrote in 2006 as I was leaving philanthropy.  It describes my friend Chad Wick pretty well.

 

Some Choose Wisely

Homosapien, the “sixth spasm” of selection,

lunges in fits and starts in a direction

generally considered “progress” (or

what the World Bank would call “development”).

 

Some blessed by birth to engines of wealth,

others ostracized to grinding poverty—the cruel

selection (some might say ‘divine election’)

–all from dust to dust

 

returning.  Given life’s lottery,

some bear the weight of wealth

and incumbent (but seldom acknowledged)

responsibility.

 

Running the risk of triumphalism,

let me  suggest a reason for hope—some

choose wisely and nudge

history’s arc toward equity.

 

Some are simply unwilling to accept

history’s hand, poverty’s power,

the decimation of disease.  Some simply believe

“Things aren’t the way they’re supposed to be.”

 

Some, despite evidence to the contrary, live in

the new world where the tools exist, where a way

is found, where people care

about other people’s children,

 

If faith and hope are two of the big three,

they are surpassed only by lives bent to benefit others

lived as if All means All.

 

Chad is stubborn, he just won’t accept the injustice that he sees in Ohio.  Chad lives in the future, he’s just waiting for the rest of us to catch up with him.  Chad lives as if “All means All.”  Even though it was a bit embarrassing for Chad, I’m glad that KnowledgeWorks allowed a few of us to honor Chad’s good work.

 

Good Work is a Sunday series about finding and doing mission-driven work.  

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