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)
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.